No, Thanks: Gods/Heroes I Avoid
One important thing to realize about polytheism is- you don’t have to worship all the Gods of a particular pantheon- or Heroes or Ancestors. Or even certain Nature Spirits- certainly I’ve already given the mosquito enough blood sacrifices! This has been hard for me, because there certain deities that are regarded as So Important and popular that I felt there must be something wrong with me and my attitude. I think we are all drawn to different gods for different reasons, and we need to respect that, and its also important to revisit those reasons now and again, our relationships with gods as with humans change, begin and end and wax and wane.
The Morrigan– the Irish goddess or complex of goddesses of battle and sovereignty. She’s super-popular, I am always seeing people discussing their powerful relationship with Her, the strength she inspires in them. I’m not surprised that she’s popular- people are looking for a strong female role model and woman warrior, and they find it in her, from mere artistic inspiration, psychological archetype, to intense devotion as a priest/ess. She is also one of the most well-attested goddesses in Irish literature who plays a major role in the myths. But reading myths about the Morrigan does not inspire worship or devotion in me. This is a powerful being who revels in the death & destruction of war. Why on Earth would I want to worship that? I finally felt better about this after reading John Machate’s post about why he does not worship Her. John in a long-time Celtic Recon, and follows a warrior/Fenian path, and a U.S. Air Force veteran. He’s no fluff bunny, and he has actually experienced war- which is exactly he’s not among Her worshipers.
Zeus– I’ve long had an interest in Greek mythology and religion (since I was a child- guess how I started down this path!) But Mr. Must Fertilize All Beautiful Women (with or without consent) has been an impediment to exploring that interest further. I decided to anyway, figuring maybe I was too stuck on modern biases but I think it’s understandable for feminists or gender egalitarians (whatever) to have a hang-up on Zeus, and a lot of other Greek gods. I feel like Hellenic polytheists tend to be way to dismissive of these concerns, and assume that anyone who has them is just Z Budapest with their head filled with Edith Hamilton. I’ve been realizing however that I am really a Northern European creature, not a Mediterranean one- and by that I don’t necessarily mean ancestry- that’s part of it, but it’s mostly I get this Not My Tribe feeling from Greek and Italian culture- whether ancient or modern. It’s interesting, and I enjoy learning about it, and maybe participating in a ritual when I have the opportunity, and it’s possible the Theoi still do have a place in my life, but it will be in a different cultural context. Perhaps kind of the reverse of what the blogger at Golden Trail (name of human?) is doing with his Romanized cult of Ingvi-Freyr.
I like Sunweaver’s take on Zeus here.
Founding Fathers/Presidents who were Slave-Owners/Indian massacre-ists etc.
I’ve talked in the past about honoring Founding Fathers (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson et al.) as Ancestors of Place, as part of an American Hero/Ancestor cultus. I think we need to acknowledge and be honest about our history, however painful and uncomfortable that maybe. Honoring historical people does mean realizing that they were people and so were imperfect, a product of their time and sometimes made bad decisions. This is the usual justification for why will still honor leaders who were slave-owners, who ordered the murder and conquest of Indians, and various other Definitely Not OK things. I think we can do better. We can acknowledge that yes, this people Did Important Stuff, but there are other people that led better moral examples that Did Important Stuff too. People we often forget about, who don’t have buildings and holidays named after them or their faces on dollar bills. The Ekklesia Antinou- a community devoted to Antinous, the deified lover of Emperor Hadrian- has a good model of honoring Sancti- which is too complex for me to re-explain- so go read what the good Doctor has to say about it! Galina Krasskova also has a great list of Pagan & Heathen Heroes & Martyrs– both ancient and contemporary.
Who are your heroes and ancestors? (by blood or spirit)
Entry filed under: Deities, Theology. Tags: American history, ancestors, change, Founding Fathers, heroes, heroines, martyrs, morrigan, piety, polytheism, racism, rethinking, saints, Sancti, slavery, worship, Zeus.