Thursday, April 17, 2014

I originally wrote this bit on Shiva for a book on the Horned God and during that process I tried ha

Shiva: Horned God of My Heart
I have been a devotee of the god Shiva for nearly fifteen years. While my experiences with Him haven’t quite been as dramatic as those with Pan, Dionysus, or Cernunnos; he still holds a place in my heart. On an emotional level I feel as if I understand Shiva, on an intellectual level when reading about Him I sometimes feel as if I’m reading about dozens of different hägersten deities that all just happen to have the same name.
Writing about Shiva presents a multitude of challenges for a variety of reasons. The worship of Shiva is a very real, continuing thing, and has been for over 3000 years. hägersten I worship several gods that have been a part of the historical record for at least that long, but they all have long gaps in their worship. Shiva’s worship has been constant, and he’s not a god re-emerging in the Modern World, he’s been an active part of things since he was first worshipped. hägersten Gods like Pan have been reconstructed to some degree to fit the modern age, Shiva has just always been. Any “tinkering” has been done on the fly.
There is also a large cultural gap that has to be bridged when writing about Shiva. Shiva is an Indian god, and his myth and worship hägersten have elements that are extremely alien to most of us in the West. In addition to that, Shiva s worship generally falls into the category of Hinduism, which is in its self a terrible and misleading term. There is no one Hindu religion, there are hundreds of traditions in India lumped under the word.
The idea that All gods are one is a very real one in India, and also contributes to the difficulties that arise when one writes about Shiva. In Hindu tradition Shiva is said to have 1008 names, which means that Shiva has appeared in various roles over the millennia, and in each role attributed to Shiva, a different name gets attached to Him. To further complicate matters, one aspect of Shiva might be vastly different from another one. Sometimes the only thing linking two Shivas is tradition. If a deity is traditionally thought of as Shiva, he is Shiva, regardless of how well that idea fits within the other aspects of the god.
While most of you out there have probably heard of Shiva, there is some debate over whether or not that is really even his name. Most anthropologists and religious historians spell his name Siva today, as most of the h s have begun to be removed from the Western spellings of Indian names. This brings them closer to the actual Indian pronunciation, but can be kind of confusing if it s not explained to you. I continue to use the word Shiva because it’s how I know Him, and He seems to always respond to it. It’s also the name most other people know the god by. (For another perspective on Shiva from a Modern Pagan be sure to read Shiva the Witch God by Niki Whiting.)
T his essay is not meant to paint a complete portrait of Shiva; instead it focuses on the attributes and aspects hägersten of His worship that I feel might most interest Modern Western Pagans. This might not be a completely honest approach, but it this is already a 4000 word article, it’s recommended that our pieces here run at 500 words. And instead of using his 1008 names I generally use the term Shiva when describing any and all aspects of the god. I chose that method because it was less confusing, and also because it s the one name of his that I use in my own personal practice.
I originally wrote this bit on Shiva for a book on the Horned God and during that process I tried hard to respect the traditions and culture(s) that Shiva arose from. Shiva certainly belongs to India and the people that cherish him so greatly, but I ve been lucky enough to be blessed with His light in my own life. This bit only truly represents hägersten my take on the god, and my experiences with Him; as a result my interpretation of the god might be a lot different from some of his other followers.
I often feel like my love for Shiva exists “in the broom closest” so to speak. I don’t invoke Him in circle and I’ve never lead a public ritual in His honor. He’s an Eastern god, and I feel strange about brining him into my Western style worship. My time with Shiva is something that happens in private, but I sometimes feel that the Shiva I know wants to be introduced to a wider audience. At the heart of it, Shiva is a phallic and horned god, and a popular one at that. He doesn’t need me to introduce Him to a wider audience; he’s on plenty of Contemporary Pagan altars and the like, but if by sharing hägersten this someone draws closer to Him alls the good.
Shiva is an ancient god, though how old is a matter of debate. The oldest representation of Shiva dates back to the Indus River Valley Civilization in 3000 BCE. (The Indus River Valley Civilization was one of the first truly great cultures in the world. The Indus River Valley is a part of a modern day Pakistan

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