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Many Gods

Post  Dimitrios65 on Fri Oct 30, 2015 4:37 pm

Greetings

I was recently asked why I believe in many Gods. Although I know the answer, at the time the question stumped me to a while. Basically I replied that the diversity of Nature mirrors Divinity and that the many Gods exist to fulfill different functions in the Cosmos. I am struggling to put this belief into words, so can any assist me? Also, can someone explain why there are many Gods and why "one God cannot fill all the functions"?

Many thanks
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Re: Many Gods

Post  Αγαμέμνων on Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:34 am

Dimitrios65 wrote: Although I know the answer, at the time the question stumped me to a while. Basically I replied that the diversity of Nature mirrors Divinity and that the many Gods exist to fulfill different functions in the Cosmos.

The answer you shall receive to your question is, of course, contingent on the school of philosophy you subscribe to, and no one doctrine may claim genuine exclusivity on the nature of reality. If you are a Platonist or Pythagorean, you will certainly get a differing response than an Atomist, for instance. Personally, I am a simple rationalist who champions religious naturalism, with a distaste for mysticism that you shall discover when learning about Orphism.  

I believe that the notion that the Gods—particularly the dodecatheon—exist to merely to fulfill a function as heresy; I adamantly endorse the position that the Gods are sovereign and independent, and therefore that they cannot exist to serve a function but rather that they preform a function, and therein that people erroneously perceive the product of that function to be interchangeable with the personhood of said deity.

I have a markedly distinct theology from the others here and will let them respond, because I am under the assumption that you are apart of their group.

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Re: Many Gods

Post  Dimitrios65 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:43 am

I understand, thank you for your reply. Which group are referring to? Is it the "Orphic Brotherhood"?
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Re: Many Gods

Post  Αγαμέμνων on Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:50 am

Dimitrios65 wrote:I understand, thank you for your reply. Which group are referring to? Is it the "Orphic Brotherhood"?

Certainly, that applies to them, but I meant mysticism in general. We hold radically different views, so you should only seek my opinion if you want one to balance theirs.

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Re: Many Gods

Post  Dimitrios65 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:55 am

On the contrary, Αγαμέμνων, I seek any and all opinions on this topic. I think it will be beneficial to hear diverse views.
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Re: Many Gods

Post  Αγαμέμνων on Sat Oct 31, 2015 2:19 am

Dimitrios65 wrote:On the contrary, Αγαμέμνων, I seek any and all opinions on this topic. I think it will be beneficial to hear diverse views.

Well, since you insist:

The Platonist will teach that there is an Ineffable Source which is transcendent, and that it unconsciously created being as byproduct, and that the foremost of these were the Gods, beings who are absolutely perfect for a thing. The perfection of that being is hence ordered according to the proximity of that thing to the aforementioned Source.

I will submit that an Ineffable Principal does indeed exist, and that it creates the typical God, but not of the atypical Olympian sort. I believe that the Olympian is the personification of that Source in a transcendent state, but also possessing a uniquely personal and transcendent nature. That Source, ultimately, is too simple to have a personal nature, which is complex and multifaceted.

Think now back to the Dharmic concept of Brahman: He is transcendent, but there are deities said to also be personifications of Him that can have personal contact.

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Re: Many Gods

Post  Dimitrios65 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 6:58 am

Αγαμέμνων wrote:
The Platonist will teach that there is an Ineffable Source which is transcendent, and that it unconsciously created being as byproduct, and that the foremost of these were the Gods, beings who are absolutely perfect for a thing. The  perfection of that being is hence ordered according to the proximity of that thing to the aforementioned Source.

When you say "thing", do you mean a particular association that a God has?
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Re: Many Gods

Post  Dimitrios65 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 7:05 am

To everybody else reading this thread, I would appreciate your input as well
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Re: Many Gods

Post  Αγαμέμνων on Sat Oct 31, 2015 9:22 am

Dimitrios65 wrote:When you say "thing", do you mean a particular association that a God has?

No, I am alluding to the state of being. The words "being" and "thing" are employed interchangeably in theological discourse. A person is a being, he is also a thing; a chair is a thing, it is also a being. A being is something that had been created, thereby not having the transcendent capacity of the Source but is fixed in the personal form. I believe that the Olympian is a manifestation of God in a localized form, having a novel capacity that distinguishes them from the other Gods, which are created beings and do not have a transcendent nature but are petty natured. The Olympian is beyond being. Think now to the concept of Devas in Buddhism — even deity is progressing toward the Good, not yet having omniscience.

I believe that the soul has the ability ascend the Ego and return to God, a process termed divinization, but that while we have a body we are trapped from realizing our potential. I believe that our souls are a piece of that Source that has managed to mysteriously become trapped in a body and yearns to be reunited with its fellow Gods. The Orphic tradition, however, will state that Bacchus is the reason that we can experience that potential. I reject this and say that Bacchus only showed that we have a divine nature by his death and resurrection — he did not give people that divine nature.

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Re: Many Gods

Post  DavidMcCann on Sat Oct 31, 2015 2:41 pm

I don't think that Gods exist to fulfill functions. Do you and I exist to fulfill functions? They just exist. They do various things, just as you and I do, but the Gods are more than their manifestations. Indeed, they have different relations with different communities. On one Greek island, Poseidon had a healing sanctuary like those of Asklepios. In Athens, Zeus and Hera were invoked at a wedding; in Syracuse, it was Hades and Persephone.

People believe in the Gods because they experience them. Two interesting cases are recorded in Steven Hyler's Meeting God and Maya Deren's Divine Horsemen. After 20 years visiting India as an art historian, Hyler suddenly encountered a Goddess during a ceremony. He wrote "I was completely surprised, overwhelmed beyond any expectation. In that one moment, I, who had come as an observer, had become a participant. I was transformed." Similarly, Deren went to Haiti to make a documentary film about dancing in Voudoun ceremonies, but in them she found herself repeatedly possessed by the Goddess Erzulie. Every people's perceptions of the Gods are built up over the millennia by such experiences.

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Re: Many Gods

Post  Dimitrios65 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:19 pm

Very interesting, DavidMcCann. It was so difficult for me to put it into words at the time because somehow, in my head, explaining that I believed in the Gods because I had an experience with them did not seem "good enough".
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Re: Many Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:55 pm

Αγαμέμνων wrote:
Dimitrios65 wrote:When you say "thing", do you mean a particular association that a God has?

No, I am alluding to the state of being. The words "being" and "thing" are employed interchangeably in theological discourse. A person is a being, he is also a thing; a chair is a thing, it is also a being. A being is something that had been created, thereby not having the transcendent capacity of the Source but is fixed in the personal form. I believe that the Olympian is a manifestation of God in a localized form, having a novel capacity that distinguishes them from the other Gods, which are created beings and do not have a transcendent nature but are petty natured. The Olympian is beyond being. Think now to the concept of Devas in Buddhism — even deity is progressing toward the Good, not yet having omniscience.

I believe that the soul has the ability ascend the Ego and return to God, a process termed divinization, but that while we have a body we are trapped from realizing our potential. I believe that our souls are a piece of that Source that has managed to mysteriously become trapped in a body and yearns to be reunited with its fellow Gods. The Orphic tradition, however, will state that Bacchus is the reason that we can experience that potential. I reject this and say that Bacchus only showed that we have a divine nature by his death and resurrection — he did not give people that divine nature.

Other than your rejection of Bacchus as the source of the divine seed in the mortal soul, pretty much none of the views which you have communicated in your posts are in conflict with the Orphic theology, including your assertion that the Olympians are a manifestation of what you have termed God and what we would call the Unutterable Principle in this language.

Basic Neoplatonic cosmology is as follows:
The Unutterable Principle is the hyper cosmic ONE, within which exist the Henads in a perfect unexpressed unity. Because of Necessity, the cosmogonic elements which are unexpressed (because remember, all potentiality is contained within the ONE) in the hyper cosmic ONE become manifest, and a void (a field of reality which cannot be totally understood through human means) appears. The encosmic One (The Cosmic Egg) is formed through the interactions of the cosmogonic substances via Necessity. Within this encosmic One exists all the seeds of the universe, Matter, Soul, and Mind. The Egg hatches, and all of the potential in gestation in this egg is unleashed. Phanes and Nyx emerge, and the shell becomes the matter of the universe. Phanes (Mind) mates with Nyx (Psyche) and gives birth to the first individual manifestations of the Henads- Ouranos, Pontus, Tartarus, Gaia, Thalassa, and Thesis. Before this, the Henads existed in unity within Phanes and before him in the Egg and before the Egg in the ONE. Ouranos and Gaia give rise to the Titans, the agents of natural phenomenon, structuring and division of the cosmos, and from here you know of the story of the Titanomachy,of how Ouranos saw the overweening of the Titans and shut them up in the earth (the metaphor of their ensnarement by the allure of matter to the point of self-severing their Divine origins). And then because of this fall, the Henads were once again manifested to correct it. Zeus, Poseidon, Plouton, Hera, Demeter and Hestia, the new manifestations of the Henads meant to correct what the Titans had wrought. And from these six came the whole of the remaining Olympians as well as Bacchus and Kore.

This is where we differ. First it must be made clear that Bacchus=Zeus=Phanes. Bacchus is an efflux of Zeus in the furthest extremities of the cosmos, and Zeus is an emanation of (or transformation of, if you like) Phanes. Bacchus is set up as the king of the Titans. Their authority, in their minds, over the extremities of the cosmos has been usurped, and so they attack him, divide him up and consume him, save for his heart, which Athena saved and from which the Second Bacchus is generated. Bacchus, here, is the Divine Nous, the Divine Mind, for remember Bacchus=Zeus=Phanes=Nous. The Titans are the overseers, though fallen, of the natural phenomenon of separation and order in the lower extremities of the cosmos, in this part of the cosmos, the corporeal realm. The mind of God itself has, through the actions of beings which have set themselves against it, been disseminated throughout the entire cosmos and dispersed along with the Titans themselves, so that new beings would slowly generate over time, beings which naturally possessed a part under influence by the Titans and a part which is sourced from the original Divine Mind itself, so that the Titanic part may eventually be purified by the Divine part, the Bacchic part, and therefore it is because of Bacchus that we have a hope of attaining unity with Divinity. If the essence of the first Bacchus, who is an emanation of the Divine Nous itself, had not been dispersed throughout the cosmos, we would be nothing more than instinctual beings devoid of reason with no hope for ascent.

Bacchus is Zeus, who is Phanes, who is the Divine Nous itself, which existed unexpressed in the ONE until Necessity took hold of it. The spark of what you deem the Source that has mysteriously been enwrapped in body is readily accepted by Orphics. We simply have found a way to cohesively explain why and how it became wrapped up in the body in the first place in a way which allows intervention by the Divine Source itself without the Divine Source, the highest transcendency, mingling directly with mortals, who are at the opposite end of the spectrum, which is an impossibility because of the inherent base nature of mortality.

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Re: Many Gods

Post  Dimitrios65 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:24 pm

Thrasyvoulos, when you say that the Henads exist unexpressed in the Hypercosmic One, is this the same as the Cave of Nyx that contains the unexpressed potential of the Cosmos?
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Re: Many Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:27 pm

Dimitrios65 wrote:Thrasyvoulos, when you say that the Henads exist unexpressed in the Hypercosmic One, is this the same as the Cave of Nyx that contains the unexpressed potential of the Cosmos?

Yes, rather. The Henads are essentially the Forms. The Olympians are Forms vested with soul. Living Forms.

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Re: Many Gods

Post  Dimitrios65 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:31 pm

Thank you for your reply. Smile
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Re: Many Gods

Post  Αγαμέμνων on Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:39 pm

Let me save you the trouble of a fruitless discussion, and allow me the chance to inform you that Ι am well aware of Platonist-Pythagorean cosmology and theology; Aristotelian, Stoic and Epicurean, etc. And my rejection of the prominence of Bacchus is not the lone place wherein we disagree, Thrasyvoulos. Indeed, I only mentioned one of my beliefs. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration for me to state that your contribution is negligible to my education of the subject. Please, ask me before assuming you understand my beliefs. We are not all novices in the tradition, comrade.

Do you have a question about my beliefs?

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Re: Many Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:59 pm

Αγαμέμνων wrote:Let me save you the trouble of a fruitless discussion, and allow me the chance to inform you that Ι am well aware of Platonist-Pythagorean cosmology and theology; Aristotelian, Stoic and Epicurean, etc. And my rejection of the prominence of Bacchus is not the lone place wherein we disagree, Thrasyvoulos. Indeed, I only mentioned one of my beliefs. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration for me to state that your contribution is negligible to my education of the subject. Please, ask me before assuming you understand my beliefs. We are not all novices in the tradition, comrade.

Do you have a question about my beliefs?

No, I have no questions about your beliefs.

I will, however, point out the following:

Αγαμέμνων wrote:

"I have a markedly distinct theology from the others here and will let them respond, because I am under the assumption that you are apart of their group."

"Certainly, that applies to them, but I meant mysticism in general. We hold radically different views, so you should only seek my opinion if you want one to balance theirs."

Dimitrios65 wrote:"On the contrary, Αγαμέμνων, I seek any and all opinions on this topic. I think it will be beneficial to hear diverse views."

"To everybody else reading this thread, I would appreciate your input as well."

Not only did you anticipate that Orphics on this thread would respond to it and welcome them to respond to it, so did the initiator of this thread. You presented your views specifically as a counterbalance to them. It is only reasonable that the Orphic views to which you offer your beliefs as a balance be presented here in a simplified and distilled format, because it is you who opened up that line of inquiry in the first place. Not for your sake. I did not doubt your depth of knowledge on the topic. I attempted to distill it down to the basics so that people who frequent this forum whom are not familiar with the information would have, for convenience's sake, ready access to the viewpoints which you specifically offered your views as a balance to. The passage was composed as a rebuttal to your arguments; this is standard debate procedure, and one should not expect anything less nor take rebuttals as a personal attack. This will invariably cause a breakdown in communication, and that would be a shame in a forum which is meant to function chiefly as a disseminator of information as well as exegesis of ideas which are proposed.

In the future, I sincerely hope that rebuttals which are offered in reply to arguments which are proposed in the explanation of any one forum member's beliefs will not be met with anger and personal attacks. This is not constructive behavior in a place of mutual learning.

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Re: Many Gods

Post  Dimitrios65 on Sat Oct 31, 2015 5:11 pm

I really did want to hear different views to attempt to develop my personal beliefs; I'm not trying to start any arguments.
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Re: Many Gods

Post  Αγαμέμνων on Sat Oct 31, 2015 5:13 pm

Thrasyvoulos wrote:The passage was composed as a rebuttal to your arguments; this is standard debate procedure, and one should not expect anything less nor take rebuttals as a personal attack. In the future, I sincerely hope that rebuttals which are offered in reply to arguments which are proposed in the explanation of any one forum member's beliefs will not be met with anger and personal attacks..

Mind me, but I do not think that stating one belief is justification for a rebuttal of that magnitude based solely on a shred, and on the contrary, I am not personally offended, Thrasyvoulos, I am delighted to know that the Fraternity has found a home here in the United States. What gave you the impression that I had been offended? I was only informing you that I was knowledgeable, so that we didn't get into needless chatter.


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