This is the wild one. It might not make a lot of sense because it exists as a thought form rather than in words. I have tried to write it down many times but it’s not a linear process. I’m going to keep trying though. I can, indeed, be very trying.
The concept of a single, all-powerful God is a relatively new phenomenon in human history. It was something that certainly the Roman, Greek and Egyptian ancient worlds had not developed. The idea of One God arose among the Hebrews who were slaves of the Egyptians.
Everyone else had many gods, none of which were omnipotent. Godlets, we might call them. They each had jurisdiction over specific things. One might decide whether the crops will flourish or fail, another might send or withhold the rain, yet another would determine whether the hunt was a success, and so on. Each collection of godlets had at least one mischief-maker and one leader.
The leader was generally credited with creation but after that, didn’t seem to do very much. Zeus seems to have spent most of his time seducing women while in the shape of some completely unsuitable creature. Odin seems to have spent quite a lot of time quaffing ale in the great halls of Valhalla – I can really get behind that one. Basically, having set it all up, the leader of the godlets was content to let his staff conduct the day to day stuff and only intervene directly when he really had to.
Well, why bother creating staff if you’re going to have to do everything yourself?
All these various collections of godlets had pretty much the same structure. One leader, one troublemaker, and all the rest had their own specific jobs to do. They often fought amongst themselves and sometimes exacted terrible vengeance on individuals or communities – sometimes because they were annoyed but sometimes just for fun.
These gods were not so much worshipped as appeased.
It’s the very similarity of the various pantheons, coupled with the new, all-powerful God who is surrounded by angels, that made me wonder. The Hebrew God has angels, yes, but He does it all himself. He does not delegate an angel to answer the smallest of prayers, it all goes direct to God. What are those angels actually for?
There is one angel set at the gates of Eden with a flaming sword. That must be a phenomenally dull job – nobody even knows where the gate is so that angel has done nothing for millenia. There is Michael, who seems to be in charge of an army of sorts – it was Michael who led the angels to quell the rebellion and get the troublemakers cast out. Then there is Gabriel who seems to be mainly a messenger. Most of the rest have nothing to do.
The troublemaker is still there, now called Lucifer, but in this setup he is not acting alone. There was a war between these spirit-beings and no wonder. With One God doing everything, they must have been bored. This time, Lucifer has a lot of pals on his side.
Imagine a race of spirit beings who have been on the Earth a long, long time. Possibly before humans. Very powerful beings, at least from our perspective, because they can do things we cannot do. They can appear and disappear, they can influence weather and… wait. No, they can’t control our environment. They appear as ‘spirits’ for any reason you like – maybe they are spirits, maybe they are four-dimensional beings who can intrude on out three-dimensional world at any time or just watch it from a direction we can’t see. It doesn’t matter what they are for the purposes of this argument, let’s just assume they are there.
Perhaps they are immortal, perhaps not. In Clavicula Salomonis, there is a suggestion that the names ‘Michael, Gabriel, Uriel’ and so on are not names, but are titles (Eliphas Levi’s translation). They denote a rank rather than an individual. Apply that to Thor and Mars and Darvell Gadarn and Pazuzu and Set and Apollo and Krishna and suddenly those godlets don’t need to be immortal any more. They can be born, live and die just like us.
How many of them exist? There might be billions of them, most of whom are going about their lives just as we do, since our existence is likely to be irrelevant to theirs. Or perhaps there are only a few, the few that humanity has encountered time and again over many, many centuries.
What are my theoretical shades like, then? They don’t look like us becasue they are unrelated to us. However, they can appear like us – or like anything – when they poke into our physiicalk reality. They are not necessarily smarter than us or more powerful, they just have different abilities. They can do things we can’t do and it is likely we can do things they can’t do.
If they have been around longer than us then they watched us arrive. Whether we were placed here by God, developed from a proto-ape creature, arrived as a bunch of useless idiots on the ‘B’ Ark or were made from genetically modified chimps by green men who live in the Moon, we don’t know. They do. This gives two possibilities for their interactions with us.
Maybe they are scientists studying the development of a new (mostly) intelligent species and are using the pantheon personas to dabble with our destiny.
Or maybe they are a bunch of eccentrics indulging in a bit of cosplay with a young and still gullible race.
They don’t name themselves or invent the mythology. None of them show up and say ‘Hey, I’m Apollo and I’sm the one who makes sure the sun rises every day. Better not piss me off or I might forget. See that lamb? I’d love to have that roasted. No pressure.’
Humans used to do all that. We ascribed supernatural entity to the sunrise and the seasons. The ancients in Britain and elsewhere genuinely believed that if they did not perform the correct rituals at the Winter Solstice then the sun would just get lower and lower each day until it was gone forever. The ritual worked so they did it again the following year. It worked again. Soon it reached the point where they dare not fail to do it. It has worked every year, it must be right! Correlation, causation, the bane of humanity still.
Take a step back and imagine you are studying a colony of ants. Every day, an hour before sunrise, they jiggle about in a particular dance that is the same every morning. They do it until the sun comes up, then face the sun, prostrate themselves, then go back to general ant duties again.
You’d have to think ‘Why are they doing that? The sun is going to come up anyway. It’s a waste of time’.
So you study them and find a way to listen in on their conversations – learn antspeak, say. You find that they have absolutely no concept of astrophysics at all and have convinced themselves, over generations, that they must do the dance or the sun won’t come up.
When you’d finished laughing, you would then be intrigued enough to study them further and see what else they believe. They believe there is a Sun God and a Sugar God and an evil Anteater God.
It might just be me but… wouldn’t it be awfully termpting to pretend to be one of their gods and mess with their minds for a while? You could get your mates to pretend to be their other gods. No, you can’t really control the rains so if the anthill gets flooded you just pretend they did something to annoy you. ‘I am not telling you what it is, but don’t do it again’. This supposes that the putative spirits I am considering are female, naturally.
If you could enter ant reality in the shape of an ant you could converse with them directly and give them instructions. Or you could show up as a swan… well maybe a dragonfly… and shag the queen. Nothing will result from this because it’s impossible but faking it could be shattering to ant culture. They would believe they were looking after a god’s eggs.
Incidentally, I don’t for a moment believe that Zeus (or rather, the being playing that part at that time) fathered anyone. The children of Zeus were no doubt the unintended consequences of illicit liasions and saying ‘God did it’ was the tart’s only way to avoid being labelled as such. In fact it was the precursor of ‘babies on the bennies’ because if she said she was carrying Zeus’ little brat then she could be sure of being well looked after by the priesthood.
Going back to where we are the ants, does it make sense that the Roman and Greek gods were set up in pretty much the same way as the Viking and the Egyptian gods? Much the same as the Celts too, come to that. The Hindu gods had different names and images and were mostly blue with ambitious numbers of limbs, but the general setup was similar. I wonder if India had an idea what was going on and made those images as a challenge – ‘Right, you buggers, let’s see you appear like this then.’
India was easily distracted. The shades gave them the Kama Sutra and then they were far too busy to question the gods.
There is a dark side to all this. Somerthing else that comes from the Gnostics. If ‘they’ are not really all that different from ‘us’ then they have a physical, mortal body and perhaps a soul too. They are fallible too.
Let us suppose, then, that one of the leaders of their group, having recently taken the position, decides that he no longer needs all the rest of them and can do it all himself. The messenger, Hermes/Mercury/the rest of his names, he will keep but he doesn’t have a lot of use for the others. None of them were really doing anything anyway, just taking credit for natural events. One Godlet to rule them all…
The rest of them, Thor, Vulcan, Venus, Hades, Hecate, Lilith, Kali, Ganesh, Mammon, Osiris… all of them can be forgotten. He’ll keep them on as angels but they aren’t needed. He has control. All control. All of it. Pazuzu becomes Metatron, the angel of the whirlwind but for most of the old gods there was only redundancy.
The same band of spirits through all time, perhaps replaced as their lifespan demanded but generally the same lot. They listen to the ants, hear their mythology and fit in with it. Become it.
Until, eventiually, one of them feels the need to not just become it but to control it. One of them wants to really be God.
Scary? It’s probably all just made up but it’s a damn fine story idea, isn’t it?
If I can force it to make sense…