Ishvala wrote:I've only just started reading American Gods and it's such a fun book that I have a hard time putting it down. Most of the characters are very amusing and Odin needs an asprin.
This is weird...I was thinking today about posting something on American Gods on the theme of why do we *not* have Gods for modern issues.
Wasn't quite sure whether to put this in Vents. So here goes...make a cup of coffee and put your feet up though cos it's a proper long one...
Why are there no New Gods of our Age?
When I read American Gods I loved the fact that Neil Gaiman has updated the trope of New Gods replacing the Old but instead of, say, the Christian god replacing the Celtic pantheon - which is a common fiction trope - the scenario is brought up to date. Which make sense as in our modern age, we / society are concerned with different things than people were in the times when the Celtic or Norse gods were part of the dominant, mainstream culture. eg around 1500-2000 years ago.
In American Gods the New Gods are brought in as characters to illustrate this point. One reason I loved this book is that I had often wondered why we don't have such new Gods. I have often felt a little irritated that we seem to be stuck with working with Gods & Goddesses and spirits from the ancient past. (Much as I have loved getting to know them.) There are deities for granting success with fertility, harvest and war but none for dealing with noisy neighbours, environmental pollution, human rights and so on. (If only there was a God of Quieting Noisy Neighbours!)
The story of American Gods can be read as a metaphor: it has often been said that the 'gods' of modern life are celebrity, career, status, wealth and so on. But I'm asking the questions more literally. Why have new *actual* Gods & Goddesses not emerged in recent centuries?
Academics theorise that human belief systems about spirits and gods evolved as societies evolved. As agricultural societies replaced hunter gathering, sun-based deities, calendars and patriarchal pantheons came to the fore. The sun is crucial to farming. These ideas are quite well known.
One might expect that, as agicultural societies evolved into industrial then post industrial and technological ones, new deities would also emerge. From the point of view of rational, materialist, non-spiritist thought these are merely our new, rational philosophies - such as humanism and rationality and atheism. From a paranormal point of view we might say that these new belief systems, that are bought into by large numbers of human beings, generate strong energy / thought fields or egregores. I think we can also say that there don't appear to be new Gods making themselves known to us. Spiritual people still work with the ancient deities. And we think of them as real, genuine beings.
This all begs the question: what makes a God?
Historians have tracked the development of Yahweh (the Judeo-Christian God) from being a minor local deity in one part of the then two kingdoms of Israel and Judea to becoming the supreme, One God, all-knowing, omni-present and all powerful. There are similar histories for most if not all deities. Aphrodite can be traced back to a proto-Indo European goddess of the dawn Hewsos or Ausos. It looks like none of our ancient Gods are immutable and have in fact changed over time considerably. But why no change for a millenium or more?
I've read of interesting experiments by groups of people who have created their own spirit or deity, worked with it or prayed to it and got interesting results. (There's also a way to work with an archetype of yourself as a deity, praying to it for effective results.) There's a theory that I think is fairly well known but not accepted by everyone that certain types of spiritual or astral presences turn into deities by virtue of having large numbers of people believing in them and praying to them. Such gods lose power when the devotion dies away. In this way there could be multiple different Jesus figures alive in some parts of the astral, each sustained by a Christian denomination that has its own particular view of their saviour. And it would be possible for an astral traveller to encounter any one of them. At least that's the theory.
Another question that I want to ask is: can deities emerge spontaneously?
Is there perhaps a high level of the astral from which new deities can emerge, as opposed to worshipper-generated thoughtforms that behave like deities? Are some waiting to emerge now?
And let's not forget the deities of sentient species on other planets across the multiverse.
Is a God of Quieting Noisy Neighbours helping someone on a planet in another universe within a different dimension 'now'? If so, I definitely would get a binding of that God like a shot.
Or maybe what I really need to do is create a very good metaphysical construct - make my own God of Quieting Noisy Neighbours? (Actually that's not a bad idea.)
- ENDS -
I realise I haven't taken into account Immortals who have been living beings at one point. It seems pretty indisputable from historical analysis I have read that some historical personages have indeed become gods within their cultures over time, in a similar way to how historical figures have become saints. Maybe I need to rethink and rewrite?