Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Morality of Gods

One of the things I love about the blogging cabal is the cycle of themes. Very often, I'm thinking on a topic just to have someone post on that topic. Kenaz, did that here regarding the morality of the Gods. He made the point that the rules placed on followers are not always followed by the Gods themselves by saying of the many he knows that worship Zeus none of them are serial rapists.

At this point you know I'm about to get into all sorts of trouble don't you?

I am not an expert on Greek mythology but I don't recall the followers of Zeus having any particular edicts upon their behavior. Is there a Zeusian 8 decrees somewhere that says thou shall not rape? Maybe but I've never seen it. The modern followers of Zeus don't rape because we as humans have decided that such behavior is contemptible.  That has nothing to do with Zeus or Yahweh. The latter didn't decide we shouldn't sell our disobedient daughters into slavery (to be raped?). We did.

A friend has serious issues with male deity. I recently suggested reevaluating the old stories by substituting the word seduction instead of rape and seeing if there are other things in the story that support either word. There is no reason to believe that myths that are thousands of years old use words with the same meanings much less connotations than ours. Do I really need to reiterate here that I am not an expert at Greek myths? I have no idea what she'd find if she did as suggested.

However, I do know Pan reasonably well. When he landed on me he tried to incite me to begin orgies. This fellow isn't called Scary Harry without cause either. I can readily see him taking what he wants and what he wants is to put his...well, you know.

So what are we to do? Are we to recast Pan into a kind romantic nature spirit as our recent ancestors did? You can if you want but I assure you that Pan has as much romance in him as a monster truck rally.

Gods, at least the eminent variety, are full of good and bad and there is no part of me that is not of the gods. I am full of good and bad impulses. Can I say the idea of throwing and orgy had no prurient appeal? No. Can I say that as a male I haven't had the urge to take what I want? No. I can say I haven't acted on those things but the gods teach me that I can not deny they exist within or at least did at one time. Is there a woman that can not find the urge to throw Eris's apple into a party to which she wasn't invited somewhere in her past?

So what do we do? We maintain our sovereignty. I can commune with Pan and not rape. I can party with Eris and shake up the world's perceptions without doing pernicious harm. I can maintain my sense of who I am and let the Gods play whatever games they want to play among themselves or use someone else as their horse.

The gods often do not have what I perceive to be my best interest in mind. The inverse is likely true. And if you look to your lives and see the things you do and that your friends do that impact you, you will realize that despite what we want to believe, we rarely have each other's best interest in mind either. As above, so below.

The myths are not meant as examples of perfect behavior to be emulated but are an external reminder to look within at some of the dark places and deal with them before temptation arises. They are warnings to pagan and magician alike as to what to expect when dealing with a particular deity. The wise maintain their sovereignty and horses forfeit the sovereignty they never knew.

1 comment:

Gordon said...

I really like the idea of maintaining sovereignty.

How could we possibly think a non-human, multi-dimensional being of indeterminate yet extreme age would have behavioural guidelines that even remotely resemble our own?

I dive with sharks as often as I can. Sharks have no morality. They have a lot to teach me but morality isn't one of those things. They're just being sharks.

If I maintain my (and their) sovereignty and keep my eyes open then maybe I get to do business with them.

(So glad I got to work a shark metaphor into this comment. It really brightens my day.)