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The Big One - How Much Power Do The Gods Actually Have


Guest lehowell
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So this is the question that bubbles up every time I'm having a wobble in my faith and so far I've not been able to settle on an answer.

I'd be interested to hear your views about it.

 

If the gods have the power to alter the course of events, why are tragedies such as the boxing day tsunami allowed to happen?

If they don't have the power to alter the course of events, what's the point in praying for them to intercede?

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I think you're thinking of the Christian god, hun. Pagan gods don't claim to be omniscient, omnipresent or omnipowerful. And they tend to do as they wish, so they might interceded if you ask them, or they may not. And, on the whole, most of them expect something in return, so you have to negotiate a deal. The bigger the request, the bigger the payment.

 

Having said that, if you have a longstanding relationhship with a god, he or she might be willing to help you out without a deal. But, IME, it tends to depend on the character of the god. And there are some gods you really wouldn't want help from... as they can get their kicks in some very odd ways. :lol:

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Agree with what MH says. The gods aren't omnipotent. Nor are they altruistic and necessarily kind. Within their sphere of influence they are powerful but they are bound by certain laws and restrictions. Jupiter cannot overrule the Fates. Only operate within the parameters allowed. And the Gods can be incredibly cruel, if they choose. You only have to read the Greek myths to see how much they fight amongst themselves, how they use humans as they will, take pity on some, love others, and generally do what they want.

 

All you can do is seek favour. Decide if the price they want is one you are willing to pay. And never take them for granted.

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Hi Iehowell, I came to the conclusion when being brought up Christian, that god either wasn't there, or wasn't as morally good and/or was not as powerful as I was being told.

Else like you said why are there so many terrible things going on.?

These days I don't completely believe in the a Gods anyway. But lots of the Pagan ideas of gods I find a much more possible than that of an omnipotent Christian one but I don't rely on them (if they are even there) for things or blame them for things either.

 

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I go with what Moonhunter and Pomona have said and, IMO, the gods are indifferent to human situations unless, either they want something to occur or we ask them to assist in some way - then, as the others have said, it is a subject for negotiation and payment. The most effective magic that I have ever been involved in, has cost dearly! The gods are the gods and humans are humans - different planes - sometimes they need interaction with us and sometimes we with them but no outcome is ever certain.

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Well, they have more power than me! But they aren't all powerful, either. The point of praying to them for me is that like I say they have more power and usually more insight than I do, so it's like making friends with the biggest kids in the playground. They can't do everything, but they can do enough. Also, having a relationship with them can be its own reward - why do we have relationships with anyone? But of course it can take a lot out of you, too.

 

As to why they don't intervene in natural disasters... well, why should they? They're terrible disasters, but only really for humans. The earth can replenish itself after a tsunami - it's the human cost that we think is awful. But the gods are not human. To me, they are the embodiments of natural forces and humanity hasn't exactly been kind to nature. Getting rid of us would do this planet an awful lot of good in many ways. So why would they intervene, even if we asked them to?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a theory on this which I dubbed the Small Gods Theory, after the Discworld book that made me think about it, and it goes something like this - Apart from possibly the very highest of powers out there (for myself Silence and Chaos) who wouldn't intervene anyway, it boils down to belief. For the gods it is our belief which often helps to give them shape and it is that belief which gives them their power. This is why various pantheons around the world come and go, as belief wanes so does the power of the gods which in turn feeds the cycle of decline yet more. Sometimes it works in the other way too (see more mainstream religions). I suspect that this results in the gods having the same power over you and your life that you give them through the strength of your faith. If you allow me to extrapolate further while walking a very thin line, this could be why they don't intervene - not enough belief to power such a dramatic intervention. For some of the major religions this could be explained by most of their adherants being at best casually affiliated with it all through comforting routine and tradition, not actually living in faith with belief every day... for some of them it could almost be a case of 'god is dead', or at least quite bruised...

Another reason could be simply that we don't all pray each and every day for humanity to survive the list of possible disasters which may be caused by unsympathetic, bored or oblivious gods and powers anyway..?

One more thing - I do not believe that any god or even any higher power is all knowing. If they say they do then I just assume they were lying in order to gain more power through belief, much like my feelings towards a monotheastic perception of the universe, but then again sometimes even the ones who make that claim can slip up when they specifically name check other local gods to not worship. (Oh hi there Moloch).

One way or another all gods start and end as small gods, it is up to us to choose which ones we invest with power and how much we give them.

 

[i would like to point out that while it appears I may have been deriding a specific major religion's god, I am also acknowledging that they do or did exist. At least enough for the usurping anyway.]

 

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Entirely as much as you allow them to have, or allow self to have, for is it not the same, or in non deitest theurgy; that they are still there and yet not and so in essence they don't matter. They are merely projections of self beyond the chasm that divides us from our ego. To cross that chasm we have to leave ego behind and yet we are all ego, no easy way...For me, that is the work. Beyond that not possible to convey in words but only in action. In action steeled with will.

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As I currently see it the gods are projections from our selves, created through belief and having aspects that reflect our own aspirations and conflicts, virtues and interests. This being the case I have one addition to make..that is I believe the gods are also facets of universal energy as we perceive it . What can be seen as equanimity in the gods regarding our welfare and occurances in physical plane can can also be perceived as allowing karma to take place (karma being the Buddhist doctrine which I translate as cause and effect combined with free will). I know I've touched on much debated areas in this quick post. Here is another analogy to throw into the mix :) This aspect of allowing karma relates to the journey that sentient beings are all on - what my tradition calls the the Circle of Orath. Its a spiral and we are either ascend or descend according to our choices...A bit rushed but hopefully coherent enough to make some sense .

Edited by Earthdragon
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I don't believe in karma - it is not part of anything pagan that I know or experience! I also do not believe in omnipotence, omnispresence no omniscience: omnipotence - Whilst they are not all powerful, I don't believe that the power of the gods fades in accordance with the prominence that we give to any one or many of them - simply that they withdraw and are elsewhere with those whom they call or who show interest int them; omnipresence - no - they come and go in different aspects and characteristics in places and in accordance with the interest of people in them and whilst they can and do travel, they are not everywhere all the time; omniscience - no - they have knowledge in accordance with who they are and what they do and we know, for instance, that Odin is every seeking knowledge sending out his ravens each day to collect knowledge; omnipotence - they are as powerful as they choose to be or we ask them to be - their levels of power have nothing to do with us and, IMO we simply cannot judge those levels - we cannot perceive how powerful or, indeed, impotent they may be - but we call on them to use their power on our behalf and they may or may not comply with something or nothing .... they are gods and we do not completly understand them anymore than they completely understand us .... and that is the eternal pivotal point in our relationships with them! Mostly all UPG :)

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Hi Naomi, do you have any aspects in your system which relate to cause and effect within the individual?

 

There are Buddhist schools which have belief in deities , devas etc so they have that much in common with paganism at least even if the nature of said deities is quite different..

 

ED

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The part of my system that deals with that is called cause and effect. I do not believe in karma either, but I do believe in Sod's Law. While the development of self should always be a personal goal I don't think that it has any effect other than making your life easier/more bearable, it certainly isn't something that my gods care about and it isn't something that will even register as happening with the powers beyond my gods...

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Hi Tad, how does your self develooment make life more bearable? Its interesting that you see there being a disconnection with the gods and higher powers. Any thoughts on why there is that dsconnection?

 

Just to be clear I am not a Buddhist by the the way. I mention karma because it is an interesting comparison..

 

Best Ed

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Self development gives me the inner strength I need to put up with life trapped in modern society. The whole job/house/tax/etc has alwaya felt disturbingly unnatural to me and I have often had trouble coping. Self development (spiritual, intellectual, creativity) allows me to bolster my defences and inner strength by turning my ego into a positive force whereas I normally think of myself as a destructive and negative force, which while sometimes usefull generally just makes things more difficult.

 

To clarify my pantheon position, it's not so much that they are disconnected, more that we are too small to be bothered with by either Chaos or Silence. All my other gods are of this world, either literally the world itself (Kernios, Mother) or manifestations of what occurs on it (Herne, Morrigan). The two higher ones are those who to my eyes are literally responsible for the whole of existence. Silence was before anything else and Chaos is more recently known around the world as The Big Bang, although I feel that really does just refer to his birth not everything else he does...

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Hi Naomi, do you have any aspects in your system which relate to cause and effect within the individual?

 

There are Buddhist schools which have belief in deities , devas etc so they have that much in common with paganism at least even if the nature of said deities is quite different..

 

ED

 

Karma simply isn't something that my UPG allows me to believe in - I cannot see how the ledger of rights and wrongs, failings and achievements etc etc, can be kept in this and other lifetimes - for me is smacks too much of the christian concept of sin and jugement .... that is all!

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I'm not even convinced that right and wrong exist as concepts outside of our own personal morals. I have precious few morals, one to be exact, and my gods don't care if I uphold it or not. It only matters to me and only affects me too...

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Karma simply isn't something that my UPG allows me to believe in - I cannot see how the ledger of rights and wrongs, failings and achievements etc etc, can be kept in this and other lifetimes - for me is smacks too much of the christian concept of sin and jugement .... that is all!

 

Sorry Naomi but what is UPG - I probably should know having been on here for well over a year now...!

 

I dont believe in a karma involving any sort of ledger of rights and wrongs either .

 

But have become aware of the concept of "moving up and down" based on action and inner reality. Its a bit like seeing one's choices as defining your potential for future action. Should we learn to obtain skill sets/views/capacities through willpower and action then we will more likely to be able to use them or similar ones in the future wherever we end up. in that way its not like an external ledger but a continuously updated "condition" that we are creating in ourselves. I also believe in a human drive for seeking associations with what is familiar - hence we seek situation which are familiar and present us with the same or similar dynamics to the past. The polarity of this association is often reversed so that what one deals out then ended up being dealt out to one instead because the dynamic is sought out...

 

Do you have any sort of cause and effect ideas pertaining to the individual in your system?

 

May I ask do you believe that Odin , for example, is all powerful should one ask him to personify that sort of power? And what sort of power would/could that look like?

 

Thanks for engaging with me on this should you choose to answer. I still near the beginning of my understanding of the Druidic pantheon in our system - which is again taken on a very subjective basis and apart from the major deities not dictated within our grove...

 

Best

 

ED

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Self development gives me the inner strength I need to put up with life trapped in modern society. The whole job/house/tax/etc has alwaya felt disturbingly unnatural to me and I have often had trouble coping. Self development (spiritual, intellectual, creativity) allows me to bolster my defences and inner strength by turning my ego into a positive force whereas I normally think of myself as a destructive and negative force, which while sometimes usefull generally just makes things more difficult.

 

To clarify my pantheon position, it's not so much that they are disconnected, more that we are too small to be bothered with by either Chaos or Silence. All my other gods are of this world, either literally the world itself (Kernios, Mother) or manifestations of what occurs on it (Herne, Morrigan). The two higher ones are those who to my eyes are literally responsible for the whole of existence. Silence was before anything else and Chaos is more recently known around the world as The Big Bang, although I feel that really does just refer to his birth not everything else he does...

 

Yep I can relate to being more empowered through SD. I am working on this on a continuous basis with Druidism. I think I see it as the first part of two halves the second part we already and continuously engage in - that is how we choose to influence the world around us...whether we choose to buy blasted crystals from Brazil ( for example) or walk comparatively local areas and pick crystals up for example - something I am more inclined to do now...being careful and considered about how one cuts wood from a tree...

I also love to escape from the modern gridded existence by getting out into the wilds when we can.

 

In what way may I ask are Morrigan and Herne manifestations of occurances?

 

This seems similar to the way I see gods as facets of universal energy. These manifestations of energy have associations and resonances which form some of the "personality " of the gods/goddesses...

 

Best

ED

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For my purposes most seem to work in parallel with each other. For many years I just had Herne, who to me represents the hunt. That might be for food, shelter, carnal desires, whatever... Herne is the animal in me, the raging instincts and physical power. The fight for survival... Morrigan has only been with me for a year or so now but ahe represents the female energy, knowledge and wisdom, patience and death, both as an end to things and as a release from the physical world and the freedom that may or may not result in. Herne is my selfish desires and Morrigan my altruistic. My entire pantheon behave in this way. Above them are Kernios, he is the planet itself, fire and earth, and Mother, she is the one who soothed his temper with air and water, their union resulting in all life as we know it which in turn resulted in the arrising of the other (lesser) gods. Beyond those two are the primary gods, the ultimate powers. Silence was the first, and she was alone, serene, beautiful and perfect (on the rare occasions I meditate I do so to touch her essence), but Silence grew lonely and decided to create her opposite so that she could know company instead. She created Chaos (the big bang to scientists) who was more powerful and terrifying than she could imagine and he populated her with all else in existance. Everything. This is why I believe science can never create a cohesive theory of how everything works - it's all chaos, literally. Sure there are patterns in the chaos but to believe we could ever fully comprehend him or his creations smacks of foolishness to me...

I should point out that I have never been taught or shown paganism or any path, nor have I yet done any reading on the subject, this is all simply what I have deduced on my own or some of it was explained to me by Herne during a severe overdose, in which according to sober people supervising me my heart and lungs stopped for a minute or two on three seperate occasions during the hours that I was seemingly unconscious. It's also the reason why I don't get on too well with him. I could feel myself dying at the time, slipping away, but Herne pissed me off enough to fight it. He often works with me like that, making me angry enough to fight to prove him wrong... I think he belives in me but he never ever lets on that he does.

Maybe because he's a god, maybe because he's a massive bellend. I'm still undecided on that but for the sake of a personal relationship with a god I usually let it lie.

 

Hope that helps clear it up a bit!

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UPG is Unique Personal Gnosis - that is, my own experience, knowledge and belief based on nothing proven or necessarily shared by others!

 

Odin, although known by many names and in particular "All Father" is not, in my experience, all powerful - in truth, I know of no god/ess who is all powerful. Some apparently have more power than others but usually limited to areas of their interest; neither do I think that we humans empower them! They need us to interact on the human plane and we need them to interact on their level .... or we just go along - as do they in their sphere - without interaction! There is no compulsion only symbiosis (I think that is the word :) ) ... working together. Some merely wish to observe us and not to get active or helpful ... and so on and so forth - as many aspects as individual humans, only they are deity!

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They need us to interact on the human plane and we need them to interact on their level .... or we just go along - as do they in their sphere - without interaction! There is no compulsion only symbiosis (I think that is the word :) ) ... working together. Some merely wish to observe us and not to get active or helpful ... and so on and so forth - as many aspects as individual humans, only they are deity!

 

Hi, so assuming an interaction with gods can be useful to humans. In your opinion What do the gods get out of the relationship? Can we somehow be helpful to them on their plane?

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But have become aware of the concept of "moving up and down" based on action and inner reality. Its a bit like seeing one's choices as defining your potential for future action. ...

 

Do you have any sort of cause and effect ideas pertaining to the individual in your system?

 

For what it's worth (and nothing to do wtih Naomi's beliefs) in the heathen religion, wyrd rules over everything. It rests on pre-existing universal rules called orlog (= original law), and is a belief that all things are interconnected, so to change one thing will affect others. That is why Heathen magic workers try to tread lightly... wyrd has a nasty habit of coming back to bite you (at worst) or simply quashing you outcome (at best) if you fail to take it into account. It isn't a moral system, though - there is no bad or good and not a personal force.

 

And even the gods are subject to it. There is a series of tales in the Eddas in which the gods are told of their death and try to evade the war that will bring it. But the things they do to subvert wyrd serve to enhance it. Their actions create the foreseen future.

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Hi, so assuming an interaction with gods can be useful to humans. In your opinion What do the gods get out of the relationship? Can we somehow be helpful to them on their plane?

 

I honestly don't know what the gods get from us! I only know that they do seek us out - well some have sought me out - and even then, the relationship is optional! I don't have to interact although I have been gently pestered when initiatlly reluctant, in one case :)

 

I do know that, if I gain something, then I am expected to give something back (the rune gebo best encompasses this) and the requirement can be quirky, onerous, easy .... seldom what you might expect!

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In my tradition (Roman), like Heathenry, the gods are subject to fate. Not even Jupiter can overrule the Fates. Hence the propensity for those whom the gods loved winding up as trees and constellations etc. Not even the gods can gainsay Death when it is time.

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in the heathen religion, wyrd rules over everything. It rests on pre-existing universal rules called orlog (= original law), and is a belief that all things are interconnected, so to change one thing will affect others. That is why Heathen magic workers try to tread lightly... wyrd has a nasty habit of coming back to bite you (at worst) or simply quashing you outcome (at best) if you fail to take it into account. It isn't a moral system, though - there is no bad or good and not a personal force.

 

 

Hey moonhunter :). I'm crossing over topics a bit here but just wondering.. when you say "there is no bad or good and not a personal force." Is that wyrd specifically you are talking about: that wyrd and oorlog is not a force for good or bad? or that in the heathen religion there is no "good or bad" in the world in general?

 

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. when you say "there is no bad or good and not a personal force." Is that wyrd specifically you are talking about: that wyrd and oorlog is not a force for good or bad? or that in the heathen religion there is no "good or bad" in the world in general?

 

Wyrd is certainly not a moral force. It is incapable of making judgements for or against anything; it simply happens. I'd say orlog is the same. To me, orlog in action is the way we are confined by our physiology, upbringing, personality etc. Without orlog, it would be theoretically possible for someone not to be confined by any of these.

 

Within the Heathen religion there are most certainly ethics, and very strong ones. We value honesty and taking responsibility for your own actions; observing the rules of guest and host honour; keeping your word, once given; observing the maxim of 'a gift for a gift'; independence and loyalty to one's kith and kinfolk, whether in blood ties, love or friendship. There are other ethics, but those, I think, are the main ones.

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Hi Naomi

 

Thanks.

 

Symbiosis - yes I can create that . That forms part of my shall I say - UPG ! :)

 

ED

 

Tad, what a vivid and constant system you have. Thanks for describing it.

 

Best ED

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