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Discussions with 'Neo-Pagans'

Post  Haganrix on Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:44 pm

Not long ago I had one more unlucky experience when discussing with 'Neo-Pagans' on the subject of the nature of the Gods. The objection was made by referring the myth of Marsyas who had provocated Apollon, lost the competition and was killed in a very brutal manner, - I suggest you all know the tale!

There was no way to make clear to my oposers that the myth was not send to us from the Gods but just a tale of humans about their connotation of Apollo versus Marsyas. But however, how should we respond when offended in such a way?

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The mind views all at once whereas the speech puts it into the order (Salustios, On the Gods and the Cosmos, Chapter 4, Par. 9).

Der Geist schaut alles zugleich, während die Rede eines nach dem Anderen erzählt (Salustios, Von den Göttern und der Welt, Kapitel IV, Abschnitt 9).

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Re: Discussions with 'Neo-Pagans'

Post  Linda on Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:46 pm

It's always hard to guess. There are several ways these exchanges can go along:

1. The Neopagan is really curious and challenges you because of wanting and explanation to something they don't understand
2. The Neopagan is just mean and trolling around
3. The Neopagan is just not very socially skilled and/or challenged because of using a second/third/whatever language and might not even understand that what they are saying is insulting.

I'll just give that person a benefit of a doubth and explain my own interpretation of the story in a calm and good-natured way, ignoring the insulting tone.

And also remember - our faith is always dear to us, so we tend to take things said about the gods more or less personal. We must not do that. We have to take a step back and try to interpret things as not really meaning harm. Or we end up like those abrahamites who blow up their opponents because they crack a daft joke about Mohammed the prophet or something along that line. Very unnessecary really!
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Re: Discussions with 'Neo-Pagans'

Post  Erodius on Thu Jun 12, 2014 6:04 pm

Furthermore, in addition to a combination of both the 2nd and 3rd points Linda mentioned being almost always true (New-agers and other related counterculturists seem to like being offended, and to actively seek out things that offend them, simply to have something to complain about.) such individuals are often not interested in anything that conflicts with their daydreams and fantasies, and are usually not particularly well educated on the subjects they spout on about (plastic shamans, anyone?). As I believe Julius Evola said, of all the people in the world today, those who would be in for the most severe and disturbing culture shock if suddenly transported back to the ancient world would be the self-proclaimed 'neo-pagans'.

Honestly, it does take a good amount of background and contextual knowledge in the field in order to properly interpret mythology – even secularly/anthropologically. In the story of Marsyas, for instance, it is essential to recognize that the most probable origin of the story is Phrygia, a country known in Antiquity for its often unusual, violent, and bloody religious practices. In Antiquity, the cult of Attis and Cybele, of Phrygian origin, was seen by most people as a fairly fringey and indecent religion – one that involved ritual baths in bull's blood, ceremonial self-mutilations and bloodshed, and castrations, and which was based on a series of very strange and often rather disturbing myths about Attis and Cybele themselves. The Thraco-Phrygian culture (the Phrygians and Thracians are anthropologically considered to have been of the same cultural and linguistic group, the Phrygians being descended from a group of immigrants to Anatolia from Thrace) is also the origin of the more violent and primitive forms of Dionysiac religion, before they were 'tamed' by the Greeks and reformed and given different interpretation and purpose by Orpheus and his followers  Wink . In primitive Thraco-Phrygian Dionysiac cults, the infamous σπαραγμός, the ripping apart of a live animal (or person) in a raging bacchanal frenzy is probably related to the Marsyas myth. The various accounts as to why Marsyas was flayed, usually concluding in the Greeks' presenting the story as a cautionary tale against challenging a god, are probably later Greek additions to a story that was, originally, probably not a moral or cautionary tale.

There is also a symbolic reading of the Marsyas tale from the Orphic perspective, which I think significant here, being as the Orphic religion also places its origin in the Thrace/Phrygia area, and is centered on, and incorporates various similar stories of outwardly brutal dismemberment, but presents them with a radically different symbolic, rather than literal meaning. The satyr figure is an allegory for the human soul, which likewise is divided, in Orphism, between a humane part and an animalistic part. Specifically, the satyr is a symbol of the divinely-ordered soul, allegorically inebriated (as the satyrs are said to be always drunk) with the aether of divinity. Music is, in Orphism, among the most powerful tools for the harmonization of the soul to divinity. Thus, when Marsyas, a satyr, takes up the flute and plays, and is straightaway 'flayed' by Apollo – this is, in reality, a divine metaphor for the aetherially-harmonized soul in kinesis toward Divinity, when, upon reaching contact, the soul experiences the Final Death, liberated from mortal life by God (and this Final Death is quite often depicted as at the hand of Apollo), at which point the souls parts are reconciled, and she is freed from her 'animal skin' prison, which is the mortal body.

In addition to the categorization of the Five Species of Myth (with which I imagine you are familiar, Haganrix, based on your signature), nearly any given myth also has four potential exegeses: historical, didactic, scientific, and mystical, and usually has to be seen through more than one of these. Historical reading gleans the literal content of the myth, i.e. that it refers to some event in the distant past (a historical exegesis of the Marsyas myth reckons it an account of the origin of a goat skin that was kept near the Marsyas river in Phrygia, which had abundant reeds, thus making it an origin myth for the skin, the river, and the reeds). Didactic reading gleans moral instruction as the focus, the kind of reading common to Aesop. Scientific reading gleans scientific content from myth, explaining why something is how it is, or why something occurs the way it does – the myth of Echo, for instance, is primarily of this kind, and mystical reading gleans religious/theological content.

The Marsyas myth, as we're discussing here, fairly clearly has all four exegeses within it; it is a historical origin myth of a place in Phrygia, it is a morally didactic myth, it is a scientific explanation of the ecology of a place, and it is a theological allegory of the cultivation of a divinized soul.

And also remember - our faith is always dear to us, so we tend to take things said about the gods more or less personal. We must not do that. We have to take a step back and try to interpret things as not really meaning harm.

Eh, I'm not so sure. People often do mean harm, and often are in it to get a rise out of you. All anyone can do then is attempt to explain things as they truly are, or, if that is not helpful (which, I would argue, it often is not), it is best to simply disengage and depart. As Pythagoras taught, one ought not to speak of divine things to the multitudes, else you run the risk of their desecration. As Jesus likewise taught, 'cast neither your pearls before swine, lest they be trampled underfoot.' (Matthew 7:6).

Anyone likes to show off his or her treasures, literal or metaphorical, but it is much better to keep them safe for those who will appreciate them.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Discussions with 'Neo-Pagans'

Post  Haganrix on Sat Jun 21, 2014 4:10 pm

Erodius wrote: Specifically, the satyr is a symbol of the divinely-ordered soul, allegorically inebriated (as the satyrs are said to be always drunk) with the aether of divinity. Music is, in Orphism, among the most powerful tools for the harmonization of the soul to divinity. Thus, when Marsyas, a satyr, takes up the flute and plays, and is straightaway 'flayed' by Apollo – this is, in reality, a divine metaphor for the aetherially-harmonized soul in kinesis toward Divinity, when, upon reaching contact, the soul experiences the Final Death, liberated from mortal life by God (and this Final Death is quite often depicted as at the hand of Apollo), at which point the souls parts are reconciled, and she is freed from her 'animal skin' prison, which is the mortal body.


Well said, Erodius, and in so far I agree. But the flaying reminds me of the assassination of Hypatia. And she was not a satyr but a human philosopher. I guess you know Hypatia was flayed by the Parabolani-monks. There is no doubt that was a murder but was there any connection to the myth of Marsyas? Did the Parabolani-monks correspond to Hypatias solar devotion? Or was she just a Hellenist martyr?



_________________
The mind views all at once whereas the speech puts it into the order (Salustios, On the Gods and the Cosmos, Chapter 4, Par. 9).

Der Geist schaut alles zugleich, während die Rede eines nach dem Anderen erzählt (Salustios, Von den Göttern und der Welt, Kapitel IV, Abschnitt 9).

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Re: Discussions with 'Neo-Pagans'

Post  Erodius on Sat Jun 21, 2014 5:47 pm

There is no doubt that was a murder but was there any connection to the myth of Marsyas? Did the Parabolani-monks correspond to Hypatias solar devotion? Or was she just a Hellenist martyr?

To the Marsyas myth in particular? I highly doubt it. That she was flayed might be said to have some poetic and figurative significance in the holistic sense, but not more than that.

Likewise, she was not a 'martyr', insofar as there is really no reason to believe that she died in the defense of religion, or that she was killed because of it. She was murdered as a result of involvement in the tumultuous politics of Alexandria. That her religion became a part of the rhetoric against her was simply further demonization. She'd have been murdered whether she was a Christian or not. She had sided with the city governor against bishop Cyril (hated by a large portion of Christians themselves of the era as a madman and a tyrant, even by the zealously Christian emperor Theodosius II), and this itself spelled her condemnation and, essentially, assassination by Cyril's lackeys (who also attacked the supporters of the governor, who openly declared himself a Christian, to no evident avail).

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Discussions with 'Neo-Pagans'

Post  Haganrix on Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:07 pm

Erodius wrote:
There is no doubt that was a murder but was there any connection to the myth of Marsyas? Did the Parabolani-monks correspond to Hypatias solar devotion? Or was she just a Hellenist martyr?

Likewise, she was not a 'martyr', insofar as there is really no reason to believe that she died in the defense of religion, or that she was killed because of it.  


_________________
The mind views all at once whereas the speech puts it into the order (Salustios, On the Gods and the Cosmos, Chapter 4, Par. 9).

Der Geist schaut alles zugleich, während die Rede eines nach dem Anderen erzählt (Salustios, Von den Göttern und der Welt, Kapitel IV, Abschnitt 9).

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Re: Discussions with 'Neo-Pagans'

Post  DavidMcCann on Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:13 pm

Apollo seems to have been associated with the admission of young men into adult society in many parts of Greece. The hair-cutting in Athens and ritual fighting in Crete may be survivals of older, bloodier initiations, symbolised by Marsyas. But that's just a top-of-my-head guess.

On the subject of talking to neopagans, this comparison of Wiccans and Heathens (particularly the section on communication) rings quite a few bells for me!
http://www.ravenkindred.com/wicatru.html

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Re: Discussions with 'Neo-Pagans'

Post  Haganrix on Sat May 02, 2015 6:19 pm

DavidMcCann wrote:

On the subject of talking to neopagans, this comparison of Wiccans and Heathens (particularly the section on communication) rings quite a few bells for me!
http://www.ravenkindred.com/wicatru.html


Definetly, just as the author of your linked essay concludes:

"There are things that we can learn from one another, but in order for successful interfaith interaction to take place we must first understand each other."


Besides, now I heard the Trojans worshiped Apollon as main divinety. Is that true?

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The mind views all at once whereas the speech puts it into the order (Salustios, On the Gods and the Cosmos, Chapter 4, Par. 9).

Der Geist schaut alles zugleich, während die Rede eines nach dem Anderen erzählt (Salustios, Von den Göttern und der Welt, Kapitel IV, Abschnitt 9).

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Re: Discussions with 'Neo-Pagans'

Post  DavidMcCann on Sun May 03, 2015 1:58 pm

Haganrix wrote:Besides, now I heard the Trojans worshiped Apollon as main divinety. Is that true?
We don't have much evidence for what the Trojans got up to, but the Hittite king Muwatillis made a treaty with the Trojan king Alaksandus and swore by three gods, one of whom was Apaliunas. The latter does sound like Apollo, whome Homer considered a protector of Troy. The Trojan king is obviously an Alexander, so at least some Trojans spoke Greek, although he supplanted a Kukkunnis, so some didn't.

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