Why Not Make Your Own Gods?

I’m not a mediaeval Scandinavian, so why should I worship the Norse pantheon? Wouldn’t I be better fit with a more modern religion, or by making my own religion?

It’s keeping me up at night.

Religion, I’ve always argued, is a product of culture. Religions look the way they do because of the cultures they arose in. Of course there’s an influence both ways. But you don’t get a Dionysos in northern Norway, and you don’t get a Skadi in Hawaii, to put it crudely. There are parallels found in various religions, but they are all different on certain levels, and those differences are driven by culture, which is also driven by geography.

My point is, pre-Christian Scandinavian beliefs are specific to a certain people in a certain place in a certain period of time: pre-Christian Scandinavians. They shaped and were shaped by their beliefs, which occurred in their culture in a very organic way. I am neither Scandinavian nor pre-Christian. Honestly, those beliefs are incredibly foreign to me – I’ve had to read about them and study them and wrap my head around them and try to live them. It’s hardly a natural cultural context for me to live in. And yet I have to try if I want to understand or practice a religion of Scandinavia.

Surely I, as a modern person, would be better suited to a religion born of and into a modern context and culture? Surely I should follow a religion relevant to me, one with pavement and metal buildings and cars and packaged food? One that encompasses the 9-5 and the white picket fence? If this religion doesn’t exist, shouldn’t I create it for myself? There can be no religion more compatible to the individual than one the individual creates.

I would understand it, relate to it, connect with it personally. I could make my own religious texts, ones without historical question marks or questionable translations. My gods would be ones I saw myself in, and ways of making sense of the world around me.

This whole thing sounds pretty good to me. As a kid, I invented my own pantheon. There was Ziye, the moon goddess, Tasar and Amaera, the primary god and goddess, one to do with battle and the other with healing. There was Rakkia, the goddess of living things, and Rubaiya, goddess of death. Yuusoma, goddess of the sun. Names and deities I liked and felt comfortable with. And most of them female, like me.

It depends on how you define or use religion, I suppose. But one thing that created religions do not have, at least not to nearly the extent as organic religions, is wisdom about the secrets of the universe. You as an individual do not have access to the spiritual wisdom of generations, and a created religion will never be as deep or as informed. (If it underwent centuries of practice and change, maybe.)

Hel, maybe I’m wrong. On second thought, pagans successfully follow religions like the system/s found in Tolkien’s work, for example.

In any case, the real reason I still follow the religion of the North instead of sticking with my personal pantheon is because it resonates with me deeply. It makes innate sense. It feels like home. It feels natural. It’s where my heart has led me. And no matter the superficial qualities of any given religion, this is the most important thing: to do what you are pulled to do, to do what makes your spirit feel at home.

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5 thoughts on “Why Not Make Your Own Gods?

  1. firechildk 9. March, 2015 / 17:28

    “But one thing that created religions do not have, at least not to nearly the extent as organic religions, is wisdom about the secrets of the universe.” Perhaps, but do you need to know the secrets of the universe? I love learning and discovering things, but I don’t feel like I need to know those things. If it’s something you want to pursue, that’s certainly valid, but I don’t think it’s necessary, so do what makes you happy.

    PS: “Both” is also an option 🙂

    • Katla Hrútsvinr 9. March, 2015 / 19:00

      Personally I’d like to discover That Thing that’s been bugging me since as long as I’ve been self-aware, which I suspect is some secret of the universe. But you’re totally right, it’s not necessary, and personal satisfaction is the important thing.

  2. caelesti 25. June, 2015 / 00:58

    My compromise is to try to figure out how to adapt my traditions (Gaelic & Germanic) to my local, regional cultures, and the local ecosystem- spirits of rivers, lakes, trees, animals etc. Adapting local festivals and so forth.

  3. Matty 23. March, 2017 / 10:29

    Interesting article.It is written in certain psychology texts- (sorry I cant quote,) that a childs natural state is one of pantheism. I.e seeing that the whole world around is imbued with character and personofied energies.Hunter gatherer societies continue this way of thinking throughout life, so do Heathens. It is through a continuous process of denial- exposure to Abrahamic religions and at times “shaming”by adults that children give up the idea and ignore their feelings.
    If we examine the polytheistic religions alot of the Gods–Goddesses have similar roles characteristics.I believe that all these tap into a primordial understanding of the energies of thew universe, that has been with us all since first humans first became self aware.
    I had adream once where a power told me that “throughout the universe there are many names and stories of the very same Gods–Goddesses that people have learnt to understand. As far as creating your own , I dont know if thats truely possible or if the Gods –Goddesses change morph and adapt to our geographical position and understanding.As you know here in Australia is very different environment than North Europe. Here is a land of bright scorching sun and drought. Also a land of extremes floods and cyclones.
    Even so the same forces are at work and I think that with time they will show themselves in a particular Australian form. —SORRY FOR SUCH A LONG COMMENT–

    • Katla Hrútsvinr 6. April, 2017 / 19:17

      Interesting – thanks for your input. Food for thought for sure.

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