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Deities Need Us To Exist


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#1 Kalinia

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 01:31 AM

I thought about something today, and would love to hear your thoughts on this. I admit, I have absolutely no knowledge or experience with deity. I don't even know my stance/thoughts on them. I would love to learn more though.

 

I remember speaking with an online friend a while back, who was a Pagan. She was telling me how she believes the Deity/ Gods/Goddesses need us as much as we need them. She believes that our belief in them , and working with them keeps them "alive" . She also believes that they are separate entities, not energy representing something, such as Zeus being an energy representation of thunder. 

 

When I think about this, to me it does make sense. The energy of those who believe, feeding their energy and keeping them active. However, I can also see them simply existing because they exist, regardless of what anyone believes or practices, or works with. 

 

So many beliefs out there! What is yours? 

 

Thanks for reading. 

 

I also understand this is something that doesn't always fit in with traditional witchcraft, but I hope it interests some.


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#2 Hekabel

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 02:57 AM

This is pretty close to what I think! I think "deities" are just powerful spirits, created by mass belief in a concept that grows into a fully fleshed character over the centuries, like a game of chinese whispers. I also wonder if "deities" that govern the same things are but facets of the same being, which could lead to the continued existence of a "deity" that is no longer worshipped (I use parentheses because of the connotations that the word deity evokes, ie the idea that they created the world or humans or something like that, or that they hold positions of power over us "mere mortals", which I don't personally buy).

I once read a very interesting theory that deities-- or at least some of them-- could even be spirits created by ancient witches that have grown on their own and amassed "worshippers" after their creator has passed.

I don't personally have much truck with them. I think that whatever Hekate is (Spirit? Ghost Witch? Both?) is pretty cool, and I like that she likes dogs, but I don't worship. I MIGHT ask her for help one day, but I run under my own power most of the time, and turn to nature spirits before anything else if I need aid.

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#3 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 04:34 AM

I'm not sure if I'd go as far to say they neeeeeed us or they will cease to exist. But I believe they feed off our worship/attention/manipulation/offerings/energy to gain power. Dieties don't seem to be that interested in humans unless they stand to gain something from the relationship in my opinion. Trad witches tend to work more with spirits that have a vested interest in their well being (ancestors, house and land spirits) but when we do work with deity, it's not as worshipful supplicant but as a bargainer that is willing to give a fair deal within certain boundaries.

But how much of an effect do humans have to empower the deities they worship?

A popular example along these lines is this: is Santa Claus actually an entity? If humans can create and sustain a deity with prayers, worship and offerings, I'd say there are enough children around the world that are begging supplications, worshipping his image and leaving offerings of cookies and milk each year to keep that entity going for a long time. All with "the faith of a child" which tends to be unquestioning and hopeful in every way.

Think about how parents act at Christmas time (and Black Friday specifically), seemingly possessed by the need to appease their children whim's, all in the "spirit of Christmas". Could these be a result of a meddling Santa Claus God manipulating adults to answer the prayers of the thousands of children that worship him? It's iust thought.

Did we create Santa and his powers have grown alongside his popularity? Is it Odin being mischievous, as some suggest? Or some other spiritual entity that has attached itself to the persona of Santa Claus in order to absorb all that energy in the winter months?

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#4 Oroboros

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 05:07 AM

Interesting. Yes I have seen this discussed before as well. Including the Santa example. A very human centric approach. It is basically another version of a thoughtform. Then, according to this thought process, the more ancient, the more powerful.

I don't know... I tend to think spirits like this probably do exist. However, I think they are but one of many types of beings. It feels wrong to think that all that exists is dependent on us for its existence.

I guess we shall just have to wait til' we get to heaven and ask Jesus. :)

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#5 Jaesin

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 09:20 AM

I'm not sure if I'd go as far to say they neeeeeed us or they will cease to exist. But I believe they feed off our worship/attention/manipulation/offerings/energy to gain power. Dieties don't seem to be that interested in humans unless they stand to gain something from the relationship in my opinion. Trad witches tend to work more with spirits that have a vested interest in their well being (ancestors, house and land spirits) but when we do work with deity, it's not as worshipful supplicant but as a bargainer that is willing to give a fair deal within certain boundaries.

But how much of an effect do humans have to empower the deities they worship?

A popular example along these lines is this: is Santa Claus actually an entity? If humans can create and sustain a deity with prayers, worship and offerings, I'd say there are enough children around the world that are begging supplications, worshipping his image and leaving offerings of cookies and milk each year to keep that entity going for a long time. All with "the faith of a child" which tends to be unquestioning and hopeful in every way.

Think about how parents act at Christmas time (and Black Friday specifically), seemingly possessed by the need to appease their children whim's, all in the "spirit of Christmas". Could these be a result of a meddling Santa Claus God manipulating adults to answer the prayers of the thousands of children that worship him? It's iust thought.

Did we create Santa and his powers have grown alongside his popularity? Is it Odin being mischievous, as some suggest? Or some other spiritual entity that has attached itself to the persona of Santa Claus in order to absorb all that energy in the winter months?


Excellent reply!  I have never heard this example.  I appreciate you sharing!


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#6 NorthernPilgrim

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 12:21 PM

Interesting. Yes I have seen this discussed before as well. Including the Santa example. A very human centric approach. It is basically another version of a thoughtform. Then, according to this thought process, the more ancient, the more powerful.

I don't know... I tend to think spirits like this probably do exist. However, I think they are but one of many types of beings. It feels wrong to think that all that exists is dependent on us for its existence.

I guess we shall just have to wait til' we get to heaven and ask Jesus. :)

 

Agreed! And I especially love your reference to Jesus lol coz I think there are two theological schools of thoughts: one maintain that Jesus is the Son of God descended from Heaven, while the other Jesus was originally an ordinary person like us but trained himself enough to ascend to Heaven. I heard that the Church doesn't like the later school much since it hinders centralization of power. C. S. Lewis reportedly once wrote essays to rebuke that school as well, but I have yet to read his works.

 

OK, before I go too far, what I meant was, if some deities became deities purely based on their own work and deeds, do they still need our worship? Ummmm, don't know. Note that this kind of deities is not restricted to Christianity.

 

I also do believe that some deities are like that . . . created and strengthened by human beings. However, I have also heard about pure nature deities, usually gods or guardians of mountains or lakes or other sacred places, who not only do not need human worship, but hate any kind of human activity in their territory as well.


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#7 Oroboros

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 02:25 PM

NP said "...if some deities became deities purely based on their own work and deeds, do they still need our worship? Ummmm, don't know. Note that this kind of deities is not restricted to Christianity."

R.e. Do they still need our worship:

I think they would to an extant, but relative to the situation. For example, let's pretend these spirits are the type of being we are discussing:

If all Hindu's suddenly renounced Ganesh, well I think it would probably take a LONG LONG time before Ganesh began to lose power. Since a huge number of people have been putting energy into that being since pretty much the dawn of written history.
On the other hand, let's say Krampus is around, he is comparitevly obscure, and I'm guessing rarely if ever worshipped or paid homage to. And while there is a Krampus festival and plenty of stories still told in certain circles; in the big scheme little energy from few people. So if he were suddenly completely ignored, I would think whatever power he has would dwindle much more quickly. (This is an example, if you worship Krampus please don't take offense:).

The flip side:

On the other hand. Considering these things are very much like really big powerful thought forms- I suppose it may not matter what we do once the thing is "alive"... In "Egregore 101" we learn to always assign the thing a death date while bringing it into existence. This statement is then followed by entertaining and sometimes terrifying stories from "Thoughforms Gond Wild". Apparently there have been cases where a Servitor was created, sent out to do it purpose, and then either the maker forgot about it (which is hard to imagine) or for various reasons neglected to end the thing. The egregore then slowly becomes "bored" and maybe even sentient. It was hard wired to DO stuff, so it starts to find it's own shit to do. Also, it just starts to use those around it to recharge its batteries without their knowledge and can act as sort of a psychic vampire. So in this case, the little shit not only does not need our directed energy and intent, but independently finds ways to get more powerful all on its own.

So here is an uncomfortable thought: using the thoughtform idea- does this mean that the REAL reason some entities "require" worship is really because, basically we either feed it voluntarily OR in the abscence of voluntarily "food" they just start to dine on us in ways we are not aware of? I don't know if that's true- but it sure would explain a hell of a lot.

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#8 Oroboros

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 02:33 PM

Also, just for shits and giggles:

Can we try to "define" the word "deity"?

It is something we worship ? Well a lot of folks are very adamant they don't "worship" anything. It is something greater than us in some way- that's seems to be disputable as well.

Okay, it's something we respect and pay homage to in some way... Fair enough, but then what separates it from any other spirit or entity that we work with?

Is it inherent at least that it was never human? I think Krishna was, yet is considered a deity...

Thoughts?

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...From ev’ry depth of good and ill , The mystery which binds me still...— Poe

#9 Aria

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 02:56 PM

I think what we call 'deity' are spirits, or entities, that live in this and other worlds. 
I think they generally exist on their own, as humans do. The way I read 'deity' is according to the common meaning of 'supernatural' entity with some kind of power, and possibly an influence on human life. 

 

Regarding devotion, I tend to see it more in terms of 'relationship with' rather than 'follower of'. Or at least, this is my way: I see deities as spirits of power that are part of this world. My relationship with them can be devotional, if I am trying to get closer to them, to get something from them or just to please them. Do they need it? I don't think so, sometimes they can like it very much or get used to it, they might get angry if they don't get it. I don't think this is true for all gods, to my experience some don't care more than basic decency . I think we need devotion more, in the sense that it is a form of communication with them, often kind of a language. 

 

So no, I don't think they need us to exist.

 

Can people create a sort of eggregore with continuos devotion to something that doesn't exist? Even if they're not intentionally trying to do it? 
Possibly. Who knows what can happen. 


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#10 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 05:08 PM

Id like to explain something about Christianity that a lot of people don't understand about Christian worship (even practicing Christians don't often have a grasp on this). I know people get kinda hinky about Christianity (and rightfully so) but when talking about diety, it's useful to have several perspectives on the accepted worship of deities to know how cultures over the years interacted with diety. Orthodox Christian practices were based on Jewish practices which bear many similarities to the Ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, Sumerian practices that the Jews would have been familiar with. I'd love to hear also from the people that have a good understanding of how other pagan religions viewed worship because there are many similarities and differences and I believe that somewhere in those common threads is a good place to understand how to work with deity (and when to leave them alone).

So here goes nothing, a quick primer on Christian Spirituality from the Witch's perspective, by a former pastor:
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Most flavors of Christian theology teaches that God doesn't "need" humans to worship him but that humans are formed and shaped by their worship of Him.

Since the goal of Christians is to have the Holy Spirit "within them." Whether that comes from the sacrament of baptism, or sanctification, or intaking him through Christ's presence in the Eucharist varies across the denominations, but the end goal is always the same: to have the presence of God within you, changing you to be more like Him so that you can enjoy unity with others in the body of Christ (the Church) and with God himself in heaven for eternity. So while many people may talk about the end goal being "getting to heaven" the New Testament really puts emphasis on joining with God (often referred to as being a part of the Kingdom of God) by his incarnation within the person themselves, granting them eternal life or consciousness or unity with God. When you look at it like that, it isn't too far off from the concepts of many eastern and shamanic religions, but where they differ is the orthodoxy, so I'll explain that.

The Torah and the rest of the Old Testament are pretty clear about one thing: this God (referred to by many names) that claims to be the creator and judge and master of all things cannot stand sin. This is where it gets dicey...does he hate sin? Is he just a pompous asshole that created a sinful race of humans only to spend eternity telling them they aren't good enough. Theologians generally agree that this isn't the case, that the Jewish and Christiam God cannot stand sin because he IS the essence of good. That he literally can't exist where sin exists, because He is the opposite of sin as pure light and pure darkness can't exist in the same space. He was supposedly so glorious and righteous that in his presence anything corrupted by sin would be destroyed. So if a sinful human wishes to have communion with God (which the bible teaches is the only way to eternal life), he must first cleanse himself of sin, or he would die in the presence of God. This is the reason behind the importance of Jewish purification rites, and why no one but the high preist was allowed to enter "The Holiest of Holies," the place at the heart of the Temple where God was present. It is there that the priest would go and make sacrifices and supplications on behalf of the people. This is remarkably similar to ancient Eypgtian practices where deep inside the temple was a place that only the Pharaoh (or a preist named to go in his stead) would go and meet the God of that temple to plead on behalf of his people. No surprise there, because remember that Moses (who gave the Law of God to the Jews) grew up in Egypt in the Pharoah's own household.

So that explains offerings and purification rites, which we see in many world religions that approach Dieties. But what about worship? How do gods stand to benefit from worship other than inflating their egos?

Again it returns to the Christian desiring a full communion with God. The Jewish prophet Daniel (the one with the lions) was given a vision of his God on the throne of Heavem and he described that heaven is literally a place of constant and eternal worship. There were creatures and beasts who were created for the single purpose of worshipping God without ceasing, creating a sacred space for the God to dwell. You'll often hear Christians quote "The Lord is present in the praises of His people" because they believe that there is something in the act of worshipping the God that creates a sacred space for the God to dwell in. Hence why church services are full of worship in song and prayers and thanksgivings and offerings. Its more than just an invocation that we might make to invite a spirit to join us in the physical realm, but something about filling the space with worship and offerings allows the God to dwell there. Much in the same way we use herbs and incense to consecrate a space to make it inviting and comfortable for a spirit's presence, they use incense and worship to make their God comfortable.

So Christians worship God not because they beleieve he needs it, but because they desire his presence among them. To take it a step deeper, all facets of the religion are in hopes that they can create a sacred space within themselves for the God to dwell. They achieve this by purifying themselves of sin (becoming "sanctified" through various rituals and prayers of surrender) and worshipping in all things. They are essentially Invoking a possession by the Spirit of their God, but of course, most of them don't see it that way. Because their God has made it forbidden for them to make contact or relationship with any spirit or God beside him, they are ignorant of anything that vaguely resembles spiritualism or witchcraft and unable to see the similarities. Which would be a smart decree to make if you were a deity that wanted the sole devotion and worship of your people.

You may be asking where Christ comes into all this and the answer is simple. Where the priest once had to sacrifice an animal to atone for the sins of the people, Christ was the final sacrifice that would enable all people to commune with God through himself and his gift of the Holy Spirit. He claimed that God had sent him as the sacrificial lamb to release the people from the law which stated only priests could enter the Holy of Holies. Christ is the great high priest that stands before the throne of God and pleads on behalf of all people (which can get confusing if you consider that through the trinity, God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit are all one in the same, but I won't get in to that). The theology behind this atonement can get complicated but what you really need to know is that again, his crucifixion and the devouring of his flesh and blood in the Eucharist are simply continuations of the Jewish rituals of purification, atonement and invocation of the God's presence, but instead of a priest, the presence was now made accessible to anyone (Jew or Gentile) through Christ.

----
Woof. Okay, sooo...

This is one religion's answer to working with a deity that was very clear about a few things: that His followers must be pure (or made pure by atonement and purification) and they must worship no other Gods. And in return he made MANY promises to them.

The reason I am no longer a Christian is simply because I beleieve that God is a liar, about many things, and uses fear and threat of judgement and promises of miracles to manipulate the powers of the world (something that I believe he feeds off of). I do not believe he is the creator or the great judge, or the only way to eternal consciousness.

However, what we do have here is an interesting case study of a deity's relationship with his followers. We have the benefit of it being well documented for centuries where many other religious traditions are lost to us. We have the benefit of seeing that this God was very clear to his followers on how he wished to interact with him, and what he needed from them for full communion. We see a God whose demands and expectations change over time as his people changed and as history progressed. We see him making allowances and sacrifices to bring himself more followers and to allow for more people to come to know him. I believe this can be valuable, not for knowing how to approach this God (because I wouldn't recommend it unles you are ready to commit to his rules), but for understanding the symbiotic relationship between a deity and their people.

A lot of Christian worshippers (in the US especially) don't have a very good grasp of the full narrative of the bible, or the complex relationship of the God to his people. In the last century, Church attendance became more a mandatory social norm than a show of devotion, and I believe this opened the door for a lot of other entities to attach themselves to local congregations. The church I ministered to for most of my life had a very strong attachment to their building and land, and I believe that the spirits of the land, along with ancestral spirits of the original builders/founders, and spirits created by what the congregations truly worshipped in their hearts over the generations are the entities that actually inhabit that sacred space and respond to the prayers and worship of the church. Those spirits are more than willing to take the guise of Christ and God when needed. And maybe that's okay? Besides the fact that it's blatant manipulation on the part of the spirits. Once I learned how to interact with them (and they realized I wasn't going to expose them for what they are) a working relationship developed. They are protective of their people and the people are protective of the land. It's...fascinating to watch really. The problems occur when the people hurt others "in the name of God" but that's a whole different can of worms...I think the Catholic Church of the dark ages was absolutely controlled by malevolent, vengeful spirits and tricksters that fed off the power of the church and used its leaders as willing pawns. But I'll leave that for another day.

I hope this incredibly long-winded post offers some perspective to someone. And I hope it clears up a lot of the misinformation that floats around about Christian worship and its heritage.

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#11 Oroboros

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 06:26 PM

RG: very interesting post. Appreciate you taking the time to share your perspective in such detail. It is a good picture of a deity and his people. Thankfully I think it's more of an example of a controlling alcoholic and "his bitch" than a typical relationship.:)

I'm curious what denomination you studied/were a member of. It was interesting reading to me as about 90% mirrored the flavor of Christianity I was involved with to a T and the other 10% seemed quite different, which I'm guessing is denominational influences.

The only part I'll mention as its germane to the original topic is this:
"Most flavors of Christian theology teaches that God doesn't "need" humans to worship him but that humans are formed and shaped by their worship of Him. " It may just be my not being clear on what you mean too.

"Formed and shaped by their worship"- by this do you mean they become more "Christ-like" by their communion with God?
I have always heard all the reasons we "should" worship, most of which being "all the wonderful things God has done for us". I am familiar with the verses you discuss later about God being present in the praises of his people, as well as many verses discussing how all creation is involved in worship etc... But I have always read and heard the whole thing discussed more in terms of relationship. "God created us essentially for the same reason humans have children. "Love to share" and all that. More a situation of, no he doesn't need us but he WANTS us. Likewise, whenever humans choose to pray or worship God draws near out of desire for relationship. Frankly if it weren't for this part of it, I can't imagine why anyone would ever join the religion. To be clear, these sentiments would be beautiful, but it's hard to ignore Yahweh killing droves of people, playing games to see how loyal people are, and generally not following through on his end of the bargain for the most part. Nevermind, the fact that no matter how I slice it , it is a bit assholey to create creatures that literally can't obey your laws, then make them feel obligated to do so. Followed by saying, hey look what a great guy I am, I Have made a way so that you don't suffer eternal damnation for being exactly who I created you to be. So since I did THAT I expect your undying loyalty even if I never actually fulfill another thing I have said. So the liar part I also fully agree with, for a variety of reasons.

Not that it matters but, I tend to sit with the Gnostics on the idea that Yahweh was corrupt and not the creator or the Source for that matter. Of course I also think that true Creator (who by the way had a female aspect, Sophia) is probably essentially the same entity as the figurehead in most religions, just influenced differently by different cultures. Hinduism and the Sumerians recorded a lot of what we think of as Bible stories a long time before the Torah was a twinkle in Moses' eye.

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...From ev’ry depth of good and ill , The mystery which binds me still...— Poe

#12 Kalinia

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 08:20 PM

This was very interesting to read.  For me, when I think of the word deity, it brings to mind lore of Gods, Goddesses and "mighty" important beings in lore, that were or are worshiped. I have a bit of an analytical mind, so if I have not experienced something, I do not simply put a ton of faith in it. This is why I worship nothing, but respect a majority, and do have the mentality that almost anything is possible.

 

I've been thinking about the thoughtform concept, and that definitely makes sense, but the Santa description tosses this out for me. I do believe that it is possible that the Deity were once or are true beings, even if they weren't human. My opinion does tend to change day to day sometimes lol, but if you would ask me today, Id say that they do not NEED us, for energy can exist in its own right. But the need can easily be turned into a a gain, from the energy given to it from others who work with, worship, and believe. 

 

Its one of those things we will just never know, and is personal and different depending on who you are. Very interesting to think about though. 


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#13 Solanaceae

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 02:01 AM

This is pretty close to what I think! I think "deities" are just powerful spirits, created by mass belief in a concept that grows into a fully fleshed character over the centuries, like a game of chinese whispers. I also wonder if "deities" that govern the same things are but facets of the same being, which could lead to the continued existence of a "deity" that is no longer worshipped (I use parentheses because of the connotations that the word deity evokes, ie the idea that they created the world or humans or something like that, or that they hold positions of power over us "mere mortals", which I don't personally buy).

I once read a very interesting theory that deities-- or at least some of them-- could even be spirits created by ancient witches that have grown on their own and amassed "worshippers" after their creator has passed.

I don't personally have much truck with them. I think that whatever Hekate is (Spirit? Ghost Witch? Both?) is pretty cool, and I like that she likes dogs, but I don't worship. I MIGHT ask her for help one day, but I run under my own power most of the time, and turn to nature spirits before anything else if I need aid.

 

 

I don't worship any of them either. I have on rare occasions asked for the help of certain deities. 

 

 

I would think very carefully, and I would have to have a very desperate and almost hopeless situation before I would ask Hekate to help me with any thing ever again. She is cool, and powerful. Very effective and fast working. However the price she exacts is often more then most would be willing to pay. If she does not think you have offered her enough, she will take what she needs. Also, if you are not one of her chosen (in which case you may have no choice)  it might be best to stay off her radar. You may very well find out you do not want her attention.  My opinion, hard learned. From what I have heard, I got off lucky.


Edited by Solanaceae, 23 February 2016 - 02:15 AM.

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Some are born to sweet delight,

Some are born to endless night.

 

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#14 Solanaceae

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 02:19 AM

My thoughts on the matter are that deity does exist. Spirits that have become most powerful. I would think they do not need us, but certainly some of them may be like thought forms gone wild. Some were most likely never human. Certain entities commonly thought of as angels or demons have become like deity. I think that nature spirits can become deity, and as someone else mentioned in that case I don't think they need us for anything, and would rather not have anything to do with us. Other types seem to feed off of our energy, worship, ect. I also believe that once human spirits can become deity, or like deity in power and influence. 


Edited by Solanaceae, 23 February 2016 - 02:30 AM.

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Some are born to sweet delight,

Some are born to endless night.

 

(Fragments from "Auguries of Innocence") William Blake


#15 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 06:08 AM

O: "Thankfully I think it's more of an example of a controlling alcoholic and "his bitch" than a typical relationship.:)"

Exactly.
-----

O: "I'm curious what denomination you studied/were a member of. It was interesting reading to me as about 90% mirrored the flavor of Christianity I was involved with to a T and the other 10% seemed quite different."

I'm still in the broom closet and unfortunately employed by the church (and not in a financial position to leave yet) :-X so I'm not quite comfortable yet posting online any specifics about that. The denomination is small enough and I've given enough info and stories around that here someone could piece together too much, if they were looking to cause problems for me. Sorry ...I'm paranoid, but I'm in a bad position.

I can say that's it's a denomination that evolved from the Methodists but has a few minor differences. I'm interested in what ten percent seemed foreign, because I tried to keep my description to the things universal to mainline Protestants, *most* evangelical denoms, and the Roman Catholic Church. It wouldn't apply to Mormons, Eastern Orthodox, fundamentalists, Amish, independent offshoots, etc. There may be some subtle differences in denoms heavily influenced by Calvinism, but it's nuance.
-----------


"Formed and shaped by their worship"- by this do you mean they become more "Christ-like" by their communion with God? "

Essentially yes, that's what I'm saying, God desires to be present within his people, so he can make them more in his own image, make himself more comfortable and enjoy the benefits of their energy and love and devotion.. But there's also a practical and somewhat mundane aspect to it as well beyond the idea that God wants people to worship to create a sacred space for him to dwell within their very souls..

If you (the deity) want to make your people more hospitable to your presence, you'd want to teach them to be more like you on both a spiritual level and a mental/physical level. The liturgy of a worship service is the single most formative part of the community's faith, and that's for practical reasons. It's the only time the local church congregation is together as a whole hearing the same message, singing the same songs, speaking the same prayers and doing the same practices and rituals. It is the most repetitious part of the religion and so those songs and prayers are the most effective way to teach the doctrines of the church. People may remember less than 2% of the sermons they hear, but they will never forget the words to their favorite hymn or song. And eventually, those repetitious acts are what informs people's beliefs, more so than what they read in their bibles or hear in Sunday School, or bible studies. Usually.

Most good pastors know that, and so they are pretty intentional about how they plan the worship services. The phrase "we are formed and shaped by our worship" or "worship is formative" is pastor-speak. That's probably why you've never heard it before. Ilike a joke that you have to explain so it's not funny anymore, sometimes if you had to explain why the worship service is planned a certain way (with the sole purpose of indoctrination) it won't be as effective. Of course, there are some pastors and worship leaders that don't put much thought into their service planning beyond "we're gonna play the trendy songs on Christian radio right now" and as a result, the congregations tends to be pretty shallow and unfamiliar with what the bible actually says and what Christian theology actually is.

It's worth mentioning that there's a real disconnect between academic theology (what the scholars agree on and what is taught in seminaries to pastors) and pop theology, which is what you hear taught by laymen in Sunday School classes, posted all over Facebook in hideously tacky motivational pictures, portrayed by terrible Christian movies printed on all the "Jesus junk" you see in Christian bookstores.the bible is a monster of a religious text and most people that don't have the historical context or education to get to the all-important subtext and meaning behind all of its myths and parables and laws and letters and accounts. Which is also how you get fundamentalism, where people believe that every word of it is true at face value. Yahweh either rolls his eyes at these folks, or laughs his metaphysical ass off in his sadist manner.

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"I have always heard all the reasons we "should" worship, most of which being "all the wonderful things God has done for us"....(/edit). "God created us essentially for the same reason humans have children. "Love to share" and all that. More a situation of, no he doesn't need us but he WANTS us. Likewise, whenever humans choose to pray or worship God draws near out of desire for relationship."

I think that is an aspect of why God needs/desires the worship of his people and it's definitely taught that way in churches (especially in the modern world where the 'God is Love' has replace 'God is the holy and righteous judge'). It's definitely an easier sell to bring followers about. It is about love, yes. God is expressed as desiring full communion and presence with his people and that's the whole reason he would have sent a part of himself as a scapegoat for their sins. Christianity expressed that this desire for relationship is the whole reason behind everything. Devotion/worship/gratitude are all signs of love, relationship and ultimately what drives their necessity.

And when I beleieved that God was Goodness and God was Love, that was easy for me to swallow. But there's also some problems with that. Consider the creatures in Heaven that were created for the sole purpose of 24-hour constant worship. They don't have a choice in the matter, and the lack of free-will means their worship does not have love at its core (because another tenet of Christianity is that God gave us free will because he wanted us to love Him by our own choice...without the freedom to choose to not love, love isn't actually love. So sin was always there as an option.). These heavenly creatures are not capable of loving God without free will and yet their worship is valid in their ability to keep heaven a sacred space where God can dwell.

So yes, he way he is portrayed in the bible, he does appear to desire the relationship with his people. But what entity doesn't want to feel loved? I believe love/devotion is one of the ways deities stand to benefit from humans...they receive energy and power from the love and attention of humans (just think of how humans feel empowered and energetic and happy when they are loved). So empty rituals and love-less worship would not benefit the God or help him to dwell among his people. But I think that some gods get a sadistic thrill and energy boost from manipulating humans just for the fun of it. For example, read the book of Job and substitute the name "Odinn" for God and "Loki" for Satan. Same story, but because we know those characters to be mischievous, it stops looking like the same "God is Love" story that you hear in Sunday school.

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O: "Frankly if it weren't for this part of it, I can't imagine why anyone would ever join the religion."

True, but for hundreds of years, church preached hellfire and brimstone for anyone that didn't love God and people one hundred percent bought it. Fear of hell is what drove the control of the church for centuries from the dark ages right up to the puritans, (and in some sects, that continues to this day).
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O: "To be clear, these sentiments would be beautiful, but it's hard to ignore Yahweh killing droves of people, playing games to see how loyal people are, and generally not following through on his end of the bargain for the most part. "

I won't get into too much detail about this rabbit trail, but I've read some compelling arguments about how the many names for God in the Old Testament actually represent completely different entities.(it sounds like you maybe have heard them too, but I mention it for clarity). Of course, in our English translations, we just get "God" and "Lord" most of the time, but there are many names and they represent different personalities. So Eloihim the Creator, the great I AM, Yahweh the asshole, and the God that Jesus refers to would all be separate gods. Isnt that an intriguing thought. Of course, because of the whole "there is only one God" hang-up, those names have been explained away as the many aspects of one (apparently schizophrenic) God. But even in the Ten Commandments, the wording is "you shall have no other gods before me" and it never denies the existence of others. He just claims to be the most powerful, the creator and the one who will judge humanity in the end. Which, as you know, I believe is bullocks.

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"Not that it matters but, I tend to sit with the Gnostics on the idea that Yahweh was corrupt and not the creator or the Source for that matter."
I agree. The only place the Gnostics lose me is the idea that the sexual orgasm is the most horrible, accursed act in all of creation and the reason for the fall of man and all the horrors and disease and evil of the world. I am quite proudly pagan in my view of sex.
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O: "Of course I also think that true Creator (who by the way had a female aspect, Sophia) is probably essentially the same entity as the figurehead in most religions, just influenced differently by different cultures. Hinduism and the Sumerians recorded a lot of what we think of as Bible stories a long time before the Torah was a twinkle in Moses' eye."

Again, this is essentially what I believe as well, but I don't think of the Source as an entity like deities and spirits are entities. I beleived the major religions personified the power that lives in us and all things as a way to understand it, as so much of religion is parables and allegory concepts that we can't quite grasp. But I think I might fall in line more with Taoism or Buddhism on this, without falling neatly into any religion.

Sophia is actually the personification of Wisdom in the bible (and some of my favorite passages are about Sophia), but you are correct that there was both a feminine and male aspect in the name of the Creator in the original Hebrew language. The name "Elohim" used in the beginning of Genesis has both male and female parts to it. The Jews get this...Christians, not so much. I once referred to the Holy Spirit as "she" (as many theologians do) in a staff meeting and you'd thought I had openly denied the virgin birth.

Edited by RapunzelGnome, 23 February 2016 - 06:33 AM.

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#16 Oroboros

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 08:27 AM

RG I appreciate your need for anonymity. I think the differences I am seeing are a flavor thing and not worth dissecting.

Where I do have a fairly good education from both the leadership and pew side of the fence in Christianity; (Did not learn via Facebook or blindly spoon fed by pastors.btw) my understanding of Gnosticism is entirely self taught. Granted it probably bears mentioning that that term technically applies to several different groups believing wildly different things. I suppose I basically employed the term in this case to refer to the teachings from the Nag Hammadi and other "lost books" and what I believe to have been the beliefs of some of the original pre-Paulian Christians. I am sure you know the accurate use of the term better than I do. So WHERE does the orgasm thing come from:)? I have never heard that and as my two ex- husbands would tell you( lol), I certainly don't believe THAT either:)! I have not read a lot of the non-canonical texts. So I'm sure there are other things Of significant there I havnt heard of as well, but that's a doozy.

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#17 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 04:18 PM

I'm not sure the origins of the "orgasm is evil" thing came from, but a lot of modern Gnostics follow the teaching. It goes back to the garden of Eden. I've never given it much credence as most of modern Gnostics I've talked to say "we don't believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, but understand it as a parable or allegory" and then proceed to give me one of the most literal interpretations of Genesis I've ever heard. Some of these modern Gnostics seem to believe that the only right way to procreate is through ritual tantric sex where there is ejaculatiom but not orgasm. Someday I'll probably look into the origins of that belief someday.

But with Gnosticism, there's no real "official" doctrine as I understand it. Every sect and group and leader have there own interpretations. So I don't know if that's a common gnostic thing or a more localized belief.

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#18 RapunzelGnome

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 04:22 PM

Anyways, I'd love to hear of anyone else's personal "theology of deity worship" if they have special knowledge of another deity/religion, for the purpose of comparison. I certainly don't think the Christians and Jews have the entirely accurate perspective on their deity, but that it's in the common threads of deity worship around the world that we will find a more accurate view of the actual nature of deity (and not just what they want us to beleieve)
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#19 Anara

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 07:08 PM

My thoughts have evolved over the years on this topic...

 

The book I am studying & practicing from currently is a heavy influence on my thoughts right now and seems to possibly indicate there are deities that pre-existed humanity and creation, while others may have been created later by man. It "appears" the Gods/Goddesses before creation would have no need for us to sustain their existence, whereas the latter may.

 

My own personal experiences with deities seem to be somewhat in line with this and so I tend to think there may be some truth in it. In addition, I think spirits absolutely hide behind a guise of a god or goddess at times and mistakes in understanding can easily happen...

 

Case in point; I have a certain god statue that came here from another area of the world. A spirit inside of it immediately reached out to me once it came to the house. It was only after connecting with it and conversing that I realized a human spirit took up residence in that statue. As far as I can tell, the statue does not even have an essence of the god it depicts around it-just the human spirit who is happy to dwell there.


Edited by Anara, 23 February 2016 - 07:36 PM.

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#20 Oroboros

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 10:20 PM

If you don't mind my asking, what's the book?
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...From ev’ry depth of good and ill , The mystery which binds me still...— Poe