Articles/Essays From Pagans
January 10th. 2017 ...
The Gray of 'Tween
Becoming a Sacred Dancer
Little Dog, Big Love
December 9th. 2016 ...
A Child's First Yule
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
October 10th. 2016 ...
Witchcraft from the Outside
September 11th. 2016 ...
How Did I Get Here? (My Pagan Journey)
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
September 3rd. 2016 ...
Rethinking Heaven: What Happens When We Die?
What is Happening in My Psychic Reading?
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
An Open Mind and Heart
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
The Fear of Witchcraft
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
Magic in Sentences
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
The Evolution of Thought Forms
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
Native American Spirituality Myopia
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Article ID: 14597
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,053
Times Read: 3,444
RSS Views: 12,166
Author: Janice Van Cleve
Posted: June 12th. 2011
Times Viewed: 3,444
The gods make me happy. I’m happy that I found them. I didn’t really lose them, mind you, but since I grew up Roman Catholic I had no access to them before now. It went like this:
I graduated through parochial school, Catholic Youth Association, five Jesuit retreats, and seventeen years as a lector in a Carmelite monastery. I eventually became a Eucharistic minister and a scriptural scholar. I read the bible from cover to cover – and even the book of Mormon for good measure. I wrote treatises and continued studies right on through adulthood. I was so proud to be a member of the one and only right and true church. I knew it must be the one and only, after all, because this was the church that burned members of almost every other religion at one time or another. He who burns the others must be carrying the torch. I’m sure there’s scripture on that.
This of course presented a problem when I finally dumped the Roman Catholic Church. At issue was a choice between my faith and my integrity and integrity won. But where could I go? How could any other church or gods measure up to the monolithic, overpowering, holy Roman Vatican Catholic Church? They were all crispy critters! The only competition that could stand up to the weight of its doctrine was the same competition that I used to stand up against the weight of its authority – my own self. Hold that thought. I’ll get back to it. Suffice it to say that I eventually returned to take another look at the old gods.
The first inklings we have of human concepts of deity come from clay tablets unearthed at Sumer, dating roughly from 3000 BCE. These tablets tell of a universe that arose from a primeval sea. Its base was a flat disk of earth over which arched the vault of heaven. Between these two was the atmosphere and from out of the atmosphere was created the sun and moon and stars and eventually all things. Beneath the earth was the underworld, which the sun traversed at night. Operating and maintaining this universe were gods. These gods created humans from clay to supply them with food, drink, and shelter so they might have full leisure for their divine activities.
Before the Sumerians, there are hints in cave paintings and figurines from prehistoric Neolithic peoples about some sense of the divine. However, without writing, we have no way of accessing their thoughts about their gods or, more correctly, goddesses, because most of the early portrayals of deity embodied the Divine Female. Several thousand years later and several thousand miles away, the Mayas independently arrived at a cosmic myth startlingly similar to the Sumerians, except that their gods created them out of maize and demanded blood for their food. There was no contact between these Mesoamericans and the ancient Sumerians, yet they arrived at similar mythologies, right down to angry gods flooding the land to wipe out humans.
How can this be? Perhaps the explanation for the similarity can be found in the similar social and political levels that the two civilizations had reached, each in its own time. Both Sumerians and Mayas developed civilizations with agriculture and urban life. They both had city-states, writing, art, warfare, trade, kings and priests. They had social classes, too. It’s my suspicion that they developed similar mythologies to explain and support the advanced social, political, and economic structure of the ruling classes. In both mythologies, the gods created humans to feed them. In fact, however, the gods were created by the upper classes to justify taxation and sacrifices by the lower classes. Karl Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses. He may have been on to something.
Fast forward to classical Greece. The Greek rulers really pressed their gods into service. Not only was class stratification justified by the gods, but also gender stratification. The male gods of the Mycenaean overthrew the female goddesses of the Minoans. Aeschylus’ Athena is born from Zeus and knows no mother. She adjudicates the trial of Clytemnestra in favor of men. At the same time, Greek gods were more human, more fallible, and more like metaphors for human behaviors than independent divine beings. Finally under the Romans, the gods became instruments of the state and statesmen became gods. In this polytheistic plurality, all gods were welcome.
Then from out of the desert came a new god, monotheistic, a jealous god that shared divinity with no other. Called Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah, this god claimed sole divinity and justified the destruction of other gods and the people who believed in them. The new monotheistic religions spawned by their followers claimed that their one god created humans along with everything else. Their new god did not serve the state; rather the state served their god (or, in practical terms, the state and the people served the clergy of the god such as popes, ayatollahs, etc) . The objective was to create a heaven on earth in preparation for a new heaven after death. The monotheistic religions swept across the globe destroying all gods before them. In his name, Native Americans were ethnically cleansed, Africans were enslaved, and Asians were conquered. European pagans were burned at the stake.
The Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, and the emergence of Democracy broke the monolithic civil power of the jealous god. He still has holdouts in Iran and Virginia, but for the most part his grip on government is over. Humans are free again to question, to make up their own minds, and take another look at polytheism. Carl Jung recast the old gods as archetypes of human behavior. The Greeks had humanized them; modern thinkers internalized them. The jealous god was no longer competing with other gods for humans; now he had to compete directly with humans themselves. He was an outsider and could only be reached by faith, while humans who realized their intrinsic divinity could reach themselves directly through experience.
Which gets me back to that thought I was holding. When I rebelled against the authority of the Roman Church, by necessity I rebelled against its doctrine as well. The doctrine supported the authority as much as the authority supported the doctrine. Free from both, I had nothing left to depend upon but myself. I found the old gods and they were me. That makes me happy.
Copyright: Copyright 2011; Janice Van Cleve
Janice Van Cleve
Location: Seattle, Washington
Author's Profile: To learn more about Janice Van Cleve - Click HERE
Bio: Janice Van Cleve is a priestess of the Women of the Goddess Circle, a pagan community of women in the Dianic tradition of Wicca. For more information or to contact her, go to www.wotg.doodlekit.com. Copyright 2011.
Other Articles: Janice Van Cleve has posted 29 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Janice Van Cleve... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2017 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).