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Author Topic: Soft polytheist issues and eclecticism: how do you recognize and name your Powers?  (Read 981 times)

Eastling

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For those of you who work with an eclectic set of deities, or who took a while to settle on your practice at first...what methods have you used to ascertain the identity of the Powers you're reaching out to, or vice versa?

The gods I work with are fairly clear about who They are, but the goddesses have been an ever-shifting continuum that often refuses to map to a specific well-documented deity. How do you deal with that kind of blurriness?
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Jack

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Quote from: Eastling;195250
For those of you who work with an eclectic set of deities, or who took a while to settle on your practice at first...what methods have you used to ascertain the identity of the Powers you're reaching out to, or vice versa?

The gods I work with are fairly clear about who They are, but the goddesses have been an ever-shifting continuum that often refuses to map to a specific well-documented deity. How do you deal with that kind of blurriness?
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MeadowRae

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Nicknames, titles, best guesses, and seeing what clicks and what sticks.

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A bit of the same here, and I would add that I also refer to deities as their attributes. I received recurring visits from a guardian of strength and one who identified himself as a god of joy.

I have a harder time naming male deities, usually. I think this is due to the latent Christian ideals I have, as well as deeper psychological issues.
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Eastling

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Quote from: MeadowRae;195395
A bit of the same here, and I would add that I also refer to deities as their attributes. I received recurring visits from a guardian of strength and one who identified himself as a god of joy.

I have a harder time naming male deities, usually. I think this is due to the latent Christian ideals I have, as well as deeper psychological issues.

 
I wonder how much of my issue identifying goddesses is due to a Jewish upbringing (where the Shekhina is rarely mentioned and usually treated as passive when she is) and how much is due to my identity as a transgender man? I doubt I can say.

I started out trying to work with a Lilith-Shekhina duality, then felt I needed to include a "Queen of Heaven" figure who descends from Ishtar-Inanna. I was working on forming a practice around these two figures, plus syncretisms of YHWH-Set and Dionysos-Tammuz, when Dionysos dragged me away to go on a quest to find Ariadne's character and origins.

But the original two female Powers I was working with are still there, reflecting weirdly on and in the mysterious Ariadne figure: She seems to spring from the same current of "powerful ANE star goddesses that grant sovereignty" as Inanna, but unlike these deities who patron civilization, She acts as a force of wildness as the Queen of Maenads and a death/underworld goddess as the mistress of the labyrinth--which my mind parses as a connection to Lilith (despite the lack of a historical link). She also has been identifying Herself to me as a mystic mother goddess in a way more like Isis/Aset (with a dash of the Orphic Persephone) than anything else.

I'm not sure how to best define Her as Her own entity.


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Faemon

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Quote from: Eastling;195250
For those of you who work with an eclectic set of deities, or who took a while to settle on your practice at first...what methods have you used to ascertain the identity of the Powers you're reaching out to, or vice versa?


The move of reaching out to might be simpler to qualify because that's usually conscious and active, so, I had an idea who I was reaching for. The qualities, symbols, understanding of possible characterization/personhood would be found in a provided source...say, beginner mythology books, or the testimonies of people in a spiritual/religious community.

So, when everybody I meet on Sundays goes on about the glory of Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, and makes with the hands like they're petting a big cloud, I...think I get the picture. Later, some invisibly golden thing begins to emanate from the ceiling and I can go, "It's you, isn't it." And often I also wonder how something can be both invisible and[/ golden, or how a being attested to in the canon as omnipresent can be more present in this specific location in the omni. I got the sense that this is an evil presence, too, but not Luciferan (as I understood Lucifer by the same process), so that's definitely a difference in my perception from what the canon and community had me expect. So, in this sort of net of qualities, there's a roughly similar net of connections and also dissimilar disconnections. How far I get from what's connected while still "correctly" referring to the thing as such really just...depends...on so many things...

And then there's considering how communities hone specific sensitivities. I used to expect a literal voice in the night or a burning bush or something, from the canon text, but meeting all these people who would casually talk about signs or inaudible voices opened me up to noticing personal experiences that could be similarly described.

As I read something about mythology really being a creative process, playing up a common tendency to make a metaphor out of natural phenomena, then that opens up another kind of honed sensitivity. So, for instance, I get into an altered state of mind where I feel gusts of wind that aren't physically there. Considering what I'd read before and how I interpreted that, I now have a predisposition towards a particular vocabulary, so, I call that phenomenon Lilith...who's "supposed to be" evil, in the tradition I was working in, but I was comfortable giving that name to a phenomenon without any apparent personality, because I was also working with the make-metaphors-out-of-life process theology.

I would not be so comfortable with that naming process now, because...I don't know, I really tried to work it all out in a way that made sense according to those terms, and eventually it's just, nah. Nah. Nope. At the same time, religion is not "merely" a provider of vocabulary that I can change willy-nilly and overlay onto a spiritual experience. Some lend themselves well to being called something else—such as Sequana, who I first believed to be Shekina except for that she was accompanied by a faun or satyr or something along those lines not Abrahamic, because why was I receiving vocalized syllables in a corporeal human language in a spirit otherworld, that makes increasingly less sense and really bothers me—others stubbornly stick even though the way I use the word has nothing to do with the source material anymore.

I have more cases with non-Abrahamic figures. I only knew the name of Astraea, and I thought she'd be nice, so I meditated to meet her and whoever I met turned out to be so scary. I've reached out to Freyja and Nichsa and gotten no reply that I could recognize, so may as well chalk it up to no reply. Manannan mac Lir comes off to me more like a stormcloud or an undercurrent above me, not at all anthropomorphic, which is annoying for a similar reason as Loki. Loki was thwapping everybody for a while, and introduced himself to me as "Oh puh-leez, You Know Who I Am", which I realized I did, until I realized much later that I thought I did but more animistic Aesir who leave the plebians to the disir and wights and such because gods have more important people to worry about...would totally wreck my theology (at the time), but struck far more of a chord with me as a concept, so I went with believing in that and decided my UPG was stupid. That happens sometimes.

Quote
The gods I work with are fairly clear about who They are, but the goddesses have been an ever-shifting continuum that often refuses to map to a specific well-documented deity. How do you deal with that kind of blurriness?


I complain about it to these forums. :p It's helped.

The Otherfaith has this feature where the fusion gods are canon. In some versions of the Eighth god's origin myth, when the Ophelene declines to slay the Liathane, the Clarene gets put out at the Ophelene disobeying her command. I imagine this to be awkward because the Ophelene is a fusion god of the Clarene and the Ophelia, so, the Clarene would be snarking at herself for consciously and deliberately disobeying a command she gave herself.

The Clarene is a god of boundaries, though. Perhaps consequently, the Ophelene and the Darren (I call him the Darene) from what I have read are or have always been treated as certainly definitely very separate and unique in themselves, despite their origins acknowledged to be fusion. What I personally get the sense of, though, is that the Ophelene can blur into the Ophelia as does the Laethelia (but maybe not so much that last to the Laetha). At least sometimes, but probably not always.

So...hard polytheism, but gods are just weird?
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