Lance Foster (hengruh) wrote,
Lance Foster
hengruh

Gods and Family and Layers

It's great when you realize you are old, have had life experiences all over the map, and are offbeat enough you could never run successfully for political office. That means you can talk about stuff you couldn't otherwise. So, gods. God. etc. What's the deal?

LAYER 1
Temperamentally, I am an animist and a mystic. Everything's alive, can be communicated with, and communicates. Has a personality. That's what I remember from my earliest childhood. People, dogs, clouds, houses, trees, everything's a kind of Person, a kind of Being, that reacts to what you do, and can do things for you or TO you. That's my pre-6 year old brain. Animals were pretty much like people, only they didn't talk, not with words. There wasn't much about God or Jesus or the Devil or anything. Bad stuff mainly came from adults, from accidents, from being sick, or from spooky dreams and Dark Things/feelings.

My family went to church and all when I was a kid, mostly I remember Easter morning. But church was dark and boring and incomprehensible. The only thing about God I knew, is that the prayer I said at night, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, " that prayer was to God, who was the same guy by a different name as the Lord. So mainly God just watched over you when you slept, a duty delegated to one's guardian angel (like a General sending his soldier) but if you died, then God took over and got you to someplace called heaven. That's about all I absorbed about that. There were monsters and ghosts and all kinds of stuff in this world too.

LAYER 2
When I was 6, later that fall, I was sent to Catholic school, where to God and my guardian angel, was added Jesus and Mary and a multitude of saints and nuns and priests and heavenly choirs and such. The Cathedral was right by the school, and I used to go in there and look at all the 19th century stained glass windows and see Adam and Eve and the snake, and Jesus on the cross and many stories that I didn't know but by which I was awestruck. And I learned that those spooky feelings and other bad stuff was directed by a guy we called the Devil, but if you were good, your angel protected you, and if you were bad someday you would go to hell. This was my world, a very Catholic world in the last gasps of the Latin Mass, and I turned into a very devout little kid.

LAYER 3
The school closed at the end of 3rd grade, and I was sent to a regular public school. Not much religious stuff either way, not like now where people are either psycho FOR religion or psycho AGAINST religion. People mentioned God or church but only if it came up as a natural part of the conversation. Like, we went fishing after church yesterday, or man I prayed to God my grandpa would live, that sort of thing. Once a year the Gideons came by and handed out those little green New Testaments stacked up in cardboard boxes, if you wanted one. No biggie either way. We started telling stories about ghosts and weird stuff we heard. Halloween was excellent as were all the holidays, Christmas, Easter, everything was cool and no psycho stuff, no people worked up about it.

About this time we started hanging out with more Indian people, and learning about those old ways. I was reading folklore and myths more, about science and dinosaurs. I accepted it all. No one was shouting about separation of school (state) and church, or conversely that evolution was dreamed up by the devil. It was more like, there were a lot of different things in the world, and whatever you were doing, that's what you focused on. When you did science, you did science, you didn't mix religion in there and freak out about evolution or dinosaurs. When you went to church, you didn't try to rationalize God, you just prayed. Very practical, realistic, down to earth. There was a lot in the world, and you didn't have to mash everything into acceptable boxes.

LAYER 4
By the time I hit junior high, I had fully integrated the previous layers. I didn't worry about the parts that disagreed with each other too much. In junior high I started reading more about stuff like numerology, astrology, magic, ghosts, legends, the Hobbit, bigfoot, etc. There wasn't that much out there, but I read whatever I came across. This was the early 70s in Montana, and the only woowoo stuff you might bump into was Eklal Kueshana's stuff, and later Carlos Castaneda. Mainly I read about nature, American Indian legends and history, National Geographic, fantasy, ghosts and weird tales, and I dreamed of traveling somewhere cool someday. I wanted to be a wizard or a medicine man, though I had no idea how one could do that. Other than Catholic and Native American traditions, I really only knew about Greek mythology, which I had been into since I was a little kid. High school was more of the same, really, especially Carlos Castaneda.

In college (my 20s) and until my 30s, I pretty much only cycled between being devoutly, medievally, Catholic, and following the Native American ways (sweats, learning more about my own tribe, nature). I majored in Anthropology and learned about other cultures, and was into science, evolution, etc. I was into the Arthurian thing. I read a few other things like Cunningham's book on natural magic, parapsychology, some Norse mythology, and in my twenties I played some dungeons and dragons (AD&D). This was all before computers really got going and the only computer gaming was Pac-Man, tanks, etc. That guy Gale on "Breaking Bad" was like someone I would hang out with.

I didn't really come across hermeticism until I was already in my 40s and the Internet boomed in the mid-90s. It was a feast. I learned about the various forms of druidry, I learned that there were different kinds of witches (previously I had lumped it all together as satanism), there was something called Asatru and runemal, and much, much more. My layers were getting denser and denser, sometimes overwhelming in complexity, and I ended up cycling between everything, finding everything was true in some ways, but nothing was really true in ALL ways.

It really took my late 40s before I found how to arrange it all so it worked, because so many of them were incongruent, if not actively HOSTILE to each other (I was too pagan for Catholics and too Catholic for pagans, and both despised science and science returned the favor). There were two models I use.

1. The Swiss Army knife model. What tool do you need? Corkscrews open wine, knife blades cut bread and cheese, not the other way around. And the best meals include wine AND bread AND cheese, not just one of them.

2. The model I learned in Hawai'i that Uncle Butch introduced me to: There are three legs to a stool (the stool called life). All three have to be there in equal measure, or the stool collapses and you fall off. They are: 1. God, the gods, Ke Akua. The Creator. 2. One's Ancestors (and their spiritual allies). Kupuna, Makua, 'Aumakua. 3. The Land, Ka 'Aina (and in Hawai'i, the Ocean, Kai, Moana). You need ALL THREE or you fall off the stool.

I've talked about my views on gods before. And I do think there are many gods (and goddesses, as I include goddesses when I say gods), but other than the Creator and Mother Earth, I don't get into all the god stuff too much, other than the genius loci and animistic stuff, if you count them as gods (little "g"). As part of connecting with one's ancestors, it is a wise thing to learn something about the preChristian gods they believed in. Since I have English (AngloSaxon) and German and Dutch and Norse ancestors, I learn about Wodan/Wotan/Odin and his crew. Since I have Welsh and Irish and Scot, I learn about the Celtic mythos. My Ioway and other native blood connects me to Bear Clan, Wakanda, Thunder, Trickster, and this land. Since I have pre-Indoeuropean blood in Europe, I read about the preChristian Basque beliefs. And so on. I respect these ancestral gods and Persons, but I am not dedicated to any of them, because we are all related. And I don't pick one relative over another, because that's how I roll. Family is family.
Tags: europe, family, gods, indigenous peoples, magic
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