How Do You View “Aspects”?

This is not so much a specific question I have, more a discussion topic.

So, the concept of gods having different “aspects” seems to be taken for granted in paganism/polytheism. It’s a seriously complex topic, both historically and in personal understanding.

Most of my personal practice falls under the concepts of “ancestor veneration” and “animism”, working with local land spirits or household deities and such. I don’t call attention from the “big” gods very much, partly because they blow my mind. My brain really wants to put things into tidy categories, so I struggle with how some people’s interpretation of “aspects” conflicts with very hard polytheism.

A historical example: as time progressed Roman philosophy eschewed individualism in deities, and “absorbed” smaller local deities into larger universal ones, especially as the empire expanded.

One aspect concept: many gods change their “appearance” to reflect different parts of their personality or goals. A number of gods can appear young or old, for example, or Hekate’s triplicity. Some folks call this an “aspect”.

But, then sometimes Hekate is viewed as an “aspect” of Diana. Using the above description, this would mean that Hekate and all her functions are a face of Diana, rather than an individual.

And then – what of similar gods from other cultures? Where do you “split” their identities? It seems obvious that Thor and Zeus are different people. But what of Thor and Perkunas? Like the Roman’s concept, are they simply locational translations of larger gods? Or are they individuals who cover similar duties for a different group of people?

I’m under the impression that Kemetics (for example) have no problem with gods being both individual and plural and mixes of each other; I believe the quote is “the gods are individual except when they’re not”. But I am asking more about cross-cultural PIE gods, and how they fit into this concept.

Basically, my problem is not whether the gods are or are not individuals: my problem is with the definition of the word “aspect”, and how it gets thrown around a lot.

(Also, I didn’t really explain my position, because I wanted to just post the question.)

Comments Wanted for a Pagan Pride talk on diversity of paths in Paganism

Wasn’t entirely sure where to post this – here or in Pagan Religions – so I settled on here. I’m doing a talk at my local Pagan Pride in August, on the subject of diversity of paths under the Pagan ‘umbrella’, from a sociological perspective. I haven’t chosen a title yet, but it will be something akin to ‘Beyond Earth Worship: Diverse Paths Under One Pagan Umbrella’. In the UK (as came up on this forum recently), there’s an assumption that Paganism means neo-Wiccan and nature-centered. This is mainly because there isn’t much representation of other paths in the community. They do exist, but not on a very large scale. For example, there used to be a UK polytheist organization that could not sustain membership; there are heathen groups, but (from my understanding) not in that many areas; finding reconstructionists in the UK is a challenge.

Being an ethnographer, I’m incapable of writing a talk on a social issue without including comments from the people on the ground. So I wondered if anyone would be willing to comment on what it’s like being from one of the less ‘mainstream’ Pagan paths. What’s it like taking part in the Pagan community as a polytheist, a deity-centred Pagan rather than an earth-centred Pagan*, or a reconstructionist (and do tell me about what kind)? And what’s it like being a Pagan following any other smaller Pagan path? Do you feel under-represented? What does that mean in practice? What kinds of experiences have you had? I’d love to hear stories that you’d be willing to have shared in the talk, but I would change names and not mention locations or identifying information.**

You would have my utmost gratitude if you’d be willing to share any stories, and I hope that they will help educate an audience that is much in need of education!

*I know that the two are not mutually exclusive, but in this country, being a deity-centred Pagan is fairly rare, and not being an earth-centered Pagan is even rarer. So.

**I’m bound by the confidentiality and anonymity guidelines of the British Sociological Association, even in informal talks.

Information on or Experiences with the Minoan Brotherhood?

I have heard some podcasts recently discussing this tradition, and I find it kind of interesting. While not a reconstructionist path, it involves Aegean and Near Eastern influence, and apparently honours the Great Goddess Rhea, and her consort, the bull of heaven, Asterion. The Brotherhood is a tradition of homosexual men, while there is also a Minoan Sisterhood, a lesbian offshoot.

I wonder why the Minoans became the subject of a homosexual-oriented tradition, probably just because it was what the tradition’s founder, Eddie Buczynski, was interested in. Although, I think he founded a Welsh tradition previously. He was a Gardnerian initiate, so I think the MB has Gardnerian influence as well, and a three degree system of initiation.

There aren’t any MB groves in my area, but I have been in touch with a priest in the US who has offered me long-distance training. I’m not sure if I’m going to do it, as I sort of prefer to do my own thing when it comes to my religious practice, and don’t have much desire to participate in any organized tradition unless it’s something I really relate to, but I am interested and might do some outer-court studies before I decide one way or the other.

Does anyone have any knowledge or experience with this tradition?

Looking for Books about disability in Mythology and Folklore

so yeah, I’m looking for books or other writings about disability in mythology and folklore and disability and deities. I have The Other within: The Genius of Deformity in Myth, Culture, and Psyche

I’ve got my eye one Oedipus Borealis: The Aberrant Body in Old Icelandic Myth and Saga but it’s really expensive so if any one has read it I would like to know what you thought?

I’d prefer books written by people with disabilities but if you’ve read something really good that isn’t I’ll look into that too.

Offerings to the Gods

I was recently contemplating the whys of different offerings to the Gods and I would love to hear people’s take on it. I found this link and wondered how other people felt about it: http://hinduism.about.com/od/vegetarianism/a/prasada.htm

Usually when I offer food I leave it out for several hours and then dispose of it outside in nature. However this interests me as a practice. I also offer oil to fire, and incense as well.

How do other people deal with their offerings and what other sort of things do you offer?

Am I Possibly Practicing the Wrong Faith?

I like to be able to easily see: “Yes, this is exactly the religion for me because all of these things coincide with my own beliefs.”
When I discovered Wicca, I decided this was the case for the most part, maybe, but not exactly. And like I said before, I don’t like it when things aren’t perfectly clear.

So here is what I do know: I discovered tarot, enjoy it, and feel I have a strong affinity for it. I agree with the one rule of Wicca (to harm none, essentially) but also understand most Pagan religions share this rule. I enjoy the rituals of Wicca and like to celebrate nature and the earth. But then we get into dieties….

This is where I feel fuzzy. I believe there is something out there. Someone perhaps. Maybe multiple. But I don’t feel I can call this being or beings by name.

So I guess my question is, does this matter? Or am I possibly practicing the wrong faith? I love opinions, hit me with everything you’ve got!

How do you believe the universe was created? Do you believe in creator god(s)?

I’m interested in how you guys think the universe was created and whether you believe there was deity involved with it at all?
Also, if you could say what path you are that would be great.

My views:

I’m a medium- hard polytheistic, somewhat animistic witch but I don’t do much with the gods. I have shrines set up and I do acknowledge them but I don’t really involve them with my workings.

As far as I’m concerned about the creation of the universe, it was the big bang and all that jazz. No deity involved. I’m a bit unsure about where I believe the gods came from. I sort of have the belief that they came along with life when it started on this planet, whether they kick started that I don’t know or really care. I don’t really believe that they have much, if any, influence outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and I kind of think they sort of evolved with the Earth. (And for that case, for life on other planets, those planets have their own gods.)
I’m a bit wishy-washy about the whole thing because it’s not an important part of my beliefs or practises so I don’t really give it much thought. Bit like how I don’t really hold firm beliefs about what happens after death because I’m more concerned with the here and now.

Pop Culture Paganism

So apart from tumblr blowing up about it for a while now, now some BNPs are weighing in on the subject of “Is it okay to worship figures from pop culture as deities?” (Note: Not just “is it okay to incorporate popular culture into devotional practice.)

Here is the article that started it all: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2013/05/making-light-hero-worship/#comments

and then see here, here, here, here,here, and here.

My own response to this issue is here.

I left out some links because then I’d be here all day.

Suffice it to say (sorry for all the linkage) that this issue has led to some hurt feelings and has pretty much divided my blogroll down the middle, so I’m interested in hearing your take:

Is it okay to worship/work with pop culture figures as deities/spirits in their own right?

How Do You View Death?

As this is in the “Gods, Goddesses and Mythology”-section, I’m asking this: How do you view Death – as in the god or goddess thereof? Have you interacted with any of the deities associated with death and if you have, what were your feelings? With or without that kind of interaction, do you view Death as a fearsome figure or not?

One reason for me to ask this is because of a working gone even deeper I imagined and of a god I met there and what happened. Usually, this particular god hasn’t seemed to get true cult and there isn’t that much UPG to find either – but to me he was clear as crystal about his identity. Now, I’m a not-recon but recon-minded and I’m still wondering. In my own mind I’m dead sure (pardon my pun), but…

This was almost a decade ago, but due to info relating to that particular god and the lack of UPG, I’m still hesitant to say who it was who said “keep being fascinated by death, but as soon I got you handed over by Anpu, I knew my job was to keep you alive” and that he did.