Pagan Pantheons In Ireland And South America

I cannot see how people can mix an match crossing between different pantheon of gods. Egyptian, Nordic, Greek, Roman, Syrian, Celtic and so on. I think in ancient times when people moved they would map one of the old gods onto to the new where it seemed appropriate and the characteristics seemed right. As each pantheon becomes remoter and its Gods appear to become out of touch a new god appears to bridge the gap and mediate between the old remote gods and humanity. In Ireland as I think in mexico and south america Christianity followed this pattern, (not surprising seeing as how many of the early Christians were Greeks). If you go to the ancient places of worship the holy wells or sacred groves you will see total continuity, in Ireland many of the old goddesses and festivals were mapped directly on to saints and still have their own festivals such as saint Bridget the ancient fire festival of Samhain is 'Halloween' all hallows eve; To my mind the ancient pantheons were constructs of the human imagination as much as anything and their survival (or at least the survival of the core idea) is only possible through change and renewal so I see original Christianity as the natural heir of the old religions (not Presbyterian-ism or Calvinism etc i think these are distortions which deny tradition and thrive on human weakness).
In the 4th and 5th century in Ireland when Christianity is introduced it is written that the druids of the old religion had for some time prophesied its arrival and the transition was bloodless. Which is strange as it was not accompanied by a conquering army. In fact many of the traditional Druidic families are seen to become early Christian saints the best known of whom would be saint Column Cille and saint Bridget (who was named in honour of the goddess).
I often have this conversation with my wife who prefers to consider herself a Celtic pagan, indeed our daughters are named after Celtic gods and goddesses. she rarely listens to me, to me, however the proof for me is seen in some pre 4th century excavations where in the foundations of a fort are found hundreds of sculls, presumably warriors sacrificed by druids whose spirits are bound to guard it. Human sacrifice was an ever present and well documented and ordinary aspect of the old religions, in north america south america, almost everywhere in every tradition.
I believe that it is a huge advance that we have overcome the need for this by the one single demi god sacrifice around which the Christian religion is based. In that sense Christianity ties in the old ideas and marries them to monotheistic and peaceful (Buddhist like) doctrines.
inrecovery1001 inrecovery1001
46-50, M
3 Responses Sep 17, 2012

Personally I mix and match sometimes because I figure they're different names for what probably overlaps in actual deities, seeing as I couldn't tell you which is which I just choose one that fits the situation best or I feel closest to at that given moment. But I'm kind of ridiculously eclectic when it comes to religion, it's just kind of whatever feels like it's right to from any specific religion sort of stance I can't say I would understand truly.

Peaceful....right. So what you are saying is that a religion that follows a god that condones (and orders) genocide against a whole nation of people is peaceful. I just wanted to get that straight before I erupt into snort-laughter.

You will have to explain what you are referring to. To my mind political manipulation of religious leadership does not constitute Gods condoning anything merely tells us what we already know that unscrupulous people are prepared to go to any lengths and don any mask to acquire power.

It's right in the old testament. At the very least the Canaanites were wiped out at 'God's command. Every man, woman, child, baby, and donkey. Not to mention the multitudes of atrocities in 'God's name since his invention. The deaths laid at 'God's feet far outnumbers the deaths laid at the feet of the pagan gods.

This would depend on whether you take the old testament to be the literal word of god. Most serious bible scholars do not. In the 200 year history of God Karen Armstrong suggests that what this reflects is the tribal god phase in the development of monotheistic religion.
Alternitevly others suggest the Canaanites singled out for such severe treatment because 'They were cut off to prevent Israel and the rest of the world from being corrupted (Deut. 20:16-18). When a people starts to burn their children in honor of their gods (Lev. 18:21), practice sodomy, **********, and all sorts of loathsome vice (Lev. 18:23, 24, 20:3), the land itself begins to "vomit" them out as the body heaves under the load of internal poisons (Lev. 18:25, 27-30). Thus, "objection to the fate of these nations ... is really an objection to the highest manifestation of the grace of God." Green likens this action on God's part, not to doing evil that good may come (though that does seem often to be God's methodology: the ends justify the means), but doing good in spite of certain evil consequences, just as a surgeon does not refrain from amputating a gangrenous leg even though in so doing he cannot help cutting off much healthy flesh.'
Personally I go along with the former that the bible (and all the sacred texts) is written by people within a context.

Regardless...what you are saying is at best these people were slaughtered in the name of a god that you describe as 'peaceful'. This is way more people killed in one event than killed by european polytheistic gods in their name. Think about that. And your other option is that god did this to prevent Canaanites form sacrificing their children. This is horrible logic for several reasons. First, there is no proof - other than the bible - that the Canaanites actually engaged in this practice. Second, it seems a bit hypocritical for 'god' to say he is keeping the canaanites form killing the children by killing all the, women, AND *children* included. I tend to see this genocidal god as less of a surgeon and more akin to the gangrenous flesh itself.

I agree with you that this barbarous behaviour in the name of a peaceful god is anomalous to say the least however this is what tribal war gods are for whipping up people to do nasty things.Hopefully we have moved on from this but that still does not stop unscrupulous people invoking god or whatever else to support defend nasty things. Clearly this has nothing to do with God.

...and...similarly...any sacrifice in the name of a god in any of teh polytheistic religions has nothing to do with their gods. Its simply people doing nasty things - as you said. As people still do nasty things to this day - in the name of god - it is therefore not an advance theologically, as you have suggested.

I disagree it appears clear that many polytheistic religons have human sarcrifice as a central part of their ritual whereas what you reference though unacceptable is scribe writing many years the event assigning divine sanction to a genocidal tribal war. Much like if a hutu journalist twenty year from now wrote how god sanctioned the genocide there. Frazers golden bough is a good reference for abundant folklore evidence of human sarcrifice in various cultures religious rituals.

I challenge you to find any reference to human sacrifice as central to religious ritual in ...particularly in Ireland as you have mentioned, but in Europena polytheism in particular. Find somewhere where it indicates positively that they NEEDED to sacrifice a person for the gods. I know they did kill people here and there in this method, but there is no tie to religious need. In fact, in the rare cases it happened, it was generally more akin to capital punishment for a criminal. I am not looking for folklore here, I am looking for hard evidence. If we are taking folklore as evidence, there is old folklore (roman times) that tells of Catholics eating babies during communion.

You reply is astonishing to me as you are obviously aware of the incontestable evidence of human sacrifice throughout pre Colombian america. Similar rituals t are documented in numerous sources throughout north america Mayan Aztec and in Europe often in connection with harvest.
These practices still go on in west Africa and in living memory in Indonesia however if we restrict the discussion to Europe - the Merhelava ridge excavation has thrown up some of the earliest evidence. There are numerous Roman and indigenous sources for the wicker man sacrifice in Britain. Similarly the notorious Norse Blood eagle sacrifice is referenced in numerous Norse annals and sagas; I refer you again to Frazer Golden bough which is useful and differentiates between folklore as a source and obvious propaganda.
In any case I am not particularly interested in demonstrating something which is quite well established and which anybody with an open mind who is interested can find out for them selves.
Nobody can deny that seriously misguided people have shed blood in Gods name from a Christian point of view it is equally obvious that the authority they claim is spurious.
You obviously have you own point of view.

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Good observation. Mix and match makes no sense to me either.