Principles of Mythological Hermeneutics (I)

Principles of Mythological Hermeneutics (I)

Where the myths appear to depict the Gods as flawed, therefore, we must understand that there are ways of interpreting these myths that restore to the Gods Their freedom of action. And this, indeed, is how we must see it, because in making the Gods slaves to petty emotions, 1 we limit Their agency every bit as much as if we regarded Them as mere types or mechanisms. In interpreting Them thus, of course, we do not harm Them, but only ourselves, and those we might persuade to see Them likewise, introducing obstacles into the path of devotion. There is a place for anthropomorphizing the Gods, that is, for seeing Them in our own image, but only insofar as it facilitates Their action on behalf of the cosmos, because otherwise, what is the point of even engaging with Them? Similarly, there is a place for speaking about a God’s ‘role’ or ‘function’, in order to facilitate engagement with Her, especially at its inception, but we must discard these notions to the degree that they would restrict that engagement. — Edward Butler, at Polytheist

Butler has interesting things to say here (and he usually does otherwise), but I can see how many people gloss past his writing. Butler can be dense reading, but he’s worth it.


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