New Faces for Old Gods

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fan of The Big Lebowski. I’ve been a fan since I first saw it back in high school and it seems like every viewing since ABIDE_Posterhas continued to delight me and reveal ever new aspects and layers of the film. And so, when on a viewing several months back, I found that a religion had been founded around the figure of the Dude and the narrative of the film, I took an amused interest in it. Billing itself as akin to Taosim in its philosophical view, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the declarations of Discordianism being “Zen for round-eyes”, and I approved.

I approved, so much in fact, that I got myself ordained.

Now, it’s not an overly huge deal (you pop in your name, you get ordained, bip-bam-boom) and I did it partially because I was entertained by the idea of being an official Dudeist priest, but as is known I’m also a member of ADF. While there’s no huge conflict between me being in ADF and being ordained through another organization, internally I fought for a while to reconcile the two for myself.

But, a few weeks back, I remembered something. I remembered that for years, ever since college, that my own internal conception of the character and image of the Norse god, Freyr Ingvi, was some combination Kwai Chang Caine and the Dude. And so I sat down and tried to get a clearer conception of how the two figures might reasonably over-lap. I came up with this:

Freyr Ingvi

The Dude

God of Peace/Frið


God of Plenty

Usually has a drink (typically a White Russian with milk/cream – a substance often connected to the concept of “abundance” in traditional Indo-European cultures)

God of Wealth

Recipient of a trust-fund[1]

Connected to the Ancestors

Integral to Donny’s funeral (& gets a face-full of Donny’s ashes)

Connected to the Land

Appreciates nature (e.g. whale-song tape)

Connected to Sovereignty

His Dudeness is obviously a leader in his social groupings

Connected to Fertility

“I happen to know that there’s a Little Lebowski on the way…” after one tryst with Maude[2]

Martial Prowess[3]

Seen Performing Tai Chi

Connected to Agriculture


God of Joy


Connected to Revelry


Depicted as Phallic

“I need my fuckin’ Johnson!”

Now, I’m not saying that the Dude is obviously meant to be an iteration of Freyr, but that as I tried to reconcile these two parts, I couldn’t help seeing similarities between the two figures. So many that I felt completely fine with seeing any practice of Dudeism as a form of worshiping and honoring Freyr.

And it occurred to me that I think that we, as modern polytheists, need more of this. So much of the modern depictions of the old gods – whether Norse, Greek, Celtic, etc. – seem to be of their Classical or Medieval forms. And for me, those kinds of depictions have always added a level of almost absurd abstraction that made me feel like the gods being represented were D&D characters – perhaps because so much of D&D was cribbed from Tolkien and Tolkien cribbed so much of his stuff from Germanic Myth. But still, if I expect to interact with my gods (usually in trance), I’d expect them to look modern, not like SCA reenactors. It may seem silly, but to me Freyr Ingvi as the Dude seems so much more serious, so much more believable, so much more real; perhaps only because the Dude is modern. And if the gods are going to interact with us 21st Century folk, I doubt they’re going to go around looking like 8th Century Swedes. Even if it means wearing a bathrobe and jelly sandals.

So maybe that’s what we need. Maybe what the gods need: new faces, modern faces.

[1] The Coens have stated that in an early draft it was explained that the Dude’s income came from being the nephew of the man who invented the Rubik’s Cube, but that was left out of later drafts in order to make the situation more ambiguous.

[2] In fact, the pseudo-relation between Maude Lebowski and the Dude (“I’m a Lebowski, you’re a Lebowski…”) could be seen as an abstraction of the allusions made in the Eddas to Freyr Ingvi and his twin sister, Freyja, being lovers.

[3] Though Freyr Ingvi gives up his sword to marry the jotun-maid, Gerð, there are one or two references to him being able to “slay a giant with one blow of his fist”, which has been interpreted by some modern worshippers as Freyr being a god of martial artists.


~ by crow365 on October 2, 2013.

One Response to “New Faces for Old Gods”

  1. I cannot stress enough how much we agree here. I say a lot that there is an inherent danger in assuming that our gods have not progressed over the last X-Thousand years while we have. Culture is different, poeple are different, and the world is different. Why are the gods the same? Sometimes, when I see specific gods, they do resemble their old versions. I like to think this is so I’ll recognize them, but as I continue to work with them they change to match my energy (duh).

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