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Author Topic: Worshipping non-gods as gods?  (Read 6558 times)
Collinsky
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« Topic Start: February 14, 2010, 09:44:33 pm »

If you honor as a deity a being/person who in the recorded mythology was not a deity, why do you feel that they are a god/dess? Is this because of UPG, or another interpretation of the tales that we have? Is it because conventional understanding is now that that being was in fact a deity, or became one at some point? (For instance, the Tuatha de Danaan aren't technically called gods in the mythology, but as far as I can tell it's pretty widely accepted that they were in fact, gods, and that those doing the recording of the stories were inaccurate.)

As an example of what I'm talking about, Morgan Le Fay springs to mind, but there are others. You may include demi-gods in this question, if you wish, and venerated ancestors if it can shed some light -- but in general, when people speak of that they are clear that they're honoring ancestors, where some seem to believe that Morgan Le Fay was a goddess. I was just curious about this!
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« Reply #1: February 15, 2010, 12:30:31 am »


Interesting question!

I do not worship anyone other than the Gods at this time, but I might have a few insights I think. The first thing that sprang into my mind was hero worship. Most (if not all) of the ancient Greek heroes (and the heroes worshipped in other cultures e.g. Norse culture) were indeed considered demi-Gods or were at least made out to seem that way. They can reasonably be honored as deity by nature of their virtue (in the Greek sense) alone.

As far as my personal thoughts on why I might possibly worship any other than the Gods: I wouldn't. Or at least not now. If I was going to do something like that it would have to be someone VERY culturally significant. 
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« Reply #2: February 15, 2010, 12:39:50 am »

If you honor as a deity a being/person who in the recorded mythology was not a deity, why do you feel that they are a god/dess? Is this because of UPG, or another interpretation of the tales that we have? Is it because conventional understanding is now that that being was in fact a deity, or became one at some point? (For instance, the Tuatha de Danaan aren't technically called gods in the mythology, but as far as I can tell it's pretty widely accepted that they were in fact, gods, and that those doing the recording of the stories were inaccurate.)

As an example of what I'm talking about, Morgan Le Fay springs to mind, but there are others. You may include demi-gods in this question, if you wish, and venerated ancestors if it can shed some light -- but in general, when people speak of that they are clear that they're honoring ancestors, where some seem to believe that Morgan Le Fay was a goddess. I was just curious about this!


Their tends to be a good deal of fluidity between the gods, ancestors and animistic/ nature spirits, at least in Gaelic sources. A few good examples would be Donn, who is considered a god of the dead, and is held to also be the "first" ancestor of the Gael. In some tellings he is a mortal man who after death (and because he is the first of his "race" to die) he becomes lord of the dead, and so is deified. Medb is actually this pattern in reverse; many hold her as being the sovereignty Goddess of Tehmair before, though she is better known from the Ulster cycle as Mebd of Connacht. Many goddess (like Boannd) have direct connections to specific geographic features, as she is the goddess of the river Boyne. The demarcation line between a nature spirit and a god/dess of place, does not seem to be fast and hard.
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« Reply #3: February 15, 2010, 06:40:06 pm »

If you honor as a deity a being/person who in the recorded mythology was not a deity, why do you feel that they are a god/dess? Is this because of UPG, or another interpretation of the tales that we have? Is it because conventional understanding is now that that being was in fact a deity, or became one at some point? (For instance, the Tuatha de Danaan aren't technically called gods in the mythology, but as far as I can tell it's pretty widely accepted that they were in fact, gods, and that those doing the recording of the stories were inaccurate.)

As an example of what I'm talking about, Morgan Le Fay springs to mind, but there are others. You may include demi-gods in this question, if you wish, and venerated ancestors if it can shed some light -- but in general, when people speak of that they are clear that they're honoring ancestors, where some seem to believe that Morgan Le Fay was a goddess. I was just curious about this!


Thank you for bringing this up, I've been thinking about this. Very interesting question.

As a matter of fact, I feel affinity with Morgan Le Fay. As she is not a Goddess (or is she?), it would feel easier to approach her than a lofty, elevated deity. However, I don't know if it would be right to approach her with prayer, if she's not a Goddess. I'm a bit clueless about what to do. Perhaps I should just follow my instincts. I believe she would listen, if I prayed to her. And she might tell me, how she wants to be honoured or worshipped.

I'm still going to do more reading about her before putting my thoughts into action.

Meanwhile, it would be great to hear more thoughts regarding the worship of non-deities. The thoughts that have already come up are very helpful, so thank you!

(This might not be relevant in a Pagan forum, but it came to me that Catholics have been known to worship and pray to Virgin Mary and saints.)
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« Reply #4: February 16, 2010, 05:31:07 am »

Very interesting question! I'm quite puzzled about this... Isn't it just a difference of wording in most aspects of worship? I mean...

"Oh God x of healing, I call you to assist me with y..."

"Oh x, my ancestor/chosen hero, you great physician, I call you to assist me with y..."

 Huh

I guess when it comes to cosmology and creation stories there might be a difference between gods and ancestors and heros, but considering prayers, offerings, evocations....?
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« Reply #5: February 16, 2010, 07:42:12 am »

(This might not be relevant in a Pagan forum, but it came to me that Catholics have been known to worship and pray to Virgin Mary and saints.)

I think it's not so much the "Pagan forum" thing that's the problem, as it is that the statement is inaccurate.  Catholics have been known to pray to the Virgin Mary and the saints; as far as I'm aware, Catholics do not consider themselves to be worshiping the Virgin Mary or the saints.
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« Reply #6: February 16, 2010, 12:03:22 pm »

I think it's not so much the "Pagan forum" thing that's the problem, as it is that the statement is inaccurate.  Catholics have been known to pray to the Virgin Mary and the saints; as far as I'm aware, Catholics do not consider themselves to be worshiping the Virgin Mary or the saints.

That's right. What I learnt while I was Catholic is that they pray to the saints (the Virgin is considered a saint) for intercession (sp?), so it's easier to reach God, but they don't worship them, they worship God.
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« Reply #7: February 16, 2010, 01:55:08 pm »

That's right. What I learnt while I was Catholic is that they pray to the saints (the Virgin is considered a saint) for intercession (sp?), so it's easier to reach God, but they don't worship them, they worship God.

Thank you for the correction!
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« Reply #8: February 16, 2010, 05:35:33 pm »

If you honor as a deity a being/person who in the recorded mythology was not a deity, why do you feel that they are a god/dess? Is this because of UPG, or another interpretation of the tales that we have?

One of the Beings I honor is Scathach, who is mentioned in Irish mythology. I've been drawn to Her since before I was pagan. The Irish (and Welsh) stories I've read aren't really obvious about saying, "Hey, look, Deity over here!" She definitely seems to be supernatural, although She's never claimed to be a goddess. I make offerings to Her and do things in Her honor and keep a shrine to Her, which is similar to how I honor deities and other spirits like ancestors, Fae, and spirits of place.
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« Reply #9: February 17, 2010, 05:24:20 am »

I make offerings to Her and do things in Her honor and keep a shrine to Her, which is similar to how I honor deities and other spirits like ancestors, Fae, and spirits of place.
That's what I wondered. It might be more of a conceptual difference than a practical.
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« Reply #10: March 01, 2010, 01:14:50 pm »

I do not worship anyone other than the Gods at this time, but I might have a few insights I think. The first thing that sprang into my mind was hero worship. Most (if not all) of the ancient Greek heroes (and the heroes worshipped in other cultures e.g. Norse culture) were indeed considered demi-Gods or were at least made out to seem that way. They can reasonably be honored as deity by nature of their virtue (in the Greek sense) alone.

That makes a lot of sense... there is probably a cultural precedent for this in many paths.
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« Reply #11: March 01, 2010, 01:20:19 pm »

Their tends to be a good deal of fluidity between the gods, ancestors and animistic/ nature spirits, at least in Gaelic sources.

I do wonder sometimes if the compartmentalization between them isn't more a function of our modern outlook than it is reflective of the nature/relationships of the Beings in question? It's been mentioned a few times around TC that the relationship between the Gaelic deities  has a fluidity, that while they are individuals, the separation isn't necessarily as precise as we imagine it (or perhaps need to envision it, because of the way we look at things.)
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« Reply #12: March 01, 2010, 01:27:56 pm »

As a matter of fact, I feel affinity with Morgan Le Fay. As she is not a Goddess (or is she?), it would feel easier to approach her than a lofty, elevated deity. However, I don't know if it would be right to approach her with prayer, if she's not a Goddess. I'm a bit clueless about what to do. Perhaps I should just follow my instincts. I believe she would listen, if I prayed to her. And she might tell me, how she wants to be honoured or worshipped.

Interesting, I suppose it does make sense that it might feel easier to approach a deified non-deity (LOL... someone help me out with terms here!! This is ridiculous... Cheesy) than to try to begin a relationship with a deity.

I would think that studying the lore around her might give some clues as to how to approach her... and perhaps approaching her as one does an Ancestor would be appropriate, and then just follow her cues if she gives any. For many Celtic and Norse Pagans (and others, I'm sure) connecting with and honoring the Ancestors is as much or more a part of their religion as deity worship, so there's nothing incorrect about trying that route. I don't know much about Morgan le Fay, personally, others may have better insights.
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« Reply #13: March 01, 2010, 01:30:05 pm »

That's what I wondered. It might be more of a conceptual difference than a practical.

I would say that you are very correct about that, it makes a lot of sense.
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« Reply #14: March 01, 2010, 04:01:55 pm »

I do wonder sometimes if the compartmentalization between them isn't more a function of our modern outlook than it is reflective of the nature/relationships of the Beings in question? It's been mentioned a few times around TC that the relationship between the Gaelic deities  has a fluidity, that while they are individuals, the separation isn't necessarily as precise as we imagine it (or perhaps need to envision it, because of the way we look at things.)

I think it is helpful, all are attested to in sources. One can speak of the Aos sidhe or ones ancestors or the gods and understand how each group differs from the other. On a closer look though they tend to blend in many cases, bu t by no means all. Or rather, for example (and this could be argued to have more to do with contemporary politics than myth) but numerous clans traced their ancestry to mythologic figures, many of whom we identify as deities (like Lugh, Nuada, Manannan mac Lir, etc.), other still trace ancestry through the aos sidhe. So while I think that certainly a modern perspective tends to demarcate to some degree, that each group is referenced in texts leads me to believe that the demarcation is not merely a modern construct.
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