The Paradox of the Created Creators
Call me odd if you like, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the nature of the gods. While driving to work the other day I realized that answering some of life’s big questions may not be as hard as I once had thought.
1) Q: Who came first men or gods? A: YES
Let me explain. First off, I will go on record as saying that I don’t believe in the idea of “creation” per say (that would denote a linear view of time and I’m all about some cyclical time progression since it’s more wibbly wobbly and timey wimey) but there was definitely time (archaeology points to around 300,000 years ago) at which people realized that the Deity existed and that’s when the gods started to come into being. This is where my soft polytheism comes into play, I believe that the gods are individual beings but are also derived from a greater common energy (Deity); this is much the same way I view humans, distinct beings but still made up of the same energy. The moment that humans noticed Deity they began to see the various aspects of it; the friend, the lover, the farmer and the warrior, and thus the gods were born. Slowly we have created their tales but at the same time the gods have lived these tales and no story is without a truth. That brings me to the next question…
2) Q: Are all gods distinct beings from us? A: Not at all!
We humans are born story tellers (don’t believe go ask a three year old you know to tell you about their day) and our favorite subjects are the people around us. So why should it surprise us to think that all the gods that we know and love were once no more than mere mortals like you or me? I don’t mean just that they took a human form (as many gods are known to do) but more that most of the gods may very likely have been deified humans. So to say that Odin is the giver of the runes may be a mythological memory of a great man that created the writing system of a language (I also have another theory with this example but I’ll get that in a minute).
3) Q: So are all the gods simply folk memory? A: Not necessarily
Just because some gods are deified men and women doesn’t mean they all are. Some are personifications (deifications?) of abstract ideas like the Roman goddess Libertas or the America’s matron goddess Columbia. Others are deifications of the land itself like Britania, Gaia, or Njord. And even still are deifications of actions or things Odin (possibly derived from the word oðr “mind” thus my stipulation that Odin may have been a mortal or he could be the mind itself when attributed with the discovery of the runes) or the Green Man/Sylvanius. But the biggest factor in “creating” a god is getting people to go along with it and that means that all gods are products of the times and places in which they are worshiped.
4) Q: So, does this mean our religions are just a bunch of hooey? A: ABSOLUTELY NOT
I saw a meme the other day (unfortunately I can’t find it now) from the Graham Norton Show where Graham was talking about a conversation he had once that went something like:
G: Do you believe in [insert religion here]?
W: Oh no! That’s just a made up religion!
G: Made up religion…as opposed to?
While I am sure he was being silly (he is a comedian after all) the point is valid. In some way or another ALL religions are made up, what isn’t false though is the feeling one gets from that faith. When I was a Christian I was once asked what I would do if the bones of Jesus were found and my answer was simply, “Keep doing what I’m doing, it works for me.” To me religion isn’t and shouldn’t be perfect but it should be perfect for you.
Finally, the biggest question of all is actually the most simple to answer.
5) Q: What is the meaning of life/why are we here? A: To do what we are meant to do.
Okay, I know this isn’t an extremely satisfying answer but it’s the truth. While I don’t believe in predestination, Wyrd/fate/dharma are a big thing to me just as they were to our Indo-European ancestors. The idea of the Norns’ tapestry is the best way for me to explain this; it is said that at the beginning of this world the Norns wove a tapestry of everything and recounted major events in the lives of all of the beings of all nine worlds. These things must be met but the actions that lead to these things are fluid and dictated by you. This is similar to what Krisna has to say about dharma in the Bhagavad Gita when he tells Arjuna in chapter 11 sloka 33 that “…all your enemies are already defeated by me, you are but my instrument.” So the purpose of our lives is to live well (by whatever standard you measure yourself) and to fulfill our purposes.
That’s if for the day.
Peace and Blessed Be /|\