KIRAN ATMA: Pagan Gods
Showing posts with label Pagan Gods. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pagan Gods. Show all posts

Pagan Deities And Principle Of Cosmic Order



In contemporary Pagan religions, a large number of deities are recognized. They come in both masculine and female forms, with abilities and purposes ranging from knowledge to drunkenness, battle to peace, and fertility to death, to name a few. 

Pagan deities often represent natural elements and energies, as well as cultural and psychological characteristics. 


In certain instances, functional and linguistic correspondences between the names, functions, and stories of Pagan deities indicate an underlying Indo-European commonality across the deities of many faiths. 


  • Unlike the impersonal, transcendent god of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheistic faiths, Pagan deities are often shown as human, all too human, in myth and art. 
  • They have interests and joys, and they enjoy a variety of activities, depending on their personalities. Like humans, they have sexual relationships, friends, and families. 
  • They have greater skills and talents to humans, yet their power is not absolute. 

The humanlike personality, flawed nature, and limited power of the Pagan deities may appear like a distortion of the whole concept of divinity to Christians and other monotheists used to a single, stand-alone supergod with ultimate dominion over all things. 


  • The limits and flaws of Pagan deities, rather than the monotheistic supergod's immaculate perfection, mirror the real dynamics of life on Earth in a much more appealing way. 
  • The gods themselves, for example, are said to perish battling their foes in the ultimate, catastrophic Battle of Ragnarok in Norse mythology. 
  • Though the deity Odin is aware of the impending catastrophe, he is unable to prevent it, and instead stoically prepares for destruction, possibly soothed by the idea that the world, like his slain son Balder, will rise again. 
  • The death of Odin and other Norse gods does not lead contemporary Nordic Pagans to lose confidence in the worth of their gods, but rather serves as a painful reminder of all existence's limits. 

This sad worldview contrasts sharply with the JudeoChristian-Islamic image of God protecting his followers from all pain and evil while condemning the wicked to eternal damnation. 

Much of Pagan mythology has comedy, some of it earthy and even risqué. 


  • The lovemaking of the pot-bellied deity of war and knowledge, the Dagma, with the battle goddess Macha is depicted in a funny and irreverent way in the Tuatha Dé Danaan's Celtic mythology. 
  • Similarly, the Greek deity Ares finds himself in a precarious situation when trying to engage in illicit affairs with Aphrodite, the goddess of sexuality and wife of the craftsman god Hephaistos. 
  • In Norse mythology, the normally masculine thunder god Thor disguises himself as the lovely fertility goddess Freyja to recover his magical hammer from an ugly giant who insists on marrying Freyja. 
  • These legendary follies and peccadilloes have no place in the portrayal of god in the monotheistic imagination; they are sacrilegious and perverted. 
  • Such frivolous stories would be seen as shirk in Islamic discourse, a disrespectful depiction of the divine that is to be despised and punished. 

The Pagan religious sense enjoys these events because it acknowledges that no one is perfect: even the gods are not immune to life's oddities. 


  • Modern Pagans, as the previous indicates, do not expect their gods to be flawless. 
  • They revere them as symbols of essential aspects of life and nature, but they do not share the Judeo-Christian-Islamic belief that god should be perfect, transcendent, and without defect. 
  • For Pagans, it's enough that the gods be intelligent, though not always wise, and strong, in the same way that natural forces like rivers, storms, and mountains are powerful, if not all-powerful in the way that an absolute ruler is. 
  • They see the gods as superior to humans, but they do not believe they are beyond human emotion or comprehension. 
  • Furthermore, rather than seeing the gods as exterior, supernatural entities, some modern Pagans see them as psychic potentials inside the mind, similar to Carl Jung's notion of archetypes. 



Jung (1875–1961), a Swiss psychologist and Sigmund Freud's early student, thought that deity pictures, or archetypes, are a universal human inheritance stored in the collective human psyche. 


  • In books like Re-visioning Psychology (1978), American psychologist James Hillman expanded on Jung's ideas, claiming that the many gods of Greek mythology reflect various types of psychological structure, adaptability, and viewpoint. 
  • Other Pagans believe that the gods live both inside and outside the human mind. 


Another significant distinction between Pagan and monotheistic conceptions of god is that Pagan traditions put a high value on female deities, which are virtually entirely absent in Judaism and Islam, and only tangentially recognized in Christianity via the Catholic worship of the Virgin Mary.


  • Goddesses of fertility are among the most well-known female deities in Pagan religions, although goddesses of many other roles and forces also exist. 
  • The goddesses of fertility are typically multifaceted, wielding influence over a variety of aspects of life and nature in addition to reproduction. 
  • In addition to fertility, the Norse goddess Freyja possesses control over death, battle, and Shamanic magic. 
  • Artemis is a Greek goddess who is linked to mountains, woods, and hunting, as well as childbirth. 


Goddess worship and/or modern interpretations of Witchcraft are a distinct subset of modern Paganism, inspired by feminist scholars such as Marija Gimbutas, who argue for the existence of a goddess-centered religion, as well as a matriarchal society, in prehistoric Europe prior to the arrival of the martial, patriarchal Indo-Europeans around 4500 BCE. 


  • The Reclaiming Collective, established in the 1970s by Starhawk and others in the San Francisco Bay region and now known simply as Reclaiming, is one of the most well-known and prominent goddess-oriented Pagan groups, although there are many more. 
  • “Witches perceive themselves as having left the Father's House (Jewish and Christian religion) and returned ‘home' to the Self (Goddess religion) with a call to heal western women's (and men's) alienation from community and spirituality,” Jone Salomonsen concluded in a recent study of the Reclaiming movement (Salomonsen 2002, 282). 

In Wicca, respect for female deities is equally essential. Wiccans usually worship a male/female deity pair known as the god/goddess pair. 


  • As a result, they may incorporate both the masculine and feminine aspects of the divine in their conceptions of God, opposing patriarchy without trying to replace it with matriarchy. 
  • Wiccans may worship any number of Pagan or Indigenous gods and goddesses since this idea of male/female divine partnership is considered as a universal principle of the world's ancient faiths. 


On many levels, the feasibility, let alone the propriety, of attempting to fit a large number of the world's many deities into a single paradigm of male/female partnership is open to question, but it is a structure that has allowed people interested in various deities and religious traditions to customize Wicca to suit their specific interests, thereby increasing the religion's appeal to a bro culture. 


  • In certain Pagan religious traditions, there is a metaphysical notion that may be considered to resemble the Judeo-Christian-Islamic understanding of god, at least in some restricted ways. 
  • This idea refers to an impersonal, overarching order that governs the path of events in the cosmos, including individual destinies. 
  • The idea is variably represented in Norse religion as rlög, a term that roughly translates as "cosmic law," and Wyrd, which roughly translates as "fate." 
  • The concept of Fr Flaithemon (the Prince's Truth) exists in Celtic mythology, and it is said to provide peace and prosperity to those who respect and maintain it, as well as devastation to those who reject it. 
  • There existed harmonia in ancient Greece's pagan religion. 


Darnumas as a principle of world order has a lot of significance for modern Lithuanian Neopagans; the word is etymologically related to the Indian Sanskrit term dharma, which has many connotations in both Hinduism and Buddhism, including world order and truth. 


The idea of an underlying order to the world is not well developed in most of these traditions, but its existence indicates that ancient Pagans were capable of intellectual thought, which contemporary Pagans will certainly expand in new ways. 


One of the most potential areas for discussion and mutual understanding between Paganism, monotheistic religions, and other religious traditions is this notion of basic harmony or order in the universe.


You may also want to read more about Paganism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.



Online Resources


Adherents.com

Top Twenty Religions in the United States, showing “Wicca/Pagan/

Druid” at 307,000 members as of 2001, based on American Religious Identity

Survey (ARIS) conducted in 2001 by sociologists Barry A. Kosmin, Seymour P.

Lachman, and associates at the Graduate School of the City University of New

York. At http://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html#religions

More about ARIS survey and data at http://www.gc.cuny.edu/studies/aris_index.htm.


Circle Sanctuary. 

Broad, inclusive, umbrella organization and support network for

Pagan religions. At http://www.circlesanctuary.org.


Covenant of the Goddess. 

Wiccan organization. At http://www.cog.org.


Fellowship of Isis. 

Eclectic, primarily goddess-oriented Pagan organization. 

At http://www.fellowshipofisis.com.


Lady Liberty League. 

Legal advocacy branch of Circle Sanctuary. 

At http://www.circlesanctuary.org/liberty.


Pagan Federation. 

UK-based, broad, inclusive Pagan organization and support network. At http://www.paganfed.org.


Religious Tolerance.Org. 

Interreligious interfaith organization for religious tolerance. At http://www.religioustolerance.org.


Witchvox

Wiccan and Pagan site. At http://www.witchvox.com.


World Congress of Ethnic Religions (WCER). 

Lithuania-based umbrella organization for ethnic religions and Reconstructionist Paganism. 

At http://www.wcer.org.


Wren’s Nest. 

Wiccan and Pagans news site, branch of Witchvox, including news items gleaned from the mainstream press. 

At http://www.witchvox.com/xwrensnest.html.