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Author Topic: Do the Gods Get Lonely?  (Read 9592 times)
NibbleKat
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« Topic Start: March 11, 2011, 03:36:16 pm »

OK.  So, maybe a few of  you might laugh at the question, but I have my reasons for asking.

I'm pretty sure that "big" gods like Jehova, Brigid, Shiva, etc probably don't get bored. They're "rock stars", and have huge followings.  But the "little" gods, or the ones who have been led to the deity path by means of abuse/hard luck/strange instances... do they get lonely? The ones who, say, sit in their own abodes, whether it be the stars, the sea, or the earth?

And is there any written info regarding deities who get lonely?

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« Reply #1: March 11, 2011, 05:46:51 pm »



Totally UPG but I think so. I mean it would explain why some of the barely known or unknown ones come and build relationships with people. Between having lost all followers and dramatic changes to their  environments some of the localised land or water gods etc must find themselves having to do something different to what they used to do and, in some cases at least lonliness seems a distict possiblility to me.
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« Reply #2: March 11, 2011, 05:50:52 pm »

OK.  So, maybe a few of  you might laugh at the question, but I have my reasons for asking.

I'm pretty sure that "big" gods like Jehova, Brigid, Shiva, etc probably don't get bored. They're "rock stars", and have huge followings.  But the "little" gods, or the ones who have been led to the deity path by means of abuse/hard luck/strange instances... do they get lonely? The ones who, say, sit in their own abodes, whether it be the stars, the sea, or the earth?

And is there any written info regarding deities who get lonely?



Without anything to base it on, lore-wise, my first instinct is probably no. Even if they don't have a huge following of human devotees, they have all the other deities in their god-family. (Not sure what the "loner" gods do, like Jehovah... but even he is surrounded by angels and other spirit-beings.) A god in great power, with lots of followers, is just as likely to be lonely. "It's lonely at the top" might even be true for gods.  I don't think a god's sense of his or her place in the universe is necessarily wrapped up with how many people know their name and sing their praises. For some gods, that might be really important. For others, I bet it doesn't even register... we feel like they're not a blip on our radar, but the reality is *we* aren't blips on theirs.

I suppose some MIGHT be lonely - some can be jealous and petty at times, so perhaps they feel loneliness as well. I'm thinking of Baldr - if a god is going to be lonely, it would be him. You mentioned Sedna before, and it does seem that there could be a lot of loneliness there. That's independent of the number of humans who follow them, and is more about their myths, and that sense of forcible isolation from the world they knew. Definitely a theme that could use more exploring, I guess! I hadn't really thought of this.
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« Reply #3: March 11, 2011, 05:55:10 pm »

Totally UPG but I think so. I mean it would explain why some of the barely known or unknown ones come and build relationships with people. Between having lost all followers and dramatic changes to their  environments some of the localised land or water gods etc must find themselves having to do something different to what they used to do and, in some cases at least lonliness seems a distict possiblility to me.

That makes sense to me.  Terry Pratchett had his "Small Gods" theory about how deities without a following get smaller and smaller over the decades.... Hm.
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« Reply #4: March 11, 2011, 05:58:08 pm »

Without anything to base it on, lore-wise, my first instinct is probably no. Even if they don't have a huge following of human devotees, they have all the other deities in their god-family. (Not sure what the "loner" gods do, like Jehovah... but even he is surrounded by angels and other spirit-beings.) A god in great power, with lots of followers, is just as likely to be lonely. "It's lonely at the top" might even be true for gods.  I don't think a god's sense of his or her place in the universe is necessarily wrapped up with how many people know their name and sing their praises. For some gods, that might be really important. For others, I bet it doesn't even register... we feel like they're not a blip on our radar, but the reality is *we* aren't blips on theirs.

I suppose some MIGHT be lonely - some can be jealous and petty at times, so perhaps they feel loneliness as well. I'm thinking of Baldr - if a god is going to be lonely, it would be him. You mentioned Sedna before, and it does seem that there could be a lot of loneliness there. That's independent of the number of humans who follow them, and is more about their myths, and that sense of forcible isolation from the world they knew. Definitely a theme that could use more exploring, I guess! I hadn't really thought of this.

*coughcoughstalker* heheheh. Teasing.

There's a bit there that you mentioned, about not being a blip on their radar-- that's actually how I feel about Jehova, since there are SO many folks who follow him.  And Sedna's definitely who sparked the thought, in fact.  Situational to the "job/environment" of being a deity, rather than the following, in her case. 

I wonder if there are more out there like that;  I know some stories, but less than I would like.

How would that kind of loneliness, vs not-as-many-worshipers loneliness, affect the person worshiping?
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« Reply #5: March 11, 2011, 05:58:22 pm »

That makes sense to me.  Terry Pratchett had his "Small Gods" theory about how deities without a following get smaller and smaller over the decades.... Hm.

I keep thinking I should read Terry Pratchett. I'll add it to my list of things to do. When I was a softer polytheist than I currently am I used to think that and also if enough people followed a god they could make him (or her) exist even if they didn't to begin with.
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« Reply #6: March 11, 2011, 06:16:53 pm »

*coughcoughstalker* heheheh. Teasing.

There's a bit there that you mentioned, about not being a blip on their radar-- that's actually how I feel about Jehova, since there are SO many folks who follow him.  And Sedna's definitely who sparked the thought, in fact.  Situational to the "job/environment" of being a deity, rather than the following, in her case. 

I wonder if there are more out there like that;  I know some stories, but less than I would like.

How would that kind of loneliness, vs not-as-many-worshipers loneliness, affect the person worshiping?

Well, stop asking interesting questions and I'll go away.  Grin

I don't know... but there are many who worship angry gods, and they come to find meaning in anger, or to redefine it as they have a deeper understanding that the surface "that god's a meanie!" impression. So perhaps it's the same with a god who is more melancholy, lonely?

Come to think of it, I think Airmid might be a little lonely.  Huh There are probably MANY. Interesting, because I really haven't thought of it. I feel like Airmid's possible loneliness is unrelated to her interactions with me or other humans.

There are periodically questions here about gods that are no longer known... there might be an inscription or two, so we have a name, but that's it -- and then there are the gods whose names are lost to the ages. I would think that that kind of loneliness - *if* the god didn't really choose to be forgotten, and if they really do have a craving to be acknowledged by people -- would be different than in a situation like Sedna's. So I think that their interactions with people would be affected by that. The tone of the relationship would be affected, right?
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« Reply #7: March 11, 2011, 06:59:35 pm »

OK.  So, maybe a few of  you might laugh at the question, but I have my reasons for asking.

I'm pretty sure that "big" gods like Jehova, Brigid, Shiva, etc probably don't get bored. They're "rock stars", and have huge followings.  But the "little" gods, or the ones who have been led to the deity path by means of abuse/hard luck/strange instances... do they get lonely? The ones who, say, sit in their own abodes, whether it be the stars, the sea, or the earth?

And is there any written info regarding deities who get lonely?




I don't think so. I guess one could have an opinion of the gods as being alone on the earth and haunting us in a way, while the dead/spirit go elsewhere. Especially if believers feel the gods are tied to our material world but yet outsiders to it.

But I tend to think that we're the outsiders, unaware that there is a spiritual world super-imposed on ours. That as I'm sitting typing this in a room, there are a thousand spiritual things going on around me that I neither see nor feel. And that the gods walk between this world and that world.  And existing among them are the dead, the spirits of nature, each other, other pantheons. I don't think they're lonely in the sense of your question because I don't think they rely on our companionship or our attention. I don't think they are like ghosts drifting out there waiting to be noticed. But, obviously they want and desire companionship as they normally exist together in communities and marry/mate. (And that's just a totally simplistic statement for complex beings and their interactions and I'm a bit ashamed of myself, heh.)
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« Reply #8: March 11, 2011, 07:36:34 pm »


I don't think so. I guess one could have an opinion of the gods as being alone on the earth and haunting us in a way, while the dead/spirit go elsewhere. Especially if believers feel the gods are tied to our material world but yet outsiders to it.

But I tend to think that we're the outsiders, unaware that there is a spiritual world super-imposed on ours. That as I'm sitting typing this in a room, there are a thousand spiritual things going on around me that I neither see nor feel. And that the gods walk between this world and that world.  And existing among them are the dead, the spirits of nature, each other, other pantheons. I don't think they're lonely in the sense of your question because I don't think they rely on our companionship or our attention. I don't think they are like ghosts drifting out there waiting to be noticed. But, obviously they want and desire companionship as they normally exist together in communities and marry/mate. (And that's just a totally simplistic statement for complex beings and their interactions and I'm a bit ashamed of myself, heh.)
So, in the case of deities who have been abandoned by other deities/their Otherworld people... in your opinion, could they become lonely, independent of humans and their attentions?
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« Reply #9: March 11, 2011, 08:34:52 pm »

OK.  So, maybe a few of  you might laugh at the question, but I have my reasons for asking.

I'm pretty sure that "big" gods like Jehova, Brigid, Shiva, etc probably don't get bored. They're "rock stars", and have huge followings.  But the "little" gods, or the ones who have been led to the deity path by means of abuse/hard luck/strange instances... do they get lonely? The ones who, say, sit in their own abodes, whether it be the stars, the sea, or the earth?

And is there any written info regarding deities who get lonely?



I think that deities from different pantheons talk to each other.   I think that just like humans, some may be more social than others.  I think that some deities don't care or whose job description doesn't include humans so I don't think we would factor in to how lonely they are or not. 

But your post did make me think of mourning gods.  Their sadness at losing a loved ones or their beloved.  Aset lost Wesir, Anat lost Dammuz (?), Aphrodite lost Adonis for awhile, Demeter and Persephone etc.  I think there is a sense of loss there and a loneliness during that time of loss that these gods experienced during their myths that may help them empathize or understand loneliness in a way so much so that this experience (like any other) is a part of their identity. 
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« Reply #10: March 11, 2011, 08:41:31 pm »

So, in the case of deities who have been abandoned by other deities/their Otherworld people... in your opinion, could they become lonely, independent of humans and their attentions?

Like Loki? Chained within a mountain and alone?

Well, first I think that myths are how we explain things. And then it also depends on if the tale is mythic past, mythic present, or mythic future. If Loki's binding was mythic future then it wouldn't affect him now. As it is, it's mythic present and involves different contexts. It's one part nature myth (earthquakes), it further develops the characters of the gods and their interactions with one another, and it highlights Loki's Otherness and it introduces the concept that Loki is rendered powerless, and then it's also a moral tale. More than literally bound, it shows that Loki isn't allowed freedom in Midgard and isn't within the community of the Aesir, who cross Bifrost and can interfere on earth. But being literally 'lonely' or cast out is a stretch for me since they are just stories that we tell that explain deeper truths.

I imagine it's as if we're the fetus in the womb. At some point the fetus can see shades of light, and hear voices and noises around her. She can't comprehend what the world is like outside the womb, but say she creates a reality of what she can perceive. A narrative for her mother's voice, a sensed tension, raised voices around a certain person. And whatever her narrative is, it isn't the true nature of what's outside the womb but it does tap into the undercurrents and sensations of that other-world. So say we sense the absence of Loki, or the fight with Loki, we can't assume he's lonely because we don't understand the nature of that reality, but we can create a narrative- a myth- around it.
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« Reply #11: March 11, 2011, 08:56:30 pm »

Quote from: Juniperberry link=topic=15661.msg260569#msg260569


I also just wanted to add that when we assume that they are lonely without worship etc, then we put them in that metaphorical womb where they are dependent on us. Which is valid (thoughtforms for example) just not my opinion of it. Smiley
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« Reply #12: March 11, 2011, 10:13:17 pm »

I also just wanted to add that when we assume that they are lonely without worship etc, then we put them in that metaphorical womb where they are dependent on us. Which is valid (thoughtforms for example) just not my opinion of it. Smiley
I don't equate the orishas with gods or deities. entities classified as gods, etc. for me have this level of separation and other-worldliness. A guess a decent metaphor would be like our physical world on the bad side of the tracks and and there's the other planes on the good side. For me, gods live on the good side, and often visit the bad side to shop in the campy bodega and maybe attend one of the cultural festivals in the park, especially if they made a charitable contribution to it. I put orishas more like saints or angels as if they had houses on the bad side of the tracks, but they were big and really nice, gated houses that we could probably never get into, but because their houses are in our neighborhood, they are much more affected by what goes on in our neighborhood.

Ochosi is an example of an orisha who has been affected in the way I described. Because the orishas and their manifestations are so closely tied to the people who associate with them, what happens in our world directly affects them. Ochosi does have the loss myth by accidentally striking down his mother out of reckless pride which makes up much of his personality, but there is the real world trauma that greatly affects who he has become. Ochosi's following no longer exists in Africa as a result of his nation being entirely uprooted during the transatlantic slave trade. It's kind of like that lady from the notebook who at the end she knows everything that she forgot, but can still never remember it... but worse than that even. That's a level of loneliness that I as a human can't even fully wrap my head around.

So yeah, they can get pretty durn lonely.
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« Reply #13: March 12, 2011, 03:50:46 am »

I don't equate the orishas with gods or deities. entities classified as gods, etc. for me have this level of separation and other-worldliness. A guess a decent metaphor would be like our physical world on the bad side of the tracks and and there's the other planes on the good side. For me, gods live on the good side, and often visit the bad side to shop in the campy bodega and maybe attend one of the cultural festivals in the park, especially if they made a charitable contribution to it. I put orishas more like saints or angels as if they had houses on the bad side of the tracks, but they were big and really nice, gated houses that we could probably never get into, but because their houses are in our neighborhood, they are much more affected by what goes on in our neighborhood.

Ochosi is an example of an orisha who has been affected in the way I described. Because the orishas and their manifestations are so closely tied to the people who associate with them, what happens in our world directly affects them. Ochosi does have the loss myth by accidentally striking down his mother out of reckless pride which makes up much of his personality, but there is the real world trauma that greatly affects who he has become. Ochosi's following no longer exists in Africa as a result of his nation being entirely uprooted during the transatlantic slave trade. It's kind of like that lady from the notebook who at the end she knows everything that she forgot, but can still never remember it... but worse than that even. That's a level of loneliness that I as a human can't even fully wrap my head around.

So yeah, they can get pretty durn lonely.

joule that analogy of the houses and neighbor hoods.
I kinda got that feeling of the orisha too,compared to some other deities,some other pantheons I feel the same difference exists in that distance from our everyday lives.
house wights, some fae spirits and local spirits are more close by in that sense I feel.
as for lonely...I don't k ow so much about lonely but I bet they get bored. if its anything like when I get bored,it's dangerous for them to get bored!
lol
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« Reply #14: March 12, 2011, 01:32:53 pm »


Ochosi is an example of an orisha who has been affected in the way I described. Because the orishas and their manifestations are so closely tied to the people who associate with them, what happens in our world directly affects them. Ochosi does have the loss myth by accidentally striking down his mother out of reckless pride which makes up much of his personality, but there is the real world trauma that greatly affects who he has become. Ochosi's following no longer exists in Africa as a result of his nation being entirely uprooted during the transatlantic slave trade. It's kind of like that lady from the notebook who at the end she knows everything that she forgot, but can still never remember it... but worse than that even. That's a level of loneliness that I as a human can't even fully wrap my head around.

So yeah, they can get pretty durn lonely.


Freyja has a loneliness myth, and I'm not saying that I just toss that out because gods can't feel lonely, but rather answering more to the facet of the question that suggests the gods are dependent on worship. There are some people who feel they can do whatever they want- to a fluffy extreme- because the gods are just happy someone is worshipping them again. And I don't think that's necessarily true.

Thank you for sharing some of your insights on Ochosi, he sounds like an interesting being. Smiley

 
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