Saturday, April 9, 2011

Do the Gods of War Still Speak to Us?

Dear Readers, I apologize for a very long absence and silence. It has been a very busy semester, including a most wonderful trip to Poland in the last month. I still cannot find time for a proper essay here, so I thought instead I would pose a question that I hope will invite some interesting discussion from different points of view. As a semi-pacifistic liberal sort of Pagan, I am often at a loss of what to make of the worship of gods of war among the Pagans of the past. I wonder what relevance this aspect of the old religion holds today, with war a much different thing than it was in the past. I do not find war a praiseworthy thing in the modern world, but a horrible tragedy in almost all cases, and thus I cannot agree with those Pagans and Heathens who seem to glorify war and see this as the most important thing in ancient texts. The war aspect of the old religion is something that I feel is outdated and that needs to be left behind. I can only relate to gods of war and warrior figures as metaphors for the need to struggle and fight morally and mentally, not as a call to literal, physical fighting and killing. What say you? I would like to invite your comments and then return later to add some more thoughts of my own. Thanks.


Heather Awen said...

Hi, I just wrote a blog essay about the nine virtues being used for peace and justice activists and environmentalists, plus how the Viking thing is not representative of Germanic Paganism and was recorded by Christians. I highly regard your writing, and wanted to share this with you. Thanks.

Heather Awen said...

Oh I wrote this to about why I don't support pagans in the military. I'd really appreciate your feedback.

Ananta Androscoggin said...

A lot of people tend to forget that there were a whole lot more of the City States back then. There weren't all that many large nations as we have today.

When you've got thousands of egotistical kings, princes, potentates, and other bullies ruling over territory, you can count on their use of their subjects (who weren't really people to some of these rulers) to carry on their squabbles against their neighbors.

That's why I refer to warfare as the "True Sport of Kings," whereas the accumulation and use of power is their vocation.

Seeing Eye Chick said...

I see a lot of Gods of Commerce and Gods of Chaos, but not much from Warrior Dieties.

Perhaps between individual people with a Warrior ethic, they or those sentiments might be valued, but to the establishment--that would be a threat if it went deeper than a recruitment commercial.

Maelstrom said...

Heather, thanks for your comments. I checked your blog and found it very interesting. Your statement of praise for the Quakers reminds me of similar thought I have had. In the past, I heard about a Quaker-Pagan synthesis known as "Quagan." Do you or does anyone else have any knowledge about such a thing? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hillman thinks they do, but he says they're monotheistic. He challenges us to think of animists/Buddhists/Taoists going to war against other polytheistic groups. But the Japanese invaded Korea and China, so I think that argument is a little on the wild side. However, I do believe that the gods are the ways in which we do experience stuff, and that Hillman's book on War is worth a read.

Anonymous said...

i believe the warrior path or ways is still valid. i am a druid warrior myself.being a warrior doesn't only mean being a combatant . tis alot more than that . true we are protectors. most of us are reluctant fighters . more important to most of us is the way we live . a warrior lives by a quite strong code of ethics and conduct .its a way of living . the norse asatru ways are almost identical to the celtic ways . these 2 groups are where most pagan warriors come from , both are former tribal societies where warriors were common. Kilm

Seeing Eye Chick said...

There is a distinction too, to be made between a warrior ethic vs the virginal glorification of war and violence from someone who has seen precious little of either. When presented in it's negative aspect, it seems to be an excuse or a prop for hypermasculinity.

Think how differently we define the value of people who have lived through various forms of violence.

Females who survive rape or domestic violence are defined as victims.

Males who survive military combat are veterans.

Civilians who survive violent crime are victims.

First responders are warriors or saviors.

Even if the other two classifications of victims fight back, even if they overcome their assailents--they are labeled as violent and in addition are still victims.

This society has a very strange and unhealthy relationship with violence. And not just in the most obviously visible ways. But also in how it defines acceptable violence, like that of self defense or of survival.

So that any issues we have with *Warrior Gods of old are more than likely the product of a pre-existing cultural condition rather than the sole property of some emotionally immature Pagans or Heathens.

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