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Author Topic: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons  (Read 2270 times)

KS95126

Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« on: July 02, 2016, 01:19:00 am »
Bear with me for a bit... I feel a little background is required.

When I first started looking at Wicca and started my own eclectic solitary practice, I felt very drawn to the norse goddess Freyja. I decided to bring in Odin as my God and Freyja as my Goddess, and I definitely felt a strong pull from her in a way that I've never felt to a spiritual being. For personal reasons I had to put my practice on hold for about two years, but am now able to get back into the swing of things.

I still feel a pull from Freyja, like she's actively encouraging me to be her follower. But I know that Wicca is not a path for me and I've looked into some of the heathen practices and those don't really fit me either. I've considered simply building my own way of working with her, but I'm fairly certain that any heathen would be appalled (and certainly would take offense at calling myself a heathen). Also, while my ancestors were German, I do not have a strong connection to their past or traditions.

To complicate matters, I do trance work and have met several spirits that also claim to be gods, but have names I can't find any reference to. I've stopped my trance work as they've added a great deal of confusion to my spiritual search. Could they be new? Is that even possible? My theory right now is that they are old gods that are simply choosing new names so as to not weigh me down with concerns about how they were previously thought of and worshiped.

So I guess these are my questions for you:

1) Is it possible to encounter an entirely "new" pantheon and build a practice of worship and devotion around these gods?

2) If you do worship a "new" pantheon, would you still be considered a pagan (presuming the practice included a reverence for the earth and some form of a yearly cyclical pattern like the Wheel of the Year)?

3) If you DO end up worshiping a "new" pantheon, will anyone in the pagan community actually take me seriously as a true spiritual person worshiping real gods?

4) Can you be a pagan and worship two or three gods from a "known" pantheon but in a way that goes against everything people have understood them as?

Jack

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Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2016, 01:33:01 am »
Quote from: KS95126;193370
1) Is it possible to encounter an entirely "new" pantheon and build a practice of worship and devotion around these gods?


Yes, and in fact it's come up here on the forum.

Quote
2) If you do worship a "new" pantheon, would you still be considered a pagan (presuming the practice included a reverence for the earth and some form of a yearly cyclical pattern like the Wheel of the Year)?


I don't even consider those things required. What I'm doing is not a mainstream religion and I self-identify as pagan, therefore it's pagan.

Quote
3) If you DO end up worshiping a "new" pantheon, will anyone in the pagan community actually take me seriously as a true spiritual person worshiping real gods?


Does it matter?

In practice, the answer will be equal parts "depends on how you present yourself" and "some people are wankers".

Quote
4) Can you be a pagan and worship two or three gods from a "known" pantheon but in a way that goes against everything people have understood them as?

 
Yes. I mean, again, it's gonna depend on how you present yourself and how loud you are about it, but there is Pagan Police going to come to your house and stop you.
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Merlick

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Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2016, 02:09:23 am »
Quote from: KS95126;193370
(...)

1) Is it possible to encounter an entirely "new" pantheon and build a practice of worship and devotion around these gods?

2) If you do worship a "new" pantheon, would you still be considered a pagan (presuming the practice included a reverence for the earth and some form of a yearly cyclical pattern like the Wheel of the Year)?

3) If you DO end up worshiping a "new" pantheon, will anyone in the pagan community actually take me seriously as a true spiritual person worshiping real gods?

4) Can you be a pagan and worship two or three gods from a "known" pantheon but in a way that goes against everything people have understood them as?

 
1.) The ancient Germans were not homogenus but many small tribes and often worshipped their own local deities. And since they rarely left any Form of documentation at all (even the icelandic eddas were written at a time when most people were already Christians), it's just as possible you just stumbled upon some those old forgotten gods and they're really happy someone's there who's noticed them.

2.) Pagan and heathen are names the Christian church called people who lived mostly on the countryside and still kept to their old traditions. Today it's an umbrella term for someone from an non-mainstream Religion.

3.) People don't judge you for your beliefs, no matter if you worshipped Freya or the flying spaggheti Monster. Paganism is a lot about what you do. Be honest to others and yourself, do your share for the Community including having a real Job, help others and simply be friendly. Simply be a Person others take serious and like to be around.

4.) Everyone worshipps the gods differently. Some can sit beneath a tree an talk to them like you would to a good friend while others prefer regular prayers or a more structured ritual. Also the horse gods have many faces. Freya is a Goddess of love just as she's a Goddess of war and leader of the valkyries and it's completely fine if you just praise her in One aspect.

Darkhawk

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Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2016, 12:00:42 pm »
Quote from: KS95126;193370
1) Is it possible to encounter an entirely "new" pantheon and build a practice of worship and devotion around these gods?


That which exists is possible. Jack's already linked you to a discussion.

Quote
2) If you do worship a "new" pantheon, would you still be considered a pagan (presuming the practice included a reverence for the earth and some form of a yearly cyclical pattern like the Wheel of the Year)?


Reverence for the earth and the Wheel of the Year are not requirements for being pagan; to go into that in detail is a long-standing argument that I, at least, am exhausted with.  If you mean something more generic like "a yearly calendar" I am aware of no systems that don't have one.  The forms vary - the mainstream calendar is Roman-religious in origin, so easy for Religio folks; the Jewish calendar is lunisolar, as is the Kemetic (and Hellenic?  I don't know how y'all Greeks handle the 12/13 lunar month thing), where the Islamic one is straight-up lunar.  Chinese traditional holidays are I think lunisolar (at least there has to be some sort of interpolation to land Chinese New Year in the same zone reliably).  Etc.

The definition of "pagan" typically used on the Cauldron is a non-Abrahamic religion that identifies as pagan.  A definition that actually refers to the sociocultural emergence of paganism is way more complicated, but could be articulated, if... probably not more efficiently than a college thesis.

Quote
3) If you DO end up worshiping a "new" pantheon, will anyone in the pagan community actually take me seriously as a true spiritual person worshiping real gods?


Depends on how you behave.  Also depends on whether or not you are looking for affirmation and reassurance from assholes.  (I recommend not looking for affirmation and reassurance from assholes.)

Quote
4) Can you be a pagan and worship two or three gods from a "known" pantheon but in a way that goes against everything people have understood them as?

 
This is a complicated question.

If you, for example, start arguing that Kali is a sweet and kind peaceful teddybear mommy figure and all of the stuff with the skulls and making sure none of the blood touches the ground was made up to slander her it is entirely likely that nobody will take you seriously.  (I base this on the evidence that the guy who does this?  Nobody takes him seriously.)

If you, on the other hand, relate to Set (a god who was often historically portrayed as (often destructively) hypermasculine) as genderqueer, and back it up by pointing to his attested status as deviant and boundary-crosser, you'll get some "but the looooooooore" thumpers, some people who say "that's weird but I can see how it works for you", and some people who go, "Oh, yeah, totally."
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
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KS95126

Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2016, 01:41:41 pm »
Quote from: Jack;193371
Yes, and in fact it's come up here on the forum.


Thank you so much for this link. I found it to be an excellent read. What I'm gathering from the responses here is that I should do what I feel to be true to my own experiences. If Freyja is calling to me, and I want to interact with her, I should do so. And if that interaction doesn't follow the practices of other paths and traditions that also worship her, I don't need to be concerned as I am following her in the way that I feel she wants me to.

After I posted this I did some trance work and am more convinced that the entities I'm encountering are definitely not "new" gods, but have always existed and always will. But over time, groups and cultures have found and worshiped them and then have faded or converted to other faiths and left them behind. I feel they are just excited that someone has found them again.

So now I just need to decide if I follow Freyja and explore those interactions, if I try to work with these new entities I've encountered, or both or neither.

One thing I'm learning in my pagan exploration is that it does require a lot of work. It's good work. It's rewarding and fulfilling work. But it's work. I'm sorry in advance if I offend anyone with my incredible lack of overall knowledge. Also, thank you so much for taking the time to respond and share your thoughts. I am very grateful. :D:

KS95126

Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2016, 02:02:05 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;193381
Reverence for the earth and the Wheel of the Year are not requirements for being pagan; to go into that in detail is a long-standing argument that I, at least, am exhausted with.  If you mean something more generic like "a yearly calendar" I am aware of no systems that don't have one.  The forms vary - the mainstream calendar is Roman-religious in origin, so easy for Religio folks; the Jewish calendar is lunisolar, as is the Kemetic (and Hellenic?  I don't know how y'all Greeks handle the 12/13 lunar month thing), where the Islamic one is straight-up lunar.  Chinese traditional holidays are I think lunisolar (at least there has to be some sort of interpolation to land Chinese New Year in the same zone reliably).  Etc


Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I have often struggled with both of these concepts. I definitely respect the earth - it's our only home, afterall, and one doesn't want to burn down their own home. Part of my struggle with the Wheel of the Year has been it's focus on seasons, fertility, and harvest. These are concepts that are difficult to work with when you live in southern California (what are seasons? We have the season of fog and the season of sometimes rain), live in a city, and are homosexual with no desire or real means to be fertile in the traditional sense. I understand fertility could relate to other things such as creativity and knowledge, but it still presents an overall barrier for me.

Quote from: Darkhawk;193381
The definition of "pagan" typically used on the Cauldron is a non-Abrahamic religion that identifies as pagan.  A definition that actually refers to the sociocultural emergence of paganism is way more complicated, but could be articulated, if... probably not more efficiently than a college thesis.


This is helpful, too. I have encountered many pagans in meetups and online who have told me I cannot be pagan unless I revere the earth and follow the Wheel of the Year. It's refreshing to find people who have a more open definition. I know it's just a label and practice matters more than words, but labels serve a purpose and I find them helpful, so being able to identify myself as a pagan matters to me.

Quote from: Darkhawk;193381
This is a complicated question.

 
I didn't mean to imply that I would twist the understood and commonly accepted interpretations of existing pantheons. I am more concerned about the appropriateness of focusing on Freyja's aspects of love and passion versus her aspects of war and death, and not worshiping her the ways an Asatruar or Odinist might worship her.

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Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2016, 02:53:04 pm »
Quote from: KS95126;193384
And if that interaction doesn't follow the practices of other paths and traditions that also worship her, I don't need to be concerned as I am following her in the way that I feel she wants me to.


It's say it's maybe a little more complicated than that.

Your relationship with a given deity is between you and that deity. But as soon as you start talking about it to other people (also sharing practices or sharing rituals together, but it starts with just talking) than I think it's good to be aware of how what you're doing affects the larger community.

That doesn't absolutely mean 'change what you do' - but it might mean 'be aware how you talk about some things, and that some choices may have consequences for opportunities, who's willing to talk to you, etc. in ways you may have no idea about at the time.'

For example, sometimes people who have strong experiences with a deity which are outside the common norms for that deity come across as "I have the valid experience, and all of you don't" (which is not going to come across well to other people with different experiences.) Sometimes people argue for things very contrary to historical lore or historical or widely shared modern practices and get very nasty, incoherent, or otherwise destructive to conversation about that deity. Which always strikes me as not in anyone's best interest.

A little bit of careful writing can often help - being clear about "My experience with X deity has been Y, and I've chosen to do this thing, because of this experience, and also this bit of research." is going to come across a lot differently (and better in conversation!) than "X deity wants Y, end of statement, anyone who says differently is wrong."

Quote
After I posted this I did some trance work and am more convinced that the entities I'm encountering are definitely not "new" gods, but have always existed and always will. But over time, groups and cultures have found and worshiped them and then have faded or converted to other faiths and left them behind. I feel they are just excited that someone has found them again.


My primary personal deity work is with two deities who (after about 8 years of work, research into the parts I could research, trance work, meditation, drawing down work by other people, and a couple of other methods) I am fairly certain are English (or at least 'British Isles Not At All Celtic In Origin' deities whose precise names I don't know, and which don't seem to match up to specific remaining historical records.

(Which is not terribly surprising: M'Lady fits into the very common category of 'deity associated with water' of whom there are many local varieties in the area, many of whose names we know we've lost, among her other attributes.)

There's a couple of things to be aware of with this kind of work - one is that it can be very slow to build a relationship, and because of that, it is a good idea to be cautious and take time before making lasting commitments.

(I suggest and advise shorter periods of time building up to longer ones: three months, then six, then a year, then see where you are after that, rather than an unlimited or permanent commitment to start. Think of how you build relationships with friends or mentors or romantic partners: there might be an initial spark of interest that's amazing and important, but you probably don't decide to give your life over to that interaction the next day, either.)

This also gives you time to figure out other things - for example, I mentioned those two personal deity interactions, but there are other deities I honour and work with primarily in context of the initiatory tradition I work in, and at least two others I have ongoing but irregular interactions with which are about particular shared interests/goals.

There's no reason all your deity interactions have to be the same level of attachment/formal worship/priority.  (Just the same way many people have a few very close friends or chosen family, some friends they do particular activities with but don't see outside of those things, some friends they don't get to see or talk to often, but care a lot about, and then some more emotionally distant interactions where the interactions are more 'you know about this thing, can you help in exchange for this?' etc.)

There are, of course, ways to do this well or badly (being rude or not keeping promises you've made are things that can go badly, just like with people). But in general, if you don't promise things you can't follow through on, and are clear (with yourself and others) about your priorities for obligations, it's not an uncommon mode at all for a lot of people under the Pagan umbrella.
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Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2016, 04:33:34 pm »
Quote from: Merlick;193372
3.) People don't judge you for your beliefs, no matter if you worshipped Freya or the flying spaggheti Monster. Paganism is a lot about what you do. Be honest to others and yourself, do your share for the Community including having a real Job, help others and simply be friendly. Simply be a Person others take serious and like to be around.

Well let's be honest, some people totally will. But that's just how people are.

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LilacRaveclaw

Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2016, 05:05:19 pm »
Quote from: KS95126;193370
Bear with me for a bit... I feel a little background is required.

When I first started looking at Wicca and started my own eclectic solitary practice, I felt very drawn to the norse goddess Freyja. I decided to bring in Odin as my God and Freyja as my Goddess, and I definitely felt a strong pull from her in a way that I've never felt to a spiritual being. For personal reasons I had to put my practice on hold for about two years, but am now able to get back into the swing of things.

I still feel a pull from Freyja, like she's actively encouraging me to be her follower. But I know that Wicca is not a path for me and I've looked into some of the heathen practices and those don't really fit me either. I've considered simply building my own way of working with her, but I'm fairly certain that any heathen would be appalled (and certainly would take offense at calling myself a heathen). Also, while my ancestors were German, I do not have a strong connection to their past or traditions.

To complicate matters, I do trance work and have met several spirits that also claim to be gods, but have names I can't find any reference to. I've stopped my trance work as they've added a great deal of confusion to my spiritual search. Could they be new? Is that even possible? My theory right now is that they are old gods that are simply choosing new names so as to not weigh me down with concerns about how they were previously thought of and worshiped.

So I guess these are my questions for you:

1) Is it possible to encounter an entirely "new" pantheon and build a practice of worship and devotion around these gods?

2) If you do worship a "new" pantheon, would you still be considered a pagan (presuming the practice included a reverence for the earth and some form of a yearly cyclical pattern like the Wheel of the Year)?

3) If you DO end up worshiping a "new" pantheon, will anyone in the pagan community actually take me seriously as a true spiritual person worshiping real gods?

4) Can you be a pagan and worship two or three gods from a "known" pantheon but in a way that goes against everything people have understood them as?

 
First let me say there are a lot of very old gods and goddess that have been forgotten. For one reason is the limits of when people started writing things down. The heathen groups can have be people who are very judgement. It happened to me. Later I was told that not everyone is. Feel out the group you show your stuff to. I had a chime candle in a white candle holder that had a pentagram on it and I was attacked by several people to the point that I dropped all social media for about a year. So be careful.

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Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2016, 05:23:39 pm »
Quote from: KS95126;193385
This is helpful, too. I have encountered many pagans in meetups and online who have told me I cannot be pagan unless I revere the earth and follow the Wheel of the Year. It's refreshing to find people who have a more open definition. I know it's just a label and practice matters more than words, but labels serve a purpose and I find them helpful, so being able to identify myself as a pagan matters to me.


There are a lot of pagans who are completely ignorant of the existence of pagan religions other than popularised Wiccish-derived stuff, unfortunately.

Quote
I didn't mean to imply that I would twist the understood and commonly accepted interpretations of existing pantheons. I am more concerned about the appropriateness of focusing on Freyja's aspects of love and passion versus her aspects of war and death, and not worshiping her the ways an Asatruar or Odinist might worship her.

 
This is a thing that's been on my mind recently.  A lot of people seem to think that there's only one ... shape that a divine relationship can take, and that it has to incorporate certain things.  But gods are large and complicated.  Gods have paths, aspects, epithets; people call on specific epithets in rituals so that they get the version of the god they want to show up.  This is long-attested, out there in the world, in both ancient and modern systems.

It's not just "what gods do I deal with" but also "which epithets/aspects/paths of the gods are the ones I deal with most frequently".  Which isn't to say one wouldn't also deal with a different aspect if that were relevant, but, again.  Gods are large and complicated.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

LilacRaveclaw

Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2016, 05:44:02 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;193396
There are a lot of pagans who are completely ignorant of the existence of pagan religions other than popularised Wiccish-derived stuff, unfortunately.


 
This is a thing that's been on my mind recently.  A lot of people seem to think that there's only one ... shape that a divine relationship can take, and that it has to incorporate certain things.  But gods are large and complicated.  Gods have paths, aspects, epithets; people call on specific epithets in rituals so that they get the version of the god they want to show up.  This is long-attested, out there in the world, in both ancient and modern systems.

It's not just "what gods do I deal with" but also "which epithets/aspects/paths of the gods are the ones I deal with most frequently".  Which isn't to say one wouldn't also deal with a different aspect if that were relevant, but, again.  Gods are large and complicated.

 
Very nicely put Darkhawk.

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Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2016, 08:12:36 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;193396
There are a lot of pagans who are completely ignorant of the existence of pagan religions other than popularised Wiccish-derived stuff, unfortunately.

This is a thing that's been on my mind recently.  A lot of people seem to think that there's only one ... shape that a divine relationship can take, and that it has to incorporate certain things.  But gods are large and complicated.  Gods have paths, aspects, epithets; people call on specific epithets in rituals so that they get the version of the god they want to show up.  This is long-attested, out there in the world, in both ancient and modern systems.

It's not just "what gods do I deal with" but also "which epithets/aspects/paths of the gods are the ones I deal with most frequently".  Which isn't to say one wouldn't also deal with a different aspect if that were relevant, but, again.  Gods are large and complicated.


Something about this I noticed a while ago, but sometime... probably in the 18th or 19th century (I don't really know when, where, or why), this idea emerged that religions 'evolved' through a hierarchy, going from animism, to polytheism, to monotheism, to Christianity (because Europe), to the author's specific brand of Christianity, and then maybe to Atheism if the writer was Marxist or something. The idea was that religions which were not monotheistic, or had this central understanding, were primitive and underdeveloped.

Obviously this is nonsense, but led to some strange double think, where religions which were clearly polytheistic were 'recast' as secretly monotheistic to explain why the believers had *shock* poetry, philosophy, and advanced mathematics. I sometimes wonder if this view has become a part of some brands of Neopaganism, where ancient understandings are dismissed as 'primitive' and gods are recast to fit modern, preconceived notions of how a god/worship 'aught to be'.

KS95126

Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2016, 09:20:04 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;193388
A little bit of careful writing can often help - being clear about "My experience with X deity has been Y, and I've chosen to do this thing, because of this experience, and also this bit of research." is going to come across a lot differently (and better in conversation!) than "X deity wants Y, end of statement, anyone who says differently is wrong."


Definitely agree. I really want to be respectful of everyone's path and their experiences.

Quote from: Jenett;193388
There's a couple of things to be aware of with this kind of work - one is that it can be very slow to build a relationship, and because of that, it is a good idea to be cautious and take time before making lasting commitments.


Wise advice for anyone starting a new spiritual path. I'm very careful of making commitments to people, so I'll carry that over to the divine as well.

Quote from: Jenett;193388
There are, of course, ways to do this well or badly (being rude or not keeping promises you've made are things that can go badly, just like with people). But in general, if you don't promise things you can't follow through on, and are clear (with yourself and others) about your priorities for obligations, it's not an uncommon mode at all for a lot of people under the Pagan umbrella.


It is very encouraging to hear that others have gone this direction as well.

KS95126

Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2016, 09:27:48 pm »
Quote from: LilacRaveclaw;193394
I had a chime candle in a white candle holder that had a pentagram on it and I was attacked by several people to the point that I dropped all social media for about a year. So be careful.

 
Thank you. My dealings with some local pagans have been... unfortunate. I have found a lot of judgment and people who insist that their way is the only right way to be a pagan. One even told me that I was psychotic and that my visions during my trance work are just a mental illness.

It's part of the reason I posted these questions. I've been feeling a lot of anxiety about who and how to worship and have decided to be a solitary practitioner until I really get my feet under me and understand and trust what I'm doing, feeling, and thinking.

LilacRaveclaw

Re: Perhaps a Strange Question About Pantheons
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2016, 07:36:58 am »
Quote from: KS95126;193424
Thank you. My dealings with some local pagans have been... unfortunate. I have found a lot of judgment and people who insist that their way is the only right way to be a pagan. One even told me that I was psychotic and that my visions during my trance work are just a mental illness.

It's part of the reason I posted these questions. I've been feeling a lot of anxiety about who and how to worship and have decided to be a solitary practitioner until I really get my feet under me and understand and trust what I'm doing, feeling, and thinking.

 
What kind of visions are you having? If your seeing someone in a dark place remember that 90% of our universe is black( unknown) matter. Then we have large amounts that we can't see with any human equipment. There are stars that are there but can't be seem as well. Then of you think about quantum matter everything is connected. You could be seeing something that's very real just they can't detect it.

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