The Imperfect Gods: The good, the bad, and the scapegoats

After yet another battle with the Nokeans, I have decided it’s time to address some of this misplaced hatred towards certain gods. In every pantheon, in nearly every religion, the gods do things that we humans know to be wrong. Every one from Greek, to Egyptian, to Norse, AND Christian, have gods doing things we would not dare do (or at least hopefully not). So why, then, do we insist on naming one god from each group as the bad guy? Its simple, we here in the modern world had our pagan history handed to us by those outside the paths who had an agenda. Even when the stories are told and not indicating something terrible, people still see it that way simply because that is what the christian scholars told us it meant. That’s it. Many people view Hades as this terrible greek-satan who is the opposition to the head god, Zeus. Are there any original myths that tell us this? No. The Disney versions say this. The movies of our time say this. Our literature teachers in school told us this is what it meant. But none of the stories say that. The same is true with Norse mythology. Too many of us have been told this is what it says, and this is what it means, for so long, that people instinctively read it expecting it to say and mean just that. But, when read without that idea in mind, you quickly realize all the gods did messed up things. In ancient Egyptian mythology, Auset (Isis) caused Ra to be bitten by a venomous snake that would cause him to die, for the sole purpose of getting him to tell her his true name so that she would have all the same power he does in exchange for healing him. Do we hate her? Was she evil? No, she was one of the high ones. In Greek myth, Zeus raped multiple women. And in turn, his wife Hera was so jealous that she punished the women he raped instead of him (and tried to kill off any of their offspring too). Do we despise them and call them evil? No. They too, are head gods. In Norse tales, Odin drugged and raped a woman; made nine slaves fight to the death so he could obtain mead; had Fenrir, Jormungandr, and Hela kidnapped as children and cast away; and killed two innocent sons and bound their father with their entrails because he was mad at their father. Do we call him evil? No. Again, he’s “The high one”.

Now, in the same way that we ignore these things done by our high gods, we also see multiple cases of the dark or chaos and death deities being viewed as evil and, therefore, that pantheon’s version of satan. Hades, Greek god of the underworld, somehow this makes him terrible. Yes, he stole Persephone and tricked her into eating so she would have to stay. But what else did he do wrong? What did he do that even compares to raping multiple women and then having them be punished and their children killed or cast out? He simply was associated with darker aspects and was not the head god. And let’s not forget he was the eldest and yet was tricked into ruling the underworld because Zeus took what should have by patriarchal order been Hades’ throne to begin with. Then in Egypt, we see Seth who is chaos and death, again interpreted as evil. What did he do wrong? He killed his brother Ausar (Osiris). That’s it. No one seems to mention the reason. Seth was impotent and could not create children. But his wife had an affair and conceived a child with his brother and then had his brother’s wife raise the baby as her own. So he set out for revenge. Did that really compare as more evil than trying to kill the father god in order to trick him into giving away his secret power the way Isis did? No. And when Heru (Horus), the son of Isis and Osiris, went out to kill Seth for revenge of his father’s death, it was Isis herself who stopped him and told him that Seth was a needed aspect of life and NOT to kill him. Seth also is one of the guides that helps the deceased get safely through the underworld. But, he deals with death and chaos and is not the head god, so he must be their satan. And of course, there is Loki. Loki is talked down on for being a trickster, for sleeping with a horse, for being a murderer, and a liar. And yet, his tricks only ever served to make things better, if not outright saving the gods lives. The horse incident doesn’t even need mentioned. He was saving Asgard and was in horse form himself. And again, saving the entire world. Though he was sly, in all the myths, he never (except for once) told a lie. At the most he told a half truth or withheld information, but no lies. And he never broke an oath. Murder? Yes, he may have killed Baldr. I say may because in earlier versions it was not Loki who did it. The mistletoe did it because it was overlooked and that was the lesson of the story. That and “don’t get cocky and tempt fate”. But again, even if you go by that version where Loki did kill Baldr, that too is saving the world yet again. At Ragnarok, ALL the gods die. And Baldr, released from Helheim, comes and rebuilds and takes the throne. So if he were not safely in Helheim, then at Ragnarok he would die, as the prophecy says no one survives. This protects his destiny. Loki did also kill the servant in Aegir’s hall in Lokasenna. But there too, we don’t actually know why. We’re given only guesses by those who already opposed him. And, if those TWO incidents make Loki a murderer, what about the 11 we already mentioned Odin committing for his own personal reasons, and gains? No. Here too, the chaos must be the satan to the high father god. That is all, every bit, interpretation by christian scholars that has been ingrained in us so deeply that we forget to read what the stories actually say and examine it ourselves. If these gods were actually so terrible and evil, why did the “good” gods do bad things, and often worse than the opposition?  The fact is, they were not evil. No more so than any other gods or goddesses. The good versus evil view is not our way. It never was. When the Christians and Abrahamic faiths started conquering, ruling and converting others, they had to give examples from the stories of the people they were conquering so that they would more easily follow. We accept that about holidays. We accept that about how satan became viewed as having horns. So why can we not accept that maybe, just maybe, they told us that all pantheons had a good vs evil theme so we wouldn’t think they were crazy for being the only ones that had it? That view, and the myths, don’t line up. They ALL did bad things. Period. Again, we do not disrespect and hate any of the gods mentioned. I am only sharing those stories to make the comparison and prove the point. All gods did both good and bad. That’s all there is too it. So when it comes to the imperfect gods we love, Honor the good, learn from the bad, and let up on the scapegoats. And maybe thank them for saving the day.

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