On Western polytheism

30 06 2010

From this site:

With these points, we can come to a deeper understanding of the meaning behind the history of Western polytheism. While different forces were in fact given different names, these ‘gods’ were ultimately part of a common unity. They became more separate only after becoming more human. Similarly, the Western Christian God has evolved to become increasingly ‘personal,’ and abstract. He has been increasingly divorced from his creation, seen less in our world but rather more confined to the heavens. While the ultimate fall of the ‘paganisms’ lay in the gods becoming too human, Christianity has been made abstract to the point of becoming obsolete in the eyes of secular humanists for example, who claim to follow its values but call themselves atheists.


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30 06 2010
xoanwahn

From what I understand and what reading I’ve done on the subject, which certainly does not make me an expert, a lot of what is written on that site is a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the topic. Most ancient religions did see the gods as very much interconnected, usually represented in the form of family relationships, but they were very much separate entities, though they were sometimes treated collectively. For example, the ancient Romans, at first, often prayed only to ‘the gods and goddesses’, and the Egyptians probably had a monolatry, in which the gods were seen as faces or manifestations of an abstract divine force (not a supreme being). The people of northern Europe also often sacrificed to ‘the Mothers’, which seem to have been all of the goddesses grouped together.

The use of the word Aryan is questionable, as the Egyptians were hardly Aryans, and one simply cannot compare Ancient Egyptian religion with Asatru and Hinduism as they are practiced today. This is especially true because Asatru is a reconstructed religion and has been reborn (as it were) in a post-Christian context from evidence recorded mostly by biased, Christian people. It is impossible to say that Asatru is really anything like what was practiced by the ancient Norse.

The idea that the myth of Gaia giving birth to Uranus is a degeneration of an earlier, ‘truer’ myth is also questionable, as this myth would have fit quite well with the general pagan view that the land is essentially the mother of all things. It also fits scientific knowledge, as we know that ‘sky’, that is the atmosphere, was born of gases that came forth from the bowels of the earth. Also rather silly is the idea that the Aten cult could have been anything other than an aberration, as the Egyptians themselves treated it as such. They felt so wronged by the actions of Akhenaten, that they went to great lengths to make his name disappear from the records, so as to destroy his very soul! If there had really been some ancient Egyptian monotheism, there would have been some record of it. The Egyptians were obsessed with keeping records and preserving memories.

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