Sweet Ambrosia: The Food of the Gods
Article ID: 14690
Age Group: Adult
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Author: BellaDonna Saberhagen
Posted: January 8th. 2012
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Anyone who has watched Xena: Warrior Princess knows that ambrosia is the food of the Gods and that to partake of it can make a god of a mortal. So what is this food of the Gods? If you read my article “The Chicken or the Egg, “ you will note that I believe man creates gods through sincere belief in their divinity and due worship. This being the case, the food of the gods is that belief and worship; and without it, the gods may vanish.*
One of my first Pagan friends in college used to tell a joke (I don’t know where he heard it, so if it’s copyrighted, I apologize) : The king of the gods called his underlings to him because it had come to his attention that some of them were shirking their duties. He told them, “If you don’t do your job, the people start by-passing you and coming directly to me. Do you know what that leads to? Monotheism!” (Basically, they would be out of a job and his would become much more difficult.)
Many of us know what it’s like to be out of a job, to be downsized, to barely get enough food to survive. I know I’ve had weeks of eating nothing but ramen. You’ll probably give me flack for this, but I believe that by treating “all god/desses as one God/dess”, you’re (at best) putting the gods on the ambrosia equivalent of the aforementioned ramen diet. You can’t survive on ramen alone. It’s not satisfying, nor very nourishing, has enough salt to raise even the Buddha’s blood pressure and you will eventually fall prey to malnutrition. This is, of course, assuming that any of the nourishment (worship) given to The God or The Goddess winds its way down to any of the gods that have been demoted by some soft-polytheists as merely “aspects” of the Great Duo.
Let’s say you have three cats; one is white, one is black, and the last one is tan. You give them love, attention, food and shelter. They give you love and attention when they feel you’ve earned it (They are cats, after-all) . Then one day, someone comes along and takes away your three cats and replaces them with one calico cat, stating that you only need this one because it has “aspects” of the other three.
The calico is nice and friendly and is happy to eat enough food for three cats. Would you think that just because this calico has all three colors of your now missing cats and eats as much as your previous three cats ate that somehow that nourishment is getting to your three missing cats? You’d find that silly. You’d be upset and worried about your missing cats. If the stranger even suggested that by feeding the calico you were feeding your other three cats, you’d think he was off his rocker. This is what some forms of soft-polytheism suggests and I would also state that such worship isn’t fulfilling to The Goddess or The God. You couldn’t expect our allegoric calico to get nutrition if you simply smear food onto its black patch. You’d be missing its mouth.
For example, in Book of Shadows by Scott Cunningham (the new work that was found and supplemented with his other published works in an attempt to make it “complete”) , the specific names of Diana and Kernunnos (spelled here as Cunningham spelled it in his book) are used as the names of the Goddess and the God. However, historically, these are very specific deities (not even of the same pantheon) and they have very specific spheres of influence (at least Diana does; you can give Cernunnos almost any job since all we know historically is his name and iconography… though from iconography we can guess that he had something to do with the forest and virility/fertility) .
So, by calling The Goddess “Diana” (a virgin goddess of the moon) , you’re not feeding the other roles of The Goddess. Diana, being a perpetual virgin (Maiden) , cannot fulfill the Mother or Crone roles typically associated with The Goddess. It is fine to have a mysterious divinely feminine entity that does fulfill those roles, but it is not okay to use those roles as an excuse to template previously conceived deities onto her and expect her “food” to get to her through that filter. (This argument is made from a cultural standpoint in my article Soft-Polytheism: Cultural Appropriation for the New Age) .
The ancient Egyptians believed that immortality was ensured as long as the name was remembered (at least that of the Pharaoh, who was seen as a god) . When Christianity began to take over Europe, the gods were relegated to myths that were written down (the Greeks and Romans wrote their own stories, but it was later Christian monks and scholars who wrote down Norse and Celtic myths) . Had this not occurred, the god/goddess names would have been forgotten and their tales would have disappeared forever instead of being fed again as new forms of Paganism began to form. To be forgotten is to truly die.
If the “Venus of Willendorf” was an ancient goddess -- this has been debated; she and similar statues may have just been fertility charms-- then her true name is lost to history. Truly, until archaeologists found her image, she was a dead goddess and remained so until someone latched onto the image and championed it as “the ancient mother goddess’.
If this statue was the image of a goddess, then that nameless goddess is dead and we have thus poured adoration of a new goddess into that ancient mold perhaps because it fits the pseudo-history some modern practitioners hold as “gospel”. After all, if the “Venus of Willendorf” is a stone-age goddess, that ‘proves’ that the pan-European goddess worshipping Old Religion witchcraft postulated by Margaret Murray is true and therefore valid (Please note this is said in sarcasm. Age has nothing to do with the validity of a religion) .
I cannot say for certain that the gods survived as merely stories without worship. I can say that the IDEA of them survived, and if anyone learning the tales in the past saw them as “real gods that aren’t worshipped anymore” -- as I did when I was first introduced to mythology in school --then maybe that was enough belief for them survive on “rations”. But now that we are free to worship them, is it right to keep them on tight rations? I think not.
Not everyone needs to give each god or goddess worship (This is why I think monotheism and duo-theism are fine and why I only have issues with soft-polytheism) ; the gods aren’t that greedy (Okay, some of them might be, but they tend to have enough followers in this day and age) . If enough people feed each one, they will be fine and well sated. I just fear that if all god/desses are seen as ‘The God’ and ‘The Goddess’, eventually their individualities will fade and only the ‘Great Duo’ will remain. This would be deicide.
*Note: this article is very much my own opinion and belief. It is personal gnosis and as such, I cannot back it up.
Book of Shadows by Scott Cunningham
Location: Sunbury, Pennsylvania
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