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Author Topic: How do you view "aspects"?  (Read 3849 times)

MadZealot

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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2013, 11:58:47 pm »
Quote from: Lydia;121279
the cosmic spirit of right and the cosmic spirit of wrong

 
I'm curious about this... 'right' and 'wrong' in what respects?
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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #31 on: September 10, 2013, 02:10:06 am »
Quote from: Lydia;121279
I was given a vision about this matter...
In this vision I was told and shown that two fundamental deities, the cosmic spirit of right and the cosmic spirit of wrong, each have a masculine aspect and a feminine aspect, but are gender-neutral on the whole.

 
Like MZ, I am curious to hear more about this. I'm a big fan of opposing and complementary forces in my religion and I have experienced a number of dualities in cosmic forces but never any sort of moral judgement. The closest I've come to that has probably been Existence and (void) but I wouldn't call (void) wrong, exactly.
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Gilbride

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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #32 on: September 10, 2013, 07:46:17 am »
Quote from: Materialist;116078
I wonder if monotheism is, in part, responsible for the existence of hard polytheism. That, in reconstructing pagan religions, trying to remove all the Christian corruptions of what paganism was, neo-pagans tended towards the extremes of polytheism to try to be as unchristian as possible. Just an idle thought of mine.


I think you're right. But it's odd, because you can find all kinds of "softer" varieties of polytheism in ancient theology, from the monism of the Neoplatonists to odd combination deities like Isis-Noreia, but I can't think of a single ancient source that clearly articulates a hard polytheist theology. I'm not saying there isn't one, but I can't think of one.

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How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #33 on: September 10, 2013, 09:39:47 am »
Quote from: Gilbride;121292
I think you're right. But it's odd, because you can find all kinds of "softer" varieties of polytheism in ancient theology, from the monism of the Neoplatonists to odd combination deities like Isis-Noreia, but I can't think of a single ancient source that clearly articulates a hard polytheist theology. I'm not saying there isn't one, but I can't think of one.

How are you defining "articulate" here? I mean, I'm thinking about the Eddas and what I remember of the Iliad and the Odyssey and I don't remember any indication that the gods were not, you know, separate beings. (Aside from us not knowing whether certain names are heiti for major gods or names of entirely different gods, but I don't think that's soft polytheism so much as a lack of sources.) (Of course the Eddas weren't written by a polytheist at all so they may not count.)
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Gilbride

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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #34 on: September 10, 2013, 06:37:02 pm »
Quote from: Jack;121307
How are you defining "articulate" here?


I mean one where the source specifically says "the gods are separate, distinct, individual beings." Instead you have myths where the gods interact with each other like separate beings, theological statements specifically denying that they are totally separate beings (like in neoplatonism) and syncretic practices such as the worship of Isis-Noreia or Mars-Silvanus that strongly imply people didn't really think of them as separate, distinct beings in the same way modern hard polytheists do.

My guess is that people in general perceived the gods as having fluid identities, capable of combining and splitting in all kinds of ways people can't do.

Lydia

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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2013, 10:51:59 pm »
Quote from: MadZealot;121280
I'm curious about this... 'right' and 'wrong' in what respects?


Quote from: Jack;121284
Like MZ, I am curious to hear more about this. I'm a big fan of opposing and complementary forces in my religion and I have experienced a number of dualities in cosmic forces but never any sort of moral judgement. The closest I've come to that has probably been Existence and (void) but I wouldn't call (void) wrong, exactly.

 
From what I gather from the visions, it is something fundamental, that relates to beauty, truth, and justice.
It is more often than not the case that dominance-asserting sociopaths rule over decent people, due to the more power-hungry nature of the former. That principle is demonstrated well by various internet forums. ...*ahem*

Jack

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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2013, 12:14:04 am »
Quote from: Lydia;121366
From what I gather from the visions, it is something fundamental, that relates to beauty, truth, and justice.

 
Am I correct in reading that as equating beauty, truth and justice with each other and the idea of "rightness," with "wrongness" in opposition?

Because I'm sure you can see how that sounds kind of problematic without any further explanation, right?
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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #37 on: September 11, 2013, 12:26:03 am »
Quote from: Gilbride;121349
I mean one where the source specifically says "the gods are separate, distinct, individual beings." Instead you have myths where the gods interact with each other like separate beings, theological statements specifically denying that they are totally separate beings (like in neoplatonism) and syncretic practices such as the worship of Isis-Noreia or Mars-Silvanus that strongly imply people didn't really think of them as separate, distinct beings in the same way modern hard polytheists do.

My guess is that people in general perceived the gods as having fluid identities, capable of combining and splitting in all kinds of ways people can't do.

 
So there are three kinds of sources, one of which supports the idea that the gods are separate beings and... therefore that one doesn't count? Because it's not a sentence that says "the gods are distinct"? And one of which is presumably written to explain an idea which, IMO, suggests that the idea is not accepted by everyone and therefore needs to be explained.

When I was researching heretical early Christianity, the vast majority of the sources we had on those heresies were arguments against them because we didn't have a complete array of sources. Those things were written because they needed to be said to people who did not necessarily fundamentally agree with them.

So basically I just don't think we can "throw out" all the casually harder polytheist stuff because it's not sufficiently explainy and then read the explainy stuff in a vacuum.
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Gilbride

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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #38 on: September 11, 2013, 07:07:26 am »
Quote from: Jack;121371
So there are three kinds of sources, one of which supports the idea that the gods are separate beings and... therefore that one doesn't count?...So basically I just don't think we can "throw out" all the casually harder polytheist stuff because it's not sufficiently explainy and then read the explainy stuff in a vacuum.


It's not that the myths don't count as a source, but that a hard polytheist interpretation of them might not be accurate to what people actually believed.

With the Celtic material specifically, I don't see any way to support a hard polytheist interpretation even of the myths, since deities seem so fluid in them. Some of the Irish sources directly equate deities with each other, like the line in the Tain where it says Nemain is the Badb or the line in "The Second Battle of Moytura" (I think) where it says the Morrigan is also Danann. In general there are very soft lines between some of the deities in the Irish sources. Yet a lot of Celtic Reconstructionists seem to insist hard polytheism is a defining feature of their belief system, which honestly perplexes me based on what the sources say.

But you're right that we shouldn't read the explainy stuff in a vacuum or ignore the implications of myths that do seem to reflect a harder polytheism. Maybe the entire spectrum of interpretations was just as common back then as it is now. That's certainly the case in Hinduism, where some Kali-worshipers will say "all deities are really Kali" and others will say "the Kali of our village is enemies with the Kali from the next village over."

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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2013, 10:57:54 am »
Quote from: Gilbride;121385
Maybe the entire spectrum of interpretations was just as common back then as it is now.


It seems to me that it would be a hell of a stretch to assume that it wasn't.  It's not like human experience and interpretation have changed all that much.

Quote
That's certainly the case in Hinduism, where some Kali-worshipers will say "all deities are really Kali" and others will say "the Kali of our village is enemies with the Kali from the next village over."

 
I've been working on a book about Shinto, recently, for work, and one of the things that has come up in it is that in that indigenous religion, constructing formal codifications of theology is something of an actual taboo.  At the very least, it's tacky.

Given the prevalence of polyvalent theologies in multiple known continuous-practice religions, and the fact that speaking authoritatively about the divine is deprecated behaviour in at least one, and the evidence for polyvalent theologies in surviving mythology and religious thought, assuming that there is a One True Way Of Anciently Thinking About The Gods strikes me as completely incompatible with thinking based on evidence.  (People who want to whinge about Creeping Monotheism don't usually seem to catch that one, though, for some reason.)
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Jack

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How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2013, 11:32:30 am »
Quote from: Gilbride;121385
But you're right that we shouldn't read the explainy stuff in a vacuum or ignore the implications of myths that do seem to reflect a harder polytheism. Maybe the entire spectrum of interpretations was just as common back then as it is now. That's certainly the case in Hinduism, where some Kali-worshipers will say "all deities are really Kali" and others will say "the Kali of our village is enemies with the Kali from the next village over."

Yes, I'm glad to see you agree with me. :) Hinduism is a good example of the diversity of belief offered in a single religious umbrella.

(The middle ground where people agree that Kali is probably the same goddess but other deities are different degrees of distinct, for example, has probably also been common.)
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Gilbride

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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2013, 12:08:22 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;121399
Given the prevalence of polyvalent theologies in multiple known continuous-practice religions... (People who want to whinge about Creeping Monotheism don't usually seem to catch that one, though, for some reason.)


Polyvalent theology is where I'm at, so I won't debate you on that. :)

I do tend to push back a bit about hard polytheism, though, because some very vocal proponents of it will refer to monist polytheism as "monotheism," or say that anyone who isn't hard polytheist is "impious" or "disrespectful to the gods." It gets tiresome, especially when it's so easy to prove that many ancient pagans were not hard polytheists.

Gilbride

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Re: How do you view "aspects"?
« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2013, 12:09:45 pm »
Quote from: Jack;121404
(The middle ground where people agree that Kali is probably the same goddess but other deities are different degrees of distinct, for example, has probably also been common.)

 
As far as I can tell, every conceivable viewpoint is pretty common!

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