A little wee contribution

I’ve added my first new page to DeoMercurio.be for 2016; the topic, modestly enough, is the nature of the gods. Please have a look (French version here, English version here) and feel free to leave comments in the comments section below.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this new page is more philosophically oriented than most of the pages are. As elsewhere on the site, I try to cleave close to the sources (religious inscriptions, depictions, other kinds of monuments, and classical texts); in this case, I spend a fair amount of space commentating on the viewpoints of various philosophical schools on the nature of gods. I’m all too keenly aware of the limits on my knowledge of ancient philosophy—so please set me straight if I’ve made any obvious blunders. Hopefully my tone towards Epicureanism doesn’t come across as hostile; I’m all for a big-tent polytheism in which (as I have argued in an earlier post) the cultórés of deities should put ourselves on guard against being too dogmatic in our assertions. (No matter how bad the Epicureans suck. 😉 ) I do claim the privilege of the practitioner of a non-creedal religion in permitting a degree of uncertainty in belief. As a teenager, and then in my early 20s, I went through a variety of theological opinions, from Wiccan-style archetypalism through advaita monism and even atheism, before becoming a really convinced polytheist from reading—believe it or not—the 5th-century Neoplatonic philosopher Proclus’ Elements of Theology. Through all this, my affinity for Mercury and his divine entourage hardly wavered, and the sustaining strength that comes from pious practice has counted for a lot more in my experience than my fluctuating opinions* on theology.

This is a bit paradoxical, perhaps, considering the way Platonists have insisted on the primacy of mind and ideas over mere base matter. But as the divine Iamblichus explains, acts of worship are not basically material, but serve to elevate our natures beyond the material, taking into account the fact that our souls are embedded in matter. To be strictly honest, I’m not properly a Platonist myself anyway, even if Platonic theology makes a huge amount of sense to me† as it applies, shall we say, beyond the lunar sphere. For this-worldly philosophy, the Stoics seem to me to have at least as much to offer. Nor do they, or anybody else, get the last word. We should read Gramsci and Foucault, and for that matter Oscar Wilde, and see what they know. Truth may or may not be one eternally; since our own cultural context and worldviews are subject to endless evolution, we’d still need to adjust our perspectives continually to glimpse that eternal truth. (Take that, scripture-based fundamentalism.)

I won’t call it a New Year’s resolution, but one of my medium-term goals is to write whatever pages on DeoMercurio.be need to be finished up (there aren’t so many, after all), so that the next step can be focussed on making ongoing improvements and updates. Hopefully by the end of 2016, all the links on the French side of the site, at least, will go where they’re supposed to.

Speaking of 2016, can I just share how tickled I am that we’re now in a year divisible by 144? This is year Fourteen-Gross.‡ Enjoy it, folks, this is the only such year any of us is likely to experience!

In other news, I can’t shake the feeling that January is high holy times for Ancamna—that lovely goddess who deserves to get more press. (Grace Ibor drew a wonderful image of Ancamna, of which a prayer card is available from Galina Krasskova’s website.) The Ides of January (i.e. the 13th) also featured the dedication of an altar to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Silvanus, Diana Sancta, the Genius of the Catabulum, and the other immortal gods in Mogontiacum (Mainz) in 208 CE. (I gather that the catabulum will have been a sort of customs dépôt for goods entering the interior via that Rhenish port city—alternatively, the word was also (later?) used simply for a stable.) Anyway, this is as good a day as any—and perhaps better than most—for honouring the Gaulish Silvanus, who I’ve mentioned in a number of previous posts, as well as the Gaulish Diana, who I should write more about. One would, of course, have been offering gifts to Jupiter Optimus Maximus anyway, as it’s the Ides. 🙂
* It’s possible my opinions might even change again in the future. Can you imagine anything more shocking?
† To the extent that I’ve actually understood anything about it! This may well be debatable. 🙂
‡ When before have you ever enjoyed a year whose only non-trivial factors are 2 (five times over), 3 (twice over), and 7? I ask you.

About DeoMercurio

I’m a Gaulish polytheist, now back living in lands ceded by the Council of Three Fires after several years’ sojourn in Anatolia and in the land of the Senecas, with frequent travels to Gaul along the way. My grandfather’s family came from the area around Trier, and I identify closely with the Treveri in my religious practice.
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7 Responses to A little wee contribution

  1. Heather Awen says:

    I’m so grateful that you are doing this website . You have no idea . I have been in relationships with some of these gods and goddesses but it’s been very out of context because it was so hard to find the context . It’s just amazing to me how dedicated you are . Are you the only person doing this kind of reconstruction ? Everyone seems to go for Gaelic . That’s not really helpful for having ancestors from Brythonic Britain , the group Brython luckily is taking that on because there’s so little to work with that hasn’t been twisted up with King Arthur and Christianity , it’s so far removed in time , but there are the Roman records and the archaeological sites , but no one’s really put it all together the way Brython is trying. Some of my family did leave Britain and moved to Brittany , and there is an obvious Gaulish Roman religion brought by the Romans , but we also know that traveling Baicey was far easier than traveling by land , so there been connections even tribal and family connections with places nearby with water , much more than if you look at Britain and try to find similarities with the Brythonic tribes . If you are close to Ireland , it’s a lot easier to go there then to cross the mountains . So the Gauls are very connected with certain parts of Britain. I’m trying to research the connection between Gaulish Rome and some of the German tribes nearby who were sort of Roman friendly and many people were mercenaries for the Roman military , seeing what things developed in that fringe . We know from permaculture and studying ecology that the Fringe places always have the most diversity . Where two cultures meet we should find a lot more creativity , like when we take into account all of the new archaeology showing how much the traditional SAAMI people of Scandinavia influenced the Germanic settlers religion and technology . I wondered if you happen to have any resources about that fringe area , how those cultures mixed ?

    • DeoMercurio says:

      Thanks so much! I’m always thrilled to hear people are finding the site useful. 🙂 I’ll have to take a closer look at what Brython is up to; there’s a huge amount of overlap between Gaulish and British religion in Roman times (and presumably beforehand), and I have some interest in Britain in its own right as well. I’m certainly not the only person doing Gaulish reconstruction; you’ll find others of us out there in North America, and my impression is that there’s even more activity along these lines in Europe (perhaps also in Brazil…). I totally hear what you’re saying about liminal spaces and creative crossovers — that’s my native habitat, as it were. 😉 I know woefully little about cultural contacts between the Saami and Norse; however, the Treveri (my spiritual/ancestral tribe in Gaul) were exactly at the meeting-point of Gauls, Belgæ, and Germans; were early adopters of Romanization; and travelled widely, including to Britain and farther afield (taking in influences, religious and otherwise, from each of those cultural traditions…).

      • Heather Awen says:

        I love how multicultural everything always was ! I’m working on a long thing about divination and different types of learning, where I want to point out people doing a reconstruction of something that may not have not existed but probably would have like your Gaulish “runes” if that’s ok?

      • DeoMercurio says:

        Oh, sure thing! 🙂 I’d direct your attention to the various disclaimers, nuances, and qualifications on the blog posts in question. Realistically, however, it’s on the interwebs, so people will make of it whatever they want to. 😉

      • Heather Awen says:

        Thanks! Done! Also mentioned you to Brython.

  2. Carys says:

    I was not aware there was so much cool stuff on my birthdate! (Jan 13) Thanks!

    • DeoMercurio says:

      Yes, the Ides of January! Along with the Ides of July, this was one of the most popular days for Gallo-Romans to dedicate altars, apparently. Couldn’t tell you why! 🙂

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