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Thread: When theologies and pantheons collide

  1. #1
    Copper Member Thorbjorn's Avatar
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    When theologies and pantheons collide

    I am Asatruar: Thorsman to be precise. I left Hinduism behind because there's much about it I don't hold with and don't sit right with me. Yet I'm not entirely ready to walk away from the deities themselves: Lakshmi, Saraswati, Hanuman, Shiva (mostly as Nataraja). I could never get close to Krishna, Rama, and Ganesha, despite the three of them being the most popular deities. I've tried to hold onto the Hindu deities as individual deities, without the philosophies of Hinduism, but I'm finding it difficult. I cannot merge the Hindu and Norse pantheons because they are completely different in form and function, not to mention worship.

    Is it possible to hold onto the deities of a former religion without holding onto other beliefs of the former religion? Yet, I have not worshiped or prayed to the Hindu deities in a while. Something I am considering is that because I have a good amount of Hindu art, mostly in the form of statues I find to be very pretty, I am reluctant to break ties fully with the Hindu deities. That is, I'm reluctant to wrap them up and pack them away... they've become simply objets 'art. Is this wrong? Did any of this make sense?

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    Sr. Member Louisvillian's Avatar
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    Re: When theologies and pantheons collide

    I felt the same way regarded the Celtic deities I worshipped while Wiccan, when I transitioned towards Hellenistic reconstructionism. I've compromised by figuring out a kind of syncretic personal religion. I identify mainly as a Hellenist, and I worship Hellenic gods and goddesses in a traditionally Hellenic manner; I worship some Roman deities as part of this, because [complex reasons]*. But I also worship Celtic gods and goddesses in a Celtic reconstructionist manner, because I feel a strong pull towards them as well. I don't want to venerate these gods in an eclectic manner, and I generally don't mix the pantheons around. I conduct my Hellenic, Roman, and Celtic cults separately; I compartmentalise my practices.
    As far as 'beliefs' go...my belief system has always been pretty barebones and malleable. I have taken up some beliefs due to my newer religious tendencies, but my basic morality isn't much different. The biggest difference, arguably, in transitioning to reconstructionism is the greater emphasis on hospitality. Which is found in both Greek and Celtic religion, so the two complement each other as far as my personal conduct goes.

    *As part of my reconstruction of ancient Hellenic and Hellenistic religion, I frame my festival calendar and part of my cult practices around my country's calendar, the same way an ancient Hellene would in regards to their polis. Well, my equivalent to a polis is the United States; I also happen to be of the belief that the primary gods that protect the American state and nation as a whole are Roman gods, due to the deliberate modelling of the US on the Roman Republic. So, I worship the main gods of the ancient Roman state.

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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: When theologies and pantheons collide

    Historically, our ancestors mixed and matched deities far more than most people realise.

    Having said that, how far outside a given cultural context a deity can/will go depends on the deity. I'm a hard polytheist... and as such I think the best person to ask about this sort of thing is the deity itself. Some will compromise, some wont.

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    Copper Member Thorbjorn's Avatar
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    Re: When theologies and pantheons collide

    Thanks Louisvillian and Rae'ya.

    I'm doing some reflecting on it and am starting to think this way: I am a semi-hard polytheist. I think the deities exist as individuals to a large extent, but I also see them as personifications of concepts, and overlapping, complementary and supplementary to each other.

    It's odd I should have brought this up, or rather, been conflicted about it, considering that even when I was Christian I believed in the Hindu deities. I know that historically most of the Indo-European deities either morphed one into the other, or have counterparts, or some such thing. I can even draw something of a connection between Bragi and Saraswati (though she is geographic in origin... the Saraswati River), both being a god and goddess, respectively of music and speech. I can worship all of them in their cultural contexts... I could offer what the Hindu deities like in their own shrine, and to the Norse deities what they like in their shrine. Co-habitating them in the same shrine made me feel creepy.

    As for how the deities feel about it, I may very well have been blocking them and forcing the issue of separation. That is, I still feel that Lakshmi and Ganesha have helped me in times of need. I don't see why Thor and Hanuman could not both help me with strength and courage; why Hanuman and Tyr could not inspire me for honor and duty; why Krishna could not help me to see that divine spark in everyone (some days I need more help than others with that ); Harihara (the combined forms of Vishnu and Shiva) represents the universe in its functions and maintenance; and so on. I don't get the feeling that any of them are offended. I don't think even Odin, stern as he is, would be offended because I usually praise him first in toasts and hails.

    Well, this may have been a brain-fart... no, it was a brain-fart... but I like to bounce things off other people who are more experienced than me. I think that by writing this out and getting feedback, it helps sort things out. I think this can work as long as I let it flow and don't overthink it (I have gad and ocpd).

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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: When theologies and pantheons collide

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorbjorn View Post
    Thanks Louisvillian and Rae'ya.

    I'm doing some reflecting on it and am starting to think this way: I am a semi-hard polytheist. I think the deities exist as individuals to a large extent, but I also see them as personifications of concepts, and overlapping, complementary and supplementary to each other.

    It's odd I should have brought this up, or rather, been conflicted about it, considering that even when I was Christian I believed in the Hindu deities. I know that historically most of the Indo-European deities either morphed one into the other, or have counterparts, or some such thing. I can even draw something of a connection between Bragi and Saraswati (though she is geographic in origin... the Saraswati River), both being a god and goddess, respectively of music and speech. I can worship all of them in their cultural contexts... I could offer what the Hindu deities like in their own shrine, and to the Norse deities what they like in their shrine. Co-habitating them in the same shrine made me feel creepy.

    As for how the deities feel about it, I may very well have been blocking them and forcing the issue of separation. That is, I still feel that Lakshmi and Ganesha have helped me in times of need. I don't see why Thor and Hanuman could not both help me with strength and courage; why Hanuman and Tyr could not inspire me for honor and duty; why Krishna could not help me to see that divine spark in everyone (some days I need more help than others with that ); Harihara (the combined forms of Vishnu and Shiva) represents the universe in its functions and maintenance; and so on. I don't get the feeling that any of them are offended. I don't think even Odin, stern as he is, would be offended because I usually praise him first in toasts and hails.

    Well, this may have been a brain-fart... no, it was a brain-fart... but I like to bounce things off other people who are more experienced than me. I think that by writing this out and getting feedback, it helps sort things out. I think this can work as long as I let it flow and don't overthink it (I have gad and ocpd).
    If it helps at all, I regularly work with deities outside of the Northern pantheons, to the point that I identify as both Northern Tradition AND Demonolator. I also know of a number of other Northern Tradition folk who work with deities from different pantheons (I doubts it's very common in Asatru and recon traditions, though... outside of deities like Holda, at least). The general practice seems to be to give them separate altars and be very careful about calling on them in the same ritual, because once you do that you are inviting them all out to the same dinner party... if you don't check with them that they're likely to get along first you might get some resistance. That's not to say you can't do two rituals for the same purpose... just if you are asking them to work together or share a space you probably should check first.

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    Copper Member Thorbjorn's Avatar
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    Re: When theologies and pantheons collide

    Right, that's why I keep them separate now. They are completely different in form and function. The Norse deities are more rough-and-tumble, rowdy and boisterous, while the Hindu deities are actually more sedate. I think there might be compatibilities between, say, Hanuman, Tyr and Thor, though Thor is the more brash of the three; between Saraswati and Bragi; and a few others. But I see Odin and Krishna as completely incompatible. And of course if I were at a sumbel I would never hail a non-Asatru deity, or pray to Thor in a Hindu temple (not that I go anymore). That brings up another point that added to my conflict... I feel completely uncomfortable in a Hindu temple anymore. It may be the cultural disparity, despite being an "Indophile".

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: When theologies and pantheons collide

    I worship a number of deities from different pantheons...but I work with (for?) them in a very specific context, in which it doesn't matter so much if they share space or not because I worship (literally) the bioregion (and my theological perspective is confusing--I don't think it matters what I think the gods *are*).
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

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