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Deity: Both Young and Ancient

By Jason Mankey

[Snip] If you were to ask the average Pagan what sort of deities they worship you might get a response like “the old gods” or “the gods of ancient paganism,” but that’s not entirely true. Many Pagans worship relatively new or young gods; figures that when originally written about weren’t seen as gods at all. “Newness” doesn’t mean “false.” Just because something is new, be it a religion or a deity, doesn’t mean that it’s false or lacking in truth. Every religion and every god starts off as “new” at some point. Every deity had to have had a “first follower” or “first worshipper.” When Aine Llewellyn writes of the goddess Adilene he’s writing about a very real experience. That experience is not invalidated because the deity in question is new or was previously unknown to us.

For many years I was entirely dismissive of the god Herne, because I had a lot of trouble seeing him as a real deity due to his relative “newness.” The origins of Herne lie more in ghost stories and folktales than in some sort of unbroken chain of horned gods going back thousands of years, and to my young and stupider Pagan-self that was a real problem. “But he wasn’t worshipped as a god in the year 800 CE” I would whine to myself, but why should that matter so much? For the last two hundred years people have been having very real experiences with Herne, shouldn’t that be enough?

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