Pantheon Names

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Pantheon Names

Postby Big Mac » Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:28 pm

I saw an article on AuldDragon's blog where he was looking for Panthon Names.

It looked like he needed to track down names for the Finnish, Indian, Japanse and Native American pantheons.

I'm guessing that the Native American deities would probably be split up by local Native American cultures, just like the Central American ones.

Does anyone know anything about these pantheons having collective names for the deities?

Does anyone know anything about other real-world pantheons?
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby ripvanwormer » Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:05 pm

Jumalat, devas, kami, and manitou.
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby willpell » Sun Jul 09, 2017 6:45 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:Jumalat, devas, kami, and manitou.


Of note, both "kami" and "manitou" are able to be translated as "spirits" rather than "gods", which has advantages and disadvantages.
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby lesh » Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:37 pm

Amatsukami are the most powerful spirits, or gods
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby Big Mac » Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:58 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:Jumalat, devas, kami, and manitou.


...and...

lesh wrote:Amatsukami are the most powerful spirits, or gods


Hang on? Which name goes with which culture? :?

EDIT:

I can't find "Jumalat" for some reason (just sentences with it in).

Deva is a Hindu thing, so Indian.

Kami is Japanese.

Manitou is Native American.

I can't find "Amatsukami" either.
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby Khedrac » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:17 pm

I think the problem is that very very few cultures had names for their pantheons, and historians/anthropologists studying them usually just name by culture, only needing more details where the same culture had more than one pantheon.

(I may get this wrong, not being an expert.)
The classic example of a culture with two pantheons is the Norse - because they had two types of gods - Aesir and Vanir. They also have the giants as the enemies of the gods, but they are not a panthoen.
The next example looks as if it has two pantheons, and an internal name for the main one, but look again: Greek/Roman. The pantheon is often referred to as the Olmpian pantheon (possibly because it is the same pantheon re-worked for the transition from Greek to Roman) with the other pantheon being the Titans, but they are really just the "Giants" with another name - one pantheon, just named for residence not culture.
Now I think that the Egyptian deities are classified into multiple groups, probably because the culture stuck around for so long that their worship shifted multiple times. However I don't recall the details.
Similarly the the Southern American and Meso-American cultures shifted and displaced each others their gods got transitioned from culture to culture hence they (I think) have different pantheon names, but again culture based?

So FInnish: which I think has ties to the Karelian and Sammi cultures. These stores are mainly known from specific saga-cycles (e.g. the Kalevala) and are known by the culture - "Finnish" is the name for the pantheon. If you need an in-game name, possibly use Pohjola pantheon - i.e. the north pantheon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pohjola).

Indian: use "Vedas" or "Vedic" which is the term for the oldest scriptures of the Hindu and related mythologies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedas

Japanese: not one I know anything about, but a quick look at Wikipedia suggests "Koljiki" or "Hinto" pantheon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_mythology

Native American - as said, North America splits by culture (tribe?); as does Meso- and Southern America, e.g. the Olmec, Mayan and Aztec pantheons
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby hihama » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:15 pm

There really is no pantheon name for old Finnish gods since there is no organised pantheon, just few mentions of various gods in old poems and folklore collected some centuries after Finns were (forcefully by sword and fire) converted to christianuty.

Jumala is god in Finnish, same word in one form or other is present in most of the Fenno-Ugrian languages, propably a very old loan word from some Aryan language.
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby Thorf » Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:35 am

The Japanese situation is rather different because the idea of gods is quite different. That's why "kami" is probably best left untranslated. The basic concept is that kami exist all around us, in multiple scales. So there could be a kami for lightning, but also for a particular stream or even rock. There are more powerful kami who could be thought of as being equivalent to the gods of other pantheons, too. But that's mostly mythology rather than everyday religion, if you see what I mean.

Incidentally, I've been working on this very topic lately for Kumoshima, the Japan-themed moon in Calidar. It may well be some time before all this comes to light, but definitely something to look out for if you're interested in Japanese mythology/religion in fantasy RPG settings. ;)
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby Big Mac » Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:56 pm

Khedrac wrote:I think the problem is that very very few cultures had names for their pantheons, and historians/anthropologists studying them usually just name by culture, only needing more details where the same culture had more than one pantheon.


I guess you are right. There must be some genericness to this sort of thing, a bit like how different languages will have names for the Moon that simply translate as "Moon", because that's their word for The Moon.

I suppose that one way to find out some useful words would be to look at other language versions of Wikipedia to see if there is a local word for "pantheon" that sounds good in a tabletop RPG context. It would not be "correct", but people would know what it was and it might have the right vibe to it (assuming it isn't just "pantheon" with the spelling fiddled about a bit.

Khedrac wrote:(I may get this wrong, not being an expert.)
The classic example of a culture with two pantheons is the Norse - because they had two types of gods - Aesir and Vanir. They also have the giants as the enemies of the gods, but they are not a panthoen.
The next example looks as if it has two pantheons, and an internal name for the main one, but look again: Greek/Roman. The pantheon is often referred to as the Olmpian pantheon (possibly because it is the same pantheon re-worked for the transition from Greek to Roman) with the other pantheon being the Titans, but they are really just the "Giants" with another name - one pantheon, just named for residence not culture.
Now I think that the Egyptian deities are classified into multiple groups, probably because the culture stuck around for so long that their worship shifted multiple times. However I don't recall the details.


I think that the cultural appropriation of the Romans has definitely caused a lot of confusion about how Roman deities and Greek deities differ. And I do see people who claim that deities in other pantheons are the "local version of <insert name of Roman deity>" from time to time.

I think it is good to be able to compare a deity to another one (especially if you have a brand new tabletop deity and you need to give a GM some hints) but it's also nice to be able to make deities in a complex multiverse feel like they are not all clones.

Khedrac wrote:Similarly the the Southern American and Meso-American cultures shifted and displaced each others their gods got transitioned from culture to culture hence they (I think) have different pantheon names, but again culture based?


Another problem there is that some of that history has been written by outsiders. So we can get a corruption of information. (I read something about a fictional Mezoamerican warrior - called an "Arrow Knight" - sneaking it's way into several history books before another historian came along and tried to debunk the concept.) The same sort of confusion could definitely happen with deities if someone didn't know the subject well.

Khedrac wrote:So FInnish: which I think has ties to the Karelian and Sammi cultures. These stores are mainly known from specific saga-cycles (e.g. the Kalevala) and are known by the culture - "Finnish" is the name for the pantheon. If you need an in-game name, possibly use Pohjola pantheon - i.e. the north pantheon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pohjola).


Thanks for that. I guess I would need to read up some stories and legends, if I wanted to make best use of the Finnish mythology. I don't have the Finnish stuff in my copy of Legends & Lore. (I don't know why they pulled it. There wouldn't have been an IP conflict.)

Khedrac wrote:Indian: use "Vedas" or "Vedic" which is the term for the oldest scriptures of the Hindu and related mythologies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedas

Japanese: not one I know anything about, but a quick look at Wikipedia suggests "Koljiki" or "Hinto" pantheon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_mythology

Native American - as said, North America splits by culture (tribe?); as does Meso- and Southern America, e.g. the Olmec, Mayan and Aztec pantheons


That's certainly a good word to use, even if it wasn't used for the deities.

You know, I do believe that Havard has been taking an interest in some of the Historical Reference campaign settings recently. It might be worth knocking up a glossary, similar to the Mystara Acronyms topic, for each real-world culture. :)
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby Big Mac » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:01 pm

hihama wrote:There really is no pantheon name for old Finnish gods since there is no organised pantheon, just few mentions of various gods in old poems and folklore collected some centuries after Finns were (forcefully by sword and fire) converted to christianuty.

Jumala is god in Finnish, same word in one form or other is present in most of the Fenno-Ugrian languages, propably a very old loan word from some Aryan language.


Hmm. Gods without an actual pantheon is an interesting concept.

There are so many pantheons that start off with one or two "grandparent deities" that give birth to a small collection of "parent deities" who give birth to a larger colection of "child deities".

It's almost as if people have an expectation of that.

But if you look at worlds like Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms, they have (similar but non-identical) pantheons for the various non-human races, plus a bunch of local pantheons tied into the fictional human cultures. So non-related deities actually work well in D&D. Maybe the Finnish gods can teach us some tricks. :)
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby Big Mac » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:08 pm

Thorf wrote:The Japanese situation is rather different because the idea of gods is quite different. That's why "kami" is probably best left untranslated. The basic concept is that kami exist all around us, in multiple scales. So there could be a kami for lightning, but also for a particular stream or even rock. There are more powerful kami who could be thought of as being equivalent to the gods of other pantheons, too. But that's mostly mythology rather than everyday religion, if you see what I mean.


I've not looked at the Oriental Adventures classes recently, but I know they went away from the normal cleric thing.

If D&D can have druids that take power from nature, I suppose that there could be ways that religions work in other different ways to standard clerics. I'm not sure I would want a ton of different rules to learn, but to a D&D player a "god/godess" is really just a big powerful NPC leader that they are working for.

Thorf wrote:Incidentally, I've been working on this very topic lately for Kumoshima, the Japan-themed moon in Calidar. It may well be some time before all this comes to light, but definitely something to look out for if you're interested in Japanese mythology/religion in fantasy RPG settings. ;)


I bet a few people are going to enjoy that. :)
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby hihama » Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:23 pm

Big Mac wrote:
hihama wrote:There really is no pantheon name for old Finnish gods since there is no organised pantheon, just few mentions of various gods in old poems and folklore collected some centuries after Finns were (forcefully by sword and fire) converted to christianuty.

Jumala is god in Finnish, same word in one form or other is present in most of the Fenno-Ugrian languages, propably a very old loan word from some Aryan language.


Hmm. Gods without an actual pantheon is an interesting concept.



Problem is that we really do not have sources to say if there was a Finnish pantheon or not. Chriistian priests were too efficient in destroying the old knowledge in 14th and 15th centuries. The few tales and poems survived only in the most remote areas.
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby ripvanwormer » Tue Jul 11, 2017 4:25 pm

I just went with whatever the word for "gods" was in each language. My understanding is that "jumalat" is the nominative plural form of "jumala." Looking back, using Finnish plural forms is probably not the right decision in a question about what to call the different pantheons in English.
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby hihama » Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:09 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:I just went with whatever the word for "gods" was in each language. My understanding is that "jumalat" is the nominative plural form of "jumala." Looking back, using Finnish plural forms is probably not the right decision in a question about what to call the different pantheons in English.


Your understanding is correct.
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby willpell » Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:38 pm

Big Mac wrote:to a D&D player a "god/godess" is really just a big powerful NPC leader that they are working for.


I feel obligated to point out that not every player has such a cavalier attitude toward the deities of their setting.
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby Michael Silverbane » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:44 pm

willpell wrote:
Big Mac wrote:to a D&D player a "god/godess" is really just a big powerful NPC leader that they are working for.


I feel obligated to point out that not every player has such a cavalier attitude toward the deities of their setting.


And some players attitudes are even more cavalier than that.
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Re: Pantheon Names

Postby agathokles » Wed Aug 02, 2017 4:02 pm

Michael Silverbane wrote:
willpell wrote:
Big Mac wrote:to a D&D player a "god/godess" is really just a big powerful NPC leader that they are working for.


I feel obligated to point out that not every player has such a cavalier attitude toward the deities of their setting.


And some players attitudes are even more cavalier than that.


In many settings, it's not the players' attitude, it's that gods are actually big powerful NPC leaders... in Birthright and Mystara, for example, and I'd say in FR too.

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