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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in elder gods

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


I'm dishing up the last of the kimchee out of the jar.

That will put the fear of the gods into 'em,” I say.

As kimchee matures, the red pepper just naturally migrates toward the bottom of the container. This is going to be Hot-with-a-capital-H.


Pagan, do you fear the gods?

Well, maybe you should.

Charged language, I know: uncomfortable. Redolent, maybe, of places where we've been, and don't want to go again.

Fine. For “fear”, then, read “respect.”


In my travels, I've met a surprising number of folks who seem to think—at least, they talk—as if they have the gods in their back pockets.

(“Hey, the gods are my buds.” Shudder.)

If you believe this, you're deluding yourself. Gods are not a tameable species.

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I am a cauldron bubbling over. I've just finished reading Gus diZerega's God is Dead, Love Live the Gods: A Case for Polytheism.

(You can see some my reflections before reading the book here.)

I won't at this point attempt a full-scale review of this rich and nuanced work. (Stay tuned.) One thing, though, is clear to me: that to do justice to What Is in all its dazzling multiplicity may well require multiple theologies.

(Outrageous as such a suggestion might be, it somehow seems consonant with a worldview grounded in the Many.)

I would suggest that we need at least two theologies, one for the Elder Gods, one for the Younger: to vastly oversimplify, the gods of “nature” and the gods of culture, respectively.

Though both are gods, They're not the same.

The ancestors regularly distinguished between, if I may, two modalities of divinity. In most surviving pantheons, the Olden Gods, the “nature” powers, tend to get relegated to the background; it's the Younger Gods—the ones with human faces—that stand in the forefront with their temples, cultuses, and fancy myths. As we think through the implications of modern paganism, we need to keep this distinction in mind.

Different gods, different theologies.

DiZerega's work deals almost exclusively with the Younger Gods. As he sees it—to (perhaps unfairly) oversimply his rather more nuanced thought—they are, essentially, “egregores”: creations of the human mind. (This, of course, is not to deny that they have an existence and a reality of their own.) That's why they vary so much from culture to culture.

Like virtually all other contemporary pagan theologians, his treatment of the Elder Gods is minimal, in this case, a single sentence: “We do not often, if ever, see the same deity manifesting independently in very different cultures, except in very general terms, such as Mother Earth” [diZerega 192].

Yet surely this is not so. Earth, Sun, Moon, Sea, the Winds, Thunder....I could go on. These gods arise in pantheon after pantheon because they are the undeniable ground of reality. (That They should show Themselves differently to different people in different places should surprise no one.) They are not egregores, though egregores may form around Them. (In this instance, one can hardly avoid thinking of grit and pearls.) We see here a clear distinguishing characteristic of the Old Gods: They may not be understood without reference to the non-human world.

These categories of gods, Younger and Elder, are not, of course, mutually exclusive. Take, for example, the Yoruba and Afro-Diasporic goddess Oshún. As an Elder Goddess, she is goddess of the River Oshún, in what is now Nigeria. As a Younger Goddess, she is goddess of love, beauty, female sexuality, etc. As I see it, the danger lies in the detachment of one from the other.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Actually I do not believe the younger gods are egregores or thought forms. There is a aspect of the latter in them, which I think
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'm always reminded of the poet Simonides who, when asked by Dionysios of Syracuse, "What is a god?" stalled for as long as possib
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    I wrote on what you are calling the Elder Gods back in 2015, and actually pointed people to your writing. I specifically define th



In Which the Warlocks Discuss Theology


Best practice addresses present gods.

Just so.

Best to address, say, Thunder, in his presence, in the storm?

Best so.

May one, then, address Thunder in his absence? To address him while, say, the Sun shines?

One may.

How so, if addressing in presence is best?

The Sun shines, though we do not see him. At any given moment on Earth, Thunder is somewhere present, even if not here.

So it is to that Thunder somewhere present, then, that we address ourselves in absence?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In the glyptic art of ancient Northwestern Europe, each of the Old Gods and Goddesses—the gods of “Nature,” who Were before we were and Will Be after we are gone—had his or her own glyph, or symbol. (In the Old Language of the Witches, this was called a tácen or, as we would say today, a token.)

Sun, of course, has a Sun Wheel, shown above.

Moon's, of course, is the Crescent:


Fire's symbol is the Fylfot,



Thunder's, interestingly, the compound Fylfot (shown here in one of many variants),


and Earth's, of course, her sacred Delta:


But what about the Winds?

Unlike the other Old Powers, the Winds are invisible gods, with no obvious visual representation. How do you draw a picture of the Wind?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



In his old age, the poet Simonides (ca. 556-468 bce) went to Sicily to live as an honored guest at the court of Dionysios of Syracuse, the richest and most powerful man in the world.

One day Dionysios said to him: Simonides, poets sing the praises of the gods, and know all their lore; they can justifiably be said to know as much about the gods as anyone. So let me ask you: What is a god?

That's a big question, said Simonides. Give me a day to think about it.

The next day Dionysios came to Simonides and said: So, Simonides, what is a god?

I need another day to think about it, Simonides replies.

The next day Dionysios comes to Simonides and says again: So, Simonides, what is a god?

Give me three more days, says Simonides.

Dionysios lifts his hands in the air. What? he says.

Simonides shakes his head. I find that the more I consider the question, he says, the more opaque it becomes.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Of Apples, Deep Gods, and Witches

Consider the apple tree and its ways.

Early in summer, it sets as much fruit as it can.

Later on, it drops many—even most—of those hard little unripe apples.

With what it can draw from Earth, Sun, and Thunder—the Deep Gods of the witches—the tree has only so much main—energy—at its disposal. The resources available to the tree to nurture its apples are limited. With what it has, it can produce either many small, or a few select, apples.

As I rake up fallen green fruit, I reflect. The Craft is an apple tree. Why do so many leave?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witches Have Always Been Different

Even back in pagan days, witches were different.

They lived in cities and ran things, like government and armies.

We lived in the sticks and tried to raise enough to get us through the winter.

They worshiped Younger Gods, the ones with human faces.

We still worshiped the Old Gods, the untamed powers, the wild.

They went to temples to pray.

We went to the woods to dance.

Their priests wore white linen.

Ours—if anything at all—wore black, and probably wool.

Their gods had beautiful statues.

Ours had trees and standing stones, the woman in white clay, the man with horns.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    It's the pagan way.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    So some us remembered Acteon as the God of the hunt before Artemis came along. Some of us would have worshipped Hermaphroditus as

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