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Author Topic: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture  (Read 6669 times)

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #30 on: October 19, 2015, 02:43:46 pm »
Quote from: Yei;181200

I did explain. I said that (referring to your earlier comment) the similarities between the sacrificial symbolism of the death of the Mesoamerican gods and the death of Jesus is superficial because:
1) The sacrifice of the Mesoamerican gods is essentially a temporal one which impacts the material world, rather than the afterlife, while Jesus' sacrifice is largely about the afterlife.
2) Jesus' sacrifice was essentially redemptive i.e.: grounded in Christian concepts of morality while the sacrifice of the Mesoamerican gods was an act of creation.
3) Jesus' sacrifice was supposed to be a one off event. The sacrifice of the Mesoamerican gods is something that must be repeated in perpetuity. The sacrifice of the gods is part of a wider, cyclical cycle.
4) Jesus' sacrifice was the sacrifice of an individual, while the sacrifice of the Mesoamerican gods was a collective event. The method was also different (crucifixion vs heart extraction)
5) For Christians (though speaking for all Christians is fraught with dangerous assumptions) the sacrifice of Jesus is an expression of his love for mankind. For Mesoamericans, the sacrifice of their gods is more about the cycles of nature, of creation, growth, death, and decay.
6) The beliefs, rituals, and behaviours which stem from these events vary considerably in their practice, theology, connections, and values.


Wait, I thought of another one.
7) The circumstances of each are different. Jesus was sacrificed by the Romans, the representation of the corrupt material world, while the gods of Mesoamerica sacrificed themselves at Teotihuacan. The social commentary is absent in this case.

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #31 on: October 19, 2015, 06:26:10 pm »
Quote from: Yei;181200
Except I was not referring solely to this instance, but the tendency of making superficial comparisons in a more general sense.


Tone is hard on the internet, but you seem really combative? All I said was that I could see similarities and asked if you could explain them further. I wasn't attacking you or your religion. I was simply curious.

Thank you for the clarification you provided. I have a better understanding of Mesoamerican concepts of sacrifice. I hope you understand that I had no interest in debating with you on whether or not it *was* similar, but I simply wanted a clearer explanation...as I stated before, I found the topic interesting.
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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #32 on: October 19, 2015, 09:36:33 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;181219
Tone is hard on the internet, but you seem really combative? All I said was that I could see similarities and asked if you could explain them further. I wasn't attacking you or your religion. I was simply curious.


Yes, I can see that. Unfortunately Mesoamerican religions have often been the victim of appropriation and the like, so I am somewhat more aggressive than normal.

Quote
Thank you for the clarification you provided. I have a better understanding of Mesoamerican concepts of sacrifice. I hope you understand that I had no interest in debating with you on whether or not it *was* similar, but I simply wanted a clearer explanation...as I stated before, I found the topic interesting.

 
My apologies. I misunderstood your intention.

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #33 on: April 16, 2016, 11:12:31 am »
Quote from: Yei;181119
Well it is not exactly a common term. I myself have only seen it a few times, and spelled differently every time. But then again I am not an expert on the Mixtec.



Several points:
1) I did not deny the importance of the Florentine Codex. What I pointed out is that the Codex is not an objective source. It its the product of a particular time and place. This is something recognised by modern academics.
2) Academic views on the terms 'Mexica' and 'Aztec' are far more complex than you are pointing out. I think that Clendinnen uses the term Mexica almost exclusively, while other scholars take the time to point out the inadequacies of the term 'Aztec', even if they still use it.
3) Archaeology, whose archaeology? Something by Michael E. Smith? Or does it come from Mexico? Perhaps someone from the Templo Mayor project?



Don't worry, I am also apart from my source collection.

The virginity thing is from Duran's Gods and Rites, which escaped my possession due to moving. There was also a post that brought it up. They weren't as zealous about the virginity thing, but it was shameful if you were not a virgin and there was a bit of a "test" for the female after consummating the marriage.

On 2, I could careless for the argument. I will go by FAMSI and Amoxtli.org has good reasons why not to go by Mexica. Academic standards, I go by.



Quote
I'm not against the concepts of ollin and sacrifice, I'm against your explanation of them. Perhaps you mis-typed though. The idea that the Mexica sacrificed to feed the sun is a popular one, and not entirely wrong. But most scholars agree (Carrasco, Clendinnen, Sigal, for example) that there is a lot more to it than that. See, the Mexica actually called sacrifice 'debt-payment', the word in Nahuatl is 'nextlahualli'. The idea is that the gods had sacrificed themselves to create the world. Man was therefore indebted to the gods and were obligated to repay them. These rituals have huge connections to fertility, to rejuvenation, and were only occasionally directed towards the sun. Besides, sacrifice was only a small part of Mesoamerican ritual life. There was also singing, dancing, and drinking. Ignoring all this stuff is to ignore the rich complexity of worship in Mesoamerica.

I wouldn't say "small". That makes it sound unimportant, and that is NOT how the religion was done back then or now in modern villages. While it is true the numbers are over-exaggerated, everyone did sacrifice in Mesoamerica and everyone was required to do blood lettings at the very least. (I don't need to cite all the sources for this, you know them right?) Sacrifice has a HUGE and important role in Aztec religion. People were thought to be "food for the gods" and diminishing the role of sacrifice in the religion, well that does not make any sense. Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but sacrifice was like super vital to their religion and they were very much about that, and war. Even the gods sacrificed and this was a big thing in the mythos cycles. So, this sounds like you are romanticizing the Mexica as you call them.



Quote
I am aware of the complexities within Christianity. Note that I did not say that Christians did not have multiple versions of the afterlife, I said that their system was different, and built around different principles.



What physical evidence?

Read more ethnography on the modern evolution of the religion in central America. Timothy Knabb has a good book Dialogue of the Earth and Sky. Mexicolore goes into some detail as well, using primary sources.


 
Quote
It does not matter if the Mexica themselves saw similarities. We don't know what their motives were, nor do we know how much they knew about Christianity. These men were probably not experts in comparative religion, so why should we expect them to have some deep insight into this?

My question to you; have you actually studied this? From the sounds of it, the answer is "no". You already formed an opinion.



Quote
What other Mesoamerican recons do you know? They are pretty rare here. A few drift by every now and then, but soon disappear. I suspect that my views are not fundamentally different, just more detailed and exacting, using different terminology.

Quite a few. I used to hang around them. Granted now it is kind of dead.

You have the Mad Dr.Shock of Black and Red Yahoo group.
Yehecatl of Amoxtli.org. (Shock took over but has never updated.)
Cehualli had an academic blog for awhile, also not updated. Good posts though. You should be able to find links from Amoxtli or Google to these sites. I think there are some other ones there but they're not as good as these three. (Tlaochcalli was Cehualli's blog's name, I think is how it is spelled.)

Quote
Here's the thing, when I see your explanations of Mesoamerican religions, despite you insistence on academia, it seems to be the pop-culture version. It seems to rely on a superficial understanding, which is why I use that term a lot.
See, you don't seem to be aware that I have been studying the Mexica for five years, which is actually how I came to be here. I am familiar with the sources, both primary and secondary. And academia is not actually all that certain on the similarities. For example, many will discuss the presence of confession rituals in both Mexico and Europe. But then they will go on to point out how those rituals are different. When comparisons are made in these texts, the authors are only commenting on their superficial similarity, and do not intend any deeper comparison than that.

Yahoo Black and red which I used to mod and one of the people who runs it is going to school for Mesoamerica. So no, it's not a "superficial understanding". Mine is different from yours as I have also studied how the modern religion evolved into present day with ethnography. "Superficial" after almost a decade of study? Yeah, no. A lot of the "problems" with Abrahamic religious texts, etc, from an secular and objective standpoint can also be ethically applied to Mesoamerican religions.

I recall even the founder admitted that reconstruction doesn't make sense after years of research for her degree, and mentioned the Aztec religion continues into the modern era. (I believe that was one of her last posts.) The guy who runs Amoxtli.org, also helps run that group and I have learned much from the both of the founders of the group. I wouldn't call them "superficial" either, because a lot of stuff I got from them, and Yehecatl started the thing before anyone else did.

Maybe you're confused because I do not diminish the importance of sacrifice in the religion. You may think this sounds like I have a pop cultural view, but sacrifice was important early in Mesoamerican religion. They debate about the Olmecs, but you see... The Aztecs were built on the ashes of the Toltecs, and that whole story about Quetzalcoatl Ce Acatl wanting butterflies as sacfirices did not sit well with the gods and was one of the reasons that led to Tezcatlipoca, tricking him. If I had a pop cultural view, I would have said "Quetzalcoatl". But it was actually Quetzalcoatl Ce Acatl, so I do know my stuff.

I hope I followed this convo correct, been awhile. Kinda lost and tired. Feel free to debate me in private messages.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2016, 11:19:27 am by Lilirin »

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #34 on: April 16, 2016, 12:42:44 pm »
Quote from: Lilirin;190143


 
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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #35 on: April 16, 2016, 03:09:48 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;176183
I wonder if it's unusual to be drawn to gods but not the culture they come from? I usually follow deities from Mediterranean cultures and identify with them, but once in a while, usually in the summer, I feel an intense pull towards Freyr and Freyja. I have no affinity for Norse culture though, so I honour these gods without going too deeply into their cultural context. I guess it's not that strange for those not using a recon methodology, but I think it's weird that gods come knocking from a culture I'm not that interested in. Does anyone have similar experiences?
I don't think it's unusual. I worship my blood's gods 신, and also worship the Netjeru.

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #36 on: April 17, 2016, 02:48:06 am »
Well, this is a blast from the past.

Quote from: Lilirin;190143
The virginity thing is from Duran's Gods and Rites, which escaped my possession due to moving. There was also a post that brought it up. They weren't as zealous about the virginity thing, but it was shameful if you were not a virgin and there was a bit of a "test" for the female after consummating the marriage.

Durán may have indeed written such a thing. But that does not make it true. There are lots of areas where Spanish interpretations are highly questionable, and sexuality is one of them. For example, Spaniards, including Bernal Díaz, frequently state that sodomy was common practice, which was probably not true.

Now, I'm not advocating that we dispense with them altogether. They do contain some solid evidence that is corroborated by other sources. But there are a few areas where one should be very suspicious. Maybe, there is some grounds to believe him. I do know that the Mexica valued chastity, but I avoid equating this with virginity due to differing social connotations and significance, and difference on the emphasis may be the source of the confusion between us.

Quote
On 2, I could careless for the argument. I will go by FAMSI and*Amoxtli.org*has good reasons why not to go by Mexica. Academic standards, I go by.

1: I can't find any part of FAMSI that advocates for the name Aztec over Mexica. A page may exist, but I can't find it. If you have a link I would be happy to read it.
2: Amoxtli's arguments are not really academic.
So far, none of this really proves anything, and I'm not even sure why you are insistent on arguing this.

Quote
I wouldn't say "small". That makes it sound*unimportant, and that is NOT how the religion was done back then or now in modern villages. While it is true the numbers are over-exaggerated, everyone did sacrifice in Mesoamerica and everyone was required to do blood lettings at the very least. (I don't need to cite all the sources for this, you know them right?) Sacrifice has a HUGE and important role in Aztec religion. People were thought to be "food for the gods" and diminishing the role of sacrifice in the religion, well that does not make any sense. Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but sacrifice was like super vital to their religion and they were very much about that, and war. Even the gods sacrificed and this was a big thing in the mythos cycles. So, this sounds like you are romanticizing the Mexica as you call them.

This would be great, if it had anything to do with what I was arguing. I did not say anything about the quantity of human sacrifice, or deny its importance. In fact, I have openly stated that sacrifice did exist. What I did do was emphasise its meaning, context, and how they were different. The rest of the statement has nothing to do with what I was actually arguing.

To recap: you gave an overly simplistic account of sacrifice and its meanings. I responded, by pointing out that it was vastly oversimplified and ignored the important role of rain gods (well, Tlaloc). Let's take it a step further and add in all the other agricultural deities, like Xipe Totec and Xilonen. I also aimed to add some ritual and philosophical context. Tell me how this is supposed to be a 'denial' of sacrifice again?

Quote
Read more ethnography on the modern evolution of the religion in central America. Timothy Knabb has a good book Dialogue of the Earth and Sky. Mexicolore goes into some detail as well, using primary sources.

Again, what does this have to do with my comment? You haven't actually provided an argument. I don't fully remember, but I believe we were discussing the comparison of Mexica religion with Christianity, before syncretisim. The presence of modern syncretic religion does not disprove my claim that they were actually quite different.

As a counter, I would recommend 'Corn is our Blood,' by Alan Sandstrom who spends a lot of time discussing how modern Nahua beliefs are different and distinct from the European Christian beliefs held by the Mestizo population.

Quote
My question to you; have you actually studied this? From the sounds of it, the answer is "no". You already formed an opinion.

I've been studying Mesoamerican history for about six years. And I am currently studying the Mexica at the university level.

Quote
Quite a few. I used to hang around them. Granted now it is kind of dead.

You have the Mad*Dr.Shock*of Black and Red Yahoo group.
Yehecatl of*Amoxtli.org. (Shock took over but has never updated.)
Cehualli had an academic blog for awhile, also not updated. Good posts though. You should be able to find links from Amoxtli or Google to these sites. I think there are some other ones there but they're not as good as these three. (Tlaochcalli was Cehualli's blog's name, I think is how it is spelled.)

I actually know these sites, but they were dead when I go there so...

Quote
I recall even the founder admitted that reconstruction doesn't make sense after years of research for her degree, and mentioned the Aztec religion continues into the modern era. (I believe that was one of her last posts.) The guy who runsAmoxtli.org, also helps run that group and I have learned much from the both of the founders of the group. I wouldn't call them "superficial" either, because a lot of stuff I got from them, and Yehecatl started the thing before anyone else did.

Yeah, I don't know their experiences, or what they learned, so I can't comment on them.

Quote
Maybe you're confused because I do not diminish the importance of sacrifice in the religion. You may think this sounds like I have a pop cultural view, but sacrifice was important early in Mesoamerican religion. They debate about the Olmecs, but you see... The Aztecs were built on the ashes of the Toltecs, and that whole story about Quetzalcoatl Ce Acatl wanting butterflies as sacfirices did not sit well with the gods and was one of the reasons that led to Tezcatlipoca, tricking him. If I had a pop cultural view, I would have said "Quetzalcoatl". But it was actually Quetzalcoatl Ce Acatl, so I do know my stuff.

Can I ask, what does this have to do with our discussion? It has been so long, I can't quite remember.

If I called your argument superficial, it is because it comes off that way. I am not sure how exactly to explain it, largely because there are three threads to this debate, and I have already tried to address the points without apparent success. Half the time, you seem to be responding to something that was not said. You have also made reference to 'physical evidence' which then you do not provide. You also use a lot of appeals to authority, which might not be a problem if I knew how those authorities supported your position, but for me it is just not clear.

Now, that is a fairly harsh set of things to say. But I am fairly certain that you could write similar criticisms of my arguments. So it might simply be a case that our arguments got derailed and we are actually trying to debate similar, but slightly different points. Or that neither of us actually offered much in the way of clarification or definition. In retrospect, I think a lot would have been made clearer if I explained a few points in more detail.

Unfortunately it is probably too late to go back and write more detailed responses. Perhaps if I had my sources when the debate started I may have done so. Alas, it was not to be. But if you, or anyone else wants a more clear explanation of what I'm talking about, I would be happy to provide one.

Quote
I hope I followed this convo correct, been awhile. Kinda lost and tired. Feel free to debate me in private messages.

I'm quite happy to keep this out in the open. Let others enjoy the show and add their own opinions. Besides, this forum exists for debate.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2016, 02:50:50 am by Yei »

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #37 on: April 26, 2016, 07:00:50 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;176232
If they decide they want to honor that deity, they just usually do so as a separate practice rather than incorporate in into their recon religion.
Or, in my case, if one's Reconstruction is inherently syncretic, one might be able to find a way to squeeze it in there. I'm a Roman recon, but ancient Roman religion was incredibly syncretic and, yes, even eclectic while still being anchored in its own traditions, mentality, and language. I worship Cernunnos in a sacra privata, and my wife and I honour a grouping of Celtic (specifically Insular) deities in an effort to connect to our common ancestors and their homeland. I don't necessarily do this separately from my Roman-framed household religion, since I consider it an extension of the ancestor cult. I try to honour those gods in a manner consistent with the cultures that originally described them, but the British Isles weren't exactly immune to Romanization to start with.

But that's, admittedly, probably uncommon. The Romans were rather uniquely colonial and widespread for Ancient Europe, combining their religious traditions with native traditions everywhere they went. Typically, Reconstructionism is very specific like you said; if you're drawn to a set of gods and want to practise as a recon, you tend to be drawn to the culture as well since they were inseparable in Antiquity.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 07:05:59 pm by Louisvillian »

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #38 on: April 26, 2016, 09:13:40 pm »
Quote from: Louisvillian;190428
But that's, admittedly, probably uncommon. The Romans were rather uniquely colonial and widespread for Ancient Europe, combining their religious traditions with native traditions everywhere they went. Typically, Reconstructionism is very specific like you said; if you're drawn to a set of gods and want to practise as a recon, you tend to be drawn to the culture as well since they were inseparable in Antiquity.

Please also consider the Greek. From the classical age on into Hellenistic and Roman times, Bendis (originally from Thrace), Men (originally Lydian and Phrygian) and Isis (originally Egyptian) were integrated into the religious life of the Greek-speaking world, and in the Hellenistic synthesis new hybrid deities were coined, like Serapis and Aion.

Deities from every region were viewed as the regional names of universal deities known under other names in other regions. Zeus as Ammon, Heracles as Melqart and Khonsu, Asclepius as Imhoptep and Eshmun, Apollo as Horus, Neith as Leto and Athena, Min as Pan or Priapus, Aphrodite with Hathor, Artemis and Persephone with Ashtarte, Dione with Atargatis, Rhea or Theia with Cybele. And in Apuleius and the Papyrus Oxyrhynchus XI.1380 all goddesses are one goddess: Isis.

That deites were translatable into several names in different languages wasn't anything particular new with the Greeks and Romans either: The Hittites did it.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 09:18:04 pm by RecycledBenedict »

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #39 on: April 27, 2016, 05:59:33 am »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;190434
Please also consider the Greek.

Oh, of course. I identified myself as a Hellenistic reconstructionist for a bit there, and I tried to do syncretism under that label. And as a student of history, I do know how much the Greeks integrated Anatolian, Near Eastern, and later Persian beliefs and practices, especially in the Hellenistic period. My point wasn't that the Greeks didn't try to colonise, but that the Romans achieved it, systematically, to an extent that the Greeks were not able to. Even Alexander's conquests were a blink of an eye in comparison.

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #40 on: April 27, 2016, 06:26:17 am »
Quote from: Louisvillian;190454
Oh, of course. I identified myself as a Hellenistic reconstructionist for a bit there, and I tried to do syncretism under that label. And as a student of history, I do know how much the Greeks integrated Anatolian, Near Eastern, and later Persian beliefs and practices, especially in the Hellenistic period. My point wasn't that the Greeks didn't try to colonise, but that the Romans achieved it, systematically, to an extent that the Greeks were not able to. Even Alexander's conquests were a blink of an eye in comparison.

Then I understand what you mean, and I perfectly agree, with the addition, that Alexander opened up the influx of Indian and Persian ideas to the mix, and that these influences are still very visible in such a late Pagan work as the Arabian Picatrix: The seven planetary deities are invoked under names from everywhere in it.

I am reading The Nabataean Agriculture now: It is also a fascinating example of how Hellenized Meseopotamian religion survived for a while in an Arabized form, at least in traces.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2016, 06:26:48 am by RecycledBenedict »

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