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Relations With The Gods

By: Garman Lord

> ..and also, who worshiped who, i mean did people of a certian "lifestyle"
> choose a particular god and "become like them" or what.??

As private individuals, they might sometimes have, but the primary significance of any pantheon is tribal, rather than individual, and religion, per se, is normally a sociological manifestation, a tribal or communal collective ritual form, rather than individualistic. The individual heathen normally participated in his tribe's rituals in hopes that the tribe, and thus himself, would thus be prospered. Out of fear or respect, it is not likely that he very often approached the gods himself as a private individual, or even cared to utter their names, other than in cases of emergency. Nor did he normally care to "become like them;" that idea is a modern concept. Gods are gods and men are men, and nobody ever asked "What would Woden do?"

Psychologically, tribesmen did not normally personally identify with gods, they identified with tribe... at the same time as they considered tribe itself to be somehow intimately identified with gods, and with all that they considered holy. Essentially, they did not see the relationship between gods and men as in some way reverential, but rather as votive and contractual, normally through sacrifice. Their general policy was to try to please the gods; take care of the gods and the gods will take care of you. What to offer the gods and how to offer it and where and when was a high arcane wizardly art, as was discovery and revelation of the gods' weal and will toward men. The principle was simple enough. Gift the gods, and the gods will perforce gift you back, on the principle that the gift looks ever for gain. Heathen did not normally "pray," unless such prayer was accompanied by an offering. Offend the gods in some way, on the other hand, and they will be likely to turn their backs, leaving you helpless at the mercy of nature's caprice... always a dire matter for any folk living in a state of nature. The theology of any tribe's heathen gods was apt to be a sophisticated one, but one thing it never was was intellectual; that's the difference. That's my take, for whatever it may be worth.