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Author Topic: Who are and who aren't the Deities?  (Read 1549 times)

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BronwynWolf

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Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« on: August 05, 2012, 02:31:47 PM »

This is a deep and tricky question. I have seen so many names listed on various web sites that made me wonder. When possible, I go digging...it helps if they have some sort of source listed.

Sometimes when I dig, I end up wondering why these names have been added to a god/ess list, since according to the source the web site cited, they weren't.  To me, this speaks of shoddy scholarship, and the lack of verifying what you find before using it and perpetuating misinformation.

Any thoughts?
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Nicodemus

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2012, 03:42:56 PM »

Hello BronwynWolf
Forgive my naivety, are you referring to some specific God/ess that have been cited incorrectly?

There is a lot of incorrect information. I have read lots of different versions on God's some are almost insulting yet well meant. Research takes time but it pays off in a firmness of mind in some cases. 

Sometimes I think we should start our own websites promoting God/ess in living language rather than speaking about them as mythology or in a tone of past unimportance. It shows a limited mindset and needs to be readdressed it seems to me.
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BronwynWolf

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2012, 03:58:59 PM »

What I am referring to are names from mythology now being used as gods and goddesses who were NOT referred to such in their original stories. I realize that there are regional deities who are hard to research, but when someone cites the Mabinogion or the Bo Tain as a source for this or that deity, and I actually go to LOOK... and find a minor character who was maybe the parent or servant of a hero...a HUMAN hero, not a god or demi-god, I have to wonder where the parent/servant made the jump to divinity themselves.
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Nicodemus

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2012, 04:14:51 PM »

That sounds complicated. I am not sure about the area you are researching, however divinities can be born to normal parents (if that is any help).  :confused:
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Crystal Dragon

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2012, 04:40:03 PM »

I agree that there are way too many who perpetuate, or start, misinformation.  Not just with regard to gods/goddesses ... misinformation is rampant, especially on the internet.  I'm not sure why they do this ... perhaps they read too fast without comprehending what they were reading; maybe they wished something different were the reality and posting it made them feel better; and who knows what other motivations there might be.

I rarely research on the net ... and I always prefer to go to the source be it the original mythology or a scholarly work.  I keep a number of both types on hand for personal reference but I realize not everyone is able to do the same.  Still, there are libraries everywhere and if one only made the effort the information is available.  Perhaps the internet has made us (as a society) lazy?
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FairyQueen

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2012, 04:54:09 PM »

Perhaps the internet has made us (as a society) lazy?

Guilty.  :whistle:

I do a lot of research on the internet. I prefer it. BUT, I always always always check more than one website/source. They used to say you can't believe everything you see on TV - well it is certainly true for the internet, too!
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dragonspring

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2012, 05:33:52 PM »

You also can't trust everything you see on the internet even if it is found on several sources.  I have found that oftentimes misinformation is repeated over and over again because people do shoddy research.  I do a lot of research on the net too but I try to find pages with scholarly work that at least has quotes from the original literary source or archaeological evidence. Plus, I also have personal access to a lot of original texts.  Between my collection and GW's, I rarely even have to consult sacred-texts.com anymore. 
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earthmuffin

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2012, 08:35:46 PM »

I agree that misinformation shows up repeated (heck, plagiarized) over and over again on the net and it can even carry over into books. I did a research project once on the facts in an essay describing the historical basis of one of the Sabbats. It was maddening how much stuff was repeated without proper reference or credit all over the web because the author was well-known, and I even found the same info. in a 101 book, again without any reference. I never did find valid confirmation of what was being repeated either. IMO, this is a big danger of the internet. Stealing other people's words and repeating misinformation over and over again is just so darn easy-- plus the ease with which you can research topics on the internet makes us lazy about looking for scholarly confirmation in offline sources. If only folks would state on their helpful websites where they got their info!  :gaah: You can see this topic has touched on a pet peeve of mine.  :whistle:

Sacred-texts is a wonderful resource. I really wish I had the home library that GW and DS and others here have because I am guilty of relying too much on just the internet for information related to pagan topics myself.
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Eternal Seeker

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2012, 09:07:10 PM »


In addition to poor scholars, you have a problem of definition- just what is a deity, and when is the origin? Example: many deities are believed by researchers to have been actual people, or a conflation of a couple people who were treated as Saints, prayed to as intermediaries to the Gods, and then worshiped as Gods in their own right over the years- Lugh and Thor are in this category. Rastafarians worshiped Haile Selassie I as God- when he was not only still alive, but relatively young. Many of the African Diaspora adopt Gods and Saints from other cultures, and sometimes worship them as Gods in their own right. Chaos magicians, plus some other sects, may invent a God for a specific need on the theory that it is that fact of being worshiped that makes a deity divine, and so if they worship this newly invented God it will become a real God. Under that theory, the entities you refer to ARE now Gods! So it can be rather hard to tell sometimes whether an entity is a "proper" God.

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2012, 09:20:08 PM »

There's also the problem of which version of the story you're reading. For instance in some versions I've read, Setanta's father is just a random Lord. In others, he's Lugh (this one has become more widely accepted i believe). Names change in stories from region to region, different parts of the same culture may even have different stories for the same endpoint (such as how Odin gained wisdom). My point being that one source is never enough because it may not tell the whole story.
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FairyQueen

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 09:22:37 PM »

This is such an awesome discussion. It leads me to believe that deity is whatever we need it to be and there is really nothing scholars and researchers can do about that.

Of course, there is still this issue of people not siting original sources...
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earthmuffin

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2012, 12:12:50 AM »

This is such an awesome discussion. It leads me to believe that deity is whatever we need it to be and there is really nothing scholars and researchers can do about that.

Of course, there is still this issue of people not siting original sources...

Yes, religions and our conception of deities evolve-- even through the perpetuation of misinformation. However, I think we could be doing ourselves and our deities a great disservice if we "remake" them into what we wish them to be. I know some of the folks who have been at this path a while have noticed that there seems to be a trend to "nice-ify" all goddesses, even those whose imagery is predominantly violent and/or bloody. If we tame these goddesses in our mind, are we not robbing them of their power? Couldn't we be missing out on the true insight they have to offer us whatever that may be? I guess it really depends on if one believes the deities are as they are and are timeless or if they are simply what we perceive them to be at any point in time. I'm get myself muddled when I think about it and it is getting to be past my bed time so I am probably not making a whole lot of sense. 
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Claude

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2012, 12:32:44 AM »

I agree whole heatedly earthmuffin and this is one of the things that tends to get me in trouble. To a certain extent we have to stretch mythology because it is simply too fanciful or contradictory to be take literally. However this doesn't mean that people should go all willy nilly with their views of the gods. A god of war is a god of war not rainbows and butterflies. Now if through working with that deity you discover something new about the temperament  then by all means believe it and use it.

My personal view is that the deities are eternal forces that don't change simply because we will them to. Their personalities are their own and not dependent on our simple narrow perspective. Because of this religious practices change but the actual deity does not. It all fits into my syncretistic worldview.
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Crystal Dragon

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2012, 02:54:25 AM »

If we tame these goddesses in our mind, are we not robbing them of their power? Couldn't we be missing out on the true insight they have to offer us whatever that may be?

Absolutely!


I guess it really depends on if one believes the deities are as they are and are timeless or if they are simply what we perceive them to be at any point in time.

My experience has been that neither mythology nor scholarly works can ever give us the whole picture.  It is only through getting to know whomever has claimed us, or even those we choose to work with, that we begin to have an inkling of deity.  My biggest leap in spiritual development, with regard to the gods/goddesses, occurred after working with someone elses deities.  That was definitely an eye-opener.  ;)
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Nicodemus

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2012, 05:40:01 AM »


My experience has been that neither mythology nor scholarly works can ever give us the whole picture.  It is only through getting to know whomever has claimed us, or even those we choose to work with, that we begin to have an inkling of deity. My biggest leap in spiritual development, with regard to the gods/goddesses, occurred after working with someone elses deities.  That was definitely an eye-opener.  ;)
I like the line in bold.
Rather than have a "religion" we can have a "relationship".

When I drop the academia, politics and other people's views, I find I am engaged in a one to one relationship with a divine being and little else matters as much.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 05:42:22 AM by Nicodemus »
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dragonspring

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2012, 08:22:44 AM »

I have to agree that the only way we truly get to know the gods is through our own relationship with them.  I believe that They are who They are but they may share varied aspects of themselves depending on how they are approached and the people approaching them.

I also have to agree with ES that the definition of deity is rather fluid.  For example, some people view Lilith as a demon. She is also portrayed as a servant of Inanna and a night spirit.  However, there are those like GW and myself who approach her as Goddess.
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BronwynWolf

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Re: Who are and who aren't the Deities?
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2012, 03:22:40 PM »

The thing is, DS, there are indications Lilith was considered a goddess long before now. There are many names now listed as deities for the British Islands on the web and in newer, highly suspected books who are NOT considered as such in earlier texts of a more scholarly bent. Since I follow the pantheons of the British Isles, that's why it bothers me, I guess. There are a number of deities that started out localized and became more important over time (Herne, for example). Then there are those who are human heroes in the base material, who make the jump to godhood without some sort of indication where and when it came around. Morguanna Pendragon comes to mind. She was a priestess, and one of the Three Queens said to have take Arthur to Avallach after the battle of Camlan...a woman of great magic and possibly Fey blood... but she never claimed to be a goddess, the old stories don't claim she was a goddess.... and yet so many of today's Pagans claim her as such. If she were being worshiped and worked with as an ancestor, it wouldn't bother me so much.
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