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Paladin
27 Feb 2012, 06:09
Hey Gals/Guys,

Firstly, I mean no offense here and I am an agnostic/sorta. Do you think, coming from a Christian worldview, that one could consider some "gods" as Nature Spirits and thus compatible? That having been asked, take notice that some gods have very human traits and stories to boot. Doing petty things, cheating on their goddess wives and having demi-god children, etc...
But, there are gods w/o these scandalous qualities that seem to be more ancient and mystical, almost like they are spirits. And what are the gods anyway? It varies doesn't it, from person to person; archetypes, actual beings, energies, etc...
An example of these more mystical gods/spirits would be Cernnunos. Ever heard a human-like story about him? I could be wrong and if I am, I'll eat that, humbly. Especially the original god and goddess, they have general identities. They are not murdering, impulsive children. And I am not saying all the gods are. Athena is not petty. She is very noble.
But all in all, they seem to be obnoxious and not worthy of worship. Again, not every single one.

So, whaddya say. Christian with a spirit animal or not? lol

Jembru
27 Feb 2012, 09:53
I'm not really qualified to answer, having too little knowledge of Christianity (I live in an area where practicing Christians aren't very common and those there are, tend to be more 'habitual', and usually elderly who either remember a more religious time, or have a lot of sins to make up for and time is ticking! I was never exposed to Bible Studies or anything in School either. So take my replies with a pinch of salt. However, it does seem that some pre-Christian deities were appropriated as saints. I'm thinking of the widely venerated Goddess, Brigid/Brigit and her transition into St. Brigid of Ireland. There are others of course, this one just has personal interest to me.

However, if you want to take Christianity literally, then I guess you'd have to believe all the saints were real people, and just making up saints to suit you, would probably be frowned upon by many Christian types. I just thought I'd throw this out there as a 'well it's certainly been done before', kinda thing. Hopefully more experienced folk will offer more clarity on the subject.

Dez
27 Feb 2012, 10:09
You are going to get a lot of different answers, since the idea of mixing Christianity and Paganism is a rather hotly debated topic in most circles.

Personally, though, I think that you will be happiest if you dig in and start really hitting the books. Read about how folk traditions became Christianized (practices like "charming the plow" might be a good start). Also, like Jembru suggested, traditions that mixed both, meshing other gods into concepts of the saints.

Something you might want to consider, too, is that many of the less "civilized" gods do not take kindly to being minimized, and often have very strong feelings about Christianity...while mixing might seem like a good idea from your perspective, they might not take so kindly to it.

thalassa
27 Feb 2012, 20:53
I don't really consider the Christian god to be any better personality-wise than your average pagan deity...and quite often, I find the depictions of him by certain Christian sects to be quite worse. I find that mthology, including the Bible, is man's story's about god...not god's story about god. The insight in those stories, IMO, is a reflection of our nature, and not necessarily the nature of deities (although, I believe that the gods are as human as we are divine--including the god of Abraham). Without the scandalous qualities, IMO, there certainly isn't much to relate to (which is often my problem with the Christian deity anyhow).

Louisvillian
14 Jun 2012, 10:45
More to the point, there is a precedent of mixing Christianity with animism, some shamanistic practices, and even more formal Hermetic mysticism. The former two fall under Folk Christianity; the Christian religion as practised by the people far from the hierarchical auspices of the centralised Church or government. Even after the Council of Trent, the Reformation, and the Counter-Reformation, some strong threads of Folk Christianity endured in many parts of Europe, large parts of it becoming national or cultural customs. Anywhere Christianity peacefully blended with folklore, fairy tales, popular legend, and folk magic, you had Folk Christianity.
Christian mysticism, on the other hand, took a much more formal approach, becoming one of the roots of Ceremonial Magic. Rather than the confluence of Christianity and folklore, it was the confluence of Christianity and Greek mystery traditions, particularly Hermeticism. But it nonetheless blended Christianity with somewhat animistic beliefs in many spirits and semi-divine entities.

It should be noted that the contemporary pagan and polytheistic revival movements, as well as the New Age movement and the occult revival, mostly developed out of these two threads of mystic and folk magic thought meeting in the late 19th century. And partly due to a burgeoning popular and academic interest in folklore, archaeology, anthropology, and the antiquities in the same time period.

Anymoo. My point is: yeah, there's some precedent of Christianity mixing with some pagan and animistic and shamanistic practices and thought. If you think that's what'll work for you, go for it. It's worked before. And even if it hadn't, who's to say it won't for you?

Celtic Tiger
15 Jun 2012, 05:42
Hey Gals/Guys,

Firstly, I mean no offense here and I am an agnostic/sorta. Do you think, coming from a Christian worldview, that one could consider some "gods" as Nature Spirits and thus compatible? That having been asked, take notice that some gods have very human traits and stories to boot. Doing petty things, cheating on their goddess wives and having demi-god children, etc...
But, there are gods w/o these scandalous qualities that seem to be more ancient and mystical, almost like they are spirits. And what are the gods anyway? It varies doesn't it, from person to person; archetypes, actual beings, energies, etc...
An example of these more mystical gods/spirits would be Cernnunos. Ever heard a human-like story about him? I could be wrong and if I am, I'll eat that, humbly. Especially the original god and goddess, they have general identities. They are not murdering, impulsive children. And I am not saying all the gods are. Athena is not petty. She is very noble.
But all in all, they seem to be obnoxious and not worthy of worship. Again, not every single one.

So, whaddya say. Christian with a spirit animal or not? lol
Coming from a Christian background and still retaining some Christian beliefs, I would say it really depends on how you view the Christian God. If you view Him as the same god as described in the OT, then you have a very petty, spiteful, and vengeful god. The god of the OT is the god who's statutes include 'you shall not suffer a witch to live' (Exodus 22:18), with some translations saying 'sorcerer.' This god is not one that I would seek to mix with nature spirits or with non Judeo-Christian concepts, as he's kind of a 'me and me alone or not at all' kind of god.

If you view the NT god as a different god from the one described in the OT, which essentially means that Jesus was leading people towards a different divinity (which I have come to believe), then it is more plausible in my opinion. To a certain extent, however, you also would have to divorce the Gospels from the rest of the NT, particularly anything by Paul and the book of Revelation. Paul's version of God is one who sent a one time invitation to all mankind for all time and which must be accepted in order to avoid not just the barring of entry into Heaven, but also to avoid being cast into Hell.

Paul's writings are the primary underpinnings for Calvinism, which espouses predestination of the elect; in other words, those who are saved were chosen before the foundation of the earth was laid and all others will be cast aside. While all Protestant and Evangelical Christianity does not espouse this, I've read Paul's letters extensively and repeatedly, and that theme is definitely present in them.

The other issue is the concept of substitutionary atonement, which underpins that 'invitation' that I mentioned above. By this doctrine, all humankind was damned and the blood of Christ was poured as a substitutionary offering to impute Christ's righteousness to those who accepted him. This is tied up in the doctrine of utter depravity that is also found in Paul's writings, and is linked to the doctrine of original sin. Utter depravity means that the entire human race is not only fallen, but inherently sinful. This is inconsistent with Celtic spirituality, and indeed, was not universally accepted in Christianity until Augustine of Hippo introduced the doctrine of original sin and Pelagius, who denied that doctrine, and was very popular, was branded a heretic by the Council of Carthage in the fourth century. Pelagius believed that man could do good work apart from divine grace and that mankind is inherently good.

As for a Christian with a spirit animal? Fine by me. Some Catholics might be very accepting of it, believe it or not. Evangelicals not so much.

At this point, I'd say that you are searching out your own path and that you need worry less about whether or not others are approving of it than whether or not it is where you feel yourself led. I've been in a lengthy process of evaluating my Catholic and Christian beliefs and over roughly a fifteen year period, I have reevaluated and formulated my own beliefs on different elements of the faith. It is only within the past year that I finally have gotten to a point where the differential between my own beliefs and the teachings of the church are far enough apart for me to no longer identify with the Catholic church. The hypocrisy of clergy, both Catholic and non, along with the ongoing abuse scandals pretty much pushed me away from caring about their approval.

I suspect that whatever path you choose or beliefs you take up, you will find approval and/or acceptance here and amongst those who identify themselves as pagan or wiccan.

Ophidia
15 Jun 2012, 09:02
Honestly, I'd be careful about trying to contact various land spirits if you're in an area where the Christians, Catholics, etc. were known to cut down groves, dig up wells & springs, that kind of thing.

I know if I was a land-wight or elemental, and some group came along & cut down my sacred grove, my home, to build a cathedral there, I'd be kind of pissed. It's like the local Dept. of Transportation deciding that your house is point B on the highway they want to build between points A & C without giving you notice or getting permission or even trying to relocate you.

Celtic Tiger
15 Jun 2012, 09:12
Honestly, I'd be careful about trying to contact various land spirits if you're in an area where the Christians, Catholics, etc. were known to cut down groves, dig up wells & springs, that kind of thing.
Or nowadays, greedy corporate developers.

B. de Corbin
15 Jun 2012, 10:27
C. S. Lewis didn't have a heck of a lot of problem mixing over-the-top Christianity with good old time Pagan fun.

Dez
15 Jun 2012, 23:08
Coming from a Christian background and still retaining some Christian beliefs, I would say it really depends on how you view the Christian God. If you view Him as the same god as described in the OT, then you have a very petty, spiteful, and vengeful god. The god of the OT is the god who's statutes include 'you shall not suffer a witch to live' (Exodus 22:18), with some translations saying 'sorcerer.' This god is not one that I would seek to mix with nature spirits or with non Judeo-Christian concepts, as he's kind of a 'me and me alone or not at all' kind of god.



Two cents on the witch thing: there's some rather interesting evidence out there that suggests that particular wording was one of those points where the translators of the King James Bible "fudged" a bit to please their king(another example would be naming one of the apostles James, rather then Joshua). Imperfect source...too tired to do a massive hunt right now, so my apologies. http://voices.yahoo.com/mistranslated-bible-quotes-thou-shalt-not-suffer-a-9165647.html?cat=37

Celtic Tiger
16 Jun 2012, 05:10
Two cents on the witch thing: there's some rather interesting evidence out there that suggests that particular wording was one of those points where the translators of the King James Bible "fudged" a bit to please their king
To know if it was the KJV scholars that are responsible for certain, you'd also have to know what was used in previous translations into English (the KJV was not the first) and what the word is in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The KJV relied to some extent on previous scholarly works, as there was even less source material available then than there is now, and there isn't complete manuscript evidence for the entire Bible now. Also, prior to any English translation, various councils had already picked and chosen what books to include and what books not to include in the Christian Biblical cannon, and such culling had been done by the Jewish religious authorities prior to the establishment of the NT.

Now, one thing that I have heard is that the word translated as 'witch' or 'sorcerer' can also be translated as 'poisoner.' I wish that I could give you a source on that, but it was something that was related to me in a conversation twenty years ago and the source was not discussed.


(another example would be naming one of the apostles James, rather then Joshua). Imperfect source...too tired to do a massive hunt right now, so my apologies. http://voices.yahoo.com/mistranslated-bible-quotes-thou-shalt-not-suffer-a-9165647.html?cat=37
While I'm not inclined towards that, given that Joshua was a very common name (Barabbas, the guy freed in lieu of Christ, was also named 'Jesus,' i.e. Joshua), I would certainly not dismiss it. I will have to look at my Greek NT on that Jesus and James.

As an aside, the KJV is, outside of a small group who insist upon its exclusive use (Called KJV Only), no longer considered by Christians to be a reliable translation. Manuscript evidence that was unavailable at the time was, by virtue of necessity, not translated directly. The work relied, at least in part, on the work of Desiderius Erasmus. Modern translations have benefited from a much higher level of scholarship and the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.

Dez
18 Jun 2012, 23:09
That was exactly what I was referring to, Celtic Tiger, thank you. And yes, while I can read basic biblical Hebrew( and was too tired to go into the sort of detailed comparison mentioned), I was raised in a tradition that still uses the KJV. Many American denominations still treat it very literally.

Celtic Tiger
19 Jun 2012, 04:23
That was exactly what I was referring to, Celtic Tiger, thank you. And yes, while I can read basic biblical Hebrew( and was too tired to go into the sort of detailed comparison mentioned),
Wow! I used to be able to read a little, but you're way ahead of me.


I was raised in a tradition that still uses the KJV. Many American denominations still treat it very literally.
Yes, that is one of the fairly common issues that I see in some Protestant and pretty much all Evangelical denominations.

Dez
19 Jun 2012, 07:16
Heh... You're too kind. I was lucky enough to study it under the man who handled ancient Hebrew and Greek for my former faith, as well as taking it in college for a bit. Very rusty, now. Helps a LOT with the bible, though.

Celtic Tiger
19 Jun 2012, 07:29
I'd mentioned this in my previous post:

"Now, one thing that I have heard is that the word translated as 'witch' or 'sorcerer' can also be translated as 'poisoner.' I wish that I could give you a source on that, but it was something that was related to me in a conversation twenty years ago and the source was not discussed."

Have you ever heard that? Or anything to that effect? And if so, do you know the source?

Ophidia
19 Jun 2012, 08:02
I'd mentioned this in my previous post:

"Now, one thing that I have heard is that the word translated as 'witch' or 'sorcerer' can also be translated as 'poisoner.' I wish that I could give you a source on that, but it was something that was related to me in a conversation twenty years ago and the source was not discussed."

Have you ever heard that? Or anything to that effect? And if so, do you know the source?

The way I heard it, it was specifically a 'poisoner of wells', not just your random, everyday poisoner.

Here's a couple of pretty decent breakdowns of the Hebrew variation on Exodus 22:18, and none of the translations seem to indicate poisoning of any sort was going on:

Multilingual Scripture text (http://scripturetext.com/exodus/22-18.htm)

Suffer a Witch article (http://www.herodotus.com/suffera.htm)

Celtic Tiger
19 Jun 2012, 08:58
The way I heard it, it was specifically a 'poisoner of wells', not just your random, everyday poisoner.

Here's a couple of pretty decent breakdowns of the Hebrew variation on Exodus 22:18, and none of the translations seem to indicate poisoning of any sort was going on:

Multilingual Scripture text (http://scripturetext.com/exodus/22-18.htm)

Suffer a Witch article (http://www.herodotus.com/suffera.htm)

So in other words, the prohibition of 'shalt not suffer a witch to live' is related to the behavior of the practitioner and not to the general being a practitioner.

Another observation is that many of the prohibitions and exclusions found in the Bible make a greater degree of sense within the culture that they were addressed to. The problem as I see it is the effort to force modern society to conform to the societal norms of either an ancient nomadic people or to an ancient sect of followers of an offshoot of Judaism in a long dead empire.

Thank you for the links! They are appreciated.

Ophidia
19 Jun 2012, 19:04
So in other words, the prohibition of 'shalt not suffer a witch to live' is related to the behavior of the practitioner and not to the general being a practitioner.

It's kind of a 'yes and no'. Ancient shamans, medicine men/women, oracles, priests & priestesses, etc. didn't just have day jobs where they came to work, did some magic for 8 hours & went home to be nice, normal, everyday people. If they performed spiritual duties, they were seen as people conversant with the spirit world. You can't do spellwork unless you are a spellcaster. They were on call all the time. How do you separate the practice from the practitioner? There are still countries that kill people for witchcraft - usually without a trial, a stiff warning or penalizing them with legal fees.


Another observation is that many of the prohibitions and exclusions found in the Bible make a greater degree of sense within the culture that they were addressed to. The problem as I see it is the effort to force modern society to conform to the societal norms of either an ancient nomadic people or to an ancient sect of followers of an offshoot of Judaism in a long dead empire.

Joseph Campbell addresses that very problem in his Mythos lectures :)


Thank you for the links! They are appreciated.

Anytime!

Maythe
09 Jul 2012, 22:46
I think there's also sometimes a problem of applying our modern understanding of a word backwards. So what we call a Witch isn't necessarily what they mean by Witch. Modern use of the word often includes people doing herbalism, shamanic style work, folk magic or ceremonial magic but it pretty much meant 'worker of malevolent magic'. The malevolence is central to the definition of the word as it was used. Of course anyone known to use any sort of magic might be suspected of using it for malevolent ends, but it wasn't the magic that made the witch it was the malevolence.

Spiritwalker68
08 Oct 2012, 13:52
I am late to the party, I see...

As a Shamanic practioner AND an animist, I can tell you that your Spirit animal doesn't care if you're a Christian or not.

Just my 2 cents.

Celtic Tiger
09 Oct 2012, 06:08
I am late to the party, I see...

As a Shamanic practioner AND an animist, I can tell you that your Spirit animal doesn't care if you're a Christian or not.

Just my 2 cents.
Only Christians seem to care if you're Christian or not. And even that is not universal by any means.