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Thread: The Goddess in Popular Culture

  1. #21
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    A few things. When a myth is adapted to a culture, it becomes part of that culture. Inanna is a Sumerian creation. The Sumerian myth is appropriate to Sumer, and Sumer only. The Abrahamic adaptation of what came before it created it's own thing, based off of others. However, I can't re-write the Bible and still call it the Bible, it'd be something new. So, to say that an ancient myth correlates in any way to modern stories, without actually comparing the ancient myth to the modern story, is wrong. The Wiccan myth that you posted, is some person's creation from modern society. So, if you want too say that a modern creation compares to modern stories, feel free. You can't say it compares to the original though, because it doesn't.
    You'll need to point where in my posts I declared the Wiccan version of the Goddess Descending, or any other version (including the Greek Myth of Persephone) was exactly the Sumerian version, as you're insisting I have. You won't be able to, because I never said that. Quite the opposite, in fact. Why do you think I keep using the words "variation" and "version" and "culture"?

    If you disagree with something I've said, fine. But please stop insisting I'm saying the opposite of what I'm saying, then following with a Straw Man counter-argument. Did you even read the entire post, or did you get angry over the link to what I specified, and I quote, "the modern Wiccan version"?

    By "modern Wiccan version," I meant exactly those words. It's a modern Wiccan version of the Goddess Descending Myth. Again, that's not saying it was the Sumerian version, or any other. It's "modern," "Wiccan," and a version. That's a simple fact. It doesn't have to be your preferred version. It's not mine. I prefer what the Christian writers have been doing with it for the last century and a half, myself. I find theirs much deeper, more complex, and, frankly, better written (with much less concerns about being Politically Correct). But then, that should be obvious by the amount of time I devoted to those Christian writers while leaving the Wiccan version with a single link.

    And since you mentioned the Bible...

    There's a perfect example of different versions of the same Myths published within the Canon. Jesus's ancestory changes from Gospel to Gospel, and the compilers of our modern Bible saw no need to fix that. Look it up, and count the generations going back to Adam. The annotated Methodist edition of the Bible points out that this is the case, even in Genesis. The first few chapters tell the Creation Myth as told by the Southern tribes, the next chapters the Myth as told by the Northern tribes. If you have an issue with that, take it up with the Methodists.

    In fact, changing myths, and still calling them of whatever they came from, is wrong. Adaptation is great, but completely changing something in order to make it relevant to today is just bad form. Ancient myths were relevant to ancient society. If it's not relevant to modern society, there's no reason to change it, you just create something new the suits your needs or desires.
    What else would you call the Wiccan version (or the Greek version with Persephone, for that matter)? You've got a Goddess, and she's decending into the Underworld. It obviously draws it's archtypes, symbols, and some of it's actions from earlier Myths, just as Myths have always done, and always will. And again, I must ask... Since that is how Myths have developed for thousands of years, why was it OK for the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans to do it but not for modern Christians or Wiccans? Why aren't you condemning the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for "bastardizing" the earlier Myths? Is it because we now see those as ancient cultures? Well, they didn't see themselves as an ancient culture, at the time. That was modern culture, and modern Myth, back then. We'll be seen as an ancient culture, one day.

    If you object to the entire process of creating Myth, fine. Just say so. But also remember how our Atlantis Myth developed. Plato told a story to illustrate a point, and look at what it's turned into (something not really resembling what Plato described, too much). We don't know whether Plato created the story of Atlantis to illustrate a point he was making, or if he heard a legend and adapted it to illustrate his point. Nevertheless, it's a genuine Myth, now, though it seems more based on Scottish songwriter Donovan's version than Plato's. There those Celts go, again, taking everbody's Myths and rewriting them, making the Atlantians into something resembling the Tuatha De Danann... But then, there's that recent theory that Atlantis was based on Ireland...

    That's a cute assumption, care to provide sourcing for it? Or, are you just saying it to justify the fact that you're "sourcing" of ancient texts is inaccurate?
    Sure, just look at the different versions of the Greek Myths. There are differences in different tellings and perspectives. How the conflict between Agamemnon and Cytemnestra went depends on who's side the person telling the story took. Aeschylus completely demonizes Clytemnestra. Homer's portrayal is more subdued, and her involvement in Agamemnon's death unclear. She killed Cassandra in some versions, not in others. She was avenging the murder of her first husband and infant son by Agamemnon, who then forced her into marriage, in some versions. In others, Agamemnon was her first husband. She had three daughters and a son with Agamemnon, or just a single daughter and son. If it's three daughters and one of them is Iphigenia, then Clytemnestra is avenging her murder by Agamemnon as a sacrifice to appease Artemis.

    So it goes with most Greek Myth. That's because, like Genesis, these started as oral tales that were passed down. Naturally, there were going to be variations once they were written down, and the perspecitve of the person doing the writing would be a factor. And yes, other cultures influenced the Greeks. The roots of the Andromeda Myth are also in Ishtar. In turn, elements of Andromeda's Myth found their way into the Myth of St. George and the Dragon.
    Last edited by perceval23; January 26th, 2011 at 08:48 PM.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by perceval23 View Post
    One of the oldest of Myths is the Goddess Descending into the Underworld. Here's a modern Wiccan version...
     
    http://www.paganlibrary.com/stories/descent_goddess.php
     
    The earliest version of the Myth that we know of is Sumerian, and centers on Inanna, their Goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. Her name means Lady of the Sky. Her symbol is an eight pointed star or rosette.
     
    The animal associated with her is the lion, and the planet associated with her is Venus. Her consort is the shepherd Dumuzid. During the Vernal Equinox festival, the king would establish his legitimacy by taking on the role of Dumuzid, spending a night in the temple with the High Priestess in the role of Inanna.
     
    She descended into the Underworld to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law. However, at the instructions of her sister, Ereshkigal, the dark goddess who ruled the Underworld, Inanna had to remove a piece of clothing or jewelry at each of the seven gates, thus stripping her of her power. By the time she'd passed the seventh gate, she was naked. Ereshkigal took advantage, killing Inanna and hanging her corpse on a hook.
     
    For three days she was left hanging there, as tends to happen to deities in that situation. She had, however, left instructions before her journey just in case something like this happened. Her corpse was recovered and removed from the Underworld, and it was sprinkled with the food and water of life, thus reviving her. However, demons followed from the Underworld, demanding someone else take Inanna's place. They took Dumuzid.
     
    His sister, Ngeshtin-ana, convinced the demons to allow her to take his place six months of the year. Inanna misses him during those months, so her fertility fades, to be renewed upon their annual reunion. Thus, the turns of the seasons.
     
    Quote Originally Posted by perceval23 View Post
    You'll need to point where in my posts I declared the Wiccan version of the Goddess Descending, or any other version (including the Greek Myth of Persephone) was exactly the Sumerian version, as you're insisting I have. You won't be able to, because I never said that. Quite the opposite, in fact. Why do you think I keep using the words "variation" and "version" and "culture"?
    You claim it's one of the "oldest" myths, and yet you post a modern bastardization, which, as I've already shown, is no where *near* the same as this new "version" that you seem to like.

    If you're going to claim there are connections to "one of the oldest myths" as you already have, then you should... oh... I don't know... compare the older myth? By using a modern creation and comparing it to modern literature, you've done nothing but show that modern culture is the same as modern culture.

    As can also be seen by comparing the original myth to the "new" myth, you can see that they are completely different texts, with different meanings, different purpose, and about the only thing they have in common is names.

    So, once again, if you're going to say you're comparing one of the "oldest myths" you should probably use that myth, and not the one that is most convenient to your purpose.


    If you disagree with something I've said, fine. But please stop insisting I'm saying the opposite of what I'm saying, then following with a Straw Man counter-argument. Did you even read the entire post, or did you get angry over the link to what I specified, and I quote, "the modern Wiccan version"?
    I'm insisting on nothing, but merely reading your words. If you want to say "this modern writing is similar to this modern writing" then go for it. When you preface it with "based on one of the oldest" you are being misleading. To those that aren't familiar with the actual history of the myth, they will not see that you are being misleading, and will assume that the modern myth at least resembles the original. That, is not the case, however, and you've been called out on it.



    What else would you call the Wiccan version (or the Greek version with Persephone, for that matter)? You've got a Goddess, and she's decending into the Underworld. It obviously draws it's archtypes, symbols, and some of it's actions from earlier Myths, just as Myths have always done, and always will. And again, I must ask... Since that is how Myths have developed for thousands of years, why was it OK for the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans to do it but not for modern Christians or Wiccans? Why aren't you condemning the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for "bastardizing" the earlier Myths? Is it because we now see tose as ancient cultures? Well, they didn't see themselves as an ancient culture, at the time. That was modern culture, and modern Myth, back then. We'll be seen as an ancient culture, one day.
    Because there is a difference between an evolution of a culture, and an outside culture just changing what suits them. It is one thing for a group of people to change and adapt, it's how society grows. It is not the same thing to, thousands of years later, decide that those cultures weren't good enough the way they were, rewrite their texts, and pass it off as evolution of myth. Or, can you not see that distinction?



    Sure, just look at the different versions of the Greek Myths. There are differences in different tellings and perspectives. How the conflict between Agamemnon and Cytemnestra went depends on who's side the person telling the story took. Aeschylus completely demonizes Clytemnestra. Homer's portrayal is more subdued, and her involvement in Agamemnon's death unclear. She killed Cassandra in some versions, not in others. She was avenging the murder of her first husband and infant son by Agamemnon, who then forced her into marriage, in some versions. In others, Agamemnon was her first husband. She had three daughters and a son with Agamemnon, or just a single daughter and son. If it's three daughters and one of them is Iphigenia, then Clytemnestra is avenging her murder by Agamemnon as a sacrifice to appease Artemis.

    So it goes with most Greek Myth. That's because, like Genesis, these started as oral tales that were passed down. Naturally, there were going to be variations once they were written down, and the perspecitve of the person doing the writing would be a factor. And yes, other cultures influenced the Greeks. The roots of the Andromeda Myth are also in Ishtar. In turn, elements of Andromeda's Myth found their way into the Myth of St. George and the Dragon.
    Greek culture is something I am not at all educated on, so I will pass this off to someone who is. I can't comment on any of it, because I don't know how accurate your words on this subject are to begin with. Toodles.
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  3. #23
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    I can't really comment but with the prospect of two different versions of the Inanna myth... along with the Bible, which we all know has been re-written, or else there wouldn't be the Old and New Testiments...

    I can't help but be reminded of Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet, it's been redone so many times over the years that each one has strayed a little further from the original text. So why not Myths? They are just stories handed down verbally through the ages right? Surely, something is bound to get lost along the way, even if the original Myth is retained somewhere, it's easy to see why the other version could replace it.

    As for Modern Wicca... well Wicca is what it is. I hardly find the need to attach the label "Modern" when it relationship to Wicca. Certainly it's revival in 1960 brought it to the forefront more than in the years before 1960, in which the term "Witchcraft" was more often used.

    Of course I am by no means a Traditional Wiccan, I take what suits me from a variety of paths... I'm merely just offering up my opinion.

    Either way, I did enjoy looking at the stories in a new light.


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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoseKitten View Post
    You claim it's one of the "oldest" myths, and yet you post a modern bastardization, which, as I've already shown, is no where *near* the same as this new "version" that you seem to like.
    I described the Goddess Descending as one of the oldest myths, which is a fact. I said it had many variations over the years, which is a fact. I linked to what I called, and again I quote, a "modern Wiccan version". Are we having a problem with definitions? By "modern," I mean present day, not ancient. By "Wiccan," I mean the practice of the modern religion of Wicca, not ancient religions practiced by ancient cultures. By "version," I mean the version of the Myth the modern Wiccans tell.

    I really don't see what's confusing you, there. Again, never once did I declare it the old Sumerian version, nor did I ever imply it. All I said was it was their version of the Goddess Descending Myth. And that's what it is, their version. And yes, it draws from earlier versions, such as the Sumerian and Greek, as well as Celtic concepts. Just reading it would make that obvious, I think.

    Again, if you so strongly object to cultures adapting old Myths to speak to their own culture, say so. But, I don't understand this denying that that's what they're doing.

    And why do you keep saying I especially like the Wiccan version? If you'd read the posts, you'd have noticed I mentioned it once, and didn't elaborate on it, just linked to it. I then made the focus of that post a Christian take, followed by four more posts on Christian takes. Surely you noticed them, with all those video links.

    Now, granted, the Wiccan version is like the Christian versions in that they're filtered through Celtic spirituality, and blended with the Celtic Fairyland/Otherworld concepts. If you had read the posts, you'd have noticed I'd stressed how the Celtic influence altered things. Given two major causes of modern times, the Green movement and sexual equality, it's natural that Celtic spirituality would gain an influence.

    If you're going to claim there are connections to "one of the oldest myths" as you already have, then you should... oh... I don't know... compare the older myth? By using a modern creation and comparing it to modern literature, you've done nothing but show that modern culture is the same as modern culture.

    As can also be seen by comparing the original myth to the "new" myth, you can see that they are completely different texts, with different meanings, different purpose, and about the only thing they have in common is names.
    No, that's all you can see, as in you, personally.

    The themes are something they have in common. The archtypes are the same, though those archtypes have developed over the years. The old Myths are their roots. Details and locations change, as the culture telling the story does. My focus in this thread is how our modern Myths developed, where they came from, how they've evolved, and how old concepts are told, today.

    So, once again, if you're going to say you're comparing one of the "oldest myths" you should probably use that myth, and not the one that is most convenient to your purpose.
    Sigh... I opened with a version that people who might happen to be in, say, a largely Neo-Pagan forum would be familiar with. Actually, I just linked to it. You may have noticed there are quite a few Wiccans that frequent these boards, and with many, their view of Mythology is based on their own practices. If this was a predominantly Christian forum, I'd have used something Christian as my introductory point.

    Plus, when you Google "Goddess Descent," it's the first thing that comes up after Inanna. And, it has more entries on the first page than Inanna does. So, obviously, the modern Wiccan take has become pretty widespread.

    I'm insisting on nothing, but merely reading your words. If you want to say "this modern writing is similar to this modern writing" then go for it. When you preface it with "based on one of the oldest" you are being misleading. To those that aren't familiar with the actual history of the myth, they will not see that you are being misleading, and will assume that the modern myth at least resembles the original. That, is not the case, however, and you've been called out on it.
    Do I really have to explain what the words "based on" and "rooted" mean? Are you saying the Wiccan version isn't based on or rooted in the Sumerian and Greek Myths? Well, let's take a look...

    But our Lady the Goddess oft grieved deeply for the fate of her creations as they aged and died. She would solve all mysteries, even the mystery of death, and so journeyed to the underworld.

    The Guardian of the Portals challenged her: 'Strip off thy garments, lay aside thy jewels; for naught may you bring with you into this our land, for it is written that your True Self is the only fitting adornment for those in the realms of Death.'

    So she laid down her garments and her jewels, and was bound, as all living must be who seek to enter the realms of Death, the Mighty One.
    Now, let's see... Goddess descending into the Underworld, having to remove her garments and jewels... Now, where do I get this strange notion that that's based on the Inanna Myth? And Death being male and in love with the Goddess... I suppose it could be an amazing coincidence, and this part isn't based on Persephone and Hades, at all, but I doubt it.

    By "based on" and "rooted," I mean just that, nothing more and nothing less.

    Because there is a difference between an evolution of a culture, and an outside culture just changing what suits them. It is one thing for a group of people to change and adapt, it's how society grows. It is not the same thing to, thousands of years later, decide that those cultures weren't good enough the way they were, rewrite their texts, and pass it off as evolution of myth. Or, can you not see that distinction?
    But again, that's how Myth has developed for thousands of years. Every culture has drawn from others that came before, or they had contact with. You're about 5000 years too late to put a stop to it. The only way to have prevented it would have been to find a way to prevent any cultures from ever having any contact with other cultures.

    In other words, if you're going to condemn Christians and Wiccans for "bastardizing" earlier Myth from other cultures, then you need to be consistant and condemn the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for doing the same thing in their time. Why the double standard?

    Greek culture is something I am not at all educated on, so I will pass this off to someone who is. I can't comment on any of it, because I don't know how accurate your words on this subject are to begin with. Toodles.
    Just Google "Clytemnestra" to see just how many variations there were to her Myth at the time. As for now... May I suggest avoiding anything written by Marion Zimmer Bradley. She Wiccanized everything. I've had to explain that no, The Mists of Avalon and The Firebrand weren't how those cultures and their religions were. Still good reads, though, I thought.
    Last edited by perceval23; January 26th, 2011 at 10:49 PM.

  5. #25
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    To address the OP: Thing is, the concept of all goddesses being part of one great goddess is relatively new. There might be traces in ancient times of syncretism and there were certain typical goddess forms. But they were all clearly delineated as specific beings. The "single great goddess" thing is very much an eclectic neopagan thing. Though not really rooted in Wicca, necessarily, considering it wasn't soft polytheism when Gardner was around.

    PS)
    Quote Originally Posted by perceval23 View Post
    In other words, if you're going to condemn Christians and Wiccans for "bastardizing" earlier Myth from other cultures, then you need to be consistant and condemn the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for doing the same thing in their time. Why the double standard?
    This is my standpoint. Granted, I don't like when people mix cultures and deities without considering the implications and nuances of them. But that's not what this is. The simple fact is, yeah, these myths have been adapted for various cultures in ancient times, and continue to be so in modern pagan religions. Wicca is just a modern revival of pagan religious concepts, strongly rooted in British folklore and variations on ancient mythology. As long as a practitioner recognises the fact that those myths are based directly on older ones, I don't see any problem with them adapting those archetypes and stories to new contexts.
    Last edited by Louisvillian; January 3rd, 2012 at 02:53 AM.

  6. #26
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    To address the OP: Thing is, the concept of all goddesses being part of one great goddess is relatively new.
    This is true to some extent, yet Shaktism (Hindu sect that worships the Goddess (Devi) as Supreme) does just that, and its roots are very old.
    Last edited by Gaudior; January 3rd, 2012 at 09:27 AM.
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  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louisvillian View Post
    To address the OP: Thing is, the concept of all goddesses being part of one great goddess is relatively new. There might be traces in ancient times of syncretism and there were certain typical goddess forms. But they were all clearly delineated as specific beings. The "single great goddess" thing is very much an eclectic neopagan thing. Though not really rooted in Wicca, necessarily, considering it wasn't soft polytheism when Gardner was around.

    PS)

    This is my standpoint. Granted, I don't like when people mix cultures and deities without considering the implications and nuances of them. But that's not what this is. The simple fact is, yeah, these myths have been adapted for various cultures in ancient times, and continue to be so in modern pagan religions. Wicca is just a modern revival of pagan religious concepts, strongly rooted in British folklore and variations on ancient mythology. As long as a practitioner recognises the fact that those myths are based directly on older ones, I don't see any problem with them adapting those archetypes and stories to new contexts.
    The archetypes and stories associated with them are what it's all about. Different cultures had different gods and goddesses, all defined in their differences by their culture and time. But, the modern concept of the Goddess is the archetypes. I think it important that modern pagans recognize this. But, I don't think these modern versions of the archetypes are less legitimate for being modern. The old ones were personifying the archetypes for their times and places, after all.

    As far as building new Myths to serve the purpose for our times that the classic ones did for the old, I do think Carroll, Tolkien, Lewis, etc, did it better than the Wiccans. But, after all, it was Carroll, Tolkien, Lewis, etc. The purpose of Myth is to show us higher truths, and get us in touch with however we perceive the Divine through these archetypes.

    As for modern Religion being syncretic, that's the world we now live in. I doubt many of us here only have daily contact with people of our own ethnic and cultural background. And, with modern communication technology and social networking... This very board is a coming together of people with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The modern Myths presented in literature and popular culture speak to almost everyone, regardless of ethnic and cultural background. The old Sumerian version of the Goddess Descending into the Underworld doesn't speak to Buddhist and Shintoist Japan, but the versions with Alice and Dorothy do. Those two are very popular, there, and led to Spirited Away, a Japanese version of the old Myth.

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