Un excellent article rapporté par Skadi. En anglais, si le vocabulaire vous manque essayez toujours avec google trad c’est déjà ça.
The shape of a god
« It was a private conversation with Glen from PostPaganism, that started me off to thinking.
The Roman gods seemed like the shadows cast by Greek counterparts. The Greek gods seemed boisterous and full blooded… and entirely human in shape and colour.
It’s this notion of the gods looking human that I’ve been considering. It’s very obvious that the gods are not human, yet so many of them are seen with a human shape. Is this because they do look human or is something else entirely going on here?
Names and forms are funny things.
As my understanding of some deities evolved, so did the name that I called them. For instance, I was drawn to Rhiannon of Welsh medieval tales, for years and years. Later, though I had been completely against the idea once upon a time, I came to find that the name Epona was a better ‘fit’. And then Rigantona-Epona. All this time the image I held in my head was of a lithe woman with red hair and sharp eyes.
When I decided to start looking for the gods in the landscape (which ultimately lead me right here) the way I perceived the deity I had called all those names changed. The image in my head was no longer of a woman at all, but of a grey and dappled horse. Along with this change none of those other names felt right any more. Now the ‘best-fit’ name I have for Her is Horse-Mother.
So what’s going on with that? Is it wrong to think of the gods in human form? Is one form better than another? I don’t believe so, no.
I’m a fan of Stephen Harrod Buhner’s books. If it’s got his name on it then I’m certain to give it a go. Something he often talks of is the heart being an organ of perception (If this has intrigued you I suggest you read ‘The Secret Teachings of Plants’). The way he explains it (convincingly enough for me to sit up and take notice, though I’m no science buff to either add a stamp of approval nor condemn, so you shall have to make your own mind up) using various studies is that the heart is as powerful a receiver of electro-magnetic information as it is a producer of electro-magnetic information. When Buhner talks of how to take meaning from the images/sounds/tastes etc that might form in response to something out side of you, he suggests that the brain, in its supporting role, interprets the electro-magnetic signals into things that you can understand (I have over-simplified greatly here but that is the gist of his ‘why’ behind the ‘what’).
It is my feeling that when we perceive the gods, or anything else, a certain way it is simply because it is the best way our brain has of informing us of that information. When I saw Rhiannon as a red head with sharp eyes, my brain was turning Her fiery, dynamic energy into something I could understand. As my base of symbols grew, as they deepened, my brain had more material to work with. And that is why I believe the gods can wear different forms for different people.
There is a story, that when the Celts arrived in Delphi they laughed to see the gods shown in human form. I’ve read elsewhere, though I can’t remember where, that there is some doubt if this really ever occurred. Still, we do have the story and it came about from something. If you spend any time reading through some of the current books available on the Celtic peoples you soon find out that before the Romans came on the scene, possibly emulated by those in southern Britain even before the Roman occupation, it is thought that the Celtic gods were not portrayed in a human form at all. Instead the symbol they came to hold in Roman iconography, was the sole portrayal of them by the Celts. For instance, in Roman iconography Taranis holds his wheel. Before this, the Celtic peoples would have needed only the wheel itself as a representation of Taranis. We’re looking here at a difference of perception, and obviously from this we can say that our perception is at least partially determined by the culture in which we are raised. In most of the western world we are continually exposed to the idea of God being this big guy who sits up in the heavens. Whether our family is Christian or not, it sometimes subtly and sometimes openly, permeates the culture we live in. Therefore we tend to grow up thinking that gods look more or less human shaped. It is not bad or wrong to think of gods looking human, for most of us it is just the only perceptual lens we have been given. That lens can be changed but it doesn’t have to be changed.
I used to fret that I had no clear picture of Briganti in my mind. Now that kind of seems fitting, and possibly if I ever experience Her more directly maybe a picture will emerge that I might understand Her better. Maybe the form will be a human one, maybe it will be something completely unexpected. But maybe I will never experience Briganti closely enough to form any picture at all. Who knows? «