Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Eldorion on Fri May 23, 2014 3:44 am

Kenelm's last post was like three hours ago, at just after midnight in the UK (where he lives), so there's a good chance he simply went to bed.  But regardless, it was not my intention to "chase him away" or anything like that.  He's seemed pretty dogged so far, but regardless: Kenelm, if you're reading this, I deeply apologize if I gave the impression that you are not welcome here.  You are free to post whatever you want about your beliefs and your movement so long as you follow the general rules of the forum (which you have done so far, just to be clear).

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by bungobaggins on Fri May 23, 2014 5:30 am

Eldorion wrote:
Okay, since you're doubling down on this, I really have to ask a question that I think I brought up in one of your other threads.  How do you square your contention that Tolkien was receiving true knowledge of ancient pagan times with our exhaustive, detailed knowledge of his creative process, the decisions he made as a writer, his deliberating over certain elements of plot and character, etc.?  Did he just create all this material (including private notes and personal correspondence) to cover up the fact that he was actually recording the historical/spiritual truth?

This goes back to my inclination in wanting to believe that the whole "it all really happened" bit from Tolkien was just a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun. I mean, we know all the changes he went through, and he knew his audience wasn't stupid. Shrugging

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by RA on Fri May 23, 2014 7:02 am

Live and let live, that's how I view it. I have a lot of beliefs that may be considered "nutty" by the general public, which is fine for them and for me. Social norms and what's considered acceptable changes all the time.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Kenelm on Fri May 23, 2014 7:56 am

Good morning everyone - and yes, I went to bed. Smile

If my beliefs and practices are nutty then so are those of about a quarter of a million other peeple in the UK alone who have decided to leave whatever religion (or lack thereof) they were brought up with and become part of the Pagan movement, in all its myriad forms.

In my opinion, it shows far greater spiritual maturity and intelligence to make such a move, rather than simply going through the motions for the sake of conformity.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri May 23, 2014 2:55 pm

I think we should follow our own paths and be true to ourselves. As long as we respect others and harm no-one with our beliefs I think its not a problem. We have all met fascinating unconventional folk on our travels and our lives are enriched by people who follow a path less well travelled.  All sorts of so called 'strange' beliefs are out there. If you go to Ireland there are people who believe fimly in the Little People, to a cynical town dweller that may seem 'nutty'. To develop a belief system based on a mythical book is no different from the major religions. Tolkiens books have a moral code, a set of chivalric rules by which to live by, its a positive message of hope and love of Nature and respect for all living things. and it may be wishful thinking to believe its real and it may not be, but so is any religion, as humans we need to believe its real. The important thing is faith.
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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by azriel on Fri May 23, 2014 3:20 pm

Tolkiens books have a moral code, a set of chivalric rules by which to live by, its a positive message of hope and love of Nature and respect for all living things. and it may be wishful thinking to believe its real and it may not be, but so is any religion, as humans we need to believe its real. The important thing is faith............... so says Figgs,  Im sure thats how other books of religion have started out ? With the Originator hoping to spread love & care to all, I have my views on the Bible, as set down, I firmley believe it was written with the sole intention to subdue the masses & put just enough fear into the hearts of the populus to control them. But Im not going down that path  Smile It seems sad that humans have to put so much faith in something,whether written or spoken, to fulfill their lives & make themselves feel better ? happier ? Is their own lives dependent on this so much ? Why is it that some people need a spiritual crutch more than others ? I think if Tolkien truly believed in his writtings as some sort of religion, that strength alone would have appeared sooner & we'd hear of it by now. Religion, of all faiths, does leave a mark. I think its just wishful thinking, The Land of middle Earth, of a time & place that could have been ? & if this place did exist, wish it was still like it now ? Tolkien wasnt daft ! he was just a kindly dreamer.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by azriel on Fri May 23, 2014 3:24 pm

"nuttier than squirrel shit"  Very Happy by Eldo
 I also like.. "madder than a box of frogs"  Very Happy by me

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri May 23, 2014 3:31 pm

I think humans need carrot and stick, I think we need religion to give us a moral code, I think its the basis of our society whether we like it or not it colours everything we do.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Elthir on Fri May 23, 2014 3:34 pm

Elthir asked: '... but for now, why isn't an older Tolkien still the conduit of your argument, receiving [from his Awen, Muse or whatever] his inspiration and better defining what only seems to be 'the case' based on unfinished, abandoned, and contradictory texts written in his youth?  

Kenelm responded: 'The younger Tolkien seemed to be closer to the source, as evidenced by the vibrant and chaotic nature of what he produced, looking very much like inspired (in the literal sense of the word) writings. This is not to say that the older, more refined Tolkien had lost his connection with whatever inspired him (about which I have my theories), but rather, that he was more able, and willing, to override it.'

Okay, so you interpret the external nature of the unfinished, abandoned, early texts in this way; by which I do not mean you have started with the claim itself [the conclusion] and purposely worked your way to it, but, and not that you said otherwise, but there are yet others ways to interpret what you call the 'vibrant' nature of these early forays into writing.

And with Tolkien, the word 'chaotic' can hardly be confined to only his early years, in my opinion.

In Tolkien's later years he was given chances to write letters (in which to explain his work from an external perspective), arguably due to becoming a more public figure, and as an author of popular stories he was asked plenty of questions about his work. That is, if we had similar enquiries in Tolkien's youth  [in theory], what would he have explained then?

Even in JRRT's later years, I would argue that both certain characters within the story, and even the reader, are intended to make an 'imaginative' connection to the Valar as gods. But what of the internal truth regarding any theological distinction in the early years?

A translation conceit is firmly in place in The Book of Lost Tales: especially in the earliest Eriol scenario we appear to have a germanic translator who will, when hearing about the Valar, naturally make the comparison to the gods of the 'Great Lands' (but again, so might a reader who reads the Valaquenta of the 1950s). An older Tolkien makes Iluvatar the creator of beings who can be called 'gods' but are not from a theological standpoint. From The Book of Lost Tales II, commentary, The Fall of Gondolin

In the present tale he [Tuor] 'heard tell of Iluvatar', the Lord for Always, who dwelleth beyond the world', and of the music of the Ainur. Knowledge of the very existence of Iluvatar was, it seems, a perogative of the Elves; long afterwards in the garden of Mar Vanwa Tyalieva (I. 49) Eriol asked Rumil: 'Who was Iluvatar? Was he of the Gods?' and Rumil answered: 'Nay, that he was not; for he made them. Iluvatar is the Lord for Always, who dwells beyond the world.'

JRR Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien commentary

Iluvatar appears notably distinct from the gods in this very early version. Do we have, in essence, the same scenario as we have later, if with an easier application of the word 'gods' in the internal text?

A young Tolkien was still Catholic, but at the moment I can't recall if any early description makes it explicit that the 'later' distinction [already cited from letters] could not have already been in place with respect to The Book of Lost Tales, despite the terminology.


Last edited by Elthir on Fri May 23, 2014 3:48 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by azriel on Fri May 23, 2014 3:35 pm

I just cannot imagine a world without religion ? it goes right back to primitive times. I often wonder about these ancient stone carvings that have been found, & dated so far back in our human history. Did those carvers seen 'something weird' that made them believe in a God ?? 
Lance & his aliens?  Very Happy  Laughing

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by bungobaggins on Fri May 23, 2014 3:45 pm

azriel wrote:I just cannot imagine a world without religion ?



Figgy said we need it for a moral code, but look at all the bad things done (and being done) in the name of religion. Doesn't seem to be doing a very good job, especially after 10,000 or so years.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Kenelm on Fri May 23, 2014 3:48 pm

Elthir wrote:
Elthir asked: '... but for now, why isn't an older Tolkien still the conduit of your argument, receiving [from his Awen, Muse or whatever] his inspiration and better defining what only seems to be 'the case' based on unfinished, abandoned, and contradictory texts written in his youth?  

Kenelm responded: 'The younger Tolkien seemed to be closer to the source, as evidenced by the vibrant and chaotic nature of what he produced, looking very much like inspired (in the literal sense of the word) writings. This is not to say that the older, more refined Tolkien had lost his connection with whatever inspired him (about which I have my theories), but rather, that he was more able, and willing, to override it.'

Okay, so you interpret the external nature of the unfinished, abandoned, early texts in this way; by which I do not mean you have started with the claim itself [the conclusion] and purposely worked your way to it, but, and not that you said otherwise, but there are yet others ways to interpret what you call the 'vibrant' nature of these early forays into writing.

And with Tolkien, the word 'chaotic' can hardly be confined to only his early years, in my opinion.

In Tolkien's later years he was given chances to write letters (in which to explain his work from an external perspective), arguably due to becoming a more public figure, and as an author of popular stories he was asked plenty of questions about his work. That is, if we had similar enquiries in Tolkien's youth  [in theory], what would he have explained then?

Even in JRRT's later years, I would argue that both certain characters within the story, and even the reader, are intended to make an 'imaginative' connection to the Valar as gods. But what of the internal truth regarding any theological distinction in the early years?

A translation conceit is firmly in place in The Book of Lost Tales: especially in the earliest Eriol scenario we appear to have a germanic translator who will, when hearing about the Valar, naturally make the comparison to the gods of the 'Great Lands' (but again, so might a reader who reads the Valaquenta of the 1950s). An older Tolkien makes Iluvatar the creator of beings who can be called 'gods' but are not from a theological standpoint. From The Book of Lost Tales II, commentary, The Fall of Gondolin

In the present tale he [Tuor] 'heard tell of Iluvatar', the Lord for Always, who dwelleth beyond the world', and of the music of the Ainur. Knowledge of the very existence of Iluvatar was, it seems, a perogative of the Elves; long afterwards in the garden of Mar Vanwa Tyalieva (I. 49) Eriol asked Rumil: 'Who was Iluvatar? Was he of the Gods?' and Rumil answered: 'Nay, that he was not; for he made them. Iluvatar is the Lord for Always, who dwells beyond the world.'

JRR Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien commentary

Iluvatar appears notably distinct from the gods in this very early version. Do we have, in essence, the same scenario as we have later, if with an easier application of the word 'gods' in the internal text?

A young Tolkien was still Catholic, but at the moment I can't recall if any early description makes it explicit that the 'later' distinction [already cited from letters] could not have already been in place, despite the terminology.

What you seem to be saying, in effect, is that if the younger Tolkien had been given the chance to explain himself, voluminously, as he was in his later years, he would have said essentially the same thing. But this is just an assumption, based in his later explanations. It is not an assumption I choose to make. Rather, I let the texts speak for themselves.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Kenelm on Fri May 23, 2014 3:53 pm

bungobaggins wrote:
azriel wrote:I just cannot imagine a world without religion ?



Figgy said we need it for a moral code, but look at all the bad things done (and being done) in the name of religion. Doesn't seem to be doing a very good job, especially after 10,000 or so years.

John Lennon, warbling on about no possessions, while sitting in his huge mansion.

Most of the evil that religions have done have been done by monotheistic religions, which take our natural tendency towards spiritual awareness and turn it into a means of oppression.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Elthir on Fri May 23, 2014 4:18 pm

What you seem to be saying, in effect, is that if the younger Tolkien had been given the chance to explain himself, voluminously, as he was in his later years, he would have said essentially the same thing. But this is just an assumption, based in his later explanations. It is not an assumption I choose to make. Rather, I let the texts speak for themselves.

I didn't say he 'would have' but I'm raising the question, yes: how do we know this is not the case given the relative silence [based on the published book of Tolkien's letters] in the way of early explanation, and what I think is a plausible enough explanation for that relative silence?

You indulged in your 'ifs' and 'perhapses' but there are yet more to consider here I think. And if the texts speak for themselves, then [as I implied] do you have an explicit reference that shows Tolkien's later distinctions cannot be in place when he wrote The Book of Lost Tales?

As I pointed out, while citing commentary that includes description from the tale itself, Iluvatar seems notably distinct from the 'gods' in the early texts, so I think we must at least consider that Tolkien might be [basically] consistent here, again unless there is something textual to preclude the idea [it's a lot of text to try to remember at the moment].

You are interpreting the early tales and the existing state of the early texts a given way, no problem; but this is not the only interpretation of course. Actually, for myself anyway, so far I have no great reason to think that an older Tolkien was not a better conduit of inspiration than a younger, William Morris, Kalevala inspired Tolkien...

... if we take up this line of argument in the first place, that is  Smile
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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Kenelm on Fri May 23, 2014 4:56 pm

Elthir wrote:
What you seem to be saying, in effect, is that if the younger Tolkien had been given the chance to explain himself, voluminously, as he was in his later years, he would have said essentially the same thing. But this is just an assumption, based in his later explanations. It is not an assumption I choose to make. Rather, I let the texts speak for themselves.

I didn't say he 'would have' but I'm raising the question, yes: how do we know this is not the case given the relative silence [based on the published book of Tolkien's letters] in the way of early explanation, and what I think is a plausible enough explanation for that relative silence?

You indulged in your 'ifs' and 'perhapses' but there are yet more to consider here I think. And if the texts speak for themselves, then [as I implied] do you have an explicit reference that shows Tolkien's later distinctions cannot be in place when he wrote The Book of Lost Tales?

As I pointed out, while citing commentary that includes description from the tale itself, Iluvatar seems notably distinct from the 'gods' in the early texts, so I think we must at least consider that Tolkien might be [basically] consistent here, again unless there is something textual to preclude the idea [it's a lot of text to try to remember at the moment].

You are interpreting the early tales and the existing state of the early texts a given way, no problem; but this is not the only interpretation of course. Actually, for myself anyway, so far I have no great reason to think that an older Tolkien was not a better conduit of inspiration than a younger, William Morris, Kalevala inspired Tolkien...

... if we take up this line of argument in the first place, that is  Smile

All you're doing then in raising it as a theoretical possibility, one which I don't accept.

But in any case, the distinction between a creator-god with many other gods, and a single god with a host of angels, is not quite as sharp as some might suppose.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Elthir on Fri May 23, 2014 5:23 pm

All you're doing then in raising it as a theoretical possibility, one which I don't accept.

As opposed to the facts you have raised about Tolkien as the conduit of his Muse?  Wink

And I'll assume so far, given your silence so far, that you are currently unaware of anything in the early texts, or some external source, that necessarily or certainly precludes a young Catholic Tolkien from imagining a similiar distinction [between Iluvatar and the 'gods'] to that which the older Tolkien expressed in his letters.

Otherwise I might have to get out the books and search around for myself, and I feel an unscheduled behorsing coming on so that might not be convenient.

But in any case, the distinction between a creator-god with many other gods, and a single god with a host of angels, is not quite as sharp as some might suppose.

Although it could be as sharp as Tolkien thinks it, at least  Very Happy
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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Kenelm on Fri May 23, 2014 5:46 pm

Elthir wrote:
All you're doing then in raising it as a theoretical possibility, one which I don't accept.

As opposed to the facts you have raised about Tolkien as the conduit of his Muse?  Wink

And I'll assume so far, given your silence so far, that you are currently unaware of anything in the early texts, or some external source, that necessarily or certainly precludes a young Catholic Tolkien from imagining a similiar distinction [between Iluvatar and the 'gods'] to that which the older Tolkien expressed in his letters.

Otherwise I might have to get out the books and search around for myself, and I feel an unscheduled behorsing coming on so that might not be convenient.

But in any case, the distinction between a creator-god with many other gods, and a single god with a host of angels, is not quite as sharp as some might suppose.

Although it could be as sharp as Tolkien thinks it, at least  Very Happy

Nothing logically precludes the younger Tolkien from having exactly the same views as the older one, but we all know from personal experience that this is not very likely. In the absence of proof, however, all we have are the texts themselves.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri May 23, 2014 5:51 pm

I have to say Kenelm, whatever I might personally think of turning the Valar into an actual religion or not, I do like the cut of your gib.
You are not easily daunted or put off and you respond with the arguments you believe in rather than getting either touchy or defensive.
On that score hats off to you.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Kenelm on Fri May 23, 2014 5:59 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:I have to say Kenelm, whatever I might personally think of turning the Valar into an actual religion or not, I do like the cut of your gib.
You are not easily daunted or put off and you respond with the arguments you believe in rather than getting either touchy or defensive.
On that score hats off to you.

Thanks Smile

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri May 23, 2014 6:12 pm

I come here on the condition people are nutty.  Nod makes it an interesting place to stick around.  Very Happy 


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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Elthir on Fri May 23, 2014 6:14 pm

Kenelm wrote: Nothing logically precludes the younger Tolkien from having exactly the same views as the older one, but we all know from personal experience that this is not very likely.

In general perhaps, but here we are talking about an arguably major distinction according to Catholic beliefs.

In the absence of proof, however, all we have are the texts themselves.

Yes, and I'm using/looking at/citing the same texts. If behorsed I may nibble on them too, but they are the same.
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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri May 23, 2014 6:15 pm

bungobaggins wrote:
azriel wrote:I just cannot imagine a world without religion ?



Figgy said we need it for a moral code, but look at all the bad things done (and being done) in the name of religion. Doesn't seem to be doing a very good job, especially after 10,000 or so years.

if we actually followed the moral code it would do a good job. Its not the codes fault, its the people who abuse it and use it for self interest thats the problem.
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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Kenelm on Fri May 23, 2014 6:40 pm

Elthir wrote:
Kenelm wrote: Nothing logically precludes the younger Tolkien from having exactly the same views as the older one, but we all know from personal experience that this is not very likely.

In general perhaps, but here we are talking about an arguably major distinction according to Catholic beliefs.

In the absence of proof, however, all we have are the texts themselves.

Yes, and I'm using/looking at/citing the same texts. If behorsed I may nibble on them too, but they are the same.

Indeed, and the texts make it clear that in the earlier period, the Valar were gods and goddesses, and Iluvatar was the Sky-father. To argue against the actual words, and to say he might have meant something different, is special pleading.

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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Elthir on Fri May 23, 2014 9:31 pm

Indeed, and the texts make it clear that in the earlier period, the Valar were gods and goddesses, and Iluvatar was the Sky-father. To argue against the actual words, and to say he might have meant something different, is special pleading.

Well I don't think it's 'special pleading' to raise what I think are reasonable considerations based on the same texts we all have. And even if you isolate the early texts, Iluvatar meaning 'Sky-father' doesn't mean he is necessarily the same, from a theological perspective, as the 'gods'. The text I cited states that Iluvatar is not of the gods.

What is Iluvatar then? Why this distinction even at so early a stage when 'gods' is employed so often? And when Tolkien makes a distinction that [in my opinion] fits easily with this, it is still based on text, if from a later period.


In the early texts the Valar are considered, and called, 'gods and goddesses' from the internal perspective of the characters and the fictive, internal translator Eriol, just like they are in a later phase where Iluvatar still has a name with a meaning 'All father' shared with Odin.

And as the framework is part of the early text, this is a tale that we know is translated by a Germanic sailor from the Great Lands before England was even England, never mind Christian England [at least in the early Eriol phase], and this sailor told the fairies of Woden, Thunor and Tiw, and the fairies identified them with certain of the Valar.

A tale of powerful beings, who are distinct from the one powerful being who actually created them and gave them their subcreative powers, translated by a Germanic sailor who already knew of certain 'gods' of the Great Lands and had heard the fairies identify these with the Valar.

It's no great wonder why any text should employ the term 'gods', but...
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Re: Following the Path of the Ancient Ones - the Valar

Post by Kenelm on Sat May 24, 2014 12:03 am

Elthir wrote:
Indeed, and the texts make it clear that in the earlier period, the Valar were gods and goddesses, and Iluvatar was the Sky-father. To argue against the actual words, and to say he might have meant something different, is special pleading.

Well I don't think it's 'special pleading' to raise what I think are reasonable considerations based on the same texts we all have. And even if you isolate the early texts, Iluvatar meaning 'Sky-father' doesn't mean he is necessarily the same, from a theological perspective, as the 'gods'. The text I cited states that Iluvatar is not of the gods.

What is Iluvatar then? Why this distinction even at so early a stage when 'gods' is employed so often? And when Tolkien makes a distinction that [in my opinion] fits easily with this, it is still based on text, if from a later period.


In the early texts the Valar are considered, and called, 'gods and goddesses' from the internal perspective of the characters and the fictive, internal translator Eriol, just like they are in a later phase where Iluvatar still has a name with a meaning 'All father' shared with Odin.

And as the framework is part of the early text, this is a tale that we know is translated by a Germanic sailor from the Great Lands before England was even England, never mind Christian England [at least in the early Eriol phase], and this sailor told the fairies of Woden, Thunor and Tiw, and the fairies identified them with certain of the Valar.

A tale of powerful beings, who are distinct from the one powerful being who actually created them and gave them their subcreative powers, translated by a Germanic sailor who already knew of certain 'gods' of the Great Lands and had heard the fairies identify these with the Valar.

It's no great wonder why any text should employ the term 'gods', but...

It's important to read them in the context of Pagan mythologies. Yes, the creator-god is certainly different to the other gods. He creates the world and then has no further part in it.

Kenelm
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