Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Deities as a "function"?

There has recently been a very interesting thread on the Asatru Lore forum regarding the nature of deities.

what is a god -- a workable model

I thought it may be interesting to discuss this model in a more general “pagan” environment.

As far as I understand it, (and if I’m interpreting this incorrectly, please feel free to point out my errors) the main idea is that a deity is NOT a universal being. Instead, a deity is a local wight/spirit/kami with a particular “function”. Different deities in different locations may share certain characteristics, and it is possible for us to use the name of a deity to refer to a “type” of very powerful regional being.

To give an example, “Thor” would not be a singular being with influence throughout time and space. Instead “Thor” would be a title, a “job description”, if you will, that refers to local wights concerned, in “Thor’s” case, with storms, thunder, rain and fertility.

Therefore, there would be “Thors” all over the world, wherever there are powerful local wights concerned with the above mentioned phenomena. In that case, my “Thor” in Western Canada would be a different being than the Northern European “Thor”, but they would share certain characteristics.

I first encountered this idea in an Heathen context, but I wonder how it would be perceived by people who practice other “pagan” traditions.

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