Wednesday, July 27, 2011

7/27/11—Considering an Evolving God

Today's Draw: Temperance from the Fire Tarot. Have you ever considered that one day mankind may believe in a different god? Do you think ancient man ever considered there was any god/s other than the one/s they believed in? Do you see god as a cyclical concept or do you think we've lit on the one and only possible iteration of god there will ever be moving forward?

I drew again from the Fire Tarot because I'm digging the fire myths. (I'm also enjoying going completely off-road as to what the card's real meaning might be in my entries.) Today's myth about how, when the world was dark, the Finnish God of the Gods, Ukko, flicked his sword against his fingernail, creating a spark that he gave to a virgin to carry down to earth. But she lost it along the way and it was eaten by a trout who was, in turn, eaten by a pike. The pike is then caught and the spark is freed, setting off fires throughout the land. Eventually the fire is contained and man has light. 

I've read this myth from a bunch of different sources and it's very complicated and very different depending on the source and none of the myths allude to the traditional meaning of Temperance, which is about balance and flow. And they only abstractly refer to the meaning that came with the deck's book, which is that "fire represents the soul that is being guarded before being renewed." 

What really struck me about this card, though, was how people's vision of God is modeled around their lifestyle and their times. Fishing is big in Finland, so the myth involves fish and a fisherman. Finland has no daylight in the midst of winter, so light and the need for fire is more prominent than it would be here. And the acquisition of fire by man was hard earned, first stolen by an evil force (up in the heavens), then getting lost in the fish for a while, then ravaging the earth before it was finally contained. This is probably indicative of the difficult nature of the times...nothing came easy or smoothly. And this is common among ancient cultures who all seem to have a god who creates lightning or light. It was a key element of survival and hard to come by and maintain at one time. 

Most ancient cultures also feature polytheism or multiple gods, as well as a pagan, earth-centered bent. This may be because of the importance of community at the time and the fact that each person in a village or clan had a defined role, critical to the whole. In Greek and Roman cultures, gods were indeed specialists and dozens of them were needed to cover all aspects of life. Because the people lived in mountainous regions, the gods lived on high mountains and wore robes, the same as the people in their culture. The Gods were all part of a legacy of families, just like the Emperors were.

Throughout time, God or the gods were always to be feared. The God of the Old Testament, for example, ruled with a firm hand and was vengeful, obliterating entire populations of the earth for not obeying his word. Jesus came along in time to soften the corners with compassion and kindness and preach about his father's love. He arrived a few hundred years after another god-like man hit the religious scene—Buddha. Their stories are very similar in some ways, but hundreds of years apart at an era in history when people were not warming up to such a fearful god. 

It's interesting how many iterations of religion there have been over time. And also interesting as to how persistent the Judeo-Christian iteration has been. Perhaps not as long-lasting as a thunder god who existed in some form up until monotheism hit the scene, but persistent nonetheless. Yet nowadays, many Christians speak of Jesus as if he's the God and his father seems to have been downgraded in some way. So that seems to be changing, too.

If history is any indication, if it truly repeats itself, sooner or later the tide will turn in yet another direction and it's interesting to consider where that turn might take us. After all, there is no culture on earth that didn't absolutely and "religiously" believe in their god/s the same way modern cultures believe in theirs. So it's not like society goes shopping for a new God en masse. In fact, a lot of non-believers had be killed and persecuted for the god of the Old and New Testaments to take hold. While we live in a predominantly Christian country, we don't live in as predominantly a Christian world. It's a very small minority who is able to keep their mind open enough to consider that their way might not be THE way, or the ONLY way. 

Personally I think we all believe in the same god and just call it different names and see it in different ways to match our different personalities. But I also know that to say that is heresy for some people. If you're open to thinking about the evolution of God and how he/it follows humanity's changing nature, however, it's interesting to imagine how it might change in the future...or to even consider that it won't always be what it is today. Change happens slowly. The trend now is away from organized religion. Who knows if that will continue, but if it does, then what does that mean for God, Allah, Buddha, Jesus, etc.? And is a more metaphysical god the way of the future or just another mirror of modern tastes? Will we ever know for sure whether there is or is not a god...beyond our individual beliefs?

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