DISCUSSION ON THE NATURE OF THE GODS
This tread is meant to be a general discussion over the nature of the gods, where we can share our theories, views and practical experience on a subject that have fascinated us humans for millennia!Recent discussions on the forum, such as the thread on the Lord Sobek, the Sex Goddess thread, and the thread about the Horny God lead me to ask myself some questions.
Working with the gods
Every Goddess is just a Sex Goddess
The horned god reaching out to me
As usual the hard thing is to take what seems as a clever (or at least reasonable) thought in my head and then articulate and transform it into readable English without appearing as a complete moron. Those thoughts or questions are just that – thoughts and questions – and not some dogma I want to impose on anybody. If you disagree with me, say so and say why. It is discussion and speculation I want to see here. Perhaps it doesn't lead anywhere, but I hope we at least have some entertaining debate!
1. A good place to start is perhaps to ask where the gods come from (provided you like me believe there's a lot of them). Are they created by a Great Creator of the Universe? Are they created by us humans to fill our needs – ideas that by time and constant devotion got life and power of their own? Have they existed since the beginning of Time? Were some of them originally humans (or other mortal beings) evolved or ascended into godhood? Or have they some other origin?
2. Another question that we just touched in another thread is the aspects of the gods. As in “where does one god end and another begin?” For example, a popular idea is that many of the gods from different cultures are just aspects or versions of each other. So a sun god or an earth goddess from one culture are kind of the same god or goddess that fill the same archetypical (OK, I know that's a trigger word on this forum) function in another culture. This theory was already popular in the Classical Era.
In some cases it probably have merit, IMHO, as when the cultures are quite close to each other. It is not hard to see many of the Roman gods as versions of the Greek gods, and that's how a lot of people thought in those days. It isn't too hard to imagine that Jupiter and Zeus are two names of the same deity, or that Venus and Aphrodite are the Roman and Greek versions of one goddess. In many of these cases, most of the myths and attributes are identical.
But when Romans or Greeks tried to do the same with the Egyptian gods, it is clear that it really didn't work. Because when Greeks and Romans had fairly similar cultures and religions, based on the same philosophical ideas, the Egyptian culture was very different, and Egyptian gods couldn't easily be fit in the Graeco-Roman pattern. Not without creating a Synchretism that was quite different from both its “parents”. For example when they equated Thoth with Hermes, which kind of created a new god...
Still educated Western people tried to fit in the gods from foreign cultures into the Graeco-Roman pantheon since then, with varied results. As when Xtian missionaries from Germany described the main Norse gods as Mercury (Oden) and Jupiter (Tor). While Oden certainly have something mercurial in his character, he's obviously a very different god from the Roman Mercury! In a similar way many modern occultists try to fit, or forcefully squeeze, each every deity in a mostly artificial frame that is a synthesis of Cabalism and the Graeco-Roman planetary system. Which the gods refuse!
On the other hand, the Egyptians themselves had a religion hard to understand both for modern people and contemporary foreigners. Their gods seem not only to divide into multiple aspects and to unite with each other creating new gods, but also the different gods seem to be aspects of each other in a most elusive way! Some people think this is more a question of Egyptian man-created theology – a artificial and synthetic system that not have so much with the gods themselves to do. Or perhaps it is just us that don't understand. One wonders how the Egyptians themselves understood it, since there's apparently little consequence between different schools of theology within the Egyptian religion. And probably a priest viewed it in a different way from a common farmer...
3. A more specific question related to the one above: Can a god somehow have regional versions, aspects or variants of itself? And if so, how independent are they from each other?
As an example we can take the one who, by modern Pagans, are called The Lord of the Forest, The Green Man etc. Some would perhaps say this is a modern alloy of a multitude of regional and local gods from several European cultures.
But let's say there really is such a god. And if so, is He the Lord of All Forests all over the World, The One Green Man? But since this deity take different attributes in different countries, could we assume there are several aspects or versions of Him?
Or are the names The Green Man and The Lord of The Forest just titles we give to similar entities of different places – being local Rulers, lesser gods, perhaps not even gods proper but Fairy royalties, powerful Nature spirits or regional Elemental Lords?
In either case, are these Green Men closely linked to each other, as members of the same Great Royal Family?
4. This leads to a fourth question (short this time): what is a god proper? When does some entity become so powerful that He or She can be counted as a real deity? What's the difference between really powerful spirits and lesser gods?
5. And a fifth question: Some modern Pagans like to think all goddesses are aspects of the one Goddess, representing all forms of the Feminine Principle, and that all gods are aspects of the one God, etc. And some also say that the God and Goddess together are aspects of the one Creator or Highest Divine Principle. In a human context his would mean that all men are Man and all women are Woman and all humans are Human...
While it is obvious untrue that all gods are the same or that all goddesses are the same, does that mean this idea is 100% wrong? Is there some merit to it?
Of course there's a lot more questions that could be asked in this thread. For example the god/human relations, benefits of having a divine Patron etc.
We could also discuss and share our personal experiences from working with the gods and living with the gods. Or simply the complicated question: What are the gods?
Feel free to join!