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A PumkinHead in the White House

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Breakfast Will Be Served In Fifteen Minutes...

Building a Circle of Trust

But What Will People Think?

By Their Furniture, Ye Shall Know Them

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Cleaning Out The Junk Drawer

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Community Thoughts on Tempest Smith

Compelling without the Yelling

Confessions of a News Junkie

The Consistancy of Change...


Coping with Grief

Cramming It Down Our Throats...

Damned if you do and Damned if you don't

Declaring Your Personal Independence Day

Did Your World Change Too?

Dreaming in The Dark...

There is No Zuul

There's a Rabbit In The Moon...

Excavating the Dinosaur Altar

Fair Use, Copyright and the Pagan Net

Feeding Our Young

The First Day

Gather 'Round The Fire

Getting Back To Nature

Getting Back To Normal

Getting Rid of What Bugs You

Gifts That Keep On Giving...

The Giving Circle

Gods In A China Shop...

Good And Evil: In The Shadow Of Littleton And The Garden Of The Gods.

Good Will Toward Men

The Great Hamster Myth

Happy Beltaine!

Happy Brigid's Day Everyone!

The Heart of A Mechanic

Helping Hands

Helping Our Own

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Home is Where the Spirit Is

Homosexuality and Public Policy

The Household of Priests and Priestesses

If The Hissy Fits

In A Mirror Darkly...

In Your Dreams

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It Is Your Destiny

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January Arrives Wearing A White Coat

Judging Amy -- Wren's Thoughts

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Knot Charming

Learning How To Fly

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The Media Story Is Often Not The True One

Mercury Has Left the Building

Minding Your News P's and Q's

Mixed Blessings

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Gods In A China Shop...

Author: Wren
Posted: August 31st. 2003
Times Viewed: 10,706

Gods In A China Shop...

"The minds of the everlasting gods are not changed suddenly." *

I hope that the angels are enjoying their vacations. I guess even celestial messengers need an eon or two off once in a while. After all, they had a pretty hefty caseload of things that needed some specialized attention back there about four thousand years ago. There were city walls to topple, towns to incinerate, asses to hassle -- and at least one uppity wife to turn into a dinner condiment -- not to mention those hundred fourscore and five thousand snoozing Assyrians who apparently were just begging for a good old-fashioned angelic smiting.

Not that it was all fire and brimstone for the home team, mind you. Angels were called upon to interpret a few visions for Daniel, rescue an apostle from a shipwreck (not to mention bust him out of the slammer) and to also keep any shepherds who watched their flocks by night up on the current good news situation. I heard somewhere that they even taught an ox and a few lambs how to keep good time to a pa rum pum pum pum beat. Well hey... they are angels and that means that they are busy, busy, busy! Or at least, they used to be.

Angels aren't making those big headlines anymore. Sure, once in a while someone may remark that "an angel was surely watching over me" as he or she describes a particularly narrow escape. But we never see any eyewitness accounts on the evening news, now do we? Did they go publicity-shy all of a sudden or what? How come we don't hear this on CNN?

Reporter: "So you actually saw this angel step out in front of the speeding truck?"

Eyewitness: "Oh, yes! I was on my home from work. It was really quite incredible. He must have been twelve feet tall... wings about thirty feet across... and then he just stuck out his foot (He was wearing very nice sandals, by the way) and bang.... just like that... the truck stopped... right as it was about to take out that Honda. A real modest type, too. Didn't even wait for the police to arrive. Just poofed on outta here in a flash of light. It was pretty cool."

Reporter: "And so, yet another incident of angelic intersection intervention tops our local news coverage tonight. Next up: The Bethlehem Animal Quartet is back in the recording studio and we'll go behind the stalls for an exclusive interview with the band. Now back to our studio in Atlanta..."

Please don't send me letters. I am not dissing angels of any kind, shape, creed or form. All I'm saying is that they don't seem to have a lot to do right now or we'd be hearing about it like we did in the old days. So either the angels are all on vacation or maybe there is a legal gag order in effect. I'd even consider the theory that they were resting up in preparation for that apocalypse thing except that this news blackout seems to cut across all cultural lines. Soooo.... where'd everybody go?

Gods walking among men is nothing new. Gods walking about as men and women -- if the old stories are true or are based upon some kernel of truth -- used to be a pretty commonplace occurrence as well. Certainly the Greek Gods were well reported in myth and legend to personally take an active part in the course of human events. In Homer's Iliad and Odyssey:

"Gods and men are interdependent. This view is confirmed by the way Homer paints the gods when they are left to themselves. For in their Olympian abodes (as in 1.571ff.) they pale into a desultory immortality. The Olympian scenes are the only ones in which anything frivolous takes place. It is from the human action that the gods draw their life-blood. By being so frequently associated with specific heroes, they themselves become human and even end up resembling their heroes. Apollo shares in the generous versatility of Hector, while Athene is associated with the prepossessing stateliness of Achilles and Diomedes. Such relations are no matter of course. What connects these pairs is actual contact, accessibility, recognition, and closeness. These immortals are more at home on earth than in heaven. Although they are far from being omniscient or omnipotent, they make up for any such deficiencies through their intense presence at crucial moments..."

To be dramatically effective, a god must appear suddenly, as if from nowhere - often taking the shape of a friend or relative but always somehow recognizable. The anthromorphic appearance is tinged with personal appeal. We have a mysterious familiar image. The imponderable element in life's incidents thus finds a persuasive way of manifesting itself." **

The physical manifestation of a god in the form of a human being, animal or as an avatar is called a theophany.

One of the most eloquent and beautifully rendered accounts of a theophanic event is depicted in The Bhagavad Gita. The hero is Arjuna. The God incarnate is Vishnu. The scene is a battlefield whereupon Arjuna reluctantly must fight against -- and perhaps to kill -- some of his friends and the members of his own family. Vishnu, appearing as the charioteer Krishna, counsels the troubled Arjuna and then reveals His true nature and form in Chapter 11:

{Arjuna said:} O Lord, if You think it is possible for me to see this, then O Lord of the yogis, show me Your imperishable Self. (11.04)

The Supreme Lord said: O Arjuna, behold My hundreds and thousands of multifarious divine forms of different colors and shapes. (11.05)

See the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the Ashvins, and the Maruts. Behold, O Arjuna, many wonders never seen before. (11.06)

O Arjuna, now behold the entire creation; animate, inanimate, and whatever else you like to see; all at one place in My body. (11.07)

But, you are not able to see Me with your physical eye; therefore, I give you the divine eye to see My majestic power and glory. (11.08)

There are many tales and sagas that describe the earthly wanderings of the Norse Gods of Asgard. Odin, in particular, is often depicted as a mysterious gray-cloaked man whom travelers may encounter while on their journeys:

"It is very important to understand that the Gods are real and living beings. They are not mere personifications of natural forces, nor are they Jungian archetypes that dwell only in our minds--although Jung's work may be helpful in understanding their nature as living beings. Those divinities who we call "Gods" (i.e., the Aesir and Vanir) are also "personal deities" who take an active interest in the affairs of mankind, and seek relationships with their followers. This is important to remember when we perform ceremonies or pray to the Gods. They aren't magical symbols to be manipulated, nor is our religion some type of giant cosmic vending machine where sacrifices are inserted and blessings come out. The Gods are living beings and offer us benefits because we are their friends and companions. They should always be treated with respect.

Odin is the Allfather, remembered today best as a God of war and of the berserk rage of the Vikings. However, he has other aspects which are just as strong or stronger. In the Eddas, he is the leader of the Gods, but this is a position which most of the Germanic peoples attributed to Tyr. It's likely that Odin only became ruler during the Viking Age, when a God of wile rather than strict justice was more necessary. Being the Allfather, his original position of leadership was probably familial rather than legislative. Most importantly he is a God of transcendent wisdom and in relation to that a God of magick. He is the God of the Runes, the magical alphabet which holds the mysteries of the universe within it. In most of the non-Viking countries, Odin's warrior aspect was played down. In England, where he is known as Woden, he is a gray cloaked wanderer (the inspiration for Tolkien's Gandalf) who travels the country, usually alone, surveying his land." ****

The Gods of the Ancient Mexicans and of other Native American tribes are quite famous for their visitations in both animal and human forms. "Totem animals" seem to breeding by leaps and bounds even among those people whose cultural religions have no such indigenous spiritual dimension. (But that is rant already ranted and I digress...)

So where did everybody go? Four possibilities come to mind:

A. The gods and angels and miscellany avatars are all on vacation.

While I personally find this concept amusing -- Picture if you will the archangel Uriel coming out of a Salem, Mass. New Age shop and bumping into Anpu who is coming out of the Witch shop (Or is that 'shoppe' these days?) right next door -- I doubt that all of the celestial hosts are enjoying a Club-Med get-away millennium.

B. We humans like it this way.

Having our Gods safely up, up and away in some remote location means that we can do whatever we want to. So convenient for those who are doing what they ought not to be doing. If the Gods started showing up on a regular basis (Taranis: "I certainly did NOT say that..." ZORCH!), it could put a really big damper on quite a few lucrative religious schemes.

C.We no longer believe that such a thing is possible.

We are not superstitious just off the creation cabbage truck sort of people anymore. We believe that if these things ever did happen at all -- if the countless theophanic events are not just good stories or morality tales -- then they happened in 'ancient times' and that actually is another quite good distancing technique: If the Gods are not far, far away then at least They stopped personally visiting us a long, long time ago.

D. We have forgotten how to recognize Them.

In most pre-Christian or extra-Christian religions, the Gods and humankind were and are interdependent. Because many of us are saturated with the thoughts and beliefs of a religion(s) that heralds the ideal of an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient mono-god, we have forgotten that of old, it was the norm for Gods and humans to interact in a physical way. They were here in the flesh (or cloaked in something with the appearance of flesh). One could encounter Them by just going about one's daily business. They were interested in us as much (or perhaps more) as we seemed to be interested in Them.

I checked off the answer b.c.and d. But I am personally with Homer on this one:

"The minds of the everlasting gods are not changed suddenly."

I believe that the Gods are still around. I believe that They still walk amongst us and even sometimes as us. I believe that the old ties between humans and Gods exist and that they exist in the very same ways and forms as They did back when those myths, legends and stories were told and written down. I believe that theophany is a real and present phenomenon.

And I really want to believe that should an out-of-control semi-trailer truck ever come barreling down at full throttle through an intersection headed in the direction of me and my sweet little Honda that one of my Gods will be hauling some seriously divine booty while 'theophanying' a giant foot (sandals optional) with that guy's grill written all over it.

I wonder just how fast CNN can get a film crew down here....

Wren Walker
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, September 1st., 2003

* The Odyssey
** The Significance of the Gods in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey
*** Chapter 11: The Revelation of KRISHNA to ARJUNA: Vision of the Cosmic Form (Translated by Ramanand Prasad)
**** The Gods of Asgard



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