The Chicken or the Egg
Author: BellaDonna Saberhagen
Who created whom? Did the gods create man or did man create the gods? This question was posed on a podcast. The host invited responses to his opinion, however, I’m new to listening to podcasts and was listening to back episodes that are over a year old. He eloquently stated that humans couldn’t have created beings that are strong enough to have created the universe. I don’t disagree with that; what I do disagree with is that gods automatically must have the power to do so (or have that power at all) . The host is a soft-polytheist. He even quoted the axiom “All gods are one God and all goddesses are one Goddess” in support of his argument. If you’ve read my previous article, you will know that I’m a hard-polytheist. While numerous mythologies have creation myths, I don’t choose to subscribe to any of them. I take them as attempts by ancient peoples to understand the origins of the universe, the world and themselves.
Science has come a long way, and if you accept the sound scientific theories regarding the origins of the universe and man, then the need for a Creator/Creatrix god or goddess is unnecessary. This removes the problem the podcast host had of “humans unable to create the creator.” There is no creator; before the universe was there was only energy. This energy was just energy; it had no consciousness, no will. The purpose of this article is not to quantify this energy, but let’s suffice to say that it is the energy that connects us all.
What if this energy is the same energy that we use in magick to manifest change? If it is, then humans are obviously able to program it and form it according to their will. Many Witches and Magicians create Artificial Elementals to go forth and do work the Witch or Magician cannot do themselves. This is directly counter to the idea that humans cannot create beings from this energy (and the idea the podcast host had of humans not being able to create things greater than themselves) . Now, typically, Artificial Elementals are (and should be) given an expiration date; but that does not mean that all things created through the mental focus of man have one; and this is where the creation of gods comes in.
I’m not one to believe that everything exists on some part of the astral plane. I don’t think Hogwarts is there, just waiting to be explored. I know there are some Pagans (and New Agers) who believe this, but I have to hope that these are few and far between. I can’t really say what quality or quantity of belief is required to make a thought-form a god or goddess. I do believe it’s more difficult than just two or three people fervently believing in the god/desshood of some entity; and I do believe it is a higher quality of adoration than millions of fans squeeing over Edward Cullen. However, just because I can’t put forth an exact number of believers or define the level of fervor of belief does not mean that it is untrue. It simply means that it is currently immeasurable by science, as most spiritual things are. Could you accurately measure the qualities of the Creator/Creatrix deity you believe in (in scientific terms) ? No. The theory that man created the gods is still a matter of faith, a more scientific view of it, but more a matter of faith nonetheless.
Another argument put forth is that a Creator/Creatrix must be infallible, and man cannot create anything infallible. Again, remove the concept of a divine creator and look at the myths again. The gods ARE fallible. Zeus cheats on his wife more than Tiger Woods, Hera’s jealousy knows no bounds, Hephaestus was born deformed, Hod was born blind (and killed his brother Baldr) , Lir married a woman who turned his children into swans for 900 years out of jealously, and Frigga forgot to get the promise of mistletoe not to harm Baldr (again, leading to his death) . Lust, jealousy, deformity, handicaps, forgetfulness: these gods have very human characteristics, but on a larger, more epic scale. Humans can’t create infallible gods not only because “they just can’t”, but because fallible humans can’t relate to something infallible and vice versa. How many problems in Biblical myths occur because the Judeo-Christian God cannot relate to the fallibility of his creation (…Not that he is really infallible; after all, why would an infallible god have a fallible creation) ? This is why the construct of a “savior” was necessary.
You want further evidence that man creates gods? I’ll give you two examples commonly worshipped as “aspects” of “The Goddess” (or as goddesses in their own right) by modern Pagans: Cerridwen and Blodeuwedd.
Many Wiccans, Cerridwen see as a purely Celtic edition of the “ancient” (Don’t get mad here; the ancientness of Wicca has long been disproven) Wiccan Triple Goddess (See Janet and Stewart Fararr’s A Witches’ Bible and Raven Grimassi’s TheWiccan Mysteries) with strong connections to witchcraft due to her having the Cauldron of Inspiration and the ability to shapeshift. I will agree that this spirit had something to do with magick and inspiration, but there is no historical record or anthropological evidence showing she was worshipped as a goddess (as far as I know) . However, she is now counted among the ranks of the Welsh Celtic pantheon by most modern Pagans (but not Celtic Reconstructionists, they only worship those that were historically given that honor) and given due worship as such.
Here, I can understand why. Cerridwen is very powerful (superhuman) , and while there are no records of her worship, it may be that the Romans didn’t take a fancy to her (This is how we tend to tell the heroes and fairies from the gods in Celtic mythology, the Romans equating local gods with their own) and the Celts did not write her down as such (They wrote down very little, so this is understandable) . Her cult may have been isolated, or maybe she was just being formed as a goddess then and has been solidified as such in more modern times.
Even more puzzling is Blodeuwedd, another Welsh mythological figure modernly called a goddess by some (She is insinuated to be the patron goddess of Wales in Catrin James’ Celtic Faery Shamanism) . She is frequently listed on “god/dess lists” found in so many Pagan books (The problem with these lists is that they give the reader spheres of influence of specific deities without any real mythological information to back up such claims) , but her myth leaves something to be desired when it comes to seeing her as such.
An example of how she is seen by some modern practitioners is taken from The Modern Day Druidess by Cassandra Eason: “The Welsh maiden Lunar Goddess, created from flowers, Goddess of early summer and Blossoming Earth.” The only thing taken directly from her myth is “created from flowers”, and one has to ask, how can a being created from flowers be a Goddess of the Moon? For those of you unfamiliar with her actual myth, I’ll sum it up for you: Lleu Llaw Gyffes’ mother cursed him that he may not have a wife of human or fairy stock, so some druids got together and created Blodeuwedd from flowers to be his wife. She was unfaithful to him and conspired with her lover to murder him. The plot failed. For her crimes, she was changed into an owl for all eternity. Doesn’t sound like the makings of a goddess, does it? However, I think she was latched onto as a feminist role-model or archetype since she was not content with the lot she was given and did something about it. I can’t say I agree personally with her modern goddesshood, but I can see how some might do so for the aforementioned reason.
These two examples show how mythological figures can become gods through the belief and personal gnosis of modern Pagans.* Am I saying that Edward Cullen is likely to become a god anytime soon? No, that is unlikely because while his sparkle-loving fan base may WANT him to be real, they don’t BELIEVE he is real. Even if they could believe him into existence, they don’t see him as a god, but as a vampire (Maybe as the hottest vampire to ever “live”, but still just a vampire –Personally, I think Spike from Buffy is hotter, but to each their own) . That makes all the difference.
* In a future article, I will discuss how this theory specifically affects the soft-polytheist versus the hard-polytheist argument.
A Witches’ Bible by Janet and Stewart Farrar.
The Wiccan Mysteries by Raven Grimassi.
The Modern Day Druidess by Cassandra Eason.