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Straka
02-13-2008, 08:39 PM
My question is what pagan religions to people find the most fascinating?

For a current Fantasy series I've been working on I created 6 pantheons of gods. At first I didn't think to much about it but now that the first book is written I've gone back in and continually tweaked and grown the 6 faiths until I have nearly 30,000 words of reference just on the gods alone. The final god tally is at 36.

Anyway I've been getting inspiration from Norse, Greek, Native American... all across the board. Personally for me I am intrigued by the Norse mindset, even if it’s rather a doomed outlook.

Carole
02-14-2008, 08:55 AM
This is an interesting question. Although I don't subscribe to any specific gods, rather one Creator, I wonder if you are familiar with theories on egregores. Basically, if you put enough thought and effort into any specific being, you will eventually create it.

That's one reason I've never discounted even Necromantic entities. Whether or not they were a work of pure fiction, as has been a long-time debate, they may very well be real now because of so much energy and strong belief in them by so many. Imagine creating your own set of gods for real. I want mine to be tall, dark and handsome, offering me seedless grapes whenever I want them! A girl can dream, right?

small axe
02-14-2008, 09:41 AM
Forgive me if I mis-use the term "Pagan" here, amongst Pagans. I'm using it in the sense of "non-Jewish, Christian, or Muslim" religions and practices.

You say you are "inventing" gods? Then probably they will be a reflection of your characters in some dramatic aspect.

That said, being non-specific to actual real religions' gods -- I like how many of the Hindu pantheon reflect cosmic forces, aspects of the human psyche, AND manage to function on several inter-connecting levels (so you can understand them on both a surface level or go deeper into understanding how People and/or the Cosmos works.

Let's say, KALI:

http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f343/dellianan/Gods%20and%20Goddesses/1kali.jpg

On the surface, Kali is a terrible and terrifying DESTROYER, bloodthirsty and merciless.

Peel back a layer of onionskin, and yes, Kali is a Destroyer ... but she Destroys the Physical things of Maya and Illusion which enslave the humans' Spiritual growth. Kali LIBERATES the soul by stripping away all the materialistic lies and illusions of this earthly existence.

I suppose there's a parallel to the plight of JOB in the Bible: Job is told by his neighbors to curse God for all the ruination God has allowed to befall Job. But Job's "enlightenment" occurs when he realizes that what has happened is a transcendent experience, God (who allows the Sun to shine on wicked and righteous alike) is revealing to Job that NOTHING in this world comes between the human Soul and God.

It's a sort of "I Free you by taking away everything that isn't the part of you who COUNTS"

Job says "Have pity on me, because I have been touched by the hand of God" -- it's like the people in the Bible who fall on their faces when they see or recognize the Divine. "Don't kill me!" It's a terrible, liberating TRANSCENDENCE.

So we can FEAR Kali on one level, yet see the deeper Mercy of Kali.

We can see the animals fall dead and decay into nothing -- and we can see that decay and nothingness begats new Life and new Awareness.

Anyway, I like Hindu gods because their very nature forces us to imagine and transcend whatever we are at the moment.

Personally, I think that glorious and terrible Transcendence is something that Judeo-Christianity has been hijacked away from, as far as mainstream culture goes.

Some folks see their house hit by a tornado and lose their faith in God because there isn't an immediate easy answer why Something Bad Happened. That's the too-mainstream approach, the "I gave a dollar to the church collection plate ... and now God let a tornado hit my house?! How dare He!"

Someone looking deeper might think: This is God showing us that Material Things pass into ruin, sooner or later. This is my opportunity to understand that, and cling onto some deeper Good Thing."

A Kali-worshipper would lament the destruction too, no doubt ... and also see the terrible Liberation of Kali revealed as a Gift.

I don't mean to lecture! I guess I mean mostly that to me, cool and interesting "gods" can force us into exploring DEEPER and TRANSCENDENT places.

Shallow, easy-answer gods aren't as interesting as the mysterious ones that trouble us and intrigue us and challenge us ... just as easy people aren't as interesting as deep and complicated people.

Just my opinion. Materialist gods are a bore. Gods who go no deeper than what's obviously already here are a snore.

Mr Flibble
02-14-2008, 02:45 PM
Personally for me I am intrigued by the Norse mindset, even if it’s rather a doomed outlook.

I'll start by saying
<-----Odinist

Doomed? I'd hardly say that. I find it very positive. The whole religion enourages you to do what you think is right, rather than rely on what the gods tell you to, ( they hint a lot though ;)). You have a heart, you must listen to it to tell the right thing. When you know the right thing, you must do it, no matter how hard.

Odin seems to be seen by many as some bloodthirsty warmonger,( ok, he is a bit) but he's also the god of the arts, he sacrificed himself on the tree, scarificed an eye, for knowledge and wisdom. Sacrifice for the greater good is a recurring theme, and I don't find that doomladen at all - I find it uplifting. If only everyone did a bit, we'd be ok!

HeronW
02-14-2008, 03:11 PM
In my works I have reluctant gods, gods who ignore humanity, ones who torment them, others who protect them, god-wannabes, and new gods who just change from being mortal to something else. I find the Aztec/Inca/Mayan deities a particularly messy group, but fascinating.

Straka
02-14-2008, 06:56 PM
Shallow, easy-answer gods aren't as interesting as the mysterious ones that trouble us and intrigue us and challenge us ... just as easy people aren't as interesting as deep and complicated people.

Just my opinion. Materialist gods are a bore. Gods who go no deeper than what's obviously already here are a snore.

A good example are the gods of Voodoo that are beyond good and evil and that actually possess their followers. Such as if a person is a anger person by nature, they will let the angry gods (forgive me as I can't recall the names and am away from my study) possess them so they are in a sense one with their anger. Rather than trying to subvert it they embrace it.

Its a curious exercise trying to write a book with both gods and humans. Because you can make the gods act like humans if they need to but sometimes they have to act like gods. I always liked the voice that so many myth use to do so. That gods of myth often act illogical and contradictory and fantastic things happen around them. For me that is what makes them fascinating.

Straka
02-14-2008, 07:00 PM
I'll start by saying
<-----Odinist

Doomed? I'd hardly say that. I find it very positive. The whole religion enourages you to do what you think is right, rather than rely on what the gods tell you to, ( they hint a lot though ;)). You have a heart, you must listen to it to tell the right thing. When you know the right thing, you must do it, no matter how hard.

From my readings, which I admit have been limited, I would agree with you that there is a focus on doing what is right no matter what the odds. But one central theme I feel is that no matter what they do they are doomed to fail in the end. The gods will die in Ragnarök, the final war with the giants and heroes of Valhalla are doomed to perish with them. But that may seem like a negative outlook to my 21st century mind, whereas for them that might have been akin to a norsemen's wet dream.

Mr Flibble
02-14-2008, 07:08 PM
And Ragnarok is different from say, Armageddon? Either way, it's the end of the world as we know it (*sings* and I feel fine....) Although Ragnorok signifies also a new beginning.

What matters is not that the world will end - it will, sooner or later, but how we live while we inhabit it. Not for brownie pount in the afterlife ( very few get to see Valhalla) but because of how it affects the world we live in, for its own sake. I don't follow their rules so I get a nice afterlife, I do so because it makes the world I inhabit nicer for me and my fellow man. No reward expected.

And I like the fact that the norse gods have little flaws and whatnot, they aren't infallible. And they don't expect me to be anything other than human, which is what I am. ( I'm sorry, some of the 'other religions' teachings make me think they are trying to make people into what they patently are not. Norse gods try to get you to be the best you can be, while still being human. If you require examples, I'll be happy to supply them)

Sarita
02-14-2008, 07:18 PM
This is an interesting question. Although I don't subscribe to any specific gods, rather one Creator, I wonder if you are familiar with theories on egregores. Basically, if you put enough thought and effort into any specific being, you will eventually create it. Another diversion on this theme was the basis for American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Basically, once people stop believing in you (as a god) you start to die. This was also a theme in Jitterbug Perfume. 2 books that rank high on my favorite book list.



Straka, I mostly use actual gods within a certain belief system to write my stories. Right now I'm finishing up a novel based in Celtic beliefs. Next I'll switch over to my Inka work (about 10K into that one, but I haven't touched it in 2 years.) Do you create profiles for each god, just to keep them straight?

Straka
02-14-2008, 08:01 PM
Do you create profiles for each god, just to keep them straight?

With 36+ gods I have too! So far for each one, and the god's bio gets more complicated the longer I work on them, I will cover the following areas:

Mythology: How they came into being

Appearance: How they look and what they wear to the beach and battle

Worship: Who worships them and just as importantly how

Relations: How they interact with the other gods in their pantheon and intermingle with other gods from different cultures

Influences: Religion dependent, this basically clarifies their sphere of influence or what they have dominion over. Such as "God of the Sun"

Qerks: Little things that make them, them

Straka
02-14-2008, 08:05 PM
I do a similar bio for each culture containing, history, mythology, view on afterlife, how they treat their dead, countercultures, views on magic, economy, landscape, art and architecture, general worship, military, gender roles, inter culture relations.... and so forth.

The trick is while I generate all this info, in the first book the reader is only exposed to about 15% of it.

Carole
02-15-2008, 07:09 AM
Another diversion on this theme was the basis for American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Basically, once people stop believing in you (as a god) you start to die. This was also a theme in Jitterbug Perfume. 2 books that rank high on my favorite book list.





That's awesome! It does remind me a bit of "Clap if you believe in fairies...no, Peter...clap harder!"

I haven't read either of those books, so now I think a trip to Barnes & Noble is in order!

Carole
02-15-2008, 07:23 AM
A good example are the gods of Voodoo that are beyond good and evil and that actually possess their followers. Such as if a person is a anger person by nature, they will let the angry gods (forgive me as I can't recall the names and am away from my study) possess them so they are in a sense one with their anger. Rather than trying to subvert it they embrace it.

The gods of Santeria also choose and sometimes possess their followers, except that they do not always choose people whose natures are similar. Sometimes, it's a totally stunning combination. I've known docile women who were chosen by Shango, and big, burly men who were chosen my Yemaya. With Santeria, you just never know. But you are right - many gods are absolutely fascinating.

Something that I am learning about right now is Buddhism, which has no god, and that's a new twist for my brain. It's a little difficult for me to wrap my head around so far, but a friend who is a long-time Buddhist is "schooling" me. Of course I am familiar with Buddhism, but the intricacies are hard for me to grasp as far a really understanding them rather that just knowing about them. The tenets are equally interesting as a polytheistic faith.

Jenan Mac
02-21-2008, 02:11 AM
I wonder if you are familiar with theories on egregores. Basically, if you put enough thought and effort into any specific being, you will eventually create it.


Ooh, new word! Shiny!
I'm familiar with the concept, and have had some majorly long discussions late at night (only some of which involved alcohol or other things) touching on the idea...but no one ever had a word for it. Thank you, ma'am!

Mr Flibble
02-21-2008, 04:33 AM
I do a similar bio for each culture containing, history, mythology, view on afterlife, how they treat their dead, countercultures, views on magic, economy, landscape, art and architecture, general worship, military, gender roles, inter culture relations.... and so forth.

The trick is while I generate all this info, in the first book the reader is only exposed to about 15% of it.

So just like any other character?

Good stuff

Straka
02-21-2008, 08:56 AM
Its coming along. If you can suggest some reading that would be great. I have Edith Hamiltons Mythology, and a stack of Claude Levi-Strauss' work as well almost other mythology anthologies glore.

Carole
02-22-2008, 06:47 AM
Ooh, new word! Shiny!
I'm familiar with the concept, and have had some majorly long discussions late at night (only some of which involved alcohol or other things) touching on the idea...but no one ever had a word for it. Thank you, ma'am!
You're quite welcome, dearie! There are differing opinions on egregores, like with everything else, but that's my take. :D

StephanieFox
03-05-2008, 10:06 PM
Gods and Goddesses are metaphorical reflecting elements in nature; the storm, the sun, the moon, the earth, etc. The great Horned god (reflecting the main animal food source in a culture) changes as the seasons progress, finally dying in order to be reborn – winter turns to spring.

The Earth Goddesses do not change but cause change – "She changes everything she touches and everything she touches changes."

The Lunar Goddesses cycle maiden, mother and crone.

Basically, I'm a polyatheist. I don't believe in god, so I might as well not believe in any of them. But that doesn't mean that I don't use the metaphor of deities. This does not require belief since the seasons change and the cycle continues despite what anyone believes.

I write group rituals and try to keep them as participatory as possible to enhance the spiritual experience for everyone. I prefer lots of chanting and drumming and dancing around. I do use deity images in every ritual.

I don't write Pagan fiction, though. I think if you do, you need to keep in mind how the deities interact with people and understand their motivation.