Gods that championed the poor

When the person formerly known as Teo Bishop felt his spiritual calling pulling him away from Paganism and towards Christianity, he wrote a beautiful essay (that I can’t find for the life of me here in 2016) on what  made Jesus stand apart from Pagan gods and why that was important to him. His especial trait was that he championed the poor, and this set him apart  from other gods in other pantheons. This is a wonderful feature of Jesus, one entirely too overlooked by modern political candidates claiming to be Christians and those members of certain churches that think their positions of privilege are some cosmic reward for being so good that they no longer have to try.

But it is not true that he is the only deified figure to actually fight for the poor. Some of this is a matter of timing: most Pagan gods popularly worshiped did come from agrarian cults. They didn’t come from worlds of rich and poor – they came from worlds of survive/die. What affected the harvest affected everyone. Only after cities and land ownership became concepts did poverty and wealth become concepts, and concepts as we know them has changed drastically in the last 200 years.

Rather than poor or rich, ancient Pagan gods that were beneficial served who we would now define as poor: the enslaved, women, and the conquered.

Aradia, the legendary daughter of a more recent goddess Diana, also fought for the poor. While mentioned in the Charge of the Goddess, I’ve never been involved in a ritual that invoked her((though I may have done it and forgotten during my early experimental years.)) But in the history(?) left us by Leland, she also stood as a figure of salvation and a champion to the oppressed – and like Jesus, she had the anointed qualities required of a Christ.

From Aradia, Gospel of the Witches:

I wish we knew more about her.

Dionysus was ultimately a god of the disenfranchised. His cult – including maenads, who I believe to be real people and not fictional characters, included slaves, women, and the extreme poor. While the methods of the cult did not necessarily alleviate poverty, the orgiastic rites were a form of relief. Enough so that I look at modern BDSM culture and wonder if there is a Bacchanalian/Dionysian difference in the menu selection of activities and intent within the subculture.

The entire Orisha pantheon is a source of strength under the oppression of slavery and its modern police abuse equivalents.  They are the living preservation of ancestral memory, of who their descendants were before they were kidnapped and forced to come to the Americas.

Perhaps most famous of all of these is Prometheus, daring to give humanity fire and thus their first step out of enslavement to the vagaries of night and day, cold and raw:

With digging there are likely many other gods across other pantheons; I gravitate to Greece and Rome because that’s who I know and feel comfortable calling upon.