Tags: goddesses

The Gender of the Creator

I still dunno why people have to ascribe gender to the Creator. Sex is a way for DNA to be exchanged, in order to keep diversity going in order to increase the species' chances of survival under changing conditions.

The Creator doesn't need that.

All the other "feminine" and "masculine" stuff other than reproduction is either secondary sex traits, or personality traits ascribed to one or the other, and tied to hormonal differences, all supported or shaped differently according to what culture one is in.

The Creator doesn't have a penis or a vagina, neither or both. Those are biological things and the Creator is not biological.

So basically if it makes you feel better to say when you pray Father or Mother or both or neither, I really don't think the Creator cares. Just do it. Just pray.

Wakanda and the idea of God

Came across this, which you might be interested in reading. People sometimes say the Indians worshipped various gods before the coming of Christianity, or that Wakanda was simply our name for God, the same concept as in religion today. In researching these things, I came across an interesting passage from "The Omaha" by Fletcher and La Flesche, talking about the idea of Wakanda (the Omaha spelling is Wakonda) in a different and more ancient understanding before the white man came. The words in brackets [ ] are my own.

"An invisible and continuous life was believed to permeate all things, seen and unseen. This life manifests itself in two ways: First, by causing to move -all motion, all actions of mind or body are because of this invisible life; second, by causing permanency of structure and form, as in the rock, the physical features of the landscape, mountains, plains, streams, rivers, lakes, the animals and man. This invisible life was also conceived as being similar to the will power of which man is conscious within himself -a power by which things are brought to pass. Through this mysterious life and power all things are related to one another and to man, the seen to the unseen, the dead to the living, a fragment of anything to its entirety. This invisible life and power was called Wakon'da"

[Thus Wakanda is within all things, both visible and invisible, things that are matter/structure/solid and things that are movement/energy/power. Wakanda is like our will, our spirit, and in this way it is similar to when the Bible says God created created man in His own Image, as both God and man have mind/will/spirit, not necessarily both having a physical appearance (two legs etc.) the same. And therefore it is also so that the Indian saying "All My Relatives" that we are all related through Wakanda is also true. We are connected to our ancestors, though they are no longer living. And a physical piece of something is connected to that as well, as when people save a lock of hair to remember people by. This is all connected through Wakanda]

While it [Wakon'da] was a vague entity, yet there was an anthropomorphic [human-like] coloring [aspect] to the conception, as is shown in the prayers offered and the manner in which appeals for compassion and health were made, also in the ethical quality attributed to certain natural phenomena -the regularity of night following day, of summer winter (these were recognized as emphasizing truthfulness as a dependable quality and set forth for man's guidance) -and in the approval by Wakon'da of certain ethical actions on the part of mankind. [So although Wakonda did not look like an Old Man in the Sky, Wakonda still had a human-like ability to listen and respond to prayer and in the expectation that people behave the right way].

Human conditions were projected upon nature, and male and female forces recognized. The Above was regarded as masculine, the Below feminine; so the sky was father, the earth, mother. The heavenly bodies were conceived as having sex; the sun was masculine, the moon feminine, consequently day was male and night female. The union of these two forces was regarded as necessary to the perpetuation of all living forms, and to ma's life by maintaining his food supply. This order or method for the continuation of life was believed to have been arranged by Wakan'da and had to be obeyed if the race was to continue to exist. In order to keep this belief alive in the minds of the people, it was symbolized in religious rites and in social usages and organization." (Fletcher and La Flesche, The Omaha, pages 134-135).

[Thus while the Great Mystery Wakanda was above, beyond, within everything, this is the idea that Mother Earth and Father Sky, Moon and Sun, Night and Day sustained our lives and life of everything on earth that we might live. And our arts, ceremonies, clan structures and all were to remind us of this interrelationship, and keep us connected, and behaving rightly and ethically to each other and everything on this earth that we depend on, so that Life on Earth, including we human beings, would continue to live. -Lance Foster]

---

PS. I was just sent this article on FB about the Zero Point Field in physics:
http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/8/the_amazing_promises_of_the_zero_point_field/

Shoot, we Indians knew about this long ago. Remember, "We called it maize?" Well, " an energy field that connects man and matter and continually affects everything and everyone" ...we called it Wakanda :-) Only we went a little further. Wakanda was also intelligent and had will. Give scientific physics a little time. It will get there too ;-)

This also has a hand in why magic can work in many cases. Am I kidding? ;-))

The Most High God and Other Gods

I found this paragraph very useful and I agree entirely. "Many of these spirits are accustomed to being worshiped as gods. Some continue to expect such reverence, others not so much. Bible students will perhaps recall Psalm 82:6 (or John 10:34 for those Christian readers!), wherein the pagan gods are accounted as limited potentates who will, in their own term, be judged by God as are other mortals. In the scripture, they are called gods, and sons of god, but they will ultimately face judgment as men do, presumably to face total destruction or share the common reward."

I think there are gods of peoples, gods of places, gods of offices/functions, etc. The words "god" "goddesses" "angels" "demons" etc. have so much baggage. I like what St. Thomas said about angels: "angel" is an office (function), in this case, "messenger of the Most High" while their nature is "spirit." Daniel speaks of the Prince of Persia contending with Gabriel and others. The Prince of Persia was a spirit of a people (the Persians) and/or place (Persia). Michael was the spirit which was assigned to Israel and as head of the Heavenly Army.

IMHO, gods from Greek, Germanic/Norse, Native American, Celtic, etc. pantheons are the same. Some have never been human. Some were flesh and blood ancestors of an ethnic group who went through apotheosis. Some are anthropomorphized natural forces, elements, rivers, storms, etc. I think ultimate reality is probably even grander than any of us suspect. Some may live for so long that we conceive of it as forever. But others are born, exist and die, like us. Gotterdammerung.

My own evolving theology holds the Most High to be the Creator of All, whether Earth, the Stars, the Gods, the Angels, Human Beings etc. The Most High is beyond our knowing, the Ain Soph. Earthmaker. We only know of the Most High through His works, his creation, and his messengers. We may know of Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through His Prophets like Moses and Mohammed. But my understanding is necessarily human, thus limited. I'm just whistling and kicking a can down the alleyway of eternity :-)

Adapting Your Spiritual Path to the Place Where You Live



Someone asked this question on a forum I read: "If you follow a European based tradition, but live outside of Europe, how do you incorporate the place where you live into your practice? Or, how do you accommodate your practice to the place where you live?"

I am an American and have developed my own way that works for me. The three legs for me of my own beliefs are:

1. Deity -for me, this means the Creator High-God (most indigenous peoples have a Creator-God, which many consider the same as the God of monotheism), and the Helpers (like Thunder, Earth, Night, Ocean, 4 Directions, Sun, etc.), --but many of the deities are also either place-based -like the river goddesses, or were once human ancestors who went through apotheosis in legend and deed, and sometimes are identified with natural elements like Thunder (ex: Thor, Sango) or offices like the Hearth (ex: Hestia, Brighid).

2. Ancestors -my own bloodlines, my DNA going all the way back from our earliest human ancestors in Africa, through numerous European countries, and several Native American tribes. I embrace ALL my ancestors, I don't pick and choose, because I am ALL of them.

3. The Land where I am, where I live now, and its wights, spirits, sacred sites, etc. I do not follow a cycle of the year that does not hold to this land. I do not really look at Europe very much for these practices, although certainly I enjoy reading about those practices and sites, as they do help illuminate some questions I have. Mostly I follow Native American ways for the place-spirits and nature-spirits here. But here in Montana, I don't even look much at my OWN tribal lore for this, because my Ioway tribe lived in the forested woodlands and tallgrass prairies of the midwest and along the Upper Mississippi and Lower Missouri. Instead I look at the lore about sites and land spirits from the lore and traditions of the tribes here in on the East Slope of Montana, the shortgrass prairies, mountain valleys, coniferous forests, and Rocky Mountains. The lore and spirits ARE different. Generic "Native American" doesn't wash.

My recommendations to someone trying to figure out your own path?

1. Worship the Deity/Deities you prefer or have made oath to.

2. Remember and honor your ancestors and their origins, through altars etc., and at the graves where they are buried. The graves where they are buried are your link to the land here; it is where have become American.

3. Read the ethnographies and folklore of the tribes where you live. If you live in Maine, read up on thethe lore and spiritual folklore of the Penobscot, Abenaki, etc., not the Navajo or Sioux. Don't try and copy Native American ceremonies. That is a no-no. Just read up on the rhythm of the land, the tribal calendars of natural processes and events, and the different animals and nature spirits and sites that were noted by the resident tribes to be important to the land where you reside. And every time you move, do this again for the new place you live.

There are some further ideas in an excellent article at AODA's website, called Wildcrafting the Modern Druid.

Winter Solstice Spirits in Tradition

Yule was the time of the dead for Germanic/Norse peoples, as Samhain/Halloween was the time of the dead for Celtic peoples.


...While most people in contemporary times fixate on October as the "scary month" marked by Halloween and ghosts, in traditional European cultures, the dark cold period around Christmas is much more connected to hauntings.

Remember "A Christmas Carol" with Scrooge, and the ghosts of Marley and of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet-To-Come? This is a clip of the scene with Jacob Marley's ghost from the 1984 version with George C. Scott (yes, they used to tie up the jaws of corpses with cloth so the relaxing mouth would not open in death)...there is much to be learned about greed from this story.



That was written in 1843, yet the tradition of ghosts during Christmas is much older than that. The Germanic peoples celebrated Yuletide, the 12 days of Christmas between Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) and New Year's Day. During this period, the spirits of the family and its ancestors would come to visit the household; other spirits as well. On Mutter's Nacht (Dec. 20), there was a special meal for the Mothers of the Germanic peoples, including Frau Holle aka Frau Holda.

Frau Holda's festival is in the middle of winter, the time when humans retreat indoors from the cold; it may be of significance that the Twelve Days of Christmas were originally the Zwölften ("the Twelve"), which like the same period in the Celtic calendar were an intercalary period during which the dead were thought to roam abroad. Holda seems to personify the weather that transforms the land, for when it snows, it is said that Holda is shaking out her feather pillows; fog is smoke from her fire, and thunder is heard when she reels her flax. Holda traditionally appears in either of two forms: that of a snaggle-toothed, crooked-nosed old woman, or a shining youthful maiden clothed in white. As the maiden in white, her garments resemble the gleaming white of a fresh mantle of snow. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holda)


Both American and English traditional cultures are Anglo-Saxon in their main roots (English is a Germanic language), along with Norse (which is also Germanic) and Celtic, so it should not be surprising that the Germanic roots of Yuletide become apparent in the appearance of ghosts during Christmas time. Yule was the time of the dead for Germanic/Norse peoples, as Samhain/Halloween was the time of the dead for Celtic peoples.

Yule, or Jol, was the name of the midwinter festival of the pagan Norse and Teutonic people of northern Europe. From the 8th century onwards, as the Norwegians settled in Orkney and Shetland, they carried their Yule festival with them. And they were celebrated for centuries. In the Northern Isles, Yule lasted about a month - a period referred to as "the Yules" or "atween the Yules". Using our calendar, this began somewhere around December 20 and ended on January 13. The dates from the surviving sources vary, however. ...
...Being the darkest time of the year, midwinter, and Yule in particular, was also a time when supernatural forces were able to cross to the realm of man, and the spirits of the dead would return to their families.
...Tulya's E'en heralded the start of a period in which the supernatural spirits were let loose - free to continue the age-old struggle between trow and man. So feared were these spirits that it was not considered safe to venture outside after dark.
...Yule's strong association with mischievous creatures such as trows and hogboons, stems from its origin as a feast for the dead. Much like the Celtic Samhain, Yule was a festival for honouring the dead, who were thought to be vital for luck as well as the well being of the livestock and family. Over time, the memories of these powerful ancestral spirits, who were permitted to leave their gravemounds at Yule to return to the realm of the living, degenerated into the creatures we know as trows today.
...In earlier times, the dead were believed to walk the land of the living. Part of the Yule traditions involved leaving food out for these wandering spirits. Harking back to these ancient customs, on Yule day in Orkney an extra place was laid at the family table.
...Another element once common at Yule, but now practically forgotten, was the appearance of the Wild Hunt in the midwinter night sky. Although this spectral host could be heard throughout the year, it was most common at Yule, once again reinforcing the festivals association with the dead and in particular the souls of the dead.
(http://www.orkneyjar.com/tradition/yule/)


Frau Holle/Holda was also a participant in the Wild Hunt:

In German legend, Holda held her court within the Hörselberg, and from this mountain would issue the Wild Hunt, with her at its head. The faithful Eckhart was said to sit at the base of the mountain warning travellers to return whence they came; he also rode ahead of the Wild Hunt warning people to seek shelter from the coming storm. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holda)




The Wild Hunt was a folk myth prevalent in former times across Northern, Western and Central Europe. The fundamental premise in all instances is the same: a phantasmal group of huntsmen with the accoutrements of hunting, horses, hounds, etc., in mad pursuit across the skies or along the ground, or just above it....
The hunters may be the dead, or the fairies (often in folklore connected with the dead)....The hunter may be an unidentified lost soul, a deity or spirit of either gender, or may be a historical or legendary figure like Dietrich of Berne, the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, Woden (or other reflexes of the same god, such as Alemannic Wuodan in Wuotis Heer of Central Switzerland, Swabia etc.), or Arawn.
It has been variously referred to as the Wild Hunt, Woden's Hunt, the Wilde Jagd or Wilde Heer (Germany), Herlathing (England), Mesnee d'Hellequin (Northern France), Cŵn Annwn (Wales) Cain's Hunt, Ghost Riders (North America), Herod's Hunt, Gabriel's Hounds, Asgardreia ("Asgard ride"), and in Cornwall "the devil's dandy dogs."
Seeing the Wild Hunt was thought to presage some catastrophe such as war or plague, or at best the death of the one who witnessed it. Mortals getting in the path of or following the Hunt could be kidnapped and brought to the land of the dead.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Hunt)


Speaking of Ghost Riders...I posted this classic from Vaughn Monroe some time ago.

The Ambivalence of Yuletide and Some Ghost Stories...



Finally, on top of the old pagan ambivalence over Yule as a time of darkness, spirits, and family gathering of the living and the dead, came the newer religion of Christianity, with its significance of this season as the Birth of Christ, with its angels and spirit of hope and brotherhood...no wonder that no matter which way you believe, Christmas is full of spiritual power...the intensity of joy and hope, and depths of sorrow and melancholy, in human spirituality!

You can also read some contemporary stories of Christmas Ghosts at these sites:

On the Origins of Gods and Goddesses

May I recommend to you an article by Aaron Leitch about the origins of gods and goddesses, the actions of spirits and magic, and the example of Santa Claus that I read this morning. Some very trippy and interesting conclusions. I like this essay as it filled in many blanks for me. Leitch has very well verbalized what I have been grappling with for some years. I heartily recommend it:

http://kheph777.tripod.com/art_ancientgods.html

So where did the old culture gods and goddesses come from? Us. Literally, apotheosis. But they did/do exist, and are higher on the "spiritual foodchain". However they are not the Creator, the Source, the Maker of All. No, not the same as an old man with a beard in the sky, though one can certainly visualize God that way if that is your preference. The Creator/God/Most High has no form, is beyond understanding and form. Not so the Old Gods and Goddesses, though they are beyond merely human.

Leitch does a great job of describing this human to god transformation. They were all humans who died and who, through generations of ancestor worship, and through domination of weaker social groups by stronger, the stronger social group family spirits became gods, and then Gods. But notice: there still exists the supernatural. These are indeed real spirits, not just aspects of the mind. Solipsism and the belief that magic is simply psychological is ignorance.

Leitch does not talk about the other source of gods: Nature itself. The Thunder, the Sun, the Moon, the Wind, the Earth. And how some of these were personalized/humanized by people. This was the other path taken by humanity, especially those who retained the older hunter-gatherer path. Agricultural/sedentary peoples are associated more with ancestor-worship (amalgamated with natural elements) while hunter/gatherers more with nature-worship, especially in regards to animal and nature spirits. This is my observation based on data in the HRAF (Human Resource Area Files).

The gods and goddesses of human origin (the dead ancestors) did later go through human mythic synthesis with some elements of Nature. Thus Shango the ancient Yoruba king was worshipped as a powerful ancestor and then mythically joined with Thunder in West Africa.

Thor, the ancient ancestor-farmer-hero of the Norse, originally a human hero of a strong social group which would become the Aesir, became joined mythically with the Thunder in Scandinavia. Later the Aesir ancestor-deities would battle with the Vanir ancestor-deities, and become dominant, yet the more-"nature"-focused Vanir were strong enough not to be merely absorbed, but be an almost equal group with the more-"culture"-focused dominant Aesir...reflecting the human concern with the split between "culture" and "nature" (no it did not originate with Descartes!)

It was rare to have Gods and Goddesses in this kind of mode among most of the Native American tribes though. Most were of the hunter-gatherer mythic type, that is, there was less "human-god" types and more "natural-force" types. Among the Ioway, there was not a "god of thunder" or "goddess of fertility," but simply the Thunder (which sometimes could be seen in the form of a giant bird) or the Earth (which one sees in the form of an old lady in some of the mythic stories); Rabbit the culture hero is really a Rabbit and Coyote the antihero/trickster is really a Coyote.

I do know that the great Native American civilizations of the south did have "human-gods" like Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca of the Aztecs. That seems to align with Leitch's theory that city-state civilizations evolve those sorts of deities through agricultural sedentism, growth of population, and the subsequent domination of one clan's ancestors through the ancestors of a stronger clan, and then the increasing elevation of the strong clan ancestor-gods to those of National Gods and Goddesses. This certainly helps explains why there are so many gods in Central and South America, and the multitudes of gods among the Hindus.

But do not take this as "explaining away" the gods and goddesses. This is only an examination of their origins as human beings from the most ancient times. It is not saying they are not real, that they don't have an independent existence apart from us, or that they are not more vastly powerful than we are. The Gods and Goddesses of Antiquity are real as we are...because they WERE us, after all.

Theism, Deism, Animism, Animatism

"Animism (from Latin anima (soul, life) is a philosophical, religious or spiritual idea that souls or spirits exist not only in humans and animals but also in plants, rocks, natural phenomena such as thunder, geographic features such as mountains or rivers, or other entities of the natural environment... Animism may further attribute souls to abstract concepts such as words, true names or metaphors in mythology. Religions which emphasize animism are mostly folk religions, such as the various forms of Shamanism, Shinto, or certain currents of Hinduism." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animism)

In anthropology, some differentiate between animism and animatism.

"Animatism is a term coined by British anthropologist Robert Marett to refer to "a belief in a generalized, impersonal power over which people have some measure of control". Marett argues that certain cultures believe "people, animals, plants, and inanimate objects were endowed with certain powers, which were both impersonal and supernatural".
Mana, Marett states, is a concentrated form of animatistic force found within any of these objects that confer power, strength, and success. To various cultures, animatism and mana are visible through the successes and failures of these various objects. Success equals a high amount of animatism, or mana, whereas failure is the result of animatism, or mana, being lost." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animatism)

Mana is the Polynesian word for "power" much like the Force in Star Wars, or chi (Chinese) or Orenda (Iroquois).

I have heard it explained sometimes is that in animism, a mountain has a spirit (a spirit indwelling the mountain), whereas in animatism, the mountain is alive.

Animism/animatism is perhaps the oldest of all beliefs, as it is found in every traditional indigenous culture of which I am aware.

If one believes in the existence nature spirits, with the souls of dogs and elk and rocks and trees and rivers and thunder, one is aligned with animism/animatism. The idea of "virtues" in plants connects to the idea of the "mana" (power) of plants.

THEISM

theism = a traditional and/or scripturally based belief in God (belief based on what has been handed down or taught, whether one's elders in oral tradition such as Native American tribal ways, or writings such as the Koran, Bible, etc.

pantheism = God IS the whole (the universe IS God)

panentheism = the whole is IN God (the universe is only a manifest part of God)

polytheism = multiple gods/goddesses

monotheism = one god/goddess

DEISM

deism= a category of rationalistic (reason-based) belief in God (Spirit, Deity, ground of being, Dao, etc...) based on reason, experience, and the observation of nature

panendeism, polydeism, monodeism, etc.

ALSO:
"Polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally, but can be monolatrists, specialising in the worship of one particular deity. Other polytheists can be kathenotheists, worshiping different deities at different times."

-- all have room for belief in ghosts, spirits, wights, etc.

It can get as complex and convoluted as you want.

Animism does not require any sort of belief in God, of any kind. It just says everything has life, is alive. One could conceivably be a atheist and an animist.

Deism/theism (including polytheism, monotheism, pantheism, etc.) focus on the deity/gods. Pantheism says god is in/behind everything.

Animism just says everything is alive in some way.

You can be a pantheist and not be an animist. In other words, you could believe God is behind/in everything, but not believe that a tree has a soul of its own.

Theism and animism are two independent concepts, except for their belief in something beyond the material and visible.

The Knot Hole God

When I was a little kid, up to the age of six, I was scared of wooden panelling with knotholes. The knotholes looked like eyes to me. I thought they were the eyes of the murdered trees, looking accusingly from the paneling, the spirit still in the wood, able to "do things." This was long before I was taught anything about religion, other than the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer...

We are born animists, all the world is alive to us, in mysterious ways. Stuffed animals, dreams, symbols, clouds, shapes in the ceiling and in the wall...

Little kids, huh.

I believe in God. I do, but I am not dogmatic about things. I believe in God the way most people meant in the old days when they said "I believe in God." That (God =the Creator) doesn't cause any friction between my Ioway beliefs (God = Ma'un = Earthmaker) and my Catholic beliefs (God = the Father, Son and Holy Ghost). It doesn't, not for people from the older generation I was brought up around. You believe in God, do your best, avoid doing bad things, treat people the way you want to be treated. That's how you live.

When I was little, I fell in love with Greek mythology. The first thing I ever remember drawing was a Cyclops, from the Ulysses movie starring Kirk Douglas ("More wine! hahaha!"). The book I remember is D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths; it formed my mental pictures of the Greek Gods and it still does. The Greek Gods were as real to me as a little child as Gumby and Pokey, and God, and my stuffed animals that also were alive, and the clouds that sent down lightning. And the dark things under the bed and in the closet that moved around at night and caused nightmares. The knotholes in the walls' wood paneling were the eyes of trees that had been killed, accusing one of the crime.

It was only as I grew older, that I learned that I was to believe only in some of these things as "real." And older than that, I learned that I couldn't believe in both the Greek Gods AND God with a capital G. And then when I went to Catholic school, things got even more complicated. I had known about God for a long long time ("Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep...") but now there was Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, and Mary. And I took it all in stride and believed in them as well. And I wasn't allowed to believe in anything other than these new additions to my understanding.

But there were problems. They said only humans had souls. But that was untrue, as I knew my dogs also had souls...I could see it in their eyes, their souls. And the idea of hell. I didn't like it. It made me even more scared, adding hell to those dark things that roamed around at night. I knew EVERYBODY I knew was going to heaven when they died ("If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take" wasn't a lie was it?).

So what about the Greek Gods and Goddesses, and the souls of my dogs, and the eyes of the murdered trees in the planks, and the plants that grew and could even grow vines to strangle you at night? And the wind that spoke and rain that seemed to say something to me? Many years passed, and I still wondered about these things. While in Church I prayed to God, and took communion, and wondered about the dark feelings in the Church's basement and the carvings of staring faces on the cathedral's stonework: who were they?

I learned about the theories of anthropology in college, about the development of witchcraft and religion. I learned about apophenia and paradoulia and simulacra and people seeing Jesus' face in a tortilla...

Most of the Gods and Goddesses of Classical Paganism and the various Indigenous Ways, can shown to be, in their essence/origins:

=I. Universal Major Elements/Forces
1. Sky Father
2. Mother Earth
3. Winds
4. Storms/Thunder/Lightning
5. Ocean
6. Underworld
7. Ice, Fire, etc.

=II. Human Ancestors who went through Apotheosis
1. Fathers and Mothers of an Ethnic Group
2. Direct Ancestors
3. Ancestors who were expert craftspeople or practitioners
4. Ghosts, Egregores, Tulpa, etc. formed by emotions, rituals, memories in the land placed there by ancestors

=III. Local Anima Loci "Spirits of Place"/landvaettir
1. Mountains, Volcanoes, Cliffs, and Hills
2. Plants, Groves and Forests
3. Caves
4. Unusual Features (rock spires, etc.)
5. Watercourses: Rivers, streams, springs, ponds, lakes, waterfalls
6. Others..

EVERY God or Goddess I can think of, when you look at the origin myths, has an origin in one of the above categories, even if it was later amalgamated with another category.
Examples:
-Odin: Originated as a Germanic ancestor, added features of Sky Father, and craft of magic and cunning.
-Shango: Originated as a great West African chief, added feature of amalgamation with thunder and fire.

But many of the polytheistic pagan faiths also had a distant "Creator" god that made all things but didn't get much involved in human affairs. For my tribe, we believed in Earthmaker (Ma'un), but when you went out to get a vision or made sacrifices, it was to one of the Persons created by Ma'un...it was THESE Persons (Thunder, Bear, etc.) who became one's Helper in a Vision Quest.

So whatever path we take for ourselves, it is okay to believe in "God" (however one wants to think about "God", as an old white-bearded man, Zeus/Deus, or "the Force" or whatever) but the day-to-day business of living is tied to one's local natural forces and places, animals and plants, as Persons, and also to one's Ancestors and the ancestral practitioners of one's craft/way of making a living.

And so, I still struggle to make sense of all this.

I have never had God tell me anything. Nor Jesus, nor Odin, nor Mary, nor Apollo. Not so I can tell without second-guessing myself. A couple of times I have had dreams in which it seemed angels talked to me. But those were only dreams. That came true, even if it was decades later.

But I have seen the souls of dogs in their eyes, and the hair rise on my neck in a dark place in the woods where I know I am not wanted, and the lick of a butterfly that landed on my hand, and the blessing of a cold drink of water. I know these exist. I KNOW... I don't have to believe.

I do think there might be something to what I thought as a little kid, before the world got to me, with all its ambivalence and confusion of beliefs. When things get too confusing and you feel like everyone else's dogmas and beliefs are weighing down on you, and you don't know what YOU really believe anymore, --go back to what YOU believed as a little kid, before parents and school and friends and church and television and books and movies and stores and the overarching culture we all live in, got to us. Try to remember what YOU believed back, wayyy back.

Really though, I think I was onto something when I was a little guy, about that wood paneling...not the fake wood paneling we see today, but the old, REAL stuff, made of wood. Look at that old paneling or old school plywood. You will see the eyes of the murdered trees looking at you...

Gods and Goddesses

I believe in God. I do, but I am not dogmatic about things. I believe in God the way most people meant in the old days when they said "I believe in God." That (God =the Creator) doesn't cause any friction between my Ioway beliefs (God = Ma'un = Earthmaker) and my Catholic beliefs (God = the Father, Son and Holy Ghost). It doesn't, not for people from the older generation I was brought up around. You believe in God, do your best, avoid doing bad things, treat people the way you want to be treated. That's how you live.

When I was little, I fell in love with Greek mythology. The first thing I ever remember drawing was a Cyclops, from the Ulysses movie starring Kirk Douglas ("More wine! hahaha!"). The book I remember is D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths; it formed my mental pictures of the Greek Gods and it still does. The Greek Gods were as real to me as a little child as Gumby and Pokey, and God, and my stuffed animals that also were alive, and the clouds that sent down lightning. And the dark things under the bed and in the closet that moved around at night and caused nightmares. The knotholes in the walls' wood paneling were the eyes of trees that had been killed, accusing one of the crime.

It was only as I grew older, that I learned that I was to believe only in some of these things as "real." And older than that, I learned that I couldn't believe in both the Greek Gods AND God with a capital G. And then when I went to Catholic school, things got even more complicated. I had known about God for a long long time ("Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep...") but now there was Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, and Mary. And I took it all in stride and believed in them as well. And I wasn't allowed to believe in anything other than these new additions to my understanding.

But there were problems. They said only humans had souls. But that was untrue, as I knew my dogs also had souls...I could see it in their eyes, their souls. And the idea of hell. I didn't like it. It made me even more scared, adding hell to those dark things that roamed around at night. I knew EVERYBODY I knew was going to heaven when they died ("If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take" wasn't a lie was it?).

So what about the Greek Gods and Goddesses, and the souls of my dogs, and the eyes of the murdered trees in the planks, and the plants that grew and could even grow vines to strangle you at night? And the wind that spoke and rain that seemed to say something to me? Many years passed, and I still wondered about these things. While in Church I prayed to God, and took communion, and wondered about the dark feelings in the Church's basement and the carvings of staring faces on the cathedral's stonework: who were they?

I learned about the theories of anthropology in college, about the development of witchcraft and religion. I learned...

Most of the Gods and Goddesses of Classical Paganism can shown to be, in their essence/origins:

I. Universal Major Elements/Forces
1. Sky Father
2. Mother Earth
3. Winds
4. Storms/Thunder/Lightning
5. Ocean
6. Underworld
7. Ice, Fire, etc.

II. Human Ancestors who went through Apotheosis
1. Fathers and Mothers of an Ethnic Group
2. Direct Ancestors
3. Ancestors who were expert craftspeople or practitioners
4. Ghosts, Egregores, Tulpa, etc. formed by emotions, rituals, memories in the land placed there by ancestors

III. Local Anima Loci "Spirits of Place"/landvaettir
1. Mountains, Volcanoes, Cliffs, and Hills
2. Plants, Groves and Forests
3. Caves
4. Unusual Features (rock spires, etc.)
5. Watercourses: Rivers, streams, springs, ponds, lakes, waterfalls
6. Others..

EVERY God or Goddess I can think of, when you look at the origin myths, has an origin in one of the above categories, even if it was later amalgamated with another category.

Examples:

Odin: Originated as a Germanic ancestor, added features of Sky Father, and craft of magic and cunning.

Shango: Originated as a great West African chief, added feature of amalgamation with thunder and fire.

But many of the polytheistic pagan faiths also had a distant "Creator" god that made all things but didn't get much involved in human affairs. For my tribe, we believed in Earthmaker (Ma'un), but when you went out to get a vision or made sacrifices, it was to one of the Persons created by Ma'un...it was THESE Persons (Thunder, Bear, etc.) who became one's Helper in a Vision Quest.

So whatever path we take for ourselves, it is okay to believe in "God" (however one wants to think about "God", as an old white-bearded man, Zeus/Deus, or "the Force" or whatever) but the day-to-day business of living is tied to one's local natural forces and places, animals and plants, as Persons, and also to one's Ancestors and the ancestral practitioners of one's craft/way of making a living.

And so, I still struggle to make sense of all this.

I have never had God tell me anything. Nor Jesus, nor Odin, nor Mary, nor Apollo. Not so I can tell without second-guessing myself. A couple of times I have had dreams in which it seemed angels talked to me. But those were only dreams. That came true, even if it was decades later.

But I have seen the souls of dogs in their eyes, and the hair rise on my neck in a dark place in the woods where I know I am not wanted, and the lick of a butterfly that landed on my hand, and the blessing of a cold drink of water. I know these exist. I KNOW... I don't have to believe.

Currently, I am busy working on a coherent worldview based on the Creator, ancestors, local land spirits, local Native American lore, scientific ecosystem research, and American folklore.

Two from Daemonia Nymphe: Moon and Water

Surfing around on YouTube, I came across the Greek group Daemonia Nymphe, which uses ancient Greek instruments and texts to create their music. The first is an Orphic text summoning Selene, the Moon Goddess. The second is the calling of the Naiades, fresh-water Nymphs who inhabited the rivers, streams, lakes, marshes, fountains and springs of the earth (the music in this one reminds me of one of the songs from the original Star Trek series!)