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The Gods: Real or Archetypes?

Discussion in 'Heathenry DIR' started by Podo, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. Podo

    Podo Member

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    I have spent a lot of time lately looking into Heathenry and all of its various aspects. A common thread I notice is that heathens seems divided on the nature of the gods. Do they exist and not care about us? Are they real in an extra-dimensional sense? Are they actual physical beings you can speak to? Are they archetypes that exist to explain aspects of the human psyche? It seems like if you ask ten heathens, you get eleven different answers.

    So let's talk about it. What do you think about the nature of wights, gods, and other supernatural beings?
     
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  2. The Ragin Pagan

    The Ragin Pagan Но Солнце восстанет…

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    Marking this for later; got work soon.
     
  3. Holdasown

    Holdasown Active Member

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    Personally I believe the gods exist as individual beings. They obviously don't exist on Earth. I believe Midgard and Earth occupy the same space and that the gods can assess Earth spiritually. I believe the dead and other spirits can move around these planes. The wights here on Earth are indigenous to Earth. I also believe other gods access Earth via their worlds. That is why all faiths started regionally.
     
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  4. DanishCrow

    DanishCrow Seeking Feeds

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    Most heathen reconstructionist organizations allow a wide leeway in interpreting what the gods mean. Here in Denmark we have atheists who see the gods as Jungian archetypes who can be emulated on the far side, and people who go full-on anti-modern literalist at the other far side. Most fall in between.

    I also think the gods exist, and that their realm exists in what could be summed up as a parallel dimension: They exist in their own world, which they can come forth from at our rituals, and which those of us who practice norse animism, can access through trance states.
     
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  5. DavidMcCann

    DavidMcCann Well-Known Member

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    If people experience gods, and are even possessed by them, it's much simpler to assume that the gods are real than to think up some convoluted explanation in terms of archetypes. When I encounter a fox, I assume it's a fox. If I encounter a god, I assume it's a god.

    I'm not aware of anyone having an archetype theory before 20th century new-agery, or outside the West. Wikanesque paganism has been described as religion for people who don't want to have to believe in a religion. Archetypism is just part of that.
     
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  6. DanishCrow

    DanishCrow Seeking Feeds

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    Well, I have experienced the gods, and so I am biased - but I would be given to think that, for instance, atheists and others without a direct connection to the spiritual could be drawn to pagan archetypes because they are old as time itself and offer what is needed to get by in life.
     
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  7. Podo

    Podo Member

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    That's because the archetype theory is the product of expanded psychological and scientific understanding that didn't exist in the ancient world. It is a new method of interpretation because we didn't have the tools to see it as an option in the past. It is a way of explaining gods and powerful entities that is observable and somewhat repeatable, considering the very real benefits of ritual, as well as humanity's massive susceptibility to the placebo effect. Both of these things are testable processes that work, but can not empirically be attributed to a deity; any direct relationship between ritual and deities is, so far, empirically unprovable. Anecdotal evidence is fine on an individual level, I guess, but it isn't proof.

    This pretty much sums up my view of it, yes. It's a philosophical framework more than an actual physical thing.
     
  8. DavidMcCann

    DavidMcCann Well-Known Member

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    And that's an example of what's called Urdummheit: the belief that we are wiser and the ancients were ignorant. Jugian psychology is not science and there is no evidence for the existence of archetypes.

    "Anecdotal evidence" is a put-down phrase used by scientists to deal with evidence they don't like from people they don't accept. To say that experiencing a deity is not empirical evidence is simply to redefine the word empirical. Get a god book on epistemology and consider the Principle of Credulity
     
  9. Podo

    Podo Member

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    The ancients were ignorant, though. Not in a general sense, but as a species we have more knowledge now than we ever have had, by virtue of being around longer. The vikings were more advanced than civilisations that preceded them, as well, and we currently will be surpassed by those that come after. I also never said that archetypes were observable, they're just a modern psychological interpretation of deities and belief.

    Empirical evidence is evidence that can be repeated, observed, and measured. If Zeus appears in your kitchen and makes you a sandwich, you have experienced something that is empirically true to your perceptions. Nobody is arguing that. If you were to then go tell someone that Zeus made you a sandwich, however, that person would rightly need proof before believing you. Empirical proof is distinct from empirical experience. You ("you" being anyone, not specifically you) can experience something very real, but still lack the necessary empirical evidence to prove it to others. The two things are not mutually exclusive.
     
  10. DavidMcCann

    DavidMcCann Well-Known Member

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    And if I told you that my garden is visited by foxes, would you refuse to believe me until I produced evidence? And what evidence? As well as the Principle of Credulity, we have the Principle of Testimony. Putting it crudely, both experiences and reports of them are entitled to the benefit of the doubt. If someone reports an experience, the evidence required is naturally proportionate to the likelihood of the claim and the reputation of the claimant. Unless the claim is improbable on the basis of our knowledge or the circumstances, or the claimant is known to be delusional or dishonest, it's more likely to be true than false.
     
  11. Podo

    Podo Member

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    In the terms of foxes in your garden, it is far more likely true than false, absolutely. But Zeus appearing in your kitchen and making you a sandwich is not equally as probable as foxes running through your garden. I am not saying that it is patently impossible, but it is a huge deal less likely than a sighting of an animal that we as a species know exists in a physical sense. Likewise, many people's encounters with deities are improbable for a variety of reasons, mainly ones that you yourself have listed. That doesn't mean that all experiences are nonsense; quite the opposite, I think that most people do in fact know that if it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it is probably a duck. That doesn't make their experiences provable, though. A thing can be real and unprovable, especially in the context of explaining an experience to others.
     
  12. DavidMcCann

    DavidMcCann Well-Known Member

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    But my point is that not everything needs proof. The atheist brigade will tell you that the onus of proof rests on all positive claims, but if that were so, you'd be left with total skepticism.

    When it comes to religious experiences, the question of consistency applies. If many, many people have experienced Asklepios or Vishnu in a similar way, then their experiences re-inforce each other. But Muhammad's claim to have recieved a divine relelation from the angel Gabriel is up against the fact that no-one else has.
     
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  13. Sha'irullah

    Sha'irullah رسول الآلهة

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    To me they exist as real and tangible beings at times. Maybe I am so sure of this due to previous hallucinogenic trips I have had in the past but they are beings whose nature I cannot be sure of but I am positive they have true potency in our lives and world. At the same time I am confident our lives and existence are meaningless compared to theirs.
     
  14. Podo

    Podo Member

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    That's a very interesting point, and one that I'd not ever thought of before. It definitely goes a ways to explaining my discomfort with monotheism but relative openness to polytheism.

    Out of curiosity, what makes you confident that your experiences were real, as opposed to manifestations of your brain via hallucinogens in your system?
     
  15. Sha'irullah

    Sha'irullah رسول الآلهة

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    What makes you think that the neurological signals in your brain are perceiving the world for what it is? Last I heard we cannot perceive particles on the atomic level with our own eyes and the claims a schizophrenic about his/her perceived reality can be just as credible in world events and correct reasoning as any other mind. Animals do not understand our society yet do they perceive the world wrong?

    The gods are best described as constant and fully rational minds to me. I do not view them as archetypes wholly but they are archetypical minds and real minds nonetheless.
     
  16. Podo

    Podo Member

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    Interesting opinion. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  17. DanishCrow

    DanishCrow Seeking Feeds

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    Many people claim to have been visited by Gabriel, and even Jahve himself. I'm not sure what you're getting at, here.
     
  18. DavidMcCann

    DavidMcCann Well-Known Member

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    So you can produce many people who have had an encounter with Gabriel, asked him whether he really relayed the Quran to Muhammad, and got the answer yes? Where can I read about them?

    I'd have though it was obvious what I was getting at: the difference between unique claims and common experiences. But I'm not sure what this is doing in the Heathenry DIR!
     
  19. DanishCrow

    DanishCrow Seeking Feeds

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    What makes you think you can read about them? A great deal of people claim to have talked to Gabriel. Elijah, John Dee, Anne Compton, Blavatsky etc. etc. Hell, have a guy who IS the archangel Gabriel:

    Your 'consistency' is largely irrelevant, because it matters to the people who believe in it, and if that's not you, then you're not going to see it :)

    It's relevant to heathens, though, because we have an ongoing dispute about if textual and archeological sources should weigh heavier than people who claim to have met the gods and powers, what is called 'unverified personal gnosis' by such skeptics and conservatives.
     
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  20. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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