30-Day Paganism Meme: Day 3, Beliefs – Deities

I’m at a bit of a loss on this.

Why didn’t I change this one?

See, I’ve been putting this one off because I’m not sure how to essay this.

The simplest and most bleeding obvious would be to explain that I believe in multiple deities and multiple tribal pantheons, but that’s pretty obvious from previous posts. I guess I could extrapolate on that….

See, when I first started looking into Celtic mythology, I first tried to think of ways to compare them to Hellenic deities — and that was full of fail on my part. First off, there is no one Celtic mythology; you can say that there are two main Celtic mythologies, Gaelic (Irish, Scottish, and Manx tribes) and British (Welsh, Cornish, and Briton tribes), though some would argue that the Gauls were Celts, as well, and then there are some deities that seem quite apparently Pan-Celtic, even moreso than certain Hellenic deities, but if you ask around, there are still distinct tribal names, even if the differences between names seems minute to a non-speaker. Trying to put Celtic deities in a Hellenic model is asking for headache. Some are easy, like Aerten/Aeron (Welsh/Cornish Goddess of Fate) is easy to correlate to the Hellenic Tykhe, in domain if not narrative mythos. Then you get to Brighd/Banfile, and She’s the Goddess of both the hearth and of martial arts, of fertility, and of “all feminine arts and crafts” — which Hellenic Goddess is she most like? Athene? Hestia? Hera? Ask five different people, I doubt you’ll get the same answer from every single one of them. Lugh/Llaw Gyffes is another one like Banfile — He’s got sun and light, and that’s easy to sync up to Apollon, but He’s also a “god of many skills”, which just screams “Hermes” to me (indeed, the Romans likened Him to Mercury), and He’s a god of metallurgy, which brings to mind Hephaistos; he’s also considered chief of the Tuatha de Dannan in the Irish cycles, which is an easy similarity to Zeus. This is where certain brands of syncretism and / or “soft polytheism” fail me; the important thing to remember about polytheism is the “poly-“, the many — really, it’s far too easy to look at a deity worshipped by another culture and pick some of that deity’s aspects, but not truly learn about all of them (much less get up-close-n-personal with said God/dess) and say, “oh yeah, your deity A is like our Deity Z”. Maybe this gave some common worshippers among the ancients a neat little frame-work to have at least some peace with their neighbours, and maybe it gave the “Educated” Elite of Hellas (who pretty much dominated the philosophy scene) some kind of ego-stroke to believe that it was truly their Gods who were worshipped everywhere, and the Hellenic form is the purest of these deities — and hey, by hand-picking a few of Brighd’s traits and assigning them to the notion that “Brighd is Minerva and/or Athene”, it creates the illusion of knowing about your neighbour’s culture without actually troubling yourself with getting down with them and really and truly learning about their culture.

And this is where I have to disagree with a lot of ancient writers, who commonly made a habit of taking a deity from another pantheon and likening Them to one of their own. Now, technically, I’m rather forgiving of this practise amongst Hellenes, and maybe that’s where my arbitrary line is drawn, but this is an opinion piece, of sorts. In my own experiences, Lugh and Apollon, Hermes, Hephaistos, and Zeus are all very different from each-other — and most importantly, I get pushed away by Lugh. Plus, the number of people I’ve encountered who have similarly experiences separate entities far outnumber those who are happy to believe that Lugh is Llaw Gyffes is Apollon, and I do believe that means something.

I will say, though, and maybe this is me “outing” myself as “not a pure recon”, but though I’ve yet to find any rituals to perform to Him, I do connect with Oengus Og, indeed, He’s the only Celtic deity I ever really have, and I feel Him very differently than I do Eros, but then, I’ve mentioned this before, haven’t I?

There are deities everywhere, and for everything. Some of their spheres of influence will overlap with that of several others, some tribal deities will be perfect matches with others.

I believe each deity exists in Their own right and their own form, but this form is largely incorporeal and They may shift form to better relate to mortals — still, I see some constants among those who have become close to one deity or another, probably so that humans may become closer through that bond (like Hermes with red hair).

I believe that each deity, though ultimately incomprehensible, does have a range of relatable emotions and personality traits that we, in our egotism, ascribe as “human-like”.

I believe, ultimately, that They love us.

0. Intro to meme
1. Beliefs – Why Hellenismos?
2. Beliefs – Cosmology
3. Beliefs – Deities
4. Beliefs – Birth, death and rebirth
5. Beliefs – Sacred sexuality
6. Beliefs – Divination, mysticism and various woo shit
7. Beliefs – The power of prayer/reciprocity
8. Beliefs – Festivals
9. Environmentalism
10. Patrons – Eros
11. Patrons – Apollon
12. Pantheon – Mousai
13. Pantheon – Adonis
14. Pantheon – Nyx & Kybele
15. Pantheon – Every-One Else
16. Nature spirits, Khthonoi, & The Dead
17. My ways of worship
18. Community
19. Hellenismos and my family/friends
20. Hellenismos and my love life
21. Other paths I’ve explored
22. Hellenismos and major life events
23. Ethics
24. Personal aesthetics and Hellenismos
25. Favoured ritual tools, and why
26. Any “secular” pastimes with religious significance, and why
27. How your faith has helped you in difficult times
28. One misconception about Hellenismos you’d like to clear up
29. The future of Hellenismos
30. Advice for seekers


2 thoughts on “30-Day Paganism Meme: Day 3, Beliefs – Deities

  1. Pingback: 30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 4 ~ Beliefs – Birth, death and rebirth | Of Thespiae

  2. Pingback: 30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 6 ~ Beliefs – Divination, mysticism and various woo shit | Of Thespiae

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