Last week, we ran a post in reaction to yet another wave of Very Online Christian Triumphalism about Zeus having long ago been ‘replaced’ as the major deity worshipped in the Greek sphere. We pointed out that as Zeus Pater = Jupiter = Dyaus Pitar, with Dyaus Pitar quite directly (and in Shruti) being hailed as Rudra … this meant that quite the opposite of Zeus somehow being ‘dead’ or ‘discarded’, the underlying Indo-European deific was (still) one of the most popular Gods worshipped today.
Now, at the core of this conception is the notion of ‘Refraction’ – an element that is quite vital to a cohesive Indo-European theology (indeed, to various specific Indo-European theologies within the grander IE sphere), yet which could clearly do with a codified explication.
It’s something visible within the Hindu theological perspective – yet also occurs in the Hellenic , Roman , Nordic, and so on and so forth. Particularly with the Sky Father deific, as it should happen. And yes, we shall be providing a few examples from each to help to elucidate that which we truly mean.
But first … what is refraction?
Consider that well-known paradigm of a beam of white light transversing a prism – Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album cover (or, for that matter, Richard Cheese’s ‘Sunny Side of the Moon’ album cover, which accomplishes much the same effect via the aid of a martini glass), for example.
What we find is that something which is singular – the beam of white light – has become ‘refracted’, has now been made visually apparent as, in fact, a spectrum of colours. We are able to engage (visually, at least), with a greater depth of complexity than would have been the case had the light remained singular from our perspective. Very useful.
Now, there are two elements going on here – the first one being something occurring with the passage of time (as represented by the light flowing forward, into the prism, and then refracting), and the second being something which, regardless of time, is occurrent in space (i.e. the resulting spread of colours upon emerging from the bounds of the prism); although by ‘space’ we hasten to add that we do not simply mean the geographic, but also the perceptional, the theological.
Both dimensions are irreducibly relevant for understanding what is going on in the broad realm of the Indo-European theology.
In a sense, the former helps us to explicate how we get from ‘there’ to ‘here’, as applies Proto-Indo-European religion becoming the multitudinous religious perspectives subsequently in evidence amidst the post-PIE descendant peoples.
Zeus, Jupiter, Odin, Dyaus Pitar … these are all the result, chronologically speaking, of the ‘refraction’ of the Proto-Indo-European Sky Father deific – *Dyḗus ph₂tḗr , if we are being fancy with the macrons and other such pronunciation marks. A process that has evidently entailed Him becoming ‘refracted’ by being carried forward (through time) in various directions by the various groupings that branched out from the Urheimat (and, yes, were shaped by the environments they found themselves in, etc.).
These are all perspectives upon the same underlying God – in some cases, at different points in time (for example, the major attestations for Odin being centuries after those for Zeus – and near two millennia subsequent to Dyaus Pitar in the Vedas), but chiefly in terms of that second dimension – the ‘spatial’, as we can easily observe through the incredible breadth of the relevant distribution. All the way from India to Iceland, in fact!
However, this notion of ‘refraction’ does not only apply between Indo-European pantheonic perspectives (i.e. ‘Inter-‘). It also applies within specific ones (that is to say – ‘Intra-‘).
One interesting illustration for this is to be found within the Gylfaginning – where Gylfi encounters Hárr, Jafnhárr, and Þriði : that is to say, ‘High, ‘Just-As-High’, and ‘Third’.
That is to say – Odin … but three times over.
To quote directly from the text in question:
“Þá mælti Gangleri: “Geysimörg heiti hafit þér gefit honum, ok þat veit trúa mín, at þat mun vera mikill fróðleikr, sá er hér kann skyn ok dæmi, hverir atburðir hafa orðit sér til hvers þessa nafns.”
Þá segir Hárr: “Mikil skynsemi er at rifja þat vandliga upp, en þó er þér þat skjótast at segja, at flest heiti hafa verit gefin af þeim atburð, at svá margar sem eru greinir tungnanna í veröldinni, þá þykkjast allar þjóðir þurfa at breyta nafni hans til sinnar tungu til ákalls ok bæna fyrir sjálfum sér, en sumir atburðir til þessa heita hafa gerzt í ferðum hans, ok er þat fært í frásagnir, ok muntu eigi mega fróðr maðr heita, ef þú skalt eigi kunna segja frá þeim stórtíðendum.”
Or, in the Brodeur translation:
“Then said Gangleri: “Exceeding many names have ye given him; and, by my faith, it must indeed be a goodly wit that knows all the lore and the examples of what chances have brought about each of these names.”
Then Hárr made answer: “It is truly a vast sum of knowledge to gather together and set forth fittingly. But it is briefest to tell thee that most of his names have been given him by reason of this chance: there being so many branches of tongues in the world, all peoples believed that it was needful for them to turn his name into their own tongue, by which they might the better invoke him and entreat him on their own behalf. But some occasions for these names arose in his wanderings; and that matter is recorded in tales. Nor canst thou ever be called a wise man if thou shalt not be able to tell of those great events.”
Or, as Odin Himself puts it in the course of the Grimnismal [XLVIII]:
“einu nafni hétumk aldregi,
síz ek með folkum fór.”
Which, per Bellows’ translation:
“A single name | have I never had
Since first among men I fared.”
Now, of course, these words found in the Gylfaginning, are recording things from a rather late Nordic perspective. And with an assumed lack of awareness for ethno-linguistic developments occurrent upon the Steppe circa three thousand years afore, they’ve phrased it as peoples of the world coming up with names for Odin – rather than an originally singular grouping of people(s) going forth in different directions with an unfurling series of theonymics that have gradually diverged along with their accompanying (Indo-European) languages.
But still, the sentiment is broadly accurate. Not least because we find that it is not only a matter of ‘diffusion’ (‘refraction’) as applies the worshippers – but also a situation wherein theonymics have developed in direct relation to mythic occurrences, as well. To specifically refer to things, in other words – that is to say, that ‘second dimension’ to Refraction in a theological sense we had spoken of earlier.
A similar ‘set of Three’ Refractions (at least, similar in terms of the numbering) is to be found within the Hellenic (and, for that matter, broader Classical) sphere:
We have often had occasion to write in relation to Zeus Triophthalmos – Zeus the Three-Eyed.
To quote Pausanias’ own observations and commentary upon the subject:
At Argos, in the temple of Zeus atop Larisa, he beheld “a wooden image of Zeus, which has two Eyes in the natural place and a third on its forehead. This Zeus, they say, was a paternal god of Priam, the son of Laomedon, set up in the uncovered part of his court, and when Troy was taken by the Greeks Priam took sanctuary at the altar of this god. When the spoils were divided, Sthenelus, the son of Capaneus, received the image, and for this reason it has been dedicated here.
The reason for its three eyes one might infer to be this. That Zeus is King in Heaven is a saying common to all men. As for Him Who is said to Rule under the Earth, there is a verse of Homer which calls Him, too, Zeus :–
Zeus of the Underworld, and the august Persephonea. [ Hom. Il. 9.457 ]
The God in the Sea, also, is called Zeus by Aeschylus, the son of Euphorion. So whoever made the image made it with Three Eyes, as signifying that this same God rules in all the three “allotments” of the Universe, as they are called.”
[Pausanias, Description of Greece, II 24 3-4, Jones translation]
We have earlier covered at some length just why we believe Pausanias to be quite correct in his assertions; and would observe that there exists good evidence from elsewhere in the Indo-European sphere (and, indeed, as applies the Diva Triformis, for example, within the Classical sphere specifically) to corroborate this.
What he has described is a situation of the Sky Father deific being ‘refracted’ – with an individuated ‘facing’ for each of the Three Worlds that the archaic Proto-Indo-European cosmological structure had developed into in its Hellenic refraction (that word again, slightly different sense here).
These being the Sky, Sea, and Underworld (the evident archaic Hellenic perspective) – as compared to, say, the Earth, Mid-Atmosphere, and High Heaven in one of the Vedic cosmological models or the Earth, Sea, and Heavens we might infer in another of them (c.f RV X 63 2, although with ‘Aditi’, there potentially more broadly interprable), or for that matter the World of Men (Manusya-Lokah), World of the Ancestors (Pitr-Lokah), and World of Gods (Deva-Loka) observed elsewhere still within the Vedic corpus (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad I 5 16 … with, interestingly, the aforementioned ‘Bhumi’ (‘Earth’), ‘Antariksa’ (‘Mid-Atmosphere’) and ‘Dyau’ (‘Bright/Shining Sky’ / ‘Heaven’) tripartite division also attested in V 1 14 of the same Upanishad).
Indeed, this also helps to explicate the situation observed in Linear B around the citations for Poseidon as ‘Wanax’ – and the occasionally encountered speculation around Poseidon as an ‘original’ King, prior to some pantheonic re-organization leading to Zeus with the titular epithet.
Per this perspective … no re-organization would be required – in the sense of one God coming to replace Another in the role. Rather, it is simply that two Facings to the same Deific are entailed – and these have, with time, become ‘individuated’ as the essence-tial underlying unity has become somewhat obscured. Something that should therefore represent a combination of more than one species of ‘Refraction’ – insofar as the ‘theological’ sense, wherein there is a particular and evident intentional theological purpose to such a development (the differentiation out of particular Faces keyed to relevant qualities – in this case, cosmological ‘portions’ or ‘apportionments’, demesnes and energies; and more upon all of this in due course) … has become commingled with the more ‘human’ kind resultant from mortal forgetfulness of the fact that that was what had, in fact, occurred. Everywhere but Argos – and a few other isolated remembrances further afield, it should seem.
A similar scenario is presented by Heraclitus in his observance of a festival occurring in his native Ephesus:
“If it were not Dionysus for whom they arrange the procession and chant the hymn to the shameful parts [i.e. ‘Lingam’], they would act in the most shameless way; but the same are Hades and Dionysus, for whom they rave and celebrate Lenaia.”
[Heraclitus, fragment 15 – as presented in Adomenas]
The Kerenyi translation makes things even more direct:
“If they did not order the procession in honor of the god and address the phallus song to him, this would be the most shameless behavior. But Hades is the same as Dionysos, for whom they rave and act like bacchantes”.
And we mention Kerenyi here because, of course, his work has gone rather further than this singular attestation in terms of establishing a Dionysus-Hades equivalence within the Hellenic theology.
We would suggest, based upon our own delvings in other areas and relevant comparative Indo-European theology, that Kerenyi is correct – and, further, that what had occurred was a ‘remembrance’ amidst the Ephesians of the true state of affairs: that Hades and Dionysus were both (‘refracted’ – and clearly not unrelated) Faces of the Sky Father deific. Something which had evidently become less than common knowledge elsewhere as time had gone on.
Another Classical-era attestation for this concept ‘in motion’ is to be found in Cicero’s De Natura Deorum (‘On the Nature of the Gods’):
” In the first place the theologists, as they are called, enumerate three Jupiters, the first and second of whom were born in Arcadia, the one being the son of Æther, and also according to them the father of Proserpine and Liber, while the other was the son of Cælus, and is said to have been father to Minerva, the goddess whom they represent as the first author and founder of war; the third was the son of Saturn and belonged to Crete, and his tomb is shown in that island. The Dioscuri similarly are known amongst the Greeks by a variety of names; there are, firstly, the three who are called at Athens, Anactes, the offspring of the most ancient of the Royal Jupiters and of Proserpine,—Tritopatreus, Eubuleus, and Dionysus; secondly Castor and Pollux, the offspring of the third Jupiter and Leda […]”
“The oldest Apollo is the one of whom I spoke just now as the son of Vulcan and protector of Athens; the second is the son of Corybas, and was born in Crete, and is said to have contended for that island with Jupiter himself; the third is the son of the third Jupiter and Latona, and there is a tradition that he came from the land of the Hyperboreans to Delphi; the fourth was born in Arcadia, and is called by the Arcadians Νόμιος, because, they say, they received laws from him. There is also more than one Diana; first the daughter of Jupiter and Proserpine, who is said to have given birth to the winged Cupid; secondly a more famous one whom we know as the daughter of the third Jupiter and Latona, and thirdly the one of whom Upis and Glauce are recorded as the parents, and whom the Greeks often call by her father’s name of Upis. We have several bearers of the name Dionysus; the first is the son of Jupiter and Proserpine; the second, who is said to have slain Nysa, is the son of Nilus; the third is the son of Cabirus; he is reported to have been king over Asia, and in his honour the Sabazia were instituted; the fourth is the son of Jupiter and Luna, and it is in connection with him that the Orphic rites are believed to be celebrated; the fifth is the offspring of Nisus and Thyone, and the supposed founder of the Trieterides. […]”
“These instances, and others of the kind, have been collected from the old traditions of Greece, and though you, Balbus, are aware of the necessity of opposing them, in order that religious worship may not be disorganised, your school not only does not rebut, but positively confirms them by giving an explanation in each case of their meaning. Let us now, however, return to the point which we abandoned for this digression.”
Now, the suite of situations as to which Cicero informs us (and rest assured – there’s further example he draws upon for this that we have omitted from the excerpts reproduced above) are pertinent here precisely because they show something vitally important.
Namely, that at the height of the Classical Age – i.e. when these were very much still ‘living religion’ – there was not a perfect ‘unity’ of the mythologies. Even exclusively within, say, the Hellenic sphere. But rather, multiple differing accounts – various of these in fact rather mutually irreconcilable if taken at (mytho-)literal and ostensible ‘face’ value.
In short – that within the Classical sphere (broadly considered), there had been quite some ‘refraction’ going on in earnest.
Cicero, perhaps understandably for the point which he is making, phrases this as there being “three Jupiters”, and the like. Yet few would genuinely hold that there were, somehow, three Sky Fathers – all sharing the same name and situation and other identifying characteristics, albeit resultant from not entirely commensurate ‘origin myths’.
Instead, we would do the quite logical thing – we would accept that within these otherwise eminently closely related Classical (i.e. Hellenic, Roman, Greco-Roman, etc.) spheres, a situation of refraction had evidently ensued in times past. That is to say – local mythologies in given communities had gone down particular trajectories of development, emphasizing certain elements whilst perhaps ‘rephrasing’ others … and then, upon coming back into contact with each other some centuries down the (time)line, having ‘similar, yet different’ understandings prominent, as the fairly directly salient result.
As we have said: there are quite clearly not three Jupiters, called Jupiter, and with very closely coterminous mythologies, portfolios, iconography, and other such associations. And that is just within the Classical sphere of the Roman era.
We can then expand out exactly this reasoning to encompass the broader Indo-European sphere as a whole. And, I would further observe – as applies certain salient details such as, for instance, the situation of Jupiter and Proserpine (i.e. Persephone) which Cicero repeatedly mentions (and also attested, interestingly, in the Orphic Hymnals) – that such a ‘constellative’ analysis can also be utilized to reconcile in (by which I mean – explain the pointedly ‘individuated’ salience of) figures that we have earlier asserted to be alternate (and ‘refracted’) ‘Facings’ of the Sky Father deific such as Hades.
Or Apollo – Whom we have earlier argued elsewhere to be a ‘Sky Father’ deific (or Aspect thereof) of the Anatolian Indo-Europeans, incorporated into the Hellenic sphere as a potential result of the (rather violent – per Homer) ‘cultural encounter’ and engagement of the Greeks with their Luwian, Lycian, etc. cousins to the East (where, as we know, Apollo has His traditional homeland, and great importance as a patron of Troy, etc. indeed – attested directly as Apaliunas in the early-13th century treaty between (Luwian) Wilusa (Ilium – Troy) and the Hittites). With the paternal relationship being potentially explained by an incorporation that quite pointedly puts the ‘foreign’ (yet still Indo-European … and ‘familiar’) major deific of the ‘encountered’ group in a lower station – that of a Son of the major deific of the Greeks, and therefore owing dutiful fealty to the Father. We shall not repeat the arguments made in those previous works here – suffice to say there are a suite of ‘double-ups’ for Zeus and Apollo … compounded by the fact that both Zeus and Apollo are remarkably ‘resonant’ for our Vedic Rudra (including with particular specific mythic episodes, elements, and encounters that should seem to be shared, in ‘refracted’ format, between all Three), producing a rather (three-)pointed ‘triangulation’ that is downright predictive in its efficacy (seriously).
This might sound rather fantastical (after all, how on earth does one somehow manage to (mis-)align a Father, a Son ?) – and yet we have a rather tangible demonstration of just such a thing happening viz. the Phrygian and Thracian ‘Sabazius’ (or ‘Sabazios’). Who is, after all, identified with Dionysus directly (c.f the situation reported in Cicero above, as well as in the Bibliotheca Historica of Diodorus Siculus [IV 4 1]; and also attested in the elements drawn from into the Suda / Suidas) … yet also identified with the Son of Dionysus (per Mnaseas of Patrai … as cited in the Suda) – and, per artefactual evidence, quite consistently co-identified with Zeus and Jupiter in actual cultic and religious (rather than scholarly, or ‘literary’ / ‘historical’ workings) occurrences.
Phrased more succinctly – in the situation of Sabazius, we should appear to behold an ‘integration’ or ‘assimilation’ of a Sky Father deific expression occurrent ‘in motion’. Call it a ‘De-Fraction’. Albeit one rather different in key characteristics to that we have hypothesized to have occurred viz. Apollo.
After all, whereas with Sabazios we encounter a ‘foreign’ deific that is ‘assimilated’ into the Classical sphere(s) via direct co-identification with already-known ‘endogenous’ / ‘local’ deifics … in the case of Apollo, we do not seem to encounter such an ‘interpretatio’ based approach (at least, not in the more archaic texts available to us – the much later (and Roman) Macrobius, after all, goes to quite some lengths in this department; his collations in Saturnalia I 18 including an array of very useful linkages which further support our theorizing).
We would infer that this is likely in no small part because by the time Apollo really enters the textual record (at least, of what’s come down to us within the Hellenic sphere – c.f the earlier Luwian-Hittite documentation for a far more archaic occurrence externally to same), He’d already become ‘part of the [mental] furniture’ for the average Greek. He wasn’t ‘unfamiliar’, even though He was still at this point, in a sense, ‘foreign’ [as can be demonstrated via the epithets and mythic situations for His ‘Lycian’ origination etc., Hyperborean home-ground, and prominent linkage with the Trojans in the great Greek ‘foundational’ Itihasa of Homer]. It’s just that the boundaries for the Hellenic sphere had shifted, expanded, and in a way become a bit more permeable in their movement east – hence, Apollo of Lycia was now no longer an ‘external’ figure even despite being, quite literally, still ‘of Lycia’, etc.
Hence, no ‘Interpretatio’ necessary – as He was already part of the ‘Graeca’ side of the equation, unlike Sabazios. Although that said – we do note that the array of occurrences within the mythology wherein Apollo has pointed ‘double-ups’ with Zeus (or Jupiter) might point to a more complicated ‘transition’. One wherein a prior (and never entirely extinguished) approach that instead went for a fairly direct (if presumably not entirely uncontested) ‘interpretatio’ co-identification with Zeus Himself. Hence why we have Cicero mentioning Apollo being born on Crete (just as Zeus was), and “contending” with Jupiter also for the isle, for instance. Or the intriguing situations pertaining to Zeus Ikmaios that we have elsewhere considered earlier this year via the light of certain Vedic (and Jyotisha) saliencies.
We may also return at some future juncture to more closely examine (and perhaps ‘reconcile’, even, as well) that rather … unexpected comment of Cicero in relation to Apollo as a Son of Minerva, as well – we have a particular explanation and corresponding Vedic instance which this might be somewhat co-expressive of. But more upon that, as I say, at some potential future time.
Sabazios, meanwhile, as a relatively more recent ‘incorporation’ – one occurring significantly within the era for which we actually do have an array of (admittedly often rather imperfect) textual perspectives – has to come in via the ‘co-identification’ route in order to imply that actually, He had been there (in a certain, underlying sense) all along. Which, in a certain sense … is not entirely untrue. After all, these are all Facings of the underlying pan-Indo-European Sky Father deific.
And yet with the relatively less-settled status of Sabazius within the Classical canons being plausibly demonstrated via this most curious situation of Sabazius, at once, being identified as Dionysus, as the Father of Dionysus (i.e. Zeus / Jupiter), and also as the Son of Dionysus. Something presumably not helped by the underlying residual awareness of Dionysus Himself also being a ‘Sky Father’ deific expression (indeed, a veritable complex of such, all to Himself – all to Themselves, we should say) and therefore also situatable within a multi-generational (and paradoxical) paradigm of being His Own Father / Son, likewise.
Something which is also evincible when we consider the situation as to the Maternity of Dionysus – with various sources identifying Demeter or Persephone in the role (and c.f our earlier point viz. Hades in relation to the Sky Father deific complex), along with the others which many are aware of that identify Semele (a detail of particular interest given the situation of Zeus’ intercession to defend Semele against Actaeon’s attempted forceful sexual advances … mapping directly onto that famed Deed of Rudra to defend Diva against Prajapati , identified in amidst the stars in Hindu Jyotisha (‘Astrology’ / ‘Astronomy’) terms as the encounter of Ardra (Rudra – and the star of Sirius) with Mrgashira (‘Deer’s Head’, Prajapati, located within the stars in Orion – the three stars of the ‘belt’ being Rudra’s TriKanda (‘Three-Arrow’) still protruding from the carcass) – and therefore also viably resonating with the mythology featuring Apollo in a key causative role pertaining to the shooting-death of Orion in relation to Artemis. See what we mean about ‘double-ups’ ? ); and that brief mention given by Cicero for Luna in the position – something that makes easy sense when we consider the earlier identification Cicero had proffered viz. Luna with Diana … and more especially the similarly ‘refracted’ situation encountered quite directly and outright-explicitly via the ‘Diva Triformis’ (i.e. Diana / Artemis, Luna / Selene, and Proserpine / Persephone or Hekate as Three Faces (often quite literally in terms of ‘Trivia’ representation in pillar form, inter alia) of the same underlying and phased co-expressive Goddess).
Yet let us turn back to the direct situation of Dionysus – as there is one further important element to illustrate here.
Diodorus Siculus makes the following interesting observations in the course of his Bibliotheca Historica:
“He was thought to have two forms, men say, because there were two Dionysi, the ancient one having a long beard because all men in early times wore long beards, the younger one being youthful and effeminate and young, as we have mentioned before.”
[IV 5 2 Oldfather translation]
“The same Dionysus is, furthermore, said to have worn a long beard, the reason for the report being that it is the custom among the Indians to give great care, until their death, to the raising of a beard.
[III 63 3 Oldfather translation]
Why do we cite these verses? Because they present, quite handily, a succinct conceptual explication for some further ‘refractive’ processes.
What does the first excerpt make overt mention of – the notion of ‘two Dionysi’, with one being presented as an old man and the other at the opposite of the age spectrum (‘effeminate’ assumedly being in the Ancient Greek sense of ‘Beardless’).
Phrased another way – I suspect most strongly that a certain quotient of ‘refractions’ of relevant Indo-European deifics are, in fact, the result of encounters with representations (whether in artistic or literary or ritualine formats) of Them at ‘different points’ in Their relevant ‘stories’. And, with time, perhaps these may become ‘differentiated’ out into more heavily individuated figures. Perhaps even to the point of it being forgotten in some quarters that these are the same underlying God or Goddess. This would likely prove much more overt and much more important in some of those situations wherein some particular feature – like ‘youthfulness’ – had come to be a strong association of a particular culture’s perspective upon the Divinity … therefore meaning that the encounter with what would ostensibly be otherwise clearly the same deific yet of a rather advanced age, would necessitate a ‘differentiation’ being articulated. One which, as here, nevertheless manages to preserve a certain coterminity of association.
The other situation – that of the Indian Dionysus – that Diodorus has presented for us is much the same to the ‘Sabazius’ scenario we have examined previously. Except it is, somewhat, going ‘in reverse’. At least partially.
Insofar as the Hellenic / Classical deific, Dionysus, that has an iconographically … noticeably different feature to the more familiar (in this case, a beard) is explained to be a ‘foreign version’ of the relevant God. That is – rather than a ‘foreign’ (but still IE) deific being ‘brought in’ to the ‘civilized’ (Hellenic) sphere, we have the Hellenic God being ‘projected out’ directly. Albeit with the fact that it should seem entirely likely that there actually is an Indian ‘Interpretatio’ that had occurred, viz. Shiva (notwithstanding the curious detail that one does not tend to find ‘bearded’ representations for Rudra in older attestation) being of perhaps secondary importance here to the utility of a foreign grouping and sphere to be able to point to and say “See? That’s why This Form of [our familiar] God is ‘Different’.”
And it is, we surmise, not coincidental that in both the ‘Older and Younger’ and ‘Foreign and Closer’ situations, Dionysus’ Beard and inferentially older appearance is the element that has made a ‘refraction’ something reified and requiring of explanation.
Leaving aside, of course, for some other time the other detail we might comment upon – viz. the notion of several ‘incarnations’ or ‘near-human experiences’ for Dionysus (‘Avatars’?), being born to parent(s) down here in this World and this Plane, and the differences being the result of such a periodic re-occurrence of the God in different times and locales. Something that Diodorus at least somewhat puts forward – and as appears to have provided a rather handy ‘easy explanation’ for various Classical commentaries when it came to the multiple manifold differences to Dionysus accounts. But as we say – more upon that for some other time.
One detail I do wish to most strongly emphasize, however, is that simply because we can demonstrate various Faces of the Sky Father (or, for that matter, any other such underpinning Indo-European deific) to be ‘Faces’ to the same deific complex … this should NOT be read as making all of these absolutely interchangeable. To do so would be to invite in quite the discordant difficulty indeed, as we shall soon demonstrate.
This is in large measure precisely because various of these ‘differentiated’ developments for particular ‘Facings’ have resulted from quite intentional (whether human or Otherwise) processes – and have a certain theological integrity to them as a fairly direct result.
The ‘differences’, in other words, the different facings – while in various cases we might be able to fairly reasonably attribute at least some of these to human happenstance and related causations – can also be there for very good reason; and would only be wilfully erased by an incautious man who would seek to treat the whole thing as ‘just’ a case of ‘interchangeable’ sets of letters in theonyms, rather than meaningfully metaphysical (still much less .. Mythic) elements, Aspects, and accordant labellings thereof.
Now, a grand exemplar for this is provided for us via Shatapatha Brahmana VI 1 3 – which sets out the famed ‘AshtaMurti’ (‘Eight [Elemental] Faces’) of Rudra.
To quote, in the Eggeling translation, the relevant verses:
“9 Prajāpati said to Him, ‘My Boy, why criest Thou, when Thou art born out of labour and trouble?’
He said, ‘Nay, but I am not freed from (guarded against) evil; I have no Name given Me: give Me a Name!’
Hence one should give a name to the boy that is born, for thereby one frees him from evil;–even a second, even a third (name), for thereby one frees him from evil time after time.
10 He said to Him, ‘Thou art Rudra.’
And because He gave Him that Name, Agni became suchlike (or, that Form), for Rudra is Agni:
because He Cried (Rud) therefore He is Rudra. He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give Me yet a Name!’
11 He said to Him, ‘Thou art Sarva.’
And because He gave Him that Name, the Waters became suchlike, for Sarva is the Waters, inasmuch as from the Water everything (Sarva) here is produced.
He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give Me yet a Name!’
12 He said to Him, ‘Thou art Paśupati.’
And because He gave Him that Name, the Plants became suchlike, for Paśupati is the Plants: hence when Cattle (Paśu) get Plants, then they play the master (patīy).
He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give Me yet a Name!’
13 He said to Him, ‘Thou art Ugra.’
And because He gave Him that Name, Vāyu (the Wind) became suchlike, for Ugra is Vāyu: hence when it blows strongly, they say ‘Ugra is blowing.’
He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give Me yet a Name!’
14 He said to Him, ‘Thou art Aśani.’
And because He gave Him that Name, the Lightning became suchlike, for Aśani is the Lightning: hence they say of him whom the Lightning strikes, ‘Aśani has smitten him.’
He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give Me yet a Name!’
15 He said to Him, ‘Thou art Bhava.’
And because He gave Him that Name, Parjanya (the Rain-God) became suchlike; for Bhava is Parjanya, since everything here comes (Bhavati) from the Rain-Cloud.
He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give Me yet a Name!’
16 He said to Him, ‘Thou art Mahān Devaḥ (the Great God).’
And because He gave Him that Name, the Moon [Chandramas] became suchlike, for the Moon is Prajāpati, and Prajāpati is the Great God.
He said, ‘Surely, I am mightier than that: give Me yet a Name!’
17 He said to Him, ‘Thou art Īśāna (the Ruler).’
And because He gave Him that name, the Sun [Aditya] became suchlike, for Īśāna is the Sun, since the Sun rules over this All.
He said, ‘So great indeed I am: give Me no other Name after that!'”
Now, of course, if we were to engage in a proper explication of everything going on in this suite of verses … this would prove to be a rather lengthier piece!
Suffice to say that these various theonymics for Agni-Rudra are also quite prominently and repeatedly attested elsewhere in the Vedic canon of texts (and, indeed, are frequently in-use even in the modern-day. Contrary to what some would no doubt seek to have you believe about there being some sort of ‘different deities’ situation viz. Rudra and Shiva, or ‘different religions’ between Vedic era Hinduism and our contemporary Faith).
In other words, we know very well that all of these terms do in fact refer to Rudra (albeit in some cases, where it is a ‘title’ – such as ‘Prajapati’ – we can also encounter other Gods holding the same title … Brahma, for instance, or indeed the figure that is doing this ‘naming’ for Rudra in the first place (that is Brahma’s Vedic-era antecedent); and so we must, of course, consider things ‘in context’ – as, in that case particularly, it is more that the title can refer to Rudra rather than that it axiomatically and always does do so.).
However, the suite of passages above is not one that simply idly enumerates a set of interrelated Roudran theonymics in idyll nor in abstract. We have, after all, quite some other scriptural vehicles with which to do that. Instead, as we can quite clearly see here, each of these theonymics is also linked to a particular ‘elemental’ concept, an ‘energy’ or a ‘dominion’ we might say. In some cases – as with ‘Aditya’ (i.e. ‘Sun’) in relation to ‘Ishana’ (i.e. ‘Commander’, ‘Owner’, ‘Power’ – hence ‘Ruler’), the reasoning is quite prima facie obvious.
In other cases, we see something a bit different – as is so often encountered in such matters within the Brahmanas, the suite of ‘double-meanings’ (‘for the Gods love a mystic’, as the translation goes), homonyms / homophones, or ‘puns’ (to use a perhaps somewhat inarticulate labelling) with which certain terms and concepts are co-identified and thence connected to one another. In these verses as quoted above, exemplified via ‘Sarva’ ( शर्व – more properly, ‘Sharva’) and ‘Sarva’ ( सर्व ), the former referring to ‘Injurer’, ‘Archer’, the latter to ‘Everything’ (c.f. ‘Bhava’ elsewhere enumerated in this list – and often encountered as the ‘other half’ or ‘twin’ of ‘Sharva’ elsewhere where Rudra is prominent in the Vedas : the justly famed AV-S XI 2, for instance).
Although we should, of course, note that in other iterations of the AshtaMurti conceptry, Sharva is affixed to other elements than the Waters – in the Kaushitaki Brahmana (also known as the Sankhayana Brahmana) [ VI 1 ], for instance, we find Sharva to be identified as Agni (i.e. Fire), immediately following Bhava being identified with the Waters (and we would observe the inherent logic of Fire as the ‘Harmer’, ‘Injurer’; as well as Bhava, whether as Parjanya (and therefore, Rainfall) or as the Waters, having a clear coterminity). However, it is not our purpose to delve to deeply into these matters.
Yet there is one further point that we should make – and that is that certain of these theonymics from the above-excerpted sector of the SBr have rather different explanations elsewhere within the Vedic canon of texts. Pashupati, for instance (which, per the Kaushitaki Brahmana accounting, is linked to the ‘Vayu’ element within the general Roudran Ashta-Murti purview), is a Name (and Title – with accompanying Dominion) that is famously granted to Rudra by the rest of the Gods for a particular mighty deed (significantly of archery). In many cases, it is for His instrumental role in carrying out the Divine Sanction against Prajapati (Brahma in later texts) following the latter’s transgressive violation of the Law (and, not to put too fine a point upon it, the Goddess that we can identify with Rudra’s Wife); yet in others, such as TS VI 2 3, it is accorded to Him in relation to His successful deployment of a similar Three-Arrow [‘TriKanda’] weapon against the Three Citadels [Tripura] of the Demons. And we shall return to this in a moment.
Our purpose in highlighting the AshtaMurti concept is a triple-pointed one.
First and most immediately, it provides us with a most useful and directly tangible demonstration of ‘refraction’ ‘in motion’. Instead of those exemplars we have drawn from in the Classical sphere, wherein we are either inferring something to have occurred at some point in the (further-back) past, or alternatively where the direct connexion between two (on the surface, distinct) deific facings is the creature of an eyewitness account and/or some degree of then-contemporaneous supposition (however seemingly well-informed and clearly plausible in its conclusions) … when it comes to the AstaMurti notation we have the thing unfurling itself for us in direct and explicit attestation. Attestation replicated out across multiple texts of both the Shruti and Smriti grades of canonicity, no less.
Second, and related to this – it is an obviously intentional and purposeful undertaking. It has not resulted from human travails of memory or of fraught and faulty transmission, the re-encountering of the slightly-differing faith of one’s neighbours some length down the proverbial road, etc. It serves a clear theological purpose – taking the immense and pervasively potent Sky Father deific in His major Vedic expression (i.e. (Agni-)Rudra), and providing a sort of ‘mini-‘ or ‘intra-‘ ‘Interpretatio’ schema. One wherein we are bestowed with (if one looks closely) well more than Eight canonical ‘Facings’ and associated elemental qualities and purviews for He. Thus providing further (and, again, direct) attestation for why these processes of ‘refraction’ have, in some cases, evidently occurred.
Third, we have an implicit dimension to proceedings. For just as we have this extensive range and array of Roudran theonymics and associations … so, too, does it immediately showcase to us another essence-tial truth: namely, that one CANNOT and SHOULD NOT seek to just ‘sub in’ various alternative ‘Faces of the Sky Father’ (and the same would assumedly apply to various other IE deific complexes that have undergone such a ‘refraction’ process) to the same place within a ritual or mythic context, simply because these are all Sky Father deific facings. Instead, these individual Masques of the Sky Father all have individual characterization that is there, and that has developed to be there, for a particular purpose – and with it being prima facie obvious why, for instance, simply because we have both ‘Aditya’ and ‘Chandramas’ attested here as ‘facings’ and ‘qualities’ to Rudra … this does not mean that one can swap these around where these might be ritually invoked or otherwise involved for He.
After all – to do so would quite literally be to mix up the Sun and the Moon. We might also suggest that various other essences should be likewise … not a good idea to ‘jumble’ through incautious and blasé approaches the elements in question. Especially as it is Rudra – the results might well resemble the metaphysical equivalent of a meth-lab where its major constituent elements had been swapped around, mixed incautiously, and handled in a manner lacking in proper and appropriate due care.
However, there is also another – and closely related – cautionary expression to be considered here. We had earlier said that the situation of Pashupati was pertinent and that we would be returning to it. We have set out two of the major explanations for Rudra’s possession of that particular titular epithet, yet as cannot have escaped the careful reader’s notice … neither of these are what’s provided for us in SBr VI 1 3 12 – which reads “He said to Him, ‘Thou art Paśupati.’ And because He gave Him that Name, the Plants became suchlike, for Paśupati is the Plants: hence when Cattle (Paśu) get Plants, then they play the master (patīy).”
Now it might prove tempting to simply dismiss the description that we have been given therein. And certainly it is a ‘folk etymology’. Yet ‘folk etymology’, in the context of the Brahmanas most especially, ought never be dismissed nor misread out of hand as merely meaning ‘false’.
Indeed, what is being communicated to us is something quite important. Rudra in relation to ‘Plants’ (and the actual word being translated as ‘Plants’ here should appear to be Osadhi – a term that we have written a bit more about elsewhere) is a well-attested concept elsewhere in the Vedas. We could write an entire article upon the potential saliencies and interpretations of this term and this SBr verse in relation to Rudra … and it has required an uncharacteristic restraint to eschew doing just that right at this moment as a lengthening of this current one. In lieu of that, we shall instead simply observe that i) ‘Osadhi’ often means something more akin to ‘herb’ or ‘medicine’ or ‘energy’ (in particular – something important for supporting the health and wellbeing of the creature … particularly in relation to providing protection against the depredations of black magic, sorcerers, and demons); ii) that Rudra’s lordship of not only ‘fauna’ but also quite some clades of ‘flora’ is similarly well-attested throughout the relevant Vedic (and post-Vedic) textual canon; and iii) the situation of plants (or, specifically, Osadhi) in providing nourishment and energy to animals (‘Pasu’ properly means ‘domesticated animal rather than ‘wild’ animal – and can also potentially include even man in some contexts; it also means ‘Wealth’, and is cognate with *Fehu, etc. familiar from the Runic sphere) is indeed what we ought expect a Lord of the Pashus to be engaged in. Even before we further examine that ‘energy’ dimension (and Rudra’s provision to creatures thereof, c.f WYV V 5 9 i ). Which, again, I am restraining myself from here doing. I’m sure you’re all thrilled.
But what is our point here? Well, as we had intimated above – it would be very easy to simply see mention of ‘Pashupati’ and have our mind ‘default’ to either of the two more prominently encountered explications for His holding of that particular theonymic epithet. It would be quite understandable to do so – and much of the time, it is not all that necessary to think much different. We do not even necessarily think of the ‘why / how He acquired the name’, we simply think of what it quite reasonably directly means.
And that would mean that, if we encounter a brief synopsis of the relevant AshtaMurti enumeration from the Shatapatha Brahmana which just presented the theonyms with a direct translation of each, we would have an almost entirely different anticipation of what was entailed by ‘Pasupati’ than what is actually in the text. And the relevant suite of Roudran theological conceptry for which it stands therein.
We would have no ‘context’, in other words. We would be missing out. Even though it is clearly and obviously Rudra as Pashupati (and with specifically ‘Cattle’ associations) in both the more familiar array of attestations and understandings and also here in this especial and specific one. Which may, indeed, have rather … important to note implications if we were to attempt some form of ritual engagement involving these relevant conceptions as to He.
Now, imagine – extrapolate, if you would – that situation and that scenario out from within the relatively ‘close’ parameters of the Vedic textual corpus and ritualine sphere … to the broader Indo-European sphere as a whole.
And consider all of those occasions wherein we encounter, say, ‘Zeus Pater’ and ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Dyaus Pitar’ … and mentally shorthand to ourselves ‘Same God’.
Yes, yes that’s absolutely correct. And also quite saliently not the point. By insistently ‘reducing’ these diverse and ‘refracted’ expressions down to a single ‘data-point’, we lose considerable scopes and swathes of granularity – we lose the occasionally quite prominently different ‘details’ in favour of a more generalized and often downright ‘hazy’ picture instead. Something that, at its approachable apex, seems to underpin an array of silliness of the “Thor is Jupiter, Zeus!” style variety – through focusing upon a single facet and removing quite some surrounding context in pursuit of an ‘easy equation’.
This matters. Both from a theoretical point of view – but also from a practical one. As we have briefly alluded to in the above (a)arti-cle, the words of liturgy (and various mythic renditions bound up therein within same) are not simply ‘words upon a page’ to be re-arranged as one sees fit – and nor are the concepts which they communicate nor pertain to most closely. In a proper liturgical language and ritualine framework, they are often chosen with heavy care and quite deliberate drawing upon the ‘subtle’ resonancies and implications between them. To shift these in the name of simplicity is a fraught proposition. And also does not assist us in our quest for accuracy of ‘reconstruction’ even if we are more unabashedly restricting ourselves to the ‘theoretical’ and ‘academic’ suite of purview.
This is NOT to say that one cannot run comparative theological analysis. Quite the contrary. It is simply to underscore that the better approach is to acknowledge that the same God may have quite the ‘constellation’ of different ‘expressions’ – various of which, from our earthbound and mortal (and all too often, missing so very much contextual textual etc. materials, as well) viewpoint, might appear seeming-irreconcilable in even simply ‘narrative’ (let alone ‘theological’) terms.
And that our comparative theological approach, which can most certainly aid and avail us in ‘contextualizing’ different expressions of a God (c.f., for instance, my work exploring the situation of Zeus Ikmaios in relation to Rudra (Ardra), Tishtrya and Tishya, Apollo, Sirius, etc.) – is not an attempt to erase meaningful difference and distinction from different Forms of the Gods, whether these are encountered within a given Indo-European pantheonic perspective or between different Indo-European spheres.
On the contrary – by moving to understand these Facings, Aspects, and Figures ‘in context’ (indeed, in contexts, plural) , we gain a greater sense for how each ‘fits in’. And, indeed, by bringing to bear the comparative evidence we are often able to bring into sharper relief and focus particular factors specific to individual Facings or Aspects – confirming, in some cases, that these are what They are, and in others showing that the features are properly understood. After all, in various cases, we can observe identifiable ‘cognate’ (to greater or middling extents) patterns of derivation and development which operate across multiple Indo-European cultural and pantheonic perspectives – our work on the ‘mytholinguistics’ of the Sky and Sea and the Underworld being a great example (indeed, several interlinked sets) that we shall not repeat here.
What is necessary, in all cases, is being aware that the truth of the matter (or the Mater) is simultaneously both ‘one’ and yet also ‘many’ – and that the former dimension (‘one’) as applies a relevant Deific (well, ‘deific complex’) is often significantly complex … thus meaning that it is only really possible for us to easily even somewhat apprehend via keeping multiple more tangibly specific ‘expressions’ in mind – and forming, as we say, a ‘constellation’ which exists in multiple dimensions and perspectives simultaneously and with mutual interdependence between each. Which may sound like a lot – but, then, if we were seeking even to understand only a regular human (a politician or a general, say), we would nevertheless not expect to do so having only read but a single book, most especially through having only read texts speaking toward one narrow facet of their existence and eschewing all others outright.
And Gods (and, for that matter, most especially Goddesses) are far more complex in many regards than most humans. They certainly have had the scope to have had meaningful interactions and engagements with far more of us over a far longer span of time (and, for that matter, space) than any human with his or her fellows.
One final element we wish to invoke via way of beautifully writ illustration is a situation of ‘defraction’. Of a sort, at any rate.
This comes to us from the Devi Mahatmya (Chapter 10; Pargiter translation of the Markandeya Purana’s presentation [Canto XC] of same):
“Seeing his brother Niśumbha slain, who was dear to him as his life, and his army being slaughtered, Śumbha in wrath spoke thus—
“O Durgā, who art tainted with the arrogance of strength, bring not thy pride here, thou who, trusting in the strength of the other goddesses, dost fight in exceeding haughtiness!”
The Goddess Spoke:
Alone verily am I in the world here; what other Goddess is there besides Me? See, vile one! that these Goddesses, Who have their divine power from Me, are entering into Me indeed.
Then all those Goddesses, Brahmāṇī and the others, became absorbed into the Goddess’ breasts; Ambikā then remained alone indeed.
The Goddess spoke:
Whereas I existed with My Divine Power in many forms here—that has been drawn in by Me, truly alone I stand now. Be thou steadfast in combat!”
For comparative purposes … and also because I can’t quite decide which translation I prefer (and, in any case, some ‘triangulation’ is always good in such situations of Sanskrit being rendered into a more ‘two-dimensional’ language such as English) , we would also present the Devadatta Kali translation of the same verses [Devi Mahatmya Chapter 10]:
““Seeing the lifeless body of Niśumbha, the brother who was as dear to him as life itself, and seeing his forces being slaughtered, the enraged Śumbha spoke these words:
‘O Durgā, who are corrupt with the arrogance of power, do not show your pride here, for though you are haughty, you fight depending on the strength of others.’
The Devī said:
‘I Am Alone Here in the world. Who else is there besides Me? Behold, O vile one! These are but Projections of My Own Power, now Entering Back into Me.’
Thereupon All Those Goddesses, Led By Brahmāṇī, Merged Into The Devī’s Body. Then Ambikā Alone Remained.
The Devī Said:
‘I have Now Withdrawn the Many Forms I Inhabited Here, Projected by My power. I Stand Alone. Be resolute in combat.’”
Our intent in presenting these verses herein ought be readily apparent.
The demon Shumbha (shortly to join his brother, Nishumbha) had perceived that he was being assailed by a number of Goddesses.
In a sense, he was not incorrect.
Yet when he had attempted to ‘call out’ the Devi and insist that She ought not conduct Herself with pride upon the battlefield – for Her victory over his sibling had, in fact, been won by ‘others’ and therefore entitling Her to no share of the glory, no accolades thusly won …
… well, you can see what then happens. As it turns out, Durga is quite capable of ‘outnumbering’ a demon warlord , all by Her Self (or ‘Her Selves’).
She had ‘refracted’ (or ’emanated’) out a number of Warrior Forms, as necessary, and with particular ‘Powers’ (‘Shakti’, indeed) correlate to Them … and then was also quite comfortable performing the opposite maneuver subsequent.
It did not matter that, to Shumbha, the Goddess appeared to in fact be … many Goddesses. It did not matter that, in a certain sense, this was because there were in fact many Goddesses upon the field of War at those points in time.
There had been an underlying truth – a singular truth, indeed, The Truth (translating, we may say, Rta as ‘Truth’) and an Absolute one (Absolute One) at that, multifariously expressed – and this essence-tial underlying unity becoming much more readily apparent to the demonic onlooker precisely at the points at which his delusion was about to become (viscerally) penetrated. Along with his sternum.
‘Death’ and ‘Revelation’ – they so often go together hand in hand. The ‘trick’ is to be able to encounter and internalize the latter – without having to await the former to precede it and possibly extinguish the knowledge afore it can be dwelt upon in earnest. Such a process is one of ‘living’ – living properly, sagaciously, and under the auspices of the Divine.
We also note that the text itself in the course of the chapter’s further unfurling refers to Her not only as ‘Durga’ and ‘Ambika’ – but also as ‘Chandika’. This is something we have observed in other scriptural works – wherein several major theonymics, for what some (many?) would think of as being ‘separate’ deifics or Aspects, are applied in one verse after the other without any ‘shift’ between Aspects having been undertaken. This being deliberate, to underscore precisely the unity within the diversity that is the Deity (in this case, Goddess) in amidst our manifold perspectives and perceptions upon Her.
I emphasize all of this because whilst we have placed great attention upon ‘refraction’ as a thing occurrent in the deep and distant past or via human agency , and with ‘forgetfulness’ leading to a loss of awareness of the actual (theologically apparent) truth … even though we have some salient exemplars for ‘refraction’ occurring within the mythology itself that we have also parsed, it is too easy to brush those aside as ‘minor’ textual artefacts, perhaps. Or as something ‘sequential’ (that is – a deity going through multiple ‘phases’, one after the other) rather than these capable of being occurrent ‘in parallel’. And at the directly Divine behest, explicitly, expressly, and outright canonically stated.
The Goddess is, as we can both clearly see and say – One and yet also Many. And it is the perspective of a demon enwrapped up in his own small-headed (well, fat-headed, but small-minded) delusion who seeks to insist that only the latter can be true.
As it is within the power of the Goddess to appear in such a manner – we would find ourselves most surprised if the very same Gods, as known in these other (outside Hindusphere) Indo-European mytho-religious perspectives would be asserted to be unable to do something at least somewhat similar. Even if we are not usually in possession of such direct attestations phrased in overtly Mythic terms for these spheres – and are instead left making reasonable inferences built from the comments of contemporaries as to local custom and belief which they had observed, or other such source-material. And simple logic, from time to time.
Is there more that we could say about all of this? Most certainly.
Could we have said the above in much more succinct terms? Well, I shall see about rephrasing the key points (replete with relevant diagrams – worth a thousand words or more apiece, so I’m told) for easier consumption at some point in the not-too-distant-future.
Does that mean we’re attempting to push some sort of ‘soft-Monotheism’ or whatever? No, of course not.
We do not for a moment seek to imply there are not … multiple Gods – we are only observing that these multiple Gods all have multiple Masques … Each.
And that these can be ‘reconciled’ not only between Indo-European pantheonic perspectives, as many already agree upon (the ‘Inter-‘ dimension), but also within various Indo-European pantheonic perspectives (the ‘Intra-‘ dimension), as well.
With the ‘refractions’ out occurrent not only over the course of ‘time’ and ‘space’ – but also for theological purposes (and via Divine Design, it should also appear, viz. occurrences in the Hindusphere particularly), and in other cases due to human (and even political) factors that may have impacted the manner of operation of ‘de-fraction’ or ‘assimilation / incorporation’ framework events.
And – essentially – with the knowledge of this ‘refraction’ principle and associated processes NOT meaning that one has to reduce down the distinctiveness and diversity found within the broad swathe of the Indo-European mytho-religious sphere … indeed, quite the opposite: that it provides remarkably good grounds to examine, explore, and ultimately to uphold key points of difference and distinction between this or that ‘intra-‘ or ‘inter-‘ co-identification of Facings, rather than merely seeking to ‘collapse’ down into a more ‘homogenized’ ‘underlying’ figure with consequent greater difficulty of specific approach.
Examination of Difference does not have to mean its Abrogation. Identification of Coterminity does not have to entail the extinction of all else.
As we have so often shouted:
The situation of the broad Indo-European theology is one of Unity in Diversity and Diversity in Strength.
We are simply giving voice to that expression.
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