Define the following terms in your own words, with support and examples from one of the resources above: Ontology, Cosmogony, Cosmology, Soteriology, Teleology, Theodicy, Apologetics, Sacrament. (Minimum 100 words per definition)
1. a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being
2. a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds of things that have existence (Ontology)
In essence, the field of ontology is the study of things that exist and how they relate to everything else. When we are talking about ontology in the frame of religion, this is usually in reference to deity. The Catholic philosopher Anselm provides us one example of this. He tried to show that not only is the Christian God real, but that he is logically necessary. The argument he makes is to start with the definition that God is the greatest being possible, and that God also exists as an idea. If he existed only in the mind as an idea, something greater could be thought of; therefore he must exist in reality because he is the greatest being possible. Of course, this all relies on the premise that the Christian God is the greatest being possible, and once you try to dig into that premise, the whole argument falls apart as Anselm is defining things into existence (Greer, 39-41).
1. a theory of the origin of the universe
2. the creation or origin of the world or universe (Cosmogony)
Cosmogony is the area where we are studying the beginning of everything. This happens to also be an area that is investigated heavily by science, with the current theory being that everything was created in the big bang. Most religions and indigenous cultures have some form of creation story or in some cases multiple stories and often the story or stories are not essential to the central beliefs of the religion. Many origin stories are vague in their telling. Along with that vagueness, many of the religions that have origin stories tell us to take them as a symbolic way of understanding the creation of the world, which then allows them to be more accepting of the scientific results (Greer, 32-33). Within the Norse culture, the cosmogony is found in the Prose Edda where it is told how the world is created out of Ginnungagap, the void between Niflheim and Muspellsheim along with the destruction and distribution of Ymir (Sturluson 12-17).
1. a. a branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of the universe
b. a theory or doctrine describing the natural order of the universe
2. a branch of astronomy that deals with the origin, structure, and space-time relationships of the universe; also : a theory dealing with these matters (Cosmology)
Cosmology is the study of the nature of the universe. When this is applied to religion, we usually are talking about the argument from contingency. This argument states that everything is contingent on something else having had to happen prior to make this possible. As an example, I am writing this course was contingent upon many things including my mother giving birth to me and Isaac having founded ADF. If we follow these contingencies back in time, they theoretically are infinite. Since something of this nature cannot be infinite in regression that means there must have been something that started it all. This is usually seen as deity, be it a singular or multiple. There is nothing in this thought process though that can prove what is at the start, and if it is deity, whether one or multiple gods is the answer (Greer 44-46).
1. theology dealing with salvation especially as effected by Jesus Christ (Soteriology)
Soteriology is dealing with what happens with the soul after death, specifically with regards to salvation. In the Christian religions, Jesus Christ is the means to salvation. If you accept and follow Christ, you will be saved when you die. There are issues with this line of thought though, and Porphyry was one to raise the issue. His philosophical question revolves around what happens to those that were around before Christ became the means to salvation. Do the souls of those that worshiped God in the days before Christ not get saved for any reason other than they lived in a time before Christ (Cook "New Testament" 150-151)?
Do they not get saved for any reason other than not being alive in a time where salvation through Christ was possible, even if they were worshiping the God of that time?
1. a : the study of evidences of design in nature
b : a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends are immanent in nature
c : a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes
2: the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose
3: the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena (Teleology)
Teleology is looking into the nature of things, and how things have come about. There are usually two different types of teleological arguments used to prove the existence of the monotheistic God. The first one is that there is so much order in nature, that there has to have been something intelligent that created nature. Similarly, the second argument talks about there being so much specificity of purpose in nature, that the gradual creation of these specialized things makes no sense. The example Greer uses is the creation of wings on birds, where the time between arms and wings, there would have been no advantage to having them (Greer 47). Again, the creation of these specific things would require an intelligent maker. These arguments all point to some intelligent being designing the natural world, but they cannot be used to say if one or multiple beings were involved (Greer 47-49).
1. defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil (Theodicy)
Theodicy is commonly referred to as “the argument from evil” and was first presented by Epicurus (Greer 55). In short, if we are to believe that the monotheistic God is omnipotent and omniscient, then he would have knowledge about all evil that occurs and have the means to prevent it. If we also believe that God is also omnibenevolent; then he would have motivation to prevent evil, yet evil still exists. Theodicy is about trying to explain this contradiction. There are four basic arguments to explain evil, and why God allows it. First is that humans have free will, and this is the cause of evil. A second argument is that suffering is needed in order for one to develop spirituality and morality. A third argument is that God creates evil to show his followers how powerful he is. The fourth argument is that God has some motive or reason, e.g. a plan, which requires evil to be present (Greer 55-62).
1: systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine)
2: a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity(apologetics)
Apologetics is justifying one's faith while also defending against the arguments against the faith. This is something that happens in all religions when they are dealing with people of different faiths. Often apologetics is used to try to persuade people to change faiths. We can find many examples of this between the Pagan and Jewish or Christian people. One example is Celsus talking about the difference between myth and history and calling the gospels myth. Another example is the explanation of miracles and explaining them as something magical, not divine. The feats of Apollonius are an example here, and both Hierocles and Celsus applied the same reasoning to Jesus where his miracles were results of magic, not divinity. Ultimately, the tools of rhetoric were used by both the Pagan and monotheistic apologetics and were used to try to convince people that they should convert to their way (Cook "New Testament" 14-15).
1. an important Christian ceremony (such as baptism or marriage) (Sacrament)
The term sacrament comes from sacrare which means to consecrate. A sacrament is considered to be a “holy mystery” and a sign of “spiritual grace”. In the Catholic church there are the seven sacraments of baptism, penance, confirmation, holy orders, Eucharist, matrimony, and anointing of the sick (Sacrament Etymology). In essence these are things that only a person of faith is allowed to do. They are also ways to absolve one's self of sins that they have committed. The best example of this is the baptism where your sins are washed away by the use of waters that were blessed in the name of Jesus Christ. What I personally find funny is that no Catholic is ever allowed to receive all seven sacraments as you cannot receive both your holy orders (becoming a priest) and marriage.
There is some crossover between these sacraments and traditions within the broader Neo-Pagan movement. The Eucharist can be seen as the eating of the blessed cakes and ale in many Wiccan ceremonies. There are also marriage ceremonies that are performed within the Neo-Pagan religions. We also see some similar things to the anointing of the sick usually through the use of healing magic and funerary rites. The reception of holy orders is also something that is common as most Neo-Pagan religions have some process and ceremony to ordain their priests. Conformation is becoming more common within the Neo-Pagan religions in the form of coming of age ceremonies or life change ceremonies for major events in a person's life.
The remainder, baptism and penance, are not overly common in the Neo-Pagan religions. When you don't have a real concept of sin, or belief that confessions to a clergy member would absolve you of the sins, penance does not really work. Baptism is also something not commonly seen within the Neo-Pagan world as it is used in the Christian religions. Baptism is the purification of the soul and removal of sin through the use of sanctified water (Cook “New Testament” 220). We do see water often being used as purification at the start of most Neo-Pagan rituals, but that is generally not considered to be the absolution of any sins.
Is it appropriate to discuss "theology" from a Neopagan point of view? Does the term apply to the work we do? If it does not apply, do you feel there is a better term? (Minimum 100 words)
1: the study of religious faith, practice, and experience : the study of God and God's relation to the world
2: a system of religious beliefs or ideas (Theology)
Theology is the study of faith and beliefs within the context of a religion. While the term theology often has a strong connotation with the Abrahamic religions, I feel that it is wholly appropriate for us to use the term theology and apply it to our discussions about the beliefs within any religious system, including the Neopagan religions. Within ADF our commonality is our practice, not our beliefs. Even without shared beliefs, I do believe that theology is an important part of ADF. This is because it allows us to compare the beliefs of the various hearth cultures that we encompass to potentially bring more meaning to our own personal practice.
Summarize the arguments of two ancient defenders of paganism or pagan philosophers (not mythographers) regarding the following aspects of ancient religion: (Minimum 100 words per defender/philosopher, per question)
Why do statues of deities not constitute idolatry?
To Celsus, the idea of not having idols, temples, or alters was an alien idea, and one which he thought was a bad idea. Speaking of the use of idols, he saw them as votive offerings that were made to honor the gods. The idols were made of wood, stone, gold, etc. and were not to be taken as the embodiment of deity or hero they represented. He thought that the non-pagan people that believed that the pagans thought that the idols were deities were uneducated and generally not very wise. Ultimately, he was a staunch supporter of the use of idols, and thought it was dishonorable to not to honor the gods through the use of idols (Cook "New Testament" 91-94)
Porphyry also had an interest in idolatry. He pointed out the inconsistencies between what the Christians were saying and doing. One example was their complaints about Pagans worshiping in temples, while they themselves along with the Jewish ancestors did exactly the same thing. He was also of the belief that even children were not of the belief that the gods were the idols. He was willing though to make the use of idols to be of lesser importance. He stated that “The impious person is not the one who does not treat the statues of gods with honor, but the one who adopts the opinions of the many concerning God” (Cook "New Testament" 237). Basically, it's not the idols that are important, but the practice that is.
Why are deities limited, and not capable of all things?
Celsus attacked the Christian belief that God is perfect. If he was, then he would have made the world in a perfect way, and be able to keep it as such. He would also be able to foresee what his creations would do, and prevent them from doing it. In essence, the presence of evil and God's inability to stop evil shows that God is not capable of all things. Celsus was coming from a stoic viewpoint though, where he saw god as transcending all things and being understood by only the eye and the soul because he does not resemble any form, which gave him grounds to also attack the Christians on the way they saw God, and how he made humans in his image (Cook "New Testament" 100-101).
Porphyry also had an objection to the idea that God is capable of all things. He focused on Matthew 19:26 and Mark 14:36. The first states that all things are possible to God. The second states that all things are possible to the believer. This causes some logical issues that are exemplified by Matthew 17:20 where it is explained that a man of faith can move a mountain. It is not possible that even the most faithful man could move a mountain. If God wanted all things to be possible to a believer, as is laid out in the scripture, then it would be. This means then that it is a fallacy to say that all things are possible to the believer (Cook "New Testament" 144).
How did the world come into being?
Celsus held the Christian version of creation to be nonsense. He wrote that the men who wrote of the origin of the world didn't understand the nature of the cosmos and humans. He considered it stupid to divide the creation of the world into several days using the argument that without the earth, stars, sun, and universe having been created, and all set in motion around the earth, how could there be days? Even setting aside that question, he made an argument that making everything in such short a period by commanding that it now exists would be exhausting, even to God. In general he also had issues with God being able to just command things into existence (Cook "Old Testament" 64-69).
Porphyry also questioned the creation stories of the Christians. One thing that he found incredulous was that Jesus, the savior, did not arrive at the time of creation (Cook "New Testament" 180). This of course plays into the soteriology arguments he makes where he questions what happens to the people that were here before Christ. He also went after inconsistencies within the scripture to analyze and attack it. One example of his that shows his issues with Genesis concerns who is speaking. In Genesis 2:23 the version of the scripture he had stated that “Adam said”. What he is pointing it out is that this is written by a man, Moses, saying that a man, Adam, said something and not that God was saying them (Cook "New Testament" 142).
How are miracles and/or prophecy performed by holy persons or priests?
Celsus was very critical of the miracles attributed to Jesus. We must first understand that Celsus portrayed Jesus as an Egyptian magician, and along with that, he considered magicians to be in league with demons. Through this guise, he saw the miracles to be magic, and that he had seen similar magic occur in the street markets of Egypt. He postulated that this magic, specifically talking about healing, resurrection, and the feeding of many, had been done by magicians, could we also call them the son of god? He even compared the magic of Satan to be comparable to that of Jesus, and only one of them is considered to be the son of god (Cook "New Testament" 36-39)
Porphyry also thought along the same lines as Celsus. With regards to miracles, he believed that they were actually the work of demons. Bad demons could, in his opinion, do works of wonder that could be interpreted as miracles. He also stated that either God or demons could live within the human soul, and that an evil person was possessed by an evil demon (Cook "New Testament" 138). Porphyry also went on to claim that the apostles are Egyptian magicians, just like Celsus claimed for Christ. He believed that working the feats that many took as miracles was really something that any magician could do (Cook "New Testament" 156-157).
Provide an Indo-European cosmogony (from lore or reliably reconstructed from lore by scholarly sources). Explain how this cosmogony shaped mythology and thought that derives from it by providing examples from existing sources, as well as how it conflicts with any other known cosmogony from this culture. (Minimum 500 words)
The cosmogony of the Icelandic people comes from the Prose Edda, Gylfaginning. The cosmogony is presented as a conversation between King Gylfi and three men, High, Just-as-High, and Third. The king asks about the beginning of the world, and gets the explanation that it started with a void, Ginnungagap. Around this void were formed Niflheim or the Dark World and Muspell. The king then asked about how life came to be. He is told that the ice grew out of Niflheim and slowly melted as it approached Muspell. Out of this ice rime was born a giant, Ymir. Out of Ymir's sweat came the first beings, the frost giants. These were not considered gods, but were considered evil creatures. When asked how they nourished and sustained themselves, he is told about Audhumla, the cow, forming out of the drippings of the ice. She sustained herself by licking the ice rime, and her udders provided four rivers of milk that sustained Ymir. The licking also revealed a man, Buri, who had a son Bor, who had three sons, Odin, Vili, and Ve. Asking then what happened, and if these sons got along with the giants, it is explained that the sons kill Ymir. With his killing, the blood that rushed out killed all but a pair of the frost giants. They then made the world out of Ymir's body, mountains out of his bones, and boulders out of his teeth and broken bones. His blood became the oceans; his skull became the sky, held up by four dwarves. In the sky they placed the sparks from Muspellheim. The world was then set in order placing the 9 realms in place (Sturluson 12-17).
This cosmogony of the Norse culture is rather well documented throughout the primary sources of the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda. The above is a summary of what is found in the Prose Edda. We find documentation of it in various places through the Poetic Edda. In Voluspa we get a shortened version of the story, but it adds in information of the number of the worlds and the tree (Elder Edda 5). In Vafthrudnismal we again get confirmation that Ymir was deconstructed to create the world (Elder Edda 41). Grimnismal also describes the dismemberment of Ymir and the creation of the world (Elder Edda 57). Hyndluljod talks of Ymir being the ancestor of all giants, and it also talks of Odin coming from Buri, again consistent with the Prose Edda (Elder Edda 254). We do need to keep in mind when reading and analyzing these two works that the Prose Edda was written by a Christian, and it is made clear just in the prologue that he did not believe that the stories were more than stories where he equated the gods to be men from Asia (Sturluson 3-8). The Poetic Edda on the other hand is a collection of various poems and the meanings are often masked by the use of poetic devices so that it maintained a certain meter. The themes of this cosmogony showing up in multiple sources for the Norse mythology, and being highly consistent between sources, shows us that it shaped the mythology.
Describe the relationship of humans to each of the Three Kindreds, and to the Outdwellers, providing examples from lore. (Minimum 150 words per Kindred)
For the Icelandic people, we can look to the Rigsthula for one example of the relationship between humans and the Gods. This work tells the story of Rig, who is presumed to be Heimdall. He wanders the earth and spends some nights sleeping between three different couples of different social statuses. The results of these nights were children, and they were the first of the three classes of people in Scandinavian society, slaves, carls, earls (Poetic Edda 241-247). We also see in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning that Odin creates man and gives him living spirit (Sturluson 12). As these examples show, the people believed that they were directly related to the gods. Through many places in the lore, we also see the people interacting with the gods, usually without them knowing that they were gods. This shows us that the people found the gods to be very relatable.
In the Sigdrifumál we can see an example of how the people interacted with the gods on a spiritual level:
“Hail, Day, hail, Day's sons,
hail, Night and her kin!
Look on us here with kindly eyes
and grant victory to those sitting here
Hail, gods, greetings, goddesses
greetings, this bounteous earth!
Grant speech and sense to us famous pair
and healing hands, while we live!”
(Poetic Edda 169-170)
This was stated within the context of drinking a “memory drink” which would be one form of sacrifice being made to the gods. We also see in the Havamal a discussion on sacrifice and how it needs to be appropriate and not too much (Poetic Edda 36). Overall, I believe that we see examples throughout the lore of the people having a reciprocal and sacrificial relationship with the deities.
The Greeks probably have the best examples of having active nature spirit worship. It was common that many natural features throughout their lands were associated with some kind of being, an example of this being the nymph which is a female spirit. These spirits were thought to have great knowledge of the locality, but it was limited to the area that they lived. The nymphs were also thought to have powers that would be helpful to humans, but if you look at the hierarchy of the Greek powers, they would be towards the bottom. People did worship them though. A couple examples include men that lived in caves. As part of their working with the local nymphs, the men maintained gardens. After the deaths of the men, these caves became shrines and the focus of pilgrimage. Again, we are seeing a reciprocal relationship where people gave to the beings, and the beings gave back (Greer 8).
The ancestors are the one Kindred that everyone has a direct attachment to. This is because they are the family and friends that have died. Ancestor veneration can be found in most cultures. For the Scandinavian people, this can be seen first by the language. We have the words Disir and Alfar which have been translated into multiple meanings, but the one relevant to this topic is that they were the female and male ancestors respectively. We can also see that the ancestors were remembered through the naming of places, with them frequently being named after the dead. We also have archaeological evidence of the pre-Christian Germanic people using burial mounds. At some mounds you can also find hollowed out stones called elf stones, which are believed to be places for people to make offerings of food and drink. We also see that there is an emphasis in the lore, specifically the Havamal, about keeping a good reputation, for if you have a good reputation, and you are remembered, your spirit is essentially immortal (Lafayllve 59-64).
Outdwellers or Outsiders are a little more difficult to define because depending on the situation, beings that we would not normally consider to be Outdwellers, are. This is all in how we define the grouping. I personally define them in ritual as all those that are not aligned with the purpose of this ritual. This will usually mean that all the utangardh from the lore, such as the frost giants and the majority of Loki's children when talking about Scandinavian practices, are considered Outdwellers. There are times though where one could see an Outdweller no longer be one. Skaldi, once she married Njord is a prime example of this. The Outdwellers can be dangerous and as a result should be treated carefully. For this reason you see the building of walls to keep out the outsiders can be found in Gylfaginning. Here we see the gods make a deal with someone to build the walls, and then when they discovered it was a giant, e.g. an Outdweller, he was promptly fought and killed (Sturluson 50-52). In fact, there are many examples throughout the lore of Thor fighting giants, which would represent the fight between innangardh or friends and the utangardh. When this is applied to the human relationship with Outdwellers or those not of your community, they were dangerous beings that were not to be messed with; therefore you put up protections against them such as walls or you fought them in battle.
By what mechanism does an ADF Priest call upon the divine in ritual? Is this different than the mechanism used by any other ADF Member (i.e. non-priests) or other Pagans at large? Provide at least two examples from the lore or philosophy that support the mechanism described, as well as any differences in the way clergy and lay members deal with the divine. (Minimum 400 words)
When we talk about how a modern day person calls upon the divine in a ritual, be it a public or private ritual, the mechanics of how they call upon the divine is no different whether they are clergy or not. The average Neopagan can do the same work as an ordained priest, and get similar results. That is one of the basic principles of the modern Neopagan movement, that everyone can be their own priest. With that being said though, an ordained priest within ADF has taken an oath that they are there to serve the folk, land, and gods. This means that while a non-clergy member can do the work, the clergy member is obligated to make sure it is done, by themselves or through the folk they serve in ritual.
One example of how this is done is through the use of prayers. Prayers in their most basic form are us communicating with the gods. When we come from the understanding that they are not omniscient, it makes sense that we would talk to them to let them know what is happening with us, thank them, and ask for help (Serith 7-8). The use of prayer can be found throughout the majority of the cultures and religions. We can find many examples through writings of the cultures, especially the Greeks, Romans, and Vedic. There are also examples that can be found through local customs, stories, and lore (Serith 3-5). One of the classic collections of prayers comes from the Vedas of the Vedic people (Vedas). These are thought to be used by the priesthood, and in the cases of some rituals such as the Agnistoma ritual, the priests walked the sacrificer, who was not a priest, through what they needed to say so that they would receive the blessings (Drury 25-33).
Sacrifice is another method that we connect with the gods. At the most basic level, this is us giving something to them with the hope of receiving something in return. As with prayer, this is not really limited to just the priesthood in ancient days, but was known to be done by non-priests. The Agnistoma ritual shows the sacrifices being done by non-clergy. This ritual sees the role of the priest being to guide the sacrificer in how to do things, but the sacrificer did the work, and as a result received the blessings (Drury 25-33). Alternatively, we can see the priesthood doing the sacrifice in the Greek culture. The regular animal sacrifice was a large public ritual, full of ceremony. The actual sacrifice though was performed by a priest, and the rewards of it were shared among all in the ritual (Burkert, Ch. 2, 1.1).
The theme we see when looking at what has historically been done is that when the non-priest was doing the work, it was being done for themselves or their family, and may have had guidance from the priesthood in how to do it. Public affairs though, were lead by the priesthood. In many respects, this is the same thing that happens today. Personal and home rites and sacrifices are done by everyone, but in public rituals when a priest is available at minimum they make sure everything is done.
Explain whether the sacrifice/blessing relationship is one of obligation or one of volunteerism: in other words, does the mechanism of sacrifice and blessing have a required or optional outcome for both parties involved? What are the implications of your position on this topic on our ritual work? (Minimum 300 words)
The priesthood, both ancient and modern, has an obligation when it comes to making sacrifices. This obligation stems from the maintaining of the cosmic order. Here we are talking about the making sacrifices to represent the creation of the cosmos, in Indo-European mythology this is usually the killing of “Twin”. So, the sacrifice of an animal towards this purpose, and then eating the flesh after the sacrifice was the way ancients would help maintain the cosmic order. In a modern context we are more likely to do a shared meal to symbolically represent the ritual killing of an animal. The underlying thought was that if this wasn't done, the cosmos would eventually become depleted (Thomas).
If we place the obligation of making sacrifice to maintain the cosmos as something that is a requirement of clergy, what about the nature of sacrifice for the non-clergy? This is where the concept of reciprocity or *ghosti- really comes into play. We give to the Kindreds, and we expect that we will receive something in return. This giving and receiving is similar to what friends do. We give cards and gifts throughout the year to celebrate the holidays and birthdays knowing that with that gift we are likely to get something in return at the next holiday or our birthday. This exchange of gifts is all voluntary but if it stops happening without a good reason then the friendship becomes strained or stops.
When we talk about sacrifices to the Kindreds, we can think of it in a similar fashion. We give to the Kindreds, and they give back to us. When one of us stops giving though, that relationship becomes strained or even dissolved. We voluntarily enter into the relationships with the Kindreds and are not obligated to have it with one or all of them. As a result the sacrifice/blessing relationship is both one of obligation if we want to maintain our relationship with the Kindreds or are clergy and are obligated to help maintain the cosmic order, and it is one of volunteerism as we don't need to maintain relationships with one or all of the Kindreds.
Explain how natural disasters (such as earthquakes, disease, and eruptions) are viewed in polytheistic cultures, including their causes. (Minimum 300 words)
In ancient days, it was not uncommon to try to look for supernatural causes of every day events and this is especially true for natural events that shaped one's life. This is one possible reason that we find deities that are associated with specific things. For the Scandinavian people, Thor is associated with the weather, and he is thought to be responsible for thunder and rain. Similar to Thor, the Celtic cultures had Taranis which was also responsible for rain and thunder. The Greeks had Poseidon that was thought to be in control of the sea and was responsible for the safe voyage of ships.
If we look at the lore, we can see cases of natural phenomena being blamed on the deities. Taking look at the Scandinavian lore, we can see in Gylfaginning that the gods bind Loki due to his actions. As part of this binding, a poisonous snake is hung over him dripping venom and his wife Sigyn catches the venom in a bowl. When she goes to empty it though and Loki gets hit with drops of venom, he shakes violently and is the cause of earthquakes (Sturluson 69-70).
The Greeks were also a culture that had a tendency to attribute all kinds of natural events to deities. One regular event like this is that the changing of the seasons. They attribute this to Persephone traveling to the underworld for half the year. They also saw natural events as things that could be influenced by making sacrifice. Therefore, if one wanted a good harvest, they would make sacrifices to Persephone. If they wanted to avoid pests and illness, it would be Apollo they would sacrifice to (Burkert, Ch. 5, 3.5).
We also see that it was not just deities that were blamed for natural disasters. In some cases, demons were blamed for all kinds of natural events. Celsus attributes that illness was the result of the working of some thirty six demons (Cook "New Testament" 96). We can see Porphyry make arguments that all kinds of things were caused by demons. This included epidemics, earthquakes, and all kinds of other calamities that occurred (Cook "New Testament" 177).
If we put ourselves into the minds of a people that grew up in a culture that believed that all these phenomena were caused by deities, we can see that there is another likely explanation. The people that were suffering would likely have thought that they did something wrong to the deity that was responsible for the disaster. They would then want to appease that deity by making appropriate sacrifice. As an example of this connection, the destruction of Pompeii occurred on August 24, the day after Vulcanalia, by a volcano which would be under the dominion of Vulcan (The Destruction of Pompeii). One could assume that the people in the area would have connected the two and wonder what they did wrong to bring about his wrath.
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