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Author Topic: Dualism in Pantheons  (Read 5486 times)
Lykos
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« Topic Start: November 19, 2009, 12:13:20 am »

I have been thinking a lot about duality in nature and spirituality. I was wondering if anyone had any examples of dual dieties. Of course there is Apollo and Dionysos with their opposite qualities. I am very interested to hear some dualist gods in your pantheons! Also, how do you combine the opposing forces of such pairings in your own life?
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« Reply #1: November 19, 2009, 07:58:31 am »

I have been thinking a lot about duality in nature and spirituality. I was wondering if anyone had any examples of dual dieties. Of course there is Apollo and Dionysos with their opposite qualities.

I one could find examples like this in all pantheons. After all, you would find them in similarly sized groups of humans. Unless these dualities play a major part in myth, I'm not sure they are anything but chance.
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« Reply #2: November 19, 2009, 12:08:32 pm »

I have been thinking a lot about duality in nature and spirituality. I was wondering if anyone had any examples of dual dieties. Of course there is Apollo and Dionysos with their opposite qualities. I am very interested to hear some dualist gods in your pantheons! Also, how do you combine the opposing forces of such pairings in your own life?

I don't do dualism - I find it too black and white, while I find life to be shades of gray.
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« Reply #3: November 19, 2009, 01:28:28 pm »

I have been thinking a lot about duality in nature and spirituality. I was wondering if anyone had any examples of dual dieties. Of course there is Apollo and Dionysos with their opposite qualities. I am very interested to hear some dualist gods in your pantheons! Also, how do you combine the opposing forces of such pairings in your own life?

Wiccans following a more Alexandrian mythos have the dual god; the holly king and the oak king. They are not opposites (unless you consider the fact that they rule opposing sides of the year) but are a part of the mythos around the wheel of the year and agricultural seasons.

Unfortuantely I don't know much more about them than that. Just wanted to point out that dual dieties are nto necessarily opposites.

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« Reply #4: November 19, 2009, 01:35:46 pm »


Set and Heru.  (chaos/individualism and order/rulership)
Set and Wesir.  (sterility and fertility; trial and initiate)
Hetharu and Sekhmet.  (joy in ma'at and cleansing flame)
Ptah and Sekhmet.  (I've heard this one as 'the imaginer' and 'the enactor', which makes Them a good marriage.)
Aset and Nebet-Het  (my grasp of the nature of this pairing is roughly speech and silence, but I do very little with Them)
Wadjet and Nekhebet (the two ladies of Egypt, north and south)

Um.  Off the top of my head.  Egyptian mythology is a cornucopia of peacock-fan dualities in incandescent balance with each other, in significant part due to the nature of the land itself.  While not every god in Egypt is paired by a long shot, the theme of balanced/opposing pairs is a major portion of the iconography.

I think the critical thing for Egyptian dualities is recognising that they are essential to each other, and thus even a close affiliation with one 'side' does not mean that the traits of the other should be neglected.  For all the ambivalence about Set in the mythology, after all, when you see the gods crowning the king, it's Heru holding the crown from one side and Set holding it on the other.


Feri takes the notion of the Twins in a different way and sometimes moves to resolve Them, so the Serpent and the Bird (to pick a common representation of the Twins) resolve their battle/sexual tension to become the Peacock God, who is fully realised, complete, lord of the world, and capable of both making the seven heavens thunder with a shake of His tail and putting out all the fires of hell with His tears of compassion.
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« Reply #5: November 19, 2009, 04:46:18 pm »


I think the critical thing for Egyptian dualities is recognising that they are essential to each other, and thus even a close affiliation with one 'side' does not mean that the traits of the other should be neglected.  For all the ambivalence about Set in the mythology, after all, when you see the gods crowning the king, it's Heru holding the crown from one side and Set holding it on the other.

It gets hard to escape duality within Kemetic/Egyptian mythology. They seemed to place emphasis on it, really. With Set and Heru crowning the Pharaoh, it also represents that he oversees Upper and Lower Egypt, which Set and Heru oversaw, respectively.

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« Reply #6: November 19, 2009, 05:19:16 pm »

It gets hard to escape duality within Kemetic/Egyptian mythology. They seemed to place emphasis on it, really.

Duality is written on the land there.  Desert air makes the transitions between day and night very sharp - twilight is a humidity thing - for one.  Apparently the distinction between the red land (desert) and the black land (fertile valley) is still Very Obvious today.  The Nile flows north; the prevailing winds blow south, so there's this twinned thing that means the river is obviously divinely ordained for travel.  Then there's the Upper and Lower Egypt thing, too...

To an ancient perspective, the whole universe was built out of obvious paired dualities and they lived at the sweet spot in the balance between them.  Anything out of whack there and it was obvious that things would fall apart - the fertile land would vanish or eternal night would come or something like that - but things didn't go out of whack, at least not for long, so it wasn't as precarious an existence as one might expect, it just gave the Egyptians a very keen sense of the balance of things and the necessity to keep it in balance.

From this you can derive a whole heck of a lot.
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« Reply #7: November 19, 2009, 05:29:04 pm »

Of course there is Apollo and Dionysos with their opposite qualities.
I'm not sure this duality is really there.  How far back does this theory go, anyway?  I've encountered it a lot in 20th century psych and philosophy, but I'd be interested to know if it was something the Greeks considered.

I don't that much about Apollo, but it seems to me that these two brothers actually have a bit of each other in them. 

If any god were "opposed" to Dionysos, I'd think it would more likely be Athena.
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« Reply #8: November 19, 2009, 05:49:08 pm »

I'm not sure this duality is really there.  How far back does this theory go, anyway?  I've encountered it a lot in 20th century psych and philosophy, but I'd be interested to know if it was something the Greeks considered.

Millenia.  Wink They shared the sanctuary at Delphi, for one.

[/quote]

If any god were "opposed" to Dionysos, I'd think it would more likely be Athena.

Not all dualities are oppositional. Depends on your definition, I think. And I"m curious: why in particular would you think Athena over Apollo?
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« Reply #9: November 19, 2009, 07:17:18 pm »

Millenia.  Wink They shared the sanctuary at Delphi, for one.
But does that mean that represented a duality?  Or just that they were associated?

Quote
Not all dualities are oppositional. Depends on your definition, I think.
You're right, of course.  Not thinking opposed as in conflicting but rather as opposites.  Complementary, maybe?  I've only seen the Apollonian/Dionysian duality in modern literature and as far as I remember always presented as opposites. 

Quote
And I"m curious: why in particular would you think Athena over Apollo?
Almost complete UPG.  Apollo seems to have more of a "wild side" to him in the myths, something I don't see in Athena either in my reading or in the limited experience I've had with her.  She's a very civilized presence.
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« Reply #10: November 19, 2009, 10:06:13 pm »

If any god were "opposed" to Dionysos, I'd think it would more likely be Athena.

In myth, Ares and Athena did not get along at all and usually opposed each other. However, they were not opposing sides of a duality any more than Bush II and Obama are.
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« Reply #11: November 20, 2009, 07:43:39 am »

You're right, of course.  Not thinking opposed as in conflicting but rather as opposites.  Complementary, maybe?  I've only seen the Apollonian/Dionysian duality in modern literature and as far as I remember always presented as opposites.  

Two sides of the same coin, some might say.

I think maybe there's a distinction here to be drawn between "two deities with associations" (Apollo and Dionysus sharing a sanctuary & etc.) and "a duality" (the whole Apollonian/Dionysian thing).  The duality as expressed in modern literature I think goes back to Nietzsche, or at least he made it popular?  I may be wrong there, but my point is:  The duality is not so much about pairing the deities, it's about looking at qualities that are ascribed to them and how those qualities play off of each other.

Am I making sense here?

(If you want more on the Apollonian/Dionysian duality itself, there's been a discussion or two reasonably recently on it--a search on either term should turn it/them up.)

Personally, the duality I always put Apollo in, in the privacy of my own mind, is with Artemis.  It seems like the obvious one to me, with the whole twin thing going on.  I don't know how the ancient Greeks would have felt about that, though; this is me looking at the mythology from my own perspective and drawing my own conclusions.
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« Reply #12: November 20, 2009, 12:33:37 pm »

But does that mean that represented a duality?  Or just that they were associated?

You're right, of course.  Not thinking opposed as in conflicting but rather as opposites.  Complementary, maybe?  I've only seen the Apollonian/Dionysian duality in modern literature and as far as I remember always presented as opposites.

Well, there was a marked difference in the times they shared the sanctuary - Dionysos in the winter months, Apollo the rest of the time, so I'd say it was deeper than just an association. (But certainly modern thought a la Nietzsche, as others have mentioned, further codified ancient patterns.)

Almost complete UPG.  Apollo seems to have more of a "wild side" to him in the myths, something I don't see in Athena either in my reading or in the limited experience I've had with her.  She's a very civilized presence.

Athena is certainly a civilization goddess, but so is Apollo. The thing with Greek deities is that they all have their own internal dualities, and I think that is more telling than any external pairing. You can find Athena in the fury of the battle cry, but also at the potter's wheel. Apollo and Artemis are healers/guardians of children and yet both have slain children to punish hubristic mortals.  And even Dionysos has his civilized qualities -- the great traditions of theatre began as state sponsored contests of his rites.

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« Reply #13: November 23, 2009, 04:41:49 pm »

There's Freyr and Freyja in the norse pantheon. Brother and Sister. But some Asatruars see them as the same being(I personally do not). But what is true, is that their personality, their roles in norse theology, and the aspects of existance associated with them are pretty much the same. Love, Forests, Fertility, Growing, Change, etc.
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