Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Top Ten: Other Gods

I haven’t been posting much because things are hectic for me lately. There’s been plenty of stuff for me to post about, and I have started about a dozen posts, but something always comes up before I can finish and I end up leaving it half done. Story of my life.

I also had some major computer problems a couple of weeks back. I backed up the important stuff and reformatted my hard drive. After getting the drivers all updated and everything transferred back, my computer is running great.

The problem is, I lost all of my music. The 33,000 or so mp3’s I had won’t be replaced overnight. I just didn’t have any practical way of backing up that much stuff. I made a playlist file of all my music, so I can open that and literally see every song I used to have, but I can’t search through it the way I could before.

Instead of Top Ten lists of songs, I figured I would branch out and do some other top ten lists. Since I haven’t being doing much about religion lately, I figure why not come up with a top ten list of gods who are better than YHWH (which is the name of the Judeo-Christian God, for the sake of all those Christians who have asked me in the past).

Also, I figured I would explain a little about each pick, rather than just list them and leave it up to you to figure out who the Hel these gods are.

10. Hel – Hel is the Norse goddess who oversees a location also called Hel. Hel is where people who die of sickness and old age go. It’s not the burning Hell of Christianity, it’s more a gloomy, boring place. It’s not as glamorous as Valhalla, which is where warriors who die in battle go to fight to the death all day, until they rise again to eat dinner and drink themselves into a stupor while recalling the battle. Hel is more like waiting at the DMV, and the number on the ticker always stays the same. Still, chances are good you’ll die of sickness or old age, so Hel is someone you might want to get to know.

9. Kronos/Saturn – An often forgotten god, his Roman name still lends itself to Saturday, the planet, and a line of cars. He dispatched his father by castrating him, so this god might be a great pick for those who fight dirty. He also ate his children, for fear they would overtake him. Maybe he should be the god of Republicans, as well.

8. Mithra – The only even quasi-Eastern god on my list, Mithra was an interesting god. The word “mithra” means “binding,” and Mithra was the god of truth and oaths. It is likely with this early god pre-dating the Greek pantheon that the practice of formerly swearing oaths to a god was popularized among early Indo-Europeans, a practice still common even in secular Western nations. Mithra was popular in Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism.

7. Odin – Just in case you are in the military, Odin is your guy. If you die in battle, his Valkyries way grab you up and swoop you off to the unending bliss of Valhalla. Odin is the god for whom Wednesday is named (Odin being an Icelandic derivative of Woden). Odin is also the prototype for Santa Claus. Norse children used to put sugar cubes in their socks at night for Odin’s horse to eat. In return, his eight-legged horse Sleipnir (the prototype of Santa’s 8 reindeer) would crap out confections and leave them in the sock. Children who were bad and forgot would be left bloody bones (the Norse were pretty dark).

6. Aphrodite/Venus– Often thought of as the goddess of love, Aphrodite is more accurately the goddess of beauty. She was born from the semen hitting the ocean waves after Kronos castrated his father and threw the testicles into the waves. Hard to believe the result of such an act would be Aphrodite, but myth doesn’t lie!

5. Hades/Pluto – Interestingly, Hades also oversaw a land which shared his name, much like Hel. The difference, however, was that Hades got everyone who wasn’t turned into a god. His Roman counterpart Pluto was further associated with wealth, for he controlled the underworld, the home of gold and gems. Words like Plutocracy (rule by the rich) originate from his name. He would be quite popular in America.

4. Hermes/Mercury – Another popular choice for Americans would be Hermes/Mercury. He is the originator of letters, the fastest of the gods, and is simultaneously the god of both merchants and thieves. Hmm… coincidence? The very name Mercury is the basis for words like merchant, mercenary, and mercurial. Mercury has a planet, line of cars, and an element on the periodic table. YHWH/Jesus has none of those.

3. Apollo/Helios/Sol – Sun worship is one of the only religions to me that makes sense. George Carlin had a great bit about it; you can see the sun, it’s real, it influences you and makes you happy when it’s around. I did a blog post about Heliolatry. There’s plenty of reasons to worship the sun, and Apollo or Helios are good choices, but Sol is another option; she is the Norse Goddess of the sun, and is the namesake of our Solar System.

2. Gaia/Terra/Urd – The earth is an excellent choice when it comes to worship. Environmentalists are already halfway there. Many cults to the Earth Mother are very popular, not only in antiquity, but also today. Gaia is often the most recognizable incarnation, while the Romanized Terra is used in words derived from Latin which pertain to the earth, like terraform. Urd or Urth is the Norse equivalent, and this is the origin of the English word Earth.

1. Eros/Cupid/Love – According to Hesiod, Eros was the first God, before even Uranus. Eros is love, the union between two people. Eros is where we get the word erotic. He is Romanized as Cupid, the winged helper of Venus. Cupid still makes appearances on Valentine’s Day. I have talked to many atheists, but few deny the existence of Love. Yet Love is no more real than any god on this list. Sure, we feel the effects of love, but everyone who has prayed to, or even cursed, a god has felt the influence of that deity. I may not see love the way I see the sun or the Earth, but I feel it, which is what religion is supposedly all about.


  1. I've read where much of the friction between Islam and Christianity revolves around a god hierarchy. When Christ lived there were still plenty of other gods around. By the time Mohammad came along there were far fewer and thus, Mohammad, supposedly being more refined as he came later, is at the top of the heap. My favorite god has always been Pan, a choice that's bound to piss off both Christian and Muslim.

  2. Damn, Pan would have been a great choice. Pan/Faunus was the visual prototype for the horned, hooved devil!


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