Sunday, November 15, 2009

Messenger of the Gods

It is something of a contradiction to me that the Gods would need messengers, helpers, angels, etc. After all, they are Gods. But in my readings, and no, it is not just reading academic books on the subject of Gods, myth, and religion, but actually almost any kind of reading, since you never know where an idea is coming from, or who may inspire a new way to look at something. I have come to understand that there is far more to the idea of a manifestation or epiphany of a god than meets the eye.

If the Gods are these vast eternal beings, as I believe they are, then compressing down to a level of interaction as limited as the mortal must be an undertaking beyond our abilities to understand. After all, have you ever tried to get a cat to understand you? Not just obey simple commands, but actually understand the concepts in your head? It’s impossible. The paradigm shift between man and cat is too large, there is little commonality between how we see the world and how we see it to ever get a viable conversation going with us somehow coming to an understanding that we must put ourselves in their world in order to communicate with them because they cannot put themselves in ours. (the cats, that is)

Gods must face a similar problem when dealing with human beings. We are wondrous creatures. We are resourceful, intelligent, violent, capricious, yet for all that, we are still mortal, with a limited facility for both comprehension and perception. They are eternal, capable of knowing all that is and has been. They do not simply know things as we know them, these things are part of them. They flow and ebb through the cosmos like the waters of the currents of the ocean do around the Earth.

They have too a capacity to understand the myriad probabilities that make up our progression through time. They can look upon these and see, with high precision, what might be in ways we are simply incapable of doing. Yet, in order to communicate with us, they must condense themselves to our level, to our dimension of being, and in so doing cut themselves off from the grand picture. Is this even possible for a God to do? And before you ask, of course there re things that even Gods cannot do, after all, belief in the ability to do the absolutely impossible is illogical. If something is impossible, it doesn’t matter how omnipotent you are, you cannot do it.

But even things like possibility are relative. I mean, it is impossible for me as a human being to fully comprehend, and by that I mean to fully envision and recreate, the higher dimensional planes. We cannot because we exit in a particular set of dimensional planes, and as long as that is the case we are locked into that paradigm, locked into the possibilities those dimensions offer us. So, relative to our dimensional planes, and how those operate in relation to the rest, the Gods are restricted in what they can do. Mayhap an eleven dimensional being can be turned into a porcupine with the wave of a hand, but not a three dimensional (or four dimensional) being like you and I.

I theorize that when the Gods have appeared to people, and no, I don’t think they are constantly walking the Earth appearing in toast and trees and the moldy stains on walls, they do so as pieces of themselves. Do you remember the movie Meet Joe Black? (Brad Pitt at his most deliciously sexy, by the way.) Do you remember that he was death, and that death had come to earth to learn what it was like to be human. That death had incarnated as a human being, or rather, in a human being, in order to comprehend. He was asked how it was that death could be here? Did it mean death had stopped while death was on vacation?

The answer, of course, was no. Death explains that he is but a small portion of who he truly is, a shard, a small infinitesimal part of a much greater whole, and that he was here and there, and when he was no longer here, among us, he would simply rejoin the greater part of himself.

That is how I see the Gods appearing to human beings. It does, also, explain, partially, the idea of aspects and the way Gods appear so differently to different peoples throughout the world.

But what of messengers?

Hermes, the God of Messengers, and Iris, his brightly colored sister, are said to travel the worlds bringing messages to humans from the Gods. In this sense, this aspect of the God is like an angelos, an angel, rather than a deity. He acts as a helper to the Gods. But as a conveyor of the spirit, he acts as a helper to man, or perhaps to the underworld. Hermes’ role is that of a communicator, and so one has to wonder, is there something about Hermes, the deity, that is particularly well suited to this? Is it that Hermes, God of Travelers, mastered the art of splitting himself into little pieces that he might constantly interact with the many dimensional realms of the cosmos? Perhaps.

But I think, maybe, there is something more to it than that.

I mentioned in my little bit about Meet Joe Black that Death had incarnated in a human being, correcting myself when I said he incarnated as a human being. There is a difference there. One is the taking over of a life, perhaps through possession, or through the animation and keeping alive of a dead person. The other is a true incarnation. A divine spirit being born and living a human life then dying as all mortals do and returning to it’s original place or state of being.

This concept is not alien to us, the Christians believe God incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth, Hindus believe Rama and Krishna are such divine incarnations, and in our own religion there are demi-gods who are said to have been the “children” of Gods, such as Herakles or Achilles. Were these human beings incarnations? After all, when a God impregnates a woman, is he not leaving a small part of himself in her to join with her and be born as a mortal being? Was Herakles both a man and Zeus himself?

I do not know of any particular character in the myths that I could rightly claim to be Hermes incarnate, unless they are all incarnations of the divine messenger, bringing something to the world that did not already exist through his incarnation. (A list of Herme’s Family is here:

But what is it about Hermes that makes him especially suitable to travel the worlds? Why does he choose to fracture himself like this in order to be a part of it all?

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