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Author Topic: "Alien-ness" of Gods  (Read 15496 times)
Waldfrau
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« Reply #15: June 04, 2008, 05:23:35 pm »

Thanks for explaining it.

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My choice to see them as gods is fairly idiosyncratic, I think.
I have a hard time to tell if I believe in Gods or not because I just don't know how to label what I believe in and than I've grown up with the Catholic perspective and can't related to that version of a god at all.

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I mean, they are seen as gods by a lot of people, but usually there are arcane, traditional, or at the very least spiritual reasons for seeing them that way.
I'd be interested in hearing which people have animal gods. You mentioned NAs?

Quote
For me it's power.  It's possible to trick or outmaneuver them, but 99 times out of a hundred one is simply 'allowed' to do that for greater reasons.  They can step out of ordinary physical laws when they want to, and they have some say over birth and death and afterwards.  They can't be commanded by each other or by people, while lesser entities often can.

They have their own agendas, which of course most spirits do, but their agendas often include humans, which other spirits often don't.  So, power and personal connection.
For me it's really hard to label just from a couple of weird dreams and meditation results without being taught anything. Mostly they just give advice in some way. They don't always talk much, sometimes they just show me something or tell me to do something. Often it involves that I have to take the shape of the animal to do what they require. I have once tried to do what an animal told me and in the process decided otherwise because everything started spinning. Not sure if it's really outmaneuvering or if the animal knew I would maybe not reach the goal in the first try.

Sometimes I wonder if they understand how a human thinks at all. Once one just approached me out of nothing and without any introduction started to talk about death (of all topics) and after what must have been roughly three sentences tried to swallow me. I just woke up before it could reach me and thought 'WTF?!?' I've always liked that animal, but never had really a relationship to it. But maybe I'm just having nonsensical dreams.

Maybe the reason I put them into the spirit category is because I hope that Gods act a bit more reasonably in a way a human brain could grasp. I mean has anyone ever met a God that tried to eat you? It's shocking enough with an animal spirit. Shocked

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It could be an advantage though to talk about Gods instead of spirits, because some people take polytheists more serious than animists.  Tongue

Honestly, I really miss some good productive discussions about spirits while I learn a lot in discussions about Gods. Maybe it's just my newbieness, but I often have the impression that if a newbie drops in and asks about spirits some people think he/she is a deluded fluffy new age animist and doesn't really deserve a thorough answer while if you're talking about Gods people are much more open to different concepts and don't straight away accuse you of being deluded just because you have a different approach. Maybe just my impression from the short time I'm here. Or maybe it's because there are much more polytheists around. Sad
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Marilyn (ABSENTMINDED)
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« Reply #16: June 04, 2008, 05:27:56 pm »

I'm inclined to point you towards the Hopi stories, or at least stories from the Arizona/New Mexico region, but this is far outside my area of expertise and this is just off of a half-remembered story.

If the ones I've heard are traditional, then I think they would be more Plains but possibly well-traveled.

My problem is that nobody cared to separate the origins, or even the characters, of the stories I was told, and I was not raised in-culture.  I have knights and trolls running around with hunters and spiders in my memory, and kidnapped icicles explaining women's cold feet.Cheesy

I did run across some of the 'old man' stories on Sacred Texts, and they're not too different from what I remember.  They were gathered by an anthropologist out west somewhere, but I think it was quite some time ago and I don't know how faithful her accounts are.  Then again, they are probably way more faithful than the ones I have.

I'll go over there and try to find the link, but it's been a while.

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« Reply #17: June 04, 2008, 05:44:18 pm »

What 'type' of god do you follow?  Do you think the other types actually count as gods or as something else?  What is the actual, way back when, origin of your god, if you know it?

I don't really parse any of your categories terribly well.

There are gods in my pantheon who achieved apotheosis (Imhotep, for example).  There are gods who are strongly associated with particular creatures and phenomena, but I consider it ... impious, not to mention factually inaccurate, to consider them representatives of those phenomena.  There are gods Who are, in some frameworks, considered coeval with reality and/or creators thereof, but those Who survived the transition from the unreal to the real (one form of the Ogodad myth names those gods as the First Ancestors) have roots and manifestations in the real.

So, uh.  Mostly I'm left with 'Uh?'
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« Reply #18: June 04, 2008, 05:51:52 pm »


I'll go over there and try to find the link, but it's been a while.


This page links to three of them, somewhat more complicated than the versions I know.  They do tend to end with 'And this is why...', though. Cheesy

I can't find the collection I found before though.  They may have been on a folktales site rather than Sacred Texts.  Anyway, here are three:

http://www.google.com/custom?domains=www.sacred-texts.com&q=old+man+stories&sitesearch=www.sacred-texts.com&sa=Search&client=pub-8617793260330971&forid=1&ie=ISO-8859-1&oe=ISO-8859-1&cof=GALT%3A%23008000%3BGL%3A1%3BDIV%3A%23336699%3BVLC%3A663399%3BAH%3Acenter%3BBGC%3AFFFFFF%3BLBGC%3A336699%3BALC%3A000000%3BLC%3A000000%3BT%3A0000FF%3BGFNT%3A0000FF%3BGIMP%3A0000FF%3BFORID%3A1%3B&hl=en

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« Reply #19: June 04, 2008, 05:55:28 pm »

(one form of the Ogodad myth names those gods as the First Ancestors)

I probably should have included 'ancestors' as a category.  There are a few systems where humans evolved or descended from gods, or are considered 'the children of'.

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Blessed are the cracked, for it is they who let in the light.

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That's how the light gets in

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« Reply #20: June 04, 2008, 06:45:41 pm »

There are gods in my pantheon who achieved apotheosis (Imhotep, for example).  There are gods who are strongly associated with particular creatures and phenomena

Representation may not be the best term for what I mean, although it was the best I could think of at the time.  My view of it is more 'the pure form', or 'the original'.  Maybe a sort of platonic ideal, the essence of the phenomenon.

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That's how the light gets in

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« Reply #21: June 04, 2008, 06:52:18 pm »



I think part of the problem with discussing spirits is that so many people seem to trivialize the concept.  They will talk about 'my' spirit animal, totem animal, animal guide, etc., as if they are talking about their shoe collection.  It makes people who deal with these concepts in a different way shie off the discussion.

I don't think substituting god for spirit is the answer, but I'm not sure what is.  I do think your dream about a spirit animal talking to you about death and then trying to eat you fits in with experiences I have had.  For me, it was about teaching respect, both for the entity and for the animal it was 'of'.  Just because you can learn something doesn't mean that the one you learn it from is a loving, benign, teacher.

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« Reply #22: June 04, 2008, 06:59:56 pm »

Representation may not be the best term for what I mean, although it was the best I could think of at the time.  My view of it is more 'the pure form', or 'the original'.  Maybe a sort of platonic ideal, the essence of the phenomenon.

This sounds like my 'gods are elemental, people are composite' thought, perhaps.  In which case I would agree that gods, whatever their origin, are pure essences; they're just sometimes pure essences of complex, hard to articulate things, such that their forms and manifestations are frequently diverse and superficially contradictory.

I sort of touched on this here (http://bunny-puppy.net/folk/nature.html):

Quote
Merely knowing the natural affiliations or associations of a god is not sufficient to know the god; they often derive from the god's core nature rather than being that nature. If I say that Set is god of storms, of the desert, of the darkness, that is not sufficient to understand His domain unless one is exceptionally good at riddles. If I add to that that He governs the queer, unusual, and deviant; that He protects the left-handed and favors the redhead, that He is considered to be god of foreigners, then the picture becomes more complicated, less tied to hostile forces of the natural world. If I give chaos, destruction, the role of tester and challenger, the One who makes certain that the king is strong enough to face the job of kingship, still greater complexity. If He is named as the one who is ultimately responsible for the protection of that which is, the one who is capable of facing the forces of annihilation and unmaking and defeating them, one is left entirely in the realms of the philosophical and mystical, without natural referents at all.

Somewhere in there one can find the mysteries that are the core of this god, can come to know Him as fully Himself. If one stays stuck on just the projections of that core into the world of nature, the playing field has been limited too much to meet Him face to face. Yes, Set storms; it is His nature to do so, and one can meet Him there, but not if He is just the storm, if that is the sole, centralmost, or essentially defining thing. He is not a "god of nature"; His manifestations include portions of the natural world, but then again, Whose don't?

Figuring out how to assimilate all that stuff strikes me as being the basic nature of the Mysteries of a particular god:  this and this and this are all fundamentally the same thing -- you sort out how.
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« Reply #23: June 05, 2008, 07:44:39 am »

I think part of the problem with discussing spirits is that so many people seem to trivialize the concept.  They will talk about 'my' spirit animal, totem animal, animal guide, etc., as if they are talking about their shoe collection.  It makes people who deal with these concepts in a different way shie off the discussion.
Yes, but I still find it a pity. It's hard to learn about the topic if only the fluffies talk (with an occassional snide comment thrown in by posters who think they know better.) Btw, can you recommend any sensible book about the topic?

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I don't think substituting god for spirit is the answer, but I'm not sure what is.
I don't think that either, I was just a bit frustrated. 

Quote
I do think your dream about a spirit animal talking to you about death and then trying to eat you fits in with experiences I have had.  For me, it was about teaching respect, both for the entity and for the animal it was 'of'.  Just because you can learn something doesn't mean that the one you learn it from is a loving, benign, teacher.
Thanks for answering. Do you think some of them are malevolent or do they just teach in a rude way? I find it very hard to figure out which to trust and which not to.
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« Reply #24: June 05, 2008, 08:11:59 am »

I've noticed in reading people's accounts of their deities, and in my own upbringing and practice, that there seem to be distinct 'types' of gods that humans relate to.  Broadly, I see three basic categories:

"Evolved' gods - These gods were once humans, or related to or 'born with' humans.  Several of the Irish gods, the bodhisatvas (sp?), some of the Greek gods who started out human and achieved godhood through effort or favour.

"Representative' gods - more prominent in indigenous societies, and sometimes not defined as gods by everyone.  I'm thinking of Coyote, Raven - actually, all my examples here come from FN culture, but that's because that's what I'm familiar with.

'Alien' gods - again, maybe not the best term.  Gods who are outside of time and space, born possibly of the universe itself, having no connection with earth or humanity except by their own choice.  I'm not sure if creator gods come into this one or not, but possibly the JCI god does.

What 'type' of god do you follow?  Do you think the other types actually count as gods or as something else?  What is the actual, way back when, origin of your god, if you know it?

Feel free to rephrase the question or go off into a relevant tangent if I've left out some part of your cosmology. Cheesy

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I've started replying to this three times.  Each time I've stopped halfway through.

I would probably have to say Tonan is an 'evolved-alien' (heretic!  My god is THE god not an alien...  alright now that we've gotten that out of our system...) In her mythology she was always a deity, mother of the gods, etc. etc.  I would say the evolution comes in syncretisation though, since she has gone through quite a few repackagings.  Her Guadalupe persona shares much with the Evolutions of Isis, in that she was taken by conquistadors, re-named and sold back to the people who revered her, figure heading a different system of belief. (Christianity) 

Guadalupe is an Arabic/Spanish name, (Spanish was not spoken in South America until it was colonized as New Spain) So 'Guada' (river) and Lupe (wolf) would not have been terms used by those already working with Tonan to relate to her.  The Spanish were already familiar with  Guadalupe as the Moorish Black Madonna, and had some experience with 'pagans' a female indigenous deity would have been put in the same box.

So Tonan has evolved a bit.  Currently I think she is reclaiming her roots a bit, and the Juan Diego stories aren't as *oooohhhh ahhhhh* since they tell the so called story of the repacking, I mean hey.  Perhaps she went with this as a way to make it through to modern times without being swept under the carpet and rolled up in the "Aztec/Maya" clot and buried away under a few hundred years of Spanish Speaking. 

Him of the Monomoyicks, would also classify as an evolved deity, since there are some stories of him once being a living man who departed in a canoe to return at some unspecified time in the unknown future.
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« Reply #25: June 05, 2008, 11:01:11 am »

Maybe the reason I put them into the spirit category is because I hope that Gods act a bit more reasonably in a way a human brain could grasp. I mean has anyone ever met a God that tried to eat you? It's shocking enough with an animal spirit. Shocked

Well, I've had a (probably) not-quite-god disembowel me in meditation.  And I still honor Her - Her shrine is currently on top of my desk, and She reminded me of that encounter yesterday when I offered to Her.  Some Beings are more likely to "make severe the ordeals" (Book of the Law reference) than others, and some are more subtle and just as challenging in different ways. 
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« Reply #26: June 05, 2008, 11:10:01 am »

Well, I've had a (probably) not-quite-god disembowel me in meditation.  And I still honor Her - Her shrine is currently on top of my desk, and She reminded me of that encounter yesterday when I offered to Her.  Some Beings are more likely to "make severe the ordeals" (Book of the Law reference) than others, and some are more subtle and just as challenging in different ways. 

I had a weird experience like that with Brighid--no disembowelment, but I was literally caught and reeled like a fish. It was pretty powerful, and pretty humbling too.
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« Reply #27: June 05, 2008, 11:31:58 am »

I had a weird experience like that with Brighid--no disembowelment, but I was literally caught and reeled like a fish. It was pretty powerful, and pretty humbling too.

Wow.  No kidding.

I wonder if it's an Irish thing - the Being in question was Scathach for me. Smiley
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« Reply #28: June 05, 2008, 11:50:30 am »

Wow.  No kidding.

I wonder if it's an Irish thing - the Being in question was Scathach for me. Smiley

It must be.  Cheesy  When it comes to necessary transformation, I find (based on personal experience and what others have told me), the Irish goddesses in particular have no qualms about pushing us through the change, by whatever means necessary.

And if that includes the occasional disembowelment, well, so be it.  Wink
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« Reply #29: June 05, 2008, 02:28:12 pm »

Maybe the reason I put them into the spirit category is because I hope that Gods act a bit more reasonably in a way a human brain could grasp. I mean has anyone ever met a God that tried to eat you? It's shocking enough with an animal spirit. Shocked

A friend's patron goddess has informed her that she is to have an interesting and rich life so that she will be well-flavored when She eats her.

(Sometimes capping god-pronouns makes sentences much easier to parse!)
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