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Thread: The Gods don't care about us individually?

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    Copper Member Thorbjorn's Avatar
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    The Gods don't care about us individually?

    Do you agree with this statement I found at another site?

    For the most part, and this is something a lot of newcomers have a great deal of trouble with, the gods don't care about us as individuals. Their concern is for greater things and the clan/tribe as a whole. Many newcomers retain the idea of a "personal relationship" with the Aesir and Vanir that is simply not part of Heathen theology. For the "personal touch," we turn to our ancestors, who have a vested interest in our well-being, or the local wights who we share our homes and land with.

    I'm not so sure I agree with this. There are many a writer who is not a new Heathen who feels a personal relationship with their fulltrui or fulltrua. Heathenism is a worldview and way of living as well as a "religion": maintaining frith with one's community and "tribe", connection to the ancestors and wights. But I think if I were to follow a path without a relationship with any deities, I might just as well be a polydeist. I could still in that case maintain the Heathen worldview.

    What do you think?
    śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ


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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: The Gods don't care about us individually?

    I think that from a historical perspective, in most ancient culcultures, for all but the priesthood, this is a fairly accurate perception.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
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    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

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  3. #3
    Live and learn anunitu's Avatar
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    Re: The Gods don't care about us individually?

    I do remember as a kid when my mother was taking us to the SDA church there was a large belief of a "Personal Jesus",and later when I mentioned this to someone from another religious christian denomination they seemed a bit shocked at the notion of God being personal with each person.
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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: The Gods don't care about us individually?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorbjorn View Post
    Do you agree wth this statement I found at another site?

    For the most part, and this is something a lot of newcomers have a great deal of trouble with, the gods don't care about us as individuals. Their concern is for greater things and the clan/tribe as a whole. Many newcomers retain the idea of a "personal relationship" with the Aesir and Vanir that is simply not part of Heathen theology. For the "personal touch," we turn to our ancestors, who have a vested interest in our well-being, or the local wights who we share our homes and land with.

    I'm not so sure I agree with this. There are many a writer who is not a new Heathen who feels a personal relationship with their fulltrui or fulltrua. Heathenism is a worldview and way of living as well as a "religion": maintaining frith with one's community and "tribe", connection to the ancestors and wights. But I think if I were to follow a path without a relationship with any deities, I might just as well be a polydeist. I could still in that case maintain the Heathen worldview.

    What do you think?
    Historically speaking, this seems to be the most likely scenario in terms of our ancestors' relationships with the Northern gods. If it wasn't then the sagas wouldn't tell us of heros favoured by the gods.

    In the context of modern Heathenry (and paganism in general)... I agree to a point. I actually don't believe that every single pagan has a close personal relationship with their deity. I think most pagans have a relationship with the Divine Answering Machine, which is not to say they aren't interacting with their deity... just that they are interacting with the automated corner of the deity's awareness which requires little personal attention.

    Maintaining a close personal relationship with a deity is difficult and takes a lot of work on our part. Generally it involves you having a job to do which serves them in some way... I don't think most deities develop a vested interest in individuals without there being something in it for them.

    Having said that, there are some deities who are more personal than others. Some deities will personally greet their new devotees, some wont. Some pop in and out at a whim. Some collect hardcore devotees that they throw a bone to regularly enough to maintain that intense energy link. Some let their Divine Answering Machine do all the work.

  5. #5
    Copper Member Thorbjorn's Avatar
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    Re: The Gods don't care about us individually?

    I think you're all spot on, as I think about it. As usual, Rae'ya makes really good points. I've been doing some reading since my post and I do find that historically it seems the "common people" didn't have a personal relationship with the gods. It seemed to apply to Greek and Roman as well as Germanic. I wonder if it is indeed a modern idea to have a personal god/dess. It might be influence from Christianity. Even in Hinduism the idea of a personal god is post-Vedic. Vedic Hinduism was largely sacrificial and the province of priests.
    śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ


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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: The Gods don't care about us individually?

    Near as I can tell the idea of a personal one on one relationship with any divine figure pretty much arose out of Christianity, especially the reformation periods. Prior to that most still had to go to a priest and have them read the word of God to them and convey what God was trying to say. In that capacity not really different than the earlier temple structure's where the High Priest / Priestess told you what the gods / goddesses wanted, needed or required of you. Occasionally using the oracle as a special link between the god / goddess and the person asking for guidance. Yet the oracle many times connected to both a specific divinity and a sacred place for that divinity, the Delphi Oracle being the first one to spring to my mind though the Sibyls are also pretty well known.

    Yet after the reformation periods it became pushed that anyone could speak to God personally and have a relationship with him. That influence carrying into modern Pagansim and Heathenism to a large degree. Though to be truthful I always hear it more in paganism as a cover term and Paganism as a religious practice than in heathenism or the practices that fall under that category of belief systems.

    I especially do not think that even those who were chosen or claimed by a divine presence have as close of a relationship with the divine as many claim they have. The modern sense seems to be more of a big brother / sister or that of a child and parent type relationship though i've seen quite a few that seem to be siblings in how they view the relationship between them and their divine figure. Which to me in many ways is more about transferring responsibility and culpability upon the divinity in the relationship than assuming it on their own. If something goes wrong then it was the divine's fought not theirs.
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    Copper Member Thorbjorn's Avatar
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    Re: The Gods don't care about us individually?

    Quote Originally Posted by monsno_leedra View Post
    Near as I can tell the idea of a personal one on one relationship with any divine figure pretty much arose out of Christianity, especially the reformation periods. Prior to that most still had to go to a priest and have them read the word of God to them and convey what God was trying to say. In that capacity not really different than the earlier temple structure's where the High Priest / Priestess told you what the gods / goddesses wanted, needed or required of you. Occasionally using the oracle as a special link between the god / goddess and the person asking for guidance. Yet the oracle many times connected to both a specific divinity and a sacred place for that divinity, the Delphi Oracle being the first one to spring to my mind though the Sibyls are also pretty well known.
    In reviewing the history that I know, that's just what I'm seeing. People prayed to their ancestors, and maybe only occasionally prayed to the gods. When people say the gods don't care, I don't think it's a matter of them walking away or looking down their noses at us. I believe, though, if one calls on the gods, they'd respond. They don't micromanage or wait for something to do for us or hover over us. I go back to the examples of Hinduism, which I practiced, in that you have to almost scream at the gods to get their attention. That's why Ganesha is invoked first - he is the deity closest to this world. He is an intermediary between us and the other gods... so the mythology goes.

    Yet after the reformation periods it became pushed that anyone could speak to God personally and have a relationship with him. That influence carrying into modern Pagansim and Heathenism to a large degree. Though to be truthful I always hear it more in paganism as a cover term and Paganism as a religious practice than in heathenism or the practices that fall under that category of belief systems.
    I don't think we really see how much Christianity has influenced our views of the past. Martin Luther said that everyone is his own priest; Walt Whitman picked that up also. So, I guess that's why it's prevalent in modern Paganism and Heathenry.

    I especially do not think that even those who were chosen or claimed by a divine presence have as close of a relationship with the divine as many claim they have. The modern sense seems to be more of a big brother / sister or that of a child and parent type relationship though i've seen quite a few that seem to be siblings in how they view the relationship between them and their divine figure.
    I'm coming to realize and learn that, while it's a nice thought to be chosen by a deity, it smacks of Special Snowflake Syndrome. I think I've been drawn to Thórr, for example. because I went looking for him, and I think he responded. We've got certain characteristics in common. Does he check in on me every morning and tuck me in at night? Of course not.

    Which to me in many ways is more about transferring responsibility and culpability upon the divinity in the relationship than assuming it on their own. If something goes wrong then it was the divine's fought not theirs.
    That's something I don't like and never bought, even when I was Christian... blame God or the gods for everything.
    śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ


  8. #8
    Sr. Member Maythe's Avatar
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    Re: The Gods don't care about us individually?

    At the moment I feel massively unqualified to speak to the wider historical and theological questions so I'll just add in a comment about my own experience. I do feel occasional contact (though it's me that does the reaching out I think), presence and *once or twice* communication of a sort but I don't think I'm picked out, or special. I suspect those heroes of old and priests (real priests I mean, whose being is devoted to the god or goddess in question) have a closer relationship, which given the sacrifice it usually entails... I think I'll stay over here being not god-touched thanks very much. To be totally UPG-ey here for a moment I think gods do have personalities and that, naturally, effects this. For example I think Thor is fundamentally a lot more friendly to humans than some, and also a big part of his role seems to be looking out for us, and so he feel a bit closer and more reachable than, say Odin. I suspect he's more likely to notice if one of us reaches out to him. OTOH the buddy-Jesus thing is quite appealing on a fundamental level - to have a deity on your side is pretty much 'Ding! I win!' and so how much am I being influenced by that desire to feel something in response? Dunno.

    *shrug* this is all a bit woo, and right now I'm in a distinctly fuzzy headspace so I don't know if I'm making sense.
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  9. #9
    Copper Member Thorbjorn's Avatar
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    Re: The Gods don't care about us individually?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maythe View Post
    For example I think Thor is fundamentally a lot more friendly to humans than some, and also a big part of his role seems to be looking out for us, and so he feel a bit closer and more reachable than, say Odin. I suspect he's more likely to notice if one of us reaches out to him.
    I think it's that right there. I think it depends on the deity. For example, I'm not a homemaker nor have ever given birth (I should hope not), so I don't think Frigga would take much notice in me. I've never really called on her, except in general prayers. I've been more conscious of the house wight, and making offerings as far as home stuff.
    śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ


  10. #10
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    Re: The Gods don't care about us individually?

    It takes two to tango! If you're not interested in a God, they're not going to be interested in you. I'm no expert in Heathenry, but doesn't a lot of Icelandic literature show people with a strong commitment to a God?

    In other paganisms, personal commitment is common. Hindus have a personal God, a family God, and a village God (not necessarily different). Ancient Babylonians and Egyptians were similar. But I agree that local and ancestral spirits play a big role. After all, if you're a farmer (as more than 95% of people were in the past), keeping in with land wights or nymphs was vital.

    As for temples and priests, they were never essential. Every householder was his own priest. In some parts of the world priests and temples have never existed.

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