What evidence proves there is only one God?

As usual, this is published a week after it premieres on my Tumblr (also titled The Ithildin Goddess), and includes some minor edits and additions.

This was a question directed at my blog some time ago and I am finally getting around to answering it. Sorry about the delay.

In short?

Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

In fact, the very existence of the First Commandment outright nixes the idea that there is only one.

By saying “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” YHWH was indicating that for those of the lineage of Adam and Abraham, he was the only God worth their time and devotion, as he was also the only one who would protect them — and Biblical history definitely bore out the latter point at the very least. He wouldn’t need to make this demand at all unless there were other very real deities with similar powers who might wind up being worshiped by the Hebrews, even after accounting for the obvious poetry about “money” or “the nation” or “the law” being false gods as well.

However, if you walked up to YHWH and asked if there were other gods, the answer would be an undeniable “yes”.

He wasn’t claiming to be the only god (not in the Old Testament at least) but rather the only God for his chosen people, the Hebrews.

And other tribes and civilizations record having been visited by their own gods with impunity. Ur, Babylon, the Norse, Scottish Picts, Aztecs, Incas, etc; most civilizations have been visited at some point by their guardian/patron deities. The list goes on and on.

In addition to these fine points, atheists will (wisely) point to a lack of theoretical evidence (being, evidence that can be used to empirically test a theory) that supports the existence of any gods, be they one or several. In short, god is presently unable to graduate from the “shaky hypothesis” stage of the scientific method.

A lack of evidence for any is also a lack of evidence for one, and this gives us, as stated in my opening, exactly ZERO evidence that there is only one god.

Sadly this is all we can have evidence for

I suppose the next question you should be asking is “Does the lack of evidence matter to you, personally?”

Star Wars needs a Grey Jedi main character

WHOA. POP CULTURE ON THIS BLOG?

I guess it’s the end times!

Well not so fast! I haven’t seen any meteors, nobody but North Korea is threatening to launch nukes (and it’s not like they could if they really wanted to), and Heimdall and Gjallahorn are mighty silent. Ergo, it is NOT the end times, and you just have the good fortune of seeing me write a bit about Star Wars here on this blog.

As will be the usual routine from here on out, this blog publishes on a one week delay from my associated Tumblr act, so that’s the place to be if you want to get updates faster — with more numerous posts of varying media types as I find share-worthy material. The big stuff will always find its way here though, so if you are somehow Tumblr-averse, fret not. Reblogs of other people’s WordPress content will be exclusive to this site, however, and posts here will be prettier and more multimedia friendly, so there can and will be bonuses to following both sites.

Now. *claps hands* The main article today!

Star Wars desperately needs a Gray Jedi, and here’s how and why.

In the aftermath of the prequel trilogy, a lot of the luster that the Jedi used to have has been lost as we bore witness to what the order had deteriorated into by the time of Anakin Skywalker. We saw them overtaken by the very things they sought to oppose – they became a political and military order more than a spiritual one, which is a very real risk run by organized faith-based movements, such as Churches.

The idealized version of the Jedi that Obi-Wan Kenobi would later preach to Luke Skywalker is utterly nostalgic, and being such, reflects a reality that never really was. But Kenobi was correct – there was a defined period, in which his lifetime coincided with the end moments, wherein the order truly fell from grace and became little better than the Sith. I mean, Mace Windu and Yoda may have been correct that Palpatine was a traitor, but imagine the Pope saying “That Obama guy, he’s clearly a traitor to the American people. The Vatican must intercede and remove Obama from power until a new better leader can be elected.” This is essentially what the Jedi were proposing, which is seriously meddling with a nation’s politics in a very measurable and hardcore way, where the Jedi are meant to be politically neutral. That is a long way for the Jedi to have fallen, and quite a hard surface to have landed on from that height.

Unfortunately, the Jedi were never as removed from politics as Kenobi liked to imagine in his older age. But we, as audiences, today still live with his basic notion that “Jedi Good, Sith Bad”.

Alas that the world is not that simplistic. Wouldn’t it be great if it was though? It would make some key life decisions much easier.

But I digress.

I am very much a child of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, despite the clear nosedive in quality it took close to the end (much like the Jedi). The SWEU made clear that the Force wasn’t neatly divided into Light and Dark sides – that was always just the Sunday School version of it. Quoth Han Solo: “THAT’S NOT HOW THE FORCE WORKS.”

And here we get to the centerpiece of this thought article: we need a Gray Jedi in the hero spot. And I think Rey has it in her to reject the duality of “with us or against us” preached by the Jedi and Sith.

Ask any real life witch: magic is a tool, and possesses little capability to influence you morally one way or the other. The spell caster is in fact the one doing the influencing of the magic, whether they know it or not (it generally helps to be aware of this though).

Rey has no real connection to the Jedi or the Sith at the outset. She’s heard stories about them, but her outsider’s view would be ideal  in an examination of both parties and what they do well and what failures plague each side. From that, the Outsider has everything needed to build a new philosophy from the remains of Jedi and Sith that acknowledges the truth about people: no being can survive with a divided nature (just ask Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde how that turns out). It’s only by meeting in the middle of two extremes that balance (the arc word of the prequel trilogy) can be found.

Rey could be our first New Canon Gray Jedi. The passion and power of the Dark Side married to the discipline and self control of the Light. Either extreme left to themselves will destroy you, but together, they make us whole.

It’s like salt: the constituent elements are pretty damn effective poisons, but when brought together take a form that is necessary to our well being.

The presence of a Gray Jedi in the center spotlight  could be a superb role model to kids, especially in the early days of that path where Rey stumbles. Maybe she gets carried away with how good using the dark side can feel, or she becomes too detached from her friends and allies to the point of apathy while she struggles to free herself of want in the Jedi manner. Maybe both. Preferably both.

Kids need to see someone like Rey get that balance right. After all, that sort of struggle is an important part of growing up, and Disney owes it to kids and young adults to show a role model who is going through that struggle and emerges better and “cooler” for it – give them the take away that we all stumble and fall as we reach for our completion as people: we might do too much of this or not enough of that, but that the end result is every bit as empowering and fulfilling not just to the self but also to others around us that it really is.

We need a Gray.

And Rey has it in her character to be that hero.

Besides, look at her outfit in the last movie.

Gray.

Not light, not dark.

Somewhere in between.

Testation and Divine Plans

I’m not a big fan of the saying “the Gods are testing us”.
Mostly because I don’t think they really do.
I think the gods are wise enough to know that life in itself is test enough. Sure, Loki will play his tricks, and sure, Thor will sometimes call a storm right on top of us at the worst possible moment, but that’s the gods doing what they do in accordance with their own perogative. I don’t really believe they turn their gaze to us at any given moment and go “That one. Let’s screw with THAT ONE, make their lives horrible for a bit, and see how they take it.” Other people’s gods might do that, but I don’t really believe that my gods do. Well, I mean, obviously sometimes they do — if I tried to count the number of stories that depict Odin directly picking someone and testing their character and limits, we’d be here all week. But that’s not a really great example. Odin’s methods tend to be subtler than “your life sucks for an extended period of time.” He will come to you, he’ll question you, dialog with you, and yes, occasionally he’ll challenge you in an area he knows you to be weak at. But Odin’s usual manner is to approach us and give us a very slight and vague heads up that hard times are ahead, and then withdraw to observe — he does not take an active role in the testing or the hardship.
Because Odin knows better than anyone that life is a test. If you’ve ever been in school and just finished a really hard exam and gone “Whew! Glad finals are over! I’m so sick of tests!” well, I’ve got bad news for you. The tests never ended, and they never will.
Sometimes life sucks. We tell ourselves that something bigger than us is picking on us; it can be a very helpful psychological tool to focus our displeasure on some nebulous outside force that we can’t really confront directly.
But the simple fact is that nine times out of ten, you’ve just hit a rough patch. The real test is in how we handle it. And yeah, the gods are watching (when aren’t they?). The good news is that no one is picking on you. Nope, not even Loki. The bad news is that this means that yes, there are in fact trials we may face that present us with a no-win scenario, or the only way through is to cut something we would rather not from ourselves and our lives. This idea that “the gods don’t give us any challenges we cannot overcome” is actually crap. I know, I myself have said it on this very blog. And on a species wide basis, it is true. We’ve never faced a challenge that we couldn’t overcome as a species. However, on an individual level, the assertion loses its power. Individuals are frequently overcome by trials and tribulations that they have no power to succeed against — at least not on their own abilities alone. In those moments, when we are backed into a no-win scenario, we must not lose our composure. Why? Because this too is a test: how we behave in defeat is no less important than how we behave in victory, and someone is always watching your performance.
In a similar vein, people try to console each other in times of tragedy with “God has a plan for us.” I can’t speak for the BIg G, but my gods don’t have any such ridiculously overcomplicated plans. Their plans for us are “watch us be born”, “watch us live” and “watch us die”, while taking notes the whole time. When tragedy strikes, it’s because tragedy struck. It’s nobody’s fault. Bad things happen to good people every day. It’s the opposite of a miracle: a sudden influx of general horribleness into your life for any reason or no reason. Nobody’s gods made that happen — it’s just another one of life’s endless tests. Or at least, we can be sure that’s usually not the case; every god has their capricious qualities, but barring a personal assault on them, they’re often pretty thick-skinned.
With practice, we can ace the tests of life and acquire similar endurance and fortitude.
I think that’s something any reasonable god should want for their people.
Life is a test, and the gods have no plan for us but to see if you face the next trial and then make it to the finish line.
It’s beautifully but tragically simple.

Back from a lengthy hiatus/The Great and Bountiful Relaunch!

Seriously, if we discount the entry where I announced I wasn’t closing the blog, then this is the lengthiest hiatus I’ve ever taken.

Glad it’s over then.

Back to work.

I want to take this opportunity to relaunch with a new name and focus on being less personal and being more of a useful resource for people who may be new to the pagan path.

So, welcome to The Ithildin Goddess, a site for one and all. And yes, you can also find me on Tumblr.

The focus will be reshifted back to an emphasis on the Norse deities, although it will be impossible to ignore Lilith as She is so central to my life. However, unless I specifically cite a source on Lilith, one should simply accept it as an Unverified Personal Gnosis, or UPG. Anything I being up about the Norse gods will be rooted in my readings of Eddas and Sagas, with additional references as appropriate.

This is not meant to be a scholarly website, but more a laypersons sort of guide by the people for the people.

Again, welcome to The Ithildin Goddess, and enjoy your visit.

Yeah, I know what I said

Indefinite hiatus my ass.
Nope. Got a nagging feeling to reopen this blog post-haste, and so I have.
Not yet sure what there is to say, but I’ve learned to trust these sorts of feelings.
That being said, I’ve opened up a new Tumblr and will be running this blog through the wash accordingly for a new relaunch. Fresh coat of paint, new name, etc.

Just need to invest a bit more effort in it, I’m sure.

That’s totally how this works.

Indefinite Hiatus

I will be effectively shutting this blog down by doing so, but I have seemingly run out of things to say here, and as a result will be putting this blog on indefinite hiatus.

This doesn’t have to mean forever — I will obviously return to write something if I have a sudden epiphany that I feel might be helpful to an audience. However, I must consider that by and large, this blog doesn’t really have that many readers and even so, the entries I used to love doing have started to feel like work. Furthermore, most of my spiritual experiences in the span of this year are of the deeply personal sort that I don’t wish to share with strangers on the internet.

If I have something worth sharing, I will return to share it, but as I’ve no idea when that might be, I think that suits the very meaning of “indefinite”.

It’s been a fun several years, and hopefully inspiration will strike sooner rather than later as I really miss the old days of this site.

Nuclear Option

I’ve long struggled with my weight issues. When I looked at the scale and saw “274 lbs” flash across the screen, I determined something had to be done. Finally, I would take decisive action and turn this thing around.

Except there was a slight problem.

I’d been saying this since I hit 245.

But, this time was a little different. I was aware that each previous promise to reverse my weight gains had met with an early death. Clearly, promising myself I’d change things wasn’t accomplishing anything.

So, I did something I try not to do with frequency.

I made a solemn oath to Lilith that I would  turn things around. Not for myself (though I admitted I would also benefit from it), but for Her. To add additional gravity to the oath, and make it even more binding, I appealed to Tyr to witness and enforce the oath should I lose the trail.

I tend to call oaths to deities “the nuclear option”, as they are serious matters. One should never make these lightly. I have only ever made one oath that had been properly witnessed and bound, and that was many years ago to Lilith. These are powerful things that can easily bind us in this world and the next, and so they should be made with care and caution. You would do well to consider the gods as sort of assholeish lawyers who will screw you over if you leave a loophole that might enable that, particularly with chaos deities like Loki, Raven, or Coyote. This isn’t to say they would move to screw you over if given the opportunity, but it’s generally good strategic thinking to not even leave that opening in the first place.

Making oaths should be approached in the same manner as safe sex and the risk of STDs. Only swear oaths to those you absolutely trust, take every preventative measure you possibly can, and make sure that damn agreement is airtight. Of course, the best way to not get screwed over by a capricious deity via a loophole is to not swear the oath in the first place, kind of like the best way to avoid AIDS or unwanted parenthood is to not have sex at all.

It’s worth noting that even the Christian deity occasionally screws over people who have airtight pacts with him, as seen in the story of Job. Job, who had done literally nothing wrong was subjected to suffering and torture by a satan, a class of accusing angel, because the satan had simply argued that humans are only pious when the weather is fair, as it were. God essentially said “that’s a reasonable theory. Go beat the shit out of Job and see if it’s correct.” And so Job, the nice guy, pillar of the community, the man who followed all of God’s laws to a tee with nary an imperfection, was still screwed over as if he’d done everything wrong. Granted, God would later reveal that he knew in advance that Job wouldn’t break, but I doubt that felt particularly justifying to Job at the time. Furthermore, Job’s family, who were similarly pious, did break and forswore God in the face of their supernaturally extraordinary suffering. Dick move, God.

This isn’t unique to the Christian deity. It’s just a good illustration of how capricious deities can be. If I listed every example of the Greek gods ruining the lives of people sworn to them, we’d be here for years. Even the gods of Asgard, for all their emphasis on honor, are not always immune to this sort of behavior.

Now, this might end up sounding like a huge advertisment for agnosticism or atheism, and in the end, that’s your choice. I and many others have found that having a deity or few in their lives improves things tremendously. If you choose a different path, then that’s your decision, and bravo for making an informed choice. But, for those who choose to worship a deity or several, it behooves us to exercise discipline whilst making promises. Don’t promise something you don’t think you can deliver on, be careful who you promise it to, watch your wording, and once bound by an oath, don’t back out unless you absolutely must, as that will reflect badly on you in the future unless both parties agree to it. In the face of a well reasoned explanation or extraordinary circumstances that you couldn’t have been expected to anticipate, most gods will amicably agree to annul the oath.

In general, just be really careful and don’t promise what you can’t keep.

I made this oath to turn around my weight gains because I knew I had to for my own health — I knew in advance how inviolate an oath would be. In fact, I was counting on it.

But that’s not going to be the case for everybody.

Make your oaths with caution and care, and only when you must.

Gods guide you.

Sweet sugary corrosive goodness

I found this on Facebook today, and it honestly smacked me right in my complacency. I needed that.

I thought it only fitting that I pass it along.

You can’t domesticate a god.
As the pagan populace grows I see more of the same. Cutesy hearts and stick on stars. Purple ponies, pink ribbons and buckets of rainbow glitter.

Not long ago, our gods were wild and fearsome. Their hair tangled with lichen, their blood made of the fire in the hearts of ancient mountains. The seas would thrash and crush entire armies upon the jagged maws of old cliffs – just because they could, and the skies would unfurl white fire should one so much as disappoint them. They would just as soon rend you apart had you failed to appease them, as they would grant you favor for getting something right.

Today though.. today I see weakness. Folks think that our great and mighty goddesses can be honored by painted shadow boxes slathered in glitter and stick-on’s. Hello kitty adorns altar tops along side pink haired princesses and my little ponies. Quartz crystals are sung as cure-all’s when no actual effort is put forth to allay the syndrome. How can our gods not feel they’re being mocked with this absent minded approach that sparkles win everything?

Our gods, are not purity of light and all that is happy-go-lucky. They are not made of pure positivity who thinks your latest craft is just so spiffy! What is actually being done to honor them? What sacrifices are being given, when was the last time you gave them something that hurt to really let go of, that meant the world to you?

Hel, Hecate, Morrigan, Mab.. throw a stone and you will hit a goddess with a very dangerous dark side. All of them in fact. You worship the mother of the moon with the face of glinting white silver, yet neglect the fact that she has two, and the other is hidden in the blackness of space.

Do you think the gods who’ve had entire lands face a winters hunger to offer their gathered stores of food just for a hope to receive their blessing for a good harvest the next year, is impressed that you shared a cracker with cheese while your plate is fat and heavy with leftovers that you’ve ignored? Do you think they care about your plight when you do nothing to lift a finger to help yourself and you just dump it all in their lap?
Do you think they do not anger because you only believe in their light?
That’s like saying you’ll never hit a red light because only the green light will ever effect you.

Our gods are being ignored, dumbed down and taken for granted.
Rare are the few who devote themselves, who pray each day and are truly, whole heartedly thankful for the blessings they have each and every sunrise. Few are they who do the hard work and make the tough sacrifices, and so few are they who are respected by the gods they claim to worship. They don’t work for you because of your chirpy, cheerful little chant.
They want your pounding heart, your twisted guts, your rushing blood, your streaming tears, your torn screams and your salted sweat. They want your honor, your honesty and your pain induced effort.

You cannot placate the gods though trivial meaninglessness. They will never be your lap cat, to be held and cuddled.
They will not accept half-assery.
And they will never, ever be domesticated.

It’s true. Recently, I have felt like Lilith was not as… invested as I felt she has been in the past, and reading this, it’s become rather clear to me. I’ve been prioritizing how she makes me feel instead of doing her will.

Doing her will is admittedly extremely difficult as she rarely tells you anything, be it up front, clearly, or indeed at all. She seems to delight in leaving a trail of breadcrumbs around and watching me flail like a beached fish as I attempt to figure things out.

Small wonder then that I have almost completely stopped trying to figure things out. “It’s too tough” “It’s too complex” “Why don’t you just tell me what you want?!” I keep moaning. And in my frustration and anger, I stopped doing what she wanted. I stopped figuring things out.

I stopped working for her.

Yet I was still fixated on how she made me feel when I had accomplished something. I wanted a “lap cat” of a deity. Lilith is not that, nor will she ever be. Gods above and below, I don’t really ever want her to be that — how degrading it would be for such a strong and proud goddess!

But I’d fallen into a path of laziness, of paying lip service to beings mightier and wiser than I could ever possibly be; all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will never equal ONE of these magnificent deities, even when the king’s men exceed the number of grains of sand of the Earth.

In that time of lipservice, I grew to be physically lazy as well. I overate. I stopped exercising. I became soft, squishy, and portly; easily tired and overcome. In truth, this isn’t really directly linked — you can be fat and lazy and absolutely pious. But how we treat our gods is often a metaphor for how we treat life, and things which cause us to be lazy in one will often spread to the other. An infection of the soul, if you will.

I had been infected, and it took this wonderful, sobering writing to smack me in the face and make me aware of this debaucherous revelry I’ve been engaging in for years. Lilith doesn’t mind a spot of debauchery here and there — she’d even tell you it can be good for you when practiced in measure. Odin would likely tell you the same. In truth, most of the Old Gods would. But when you let it overcome you, and take over your life, it becomes corrosive to everything good about you.

You know what else is corrosive?

Sugar.

Holy Hel below, sugar is corrosive.

And a lot of modern day pagans don’t want to acknowledge that half of what defines the old gods is fire, blood, and strife. They want to see Odin as a wise man (and he is) who always makes perfect decisions (he definitely and categorically doesn’t) and never goes back on his word (spoiler alert: he does that a LOT). They want glitterdust and love-will-cure-all and friendship-wins-the-day and sugary sweetness.

But guess what? The world ain’t like that honey. The gods are very much of the world, not above or beyond it, and so they reflect this reality. Odin is wise, but he screws up occasionally or emotions will get the better of him. Thor is strong and brave, but it can cause arrogant overconfidence. Freya is sexually empowered, but it can still cause scandal. Even the god of Jesus the Christ acknowledges this central truth.

And other deities? Like Kali or Lilith? They often don’t have a sugary side. Lilith reserves that for family and those she’s called into her service.

But she doesn’t give sugar all the time; sugar in abundance corrodes, and so she reserves it in measure for those who actually serve.

Because good feelings in faith are rather like candy: you only think you want a diet of nothing but that.

In truth, it’s horribly bad for you.

David Bowie has passed away and there will never be another like him

The New Moon is a time of change, often painful. It’s a threshold whereby things will never be the same once crossed over. I’ve described it in the past on this blog as being akin to like a snake shedding its skin.

The New Moon that met the newly born year of 2016 ended up being just such a one, for David Bowie passed from this world just as the New Moon ended. I’m at a loss to see how this change is like my usual analogy of a shedding snake. Yes, this is painful, but not more beautiful. If anything, the world feels like it’s an uglier place without David.

Passed away at 69, Bowie is a man who left his mark on music, leaving behind “27 studio albums, 9 live albums, 46 compilation albums, 5 extended plays (EPs), 111 singles, including 5 UK number one singles, and 3 soundtracks. Bowie also released 13 video albums and 51 music videos”, according to Wikipedia, which goes on to point out that “Bowie released his final album, Blackstar on 8 January 2016, his 69th birthday and two days before his death on 10 January”. This was a man who suffered through cancer and beat it.

“But he lost!” you might say, “It killed him!”

No, he beat it. Death will eventually take us all. Even the gods are not immune to it, so to think that we can try to escape it is laughable, a joke with not much humor behind it. David Bowie however was a man who gleefully drowned himself in the creative waters of the Human Race over and over again, stalwartly refusing to die young, as if to say “I can’t die yet. Not now, not here. I still have more ideas, and more music, and I won’t leave until it’s all out there.”

Artists dying young is the norm, bringing to mind Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, and all the other members of the so-called “27 Club”: a collection of tragic losses of talent before the age of 30.

Bowie beat the odds. He beat the odds, after pushing boundaries and living fast and rough through the 60’s and 70’s – a time where pushing boundaries and living fast and rough was even faster and rougher than we think of today – eventually kicking the drugs, and hitting the straight and narrow again while never losing that “weird” edge that is so iconic to his legacy and so inspirational to so many of us today. He beat the odds, and he beat them while battling cancer.

That’s no loss. If anything, it’s one of the greatest victories any man can strive for. He died doing what he lived for: getting one last album, one last song, out for the world to enjoy.

I know people who aren’t fond of Bowie’s music; none of his 52 years of music will do for them. But to call him any less than a music legend is a disservice to the art he has produced, the people he has inspired, and the lives he has changed.

And all the art, all the music, films, voiceovers, tv shows, and collaborations he has produced will stay with us, continuing to inspire and change forever.

David Bowie will be a hero to many, including myself, forever and ever.

And that is the beauty beyond the pain of his passing.

Between Bowie and Freddie Mercury, the halls of the gods are filled with music. May such legends NEVER stop or falter.

Goddess Lilith

This is a pretty good general summary of Lilith for those who might be new to the topic. In addition to the suggested links, I’d recommend reading “Mysteries of the Dark Moon” by Demetra George, which, although it doesn’t solely discuss Lilith (venturing into discussions of other “dark” goddesses like Hecate and Kali), has an amazing look at Her nonetheless.

Lilith can be a daunting Goddess to follow, but for those who make it very clear to Her that She is the path they wish to follow, She can be very affectionate and helpful.

Journeying to the Goddess

“Lilith” by zummerfish

“Lilith’s themes are freedom, courage, playfulness, passion, pleasure and sexuality.  Her symbol is an apple.  In Hebrew legends, Lilith is a dangerously beautiful Goddess who refused to subordinate Herself to Adam, feeling She was created as an equal. This makes Lilith perhaps the first true liberationist, and She resolves to make modern life similarly equal for all people. She also boldly instructs us to stand up for what we believe in, unbridled and courageous, no matter the cost. According to legend, Lilith was turned away from paradise for Her ‘crime’, and She has been depicted in art as a demon.

Leap Year occurs every four years to keep our calendar in sync with the solar year. Customarily, women break loose today, asking men out or proposing marriage. In today’s liberal society, actions like this aren’t overly surprising. Nonetheless, Lilith charges us with the duty of ever seeking…

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