Thursday, 7 August 2008

Personal Gods - a rogues' gallery of deities I quite like.




Fortuna, goddess of, unsurprisingly, fortune. Known aliases include "Lady Luck"; aspersions are cast on her fickleness (qv O Fortuna by Carl Orff, staple soundtrack to horror films and aftershave ads). Famous for not often being a lady, and maybe not having been a lady to begin with (qv Guys and Dolls). You can do what you like to please her, but you'll never know if your luck was favourable because she liked the cut of your jib, or not. Unpredictable. The only thing you can guarantee is that there are no guarantees. To paraphrase what Pascal said of God, it's best to worship her, because if she exists you're covered, and if she doesn't, you've lost nothing. Aptly enough, even worshipping her is a gamble.

Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel. Bear with me a little on this one if I tell you his main alias is Lucifer. Worshipped pretty much exclusively by the Yezidi, a tiny ethnic Kurdish minority in Iraq. They believe that God made man and told the angels to bow down to him, which they duly did, but Melek Taus refused, saying that surely the angels were the finest of God's creations and shouldn't bow down to a creature made of mud. So far, so Biblical. The Yezidi reckon, however, that at this point rather than casting him out for insubordination, God said "Well done, that was exactly the answer I was looking for, and unlike all these yes-men you alone have the pride to recognise that you are my most beautiful creation..." and other encouraging noises. God then disappeared to create other universes, leaving Melek Taus, the Devil, in charge of this one. Given the extraordinary persecution the Yezidi have suffered over the years, that sounds about right.

Legba Atibon, voodoo god (or loa) of the crossroads. He represents humility, comprehension, and the ability to see and appreciate the potential in others, which in itself facilitates communication. Definitely the god of the internet and libraries - and of any conversation or exchange of information. How could you not worship him? The kindest and most affectionately-regarded of the loa, he has relatively simple tastes for a god, and rather than demanding expensive tribute and sacrifices is happy with a cup of coffee and some tobacco. So also the god of booksellers then...


4 comments:

Steve said...

I've always had a fascination for Kali but that might be because as a child I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom far more than was good for me. I quite like Thor as well. Noisy and rumbustuous. A good deity to have on your side.

LucyFishwife said...

I see the appeal of Kali, but I like Saraswati better (only 2 arms, goddess of - predictably - learning and wisdom etc. Also rides a white swan, so a bit of a T-Rex vibe too). As far as Norse gods go I'd have Loki - after all, if he's not on your side he's plotting to rob or kill you, so best to keep him sweet... Thor would definitely be the god to have around in a dodgy pub though!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Whichever patron saint of whichever problem I happen to have at a given time.

Is that shallow?

LucyFishwife said...

Not at all! I have a dictionary of saints at home next to my etymological dictionary and my Brewer's Phrase and Fable (my reference shelf is a thing of beauty). I secretly believe the Catholic church has got it right - there's a specific saint for everything. Unlike the good old CofE in which I was raised (lapsed), where you have to hope Jesus knows what to do about period pain or missing receipts.