The question, 'Was God a volcano?' can be answered by telling a story based on information in the Bible....
The Hebrews camped at the base of Mount Sinai. Yahweh was believed to be a creator god and giver of all things, 'The master of the universe and Lord of all nature.' He created the human community, land, rain, plants and animals. The Hebrews believed that Yahweh lived (or manifested himself) at the top of Mount Sinai when he came down from the heavens. They believed the mountain was Yahweh's throne on earth. It was the place where Moses, the leader of the tribe, met with Yahweh. They erected their tents to face the Lord or the Lord's tabernacle. Mount Sinai was referred to as 'His abode', 'His throne', 'His habitation'. There are many myths and songs associated with Yahweh and Mount Sinai. The Hebrews are monotheists believing in a unique and omnipotent god. Yet he was not a distant god. He had human characteristics and man was even said to be made in the image of god. Some say he lives in the sky or in the clouds but myths say he comes to earth from time to time to inspect it , bestow blessings and mete out punishments (Sodom and Gomorrah being examples of the latter). Thunder is attributed to Yahweh as is lightning. The Hebrews had migrated away from Egypt having escaped possible slavery conditions and had found themselves at the slopes of Mount Sinai and set up camp. This rock was known as the place where god was.
Now please read the story of the peoples who camped at the base on Mount Kenya, which is a volcano...
The Embu people live to the south-east of Mount Kenya, and believe that the mountain is God's home (Meru word for God is Ngai or Mwene Njeru). The mountain is sacred, and they build their houses with the doors facing towards it. The Embu people are closely related to the Ameru and Mbeere people. The Mbeere and Akamba are the settlers of the southeast side of the Mountain.
Ngai or mwene-nyaga is the creator and giver of all things, "the Divider of the Universe and Lord of Nature". He (Ngai) created the human community. It is also believed that He created the first Gĩkũyũ communities, and provided them with all the resources necessary for life: land, rain, plants and animals. He cannot be seen but is manifest in the sun, moon, stars, comets and meteors, thunder and lightning, rain, in rainbows and in the great fig trees (Mugumo). These trees served as places of worship and sacrifice and marked the spot at Mũkũrũe wa Gathanga where Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi – the ancestors of the Gĩkũyũ in the oral legend – first settled.
Yet he was not a distant god. He has human characteristics, and although some say that He lives in the sky or in the clouds, Gĩkũyũ lore also says that he comes to earth from time to time to inspect it, bestow blessings and mete out punishment (similar to God's visit of Abraham before destroying Sodom). When he comes He rests on Mount Kenya and kĩrĩma kĩa njahĩ (Kilimambogo). Thunder is interpreted to be the movement of Ngai and lightning is the weapon used by Ngai to clear the way when moving from one sacred place to another. Some people believe that Ngai’s abode is on Mount Kenya, or else ‘beyond’ its peaks. Ngai, one legend says, made the mountain his resting place while on an inspection tour of earth.
The Gĩkũyũ live on the southern and western sides of the mountain. The Gĩkũyũ people believe that God, Ngai or Mwene Nyaga, lived on Mount Kenya when he came down from the sky. Ngai or mwene-nyaga is the creator and giver of all things, "the Divider of the Universe and Lord of Nature". He (Ngai) created the human community. It is also believed that He created the first Gĩkũyũ communities, and provided them with all the resources necessary for life: land, rain, plants and animals. Yet he was not a distant god (as known in the West). He has human characteristics, and although some say that He lives in the sky or in the clouds, Gĩkũyũ lore also says that he comes to earth from time to time to inspect it, bestow blessings and mete out punishment (similar to God's visit of Abraham before destroying Sodom). When he comes He rests on Mount Kenya and kĩrĩma kĩa njahĩ (Kilimambogo). Thunder is interpreted to be the movement of Ngai and lightning is the weapon used by Ngai to clear the way when moving from one sacred place to another. Some people believe that Ngai’s abode is on Mount Kenya, or else ‘beyond’ its peaks. Ngai, one legend says, made the mountain his resting place while on an inspection tour of earth. They believe that the mountain is Ngai's throne on earth. It is the place where Gĩkũyũ, the father of the tribe, used to meet with God. Kikuyus used to build their houses with the doors facing the mountain. The Gĩkũyũ name for Mount Kenya is Kĩrĩ Nyaga (Kirinyaga), which literally translates to 'God's Resting Place' or 'Where God Lives' in this case referring to Mwene Nyaga. Mt. Kenya features a lot in the Ameru folklore and songs. The Gĩkũyũ were – and still are – monotheists believing in a unique and omnipotent god whom they refer to as Ngai.
The migration to Mount Kenya was perhaps due to conflicts there, such as slavery. It is believed that they migrated as far as the Kenyan Coast, since the Meru elders refer to Mpwa (aPwani or Coast) as their origin. The conflicts there, perhaps slave trade by Arabs, forced them to retreat northeast to the interior of Kenya, and they settled by the slopes of Mount Kenya. They were to refer to this location as the place of the Lord.
Was God a Volcano? Well, Mount Kenya is a volcano and the similarities between its associated clans and the Hebrew clan are too numerous to ignore. The correlation between the supposed meeting with god at Mount Sinai and the meeting with another god at Mount Kenya is very obvious. These two scenarios are far from alone in the world of ancient mountain fire gods.
My knowledge has grown to now believing many ancient civilisations throughout the world lived near to volcanoes due to them believing they were the homes/thrones of gods when they chose to pay earth a visit and come down from the sky. Back in ancient times, volcanoes were as misunderstood as they were anthropomorphised. All ancient people believed they were the chosen homes of fire/mountain/volcano gods. They believed a volcano god would choose a tall mountain to set up home/temple and then put on a fiery show. This would attract nomadic clans who would set up camp at the base of the volcano. Sometimes they would be so awed by a very tall mountain they would choose it and lie in wait for a volcano god to arrive, often being disappointed. That explains why non-volcanic mountains are known to have, in history, been viewed as 'holy'.
Where does god live?
Their god in residence sign would have been smoke or a lake of fire. Signs of his wrath would have been an eruption. The ancients would often build mounds/temples/pyramids to represent the volcanoes and to perform rituals to entice the god to commune with them. This explains the strong correlation between the locations of volcanoes and the locations of pyramids/temples. The exceptions being due to migration of people and beliefs away from inhospitable volcanic land. There is also a strong correlation between the centres of religion and volcanoes.
The volcano gods were seen as creator gods because they created new land. Stories based on real accounts, which is what myths were, would have been passed down through the generations and would have included stories about primordial mounds in the sea, 90% of volcanoes being submarine. Volcanoes also eventually make soil enriched with nutrients and they are also a good source of precious gems and metals. The eruptions would often have killed many people given the people lived so close to them, enjoying the rich volcanic soil. These killings would have been viewed as punishment for sins, hence the start of the idea of sinning and god's punishment. The volcano would have been seen to give life in the form of life giving nutrients and new land, and also as taking life away. The volcano would also have been seen as a warlord due to sometimes destroying camps on the other side of the volcano. The rivers of lava or fiery ash tumbling down the sides of the volcano are described as 'chariots of fire' in the Bible and elsewhere.....
There are thousands of pyramids throughout the world, some we have only just discovered due to them having become overgrown and now looking more like hills. Manmade mounds were built also to bury important people. It was thought the god would visit the mound and take the soul with him.
Throughout the world there is evidence of burial caves in the sides of mountains. This correlates with volcano worship as all mountains were seen as potential landing places/thrones of the fire god who they thought lived in the sky when not being fiery on earth. It is a possibility they believed these gods' normal homes were the stars and the sun, shooting stars looking very much like something travelling. The sky at night then would have been crystal clear and the people would have been very knowledgeable about it and very focused on it seeing as they didn't have a great deal else to look at at night.
The Israelites are believed to have originated from Mesopotamia, which is a fertile crescent of land adjacent to Mount Ararat, which is a volcano. The land was fertile because of the ash deposits of the volcano. Volcano worship was in-grained in the Israelites. Volcano gods would have been more numerous than any other type of god in ancient times. The tribes of Israel might have originated from various places, as well as Mesopotamia, one place possibly being the Mediterranean during the Santorini fallout. This event went on for many months with a few warning eruptions prior to the major eruption, giving the people of Santorini and Crete plenty of time to escape, which explains why no bodies were found. These people, who lived north of Egypt, would have become refugees in Egypt as well as other places. These refugees will have been labeled 'Habiru', which some people believe was the reason for the name 'Hebrew'. Habiru in Egypt were people living on the fringe of society: slaves, servants, thieves, vagrants, refugees, etc.
These Habiru, which might have been the Israelites from Mesopotamia plus the refugees from Santorini, would have lived as subordinates to the Egytians. The Bible states very clearly that the Israelites stole valuables from the Egytians prior to fleeing during the 'ten plagues'. This suggests the Israelites were crooks...Habiru. The Santorini eruption gave the Israelites the opportunity to steal and run, and that is exactly what they did. As they had volcano worship in their history, they thanked the volcano god for his hand in creating the right environment for doing their dirty deed.
The 'holy land' of Egypt, Sinai, Saudi, Ethiopia, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Iran, etc is holy because it all lies around a rift zone where two continents are ripping the land apart....Africa and Arabia. The waterways of the Holy land are the rips and they are lined with volcanoes, as well as the adjacent land. Saudi and Ethiopia are both very volcanic, which explains why there are Jews in Ethiopia, why Rastafarianism (an Abrahamic religion) originated in Ethiopia and why Mecca and Medina are 'holy' (lying next to volcanoes and massive volcanic harrats).
Submerged volcanoes in rivers, such as the Jordan River, were sometimes seen as sea monsters or dragons called Leviathan.
As the Israelites made off with their stolen stash of valuables, they came across something in the distance that looked like a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night. As they meandered around the terrain, the pillar appeared to move as though it was guiding them like a 'shepherd'. Instead, of course, the pillar was stationary but appeared to move due to the optical illusion of distant objects moving as you change your perspective.
As the Israelites approached the pillar, which was the volcano Mount Sinai, they fell to the floor in praise. This was, to them, the god that brought them out of Egypt. This god, which they say looked like a fire on the top of the mountain, was the god they had to thank for their lucky break and god forbid anyone who could deny it, which is why the Bible is riddled with 'don't forget the god that brought you out of Egypt'.
To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Exodus 24:17
Volcano gods were not seen as the actual mountain. They were believed to live inside the top of the volcanoes and make all the magical show happen. They were believed to be able to move from one mountain to another, and this would have been the ancient explanation for domino eruptions along rift zones during massive tectonic movement, which could well have resulted from the Santorini eruption.
He said: "The LORD came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran. He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes. Deut 33.2
Myriad of holy ones....
You have to analyse the Bible in ancient terms. You have to empathise with the ancient people and try to think as they thought in order to understand what they were looking at.
If you find all this laughable then you are finding history laughable, and that is understandable. The ancient people were laughably superstitious. This whole story has been complicated by people determined to make it into something it's not....magical. It needs to be simplified in order to be understood and portrayed in an honest light.
More to come.....just a draft.