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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 80 - 10/6/2002
Polytheist, Monotheist, Dualist or Other?
Are you a die-hard Polytheist who believes that the many Gods/Goddesses are distinct and individual entities? Are you a Pagan Monotheist? Pantheist? Do you believe that “All Gods/Goddesses are One God/Goddess”? Does the term ‘Lord and Lady’ represent a specific Lord and/or Lady to you or is it a term used most often to simply denote the concept of a male and/or a female deity? Do you think that all of these terms are interchangeable? Can you see where and when the need to define what YOU mean by ‘Gods/Goddesses’ might be necessary? What do you think about ‘Choose one from column A and one from Column B’ pantheon building?
| Reponses: There are 104 responses posted to this question.
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| Frustrated ||Oct 7th. at 12:30:50 pm EDT|
|Myrddin (Wisconsin) ||Age: 55 - Email |
Well! I just typed a very long answer to this, but upon clicking submit, was told I had forgotten to enter my age and was told to use the "back button" to do that and resubmit. Guess what?
On using the back button EVERYTHING was lost. So until they fix THAT little problem I ain't posting anymore! Very frustrating to spend 20 minutes writing from the heart only to have it ALL LOST because my age was so friggin important and the systems programmers care more about filling in something so inconsequential that they forget to retain the text of the WHOLE POINT.
| Not Sure ||Oct 7th. at 12:33:02 pm EDT|
|Ashe Winterwolf (Irving, TX) ||Age: 38 - Email |
My belief concerning the nature of Deity has been influenced by Qabalah so I do believe that there is only one Source. However, by Its own Nature It is beyond any human being's comprehension and, therefore, unapproachable.
Being so I believe that this Unknowable One gave birth to Aspects of Itself with which humans could commune. While these Gods and Goddess all come from the Unknowable One, They are separate Beings, each one an Individual with His or Her own personality, likes, and dislikes.
I don't believe that all Goddess are One Goddess or that all Gods are One God. Experience has shown me that I can not invoke Isis in the same manner that I would invoke Ma'at or Kali, or that I can invoke Osirus the same way I might invoke Ra or Apollo.
Just my two cents.
| All Of The Above ||Oct 7th. at 1:48:13 pm EDT|
|Mordewis ap Llys (Asheville, NC) ||Age: 49 - Email - Web|
God/dess is One, Many, and Inclusive. The One includes everything -- and the nothing that exists between and around the everything. Everything else is God/dess' game with Hirself, and our game of trying to understand Ourselves. Great shades of Alan Watts! This makes me monotheist, polytheist, pantheist, panentheist, and a megalomaniac to boot! Lots of room for giggles, as there always is in my Tradition.
| Polytheist ||Oct 7th. at 1:50:26 pm EDT|
|Hearthstone (Michigan) ||Age: 40 - Email |
While I freely admit that there is no way of knowing the absolute truth of the matter when it comes to the nature of the gods, I will say that the view I'm most comfortable with is that of the hard polytheist who perceives each deity as a separate being, not an aspect of something else. I absolutely do not believe that all gods are the God and all goddesses are the Goddess--this idea is contrary to my own experience and instinct--and I don't find that gender polarity provides a useful view of the universe. (Please note that this is all purely my personal view--I know that many pagans believe otherwise and it works great for them.)
As for mix-and-match pantheons, I don't use them. I do honor gods from two different pantheons, but I don't mix them--each group is honored separately.
| All Of The Above ;-) ||Oct 7th. at 2:45:30 pm EDT|
|DrgnDancer (New Orleans) ||Age: 28 - Email |
Ok, here's fun for you, this is my overly rationalised view of the universe. There is a single divine being which we will call "Life" for simplicity sake. It is Energy, It is Power, and It really doesn't care much about life the universe or anything. You could pray to It if you wanted, but it'd be fairly much like praying to a brick wall. It neither requires nor desires your faith in it. It was here before the universe and will be here after, It is not the Creator, nor the Creation, but rather the force used by the Creator for the Creation. It has no conciousness as we would think of it.
There are beings, I choose to believe two, but perhaps one or perhaps many. They are the Lord and Lady, and they have what we call conciousness, but at such a level that it is far beyond us to understand. They are the Creators, and the Creation. They are the Gods (note capitalization). They are formed out of the Life, by their own wills. You could pray to Them if you wanted, but it would be rather like being a peasant trying to get an audience with the king (only worse). They neither require nor desire your worship, they exist by their own wills. They "love" creation, but in a abstract way. They don't love you or me, or even humanity... They love Creation as a whole, and it's a big universe out there. They are however important to Magic. They are immanent Creation and to impose our will on the world or the universe is to impose it on them. When you attempt to change reality you are trying to set your will against some infinetely small fraction of Their will (and also against a fraction of a lot of other people's will too, but we'll get to that). They don't mind (or really even notice) you fighting them here, it's rather like you can't tell what's going on in individual battles between disease cells and your immune system's cells. You would have to change _a lot_ of reality to get a reaction from Them, much more that a human or even god could manage.
There are beings, a whole lot of beings, called gods (note the lack of caps). These are singular indivual beings, not aspects of the Lord and Lady. They are, to a great extent, creations of their worshippers. These are your Jungian archtypes, beings formed when enough people direct their wills into believing in them. They both desire and in some ways need worship. They can modify reality much more powerfully than most humans (that being part of what they were created to do), but are often limited in strange ways (a river Goddess, believed to control a specific river, would have great influence over that river... much more than any single human could, but be somewhat useless when invoked over an ocean). All gods are true gods (well, all gods that have, at some point, enough support to take form), and some are more powerful than others, based on a number a of factors. how large a cult is, how large it once was, how the god wasor is precieved, etc, are all factors in a god's power. Thus our river goddess has limited powers, no matter how large her cult, because she is precieved as limited... her power is over _this_ river. A god whose cult of just under 1000 people was wiped out a thousand years ago has limited powers becasue there was never much power invested in him. So gods like Zeus or Odin are quite powerful, because a lot of people for thousands of year saw them as such. Gods like Jesus Christ or Alah are even more powerful, as millions of people still see them as all powerful. These gods have hit a point of diminishing returns though. The Gods' (note the caps) "immune system" only allows for so much variance in reality. At some point more and more of Their will (inertia if you will) starts building against major changes.
Finally, there are beings trillions, perhaps quintilions or more. They are simply creatures of creation. We are among them. All life an Earth, and any potential life beyond, are among them. If they have the ability to think, they can, to one extent or another, attempt to force their will on reality. Their ability to do so is both more and less than that of the gods. Unlike gods who simply exist with certain powers and abilities, we must train our wills and focus ourselves to change reality. Ritual and meditation techniques are tools for doing so, though one would assume not necesary after a certain level of mastery is attained. We can also call upon gods to mold reality for us or to help us do so, in return for the belief and worship we give them. When we attempt to do magic, with or without help, we set our will against a small amount of the God's will, and also against the will of everbody that believes we shouldn't be able to do a certain thing. The more powerful the belief, the harder it is to fight. thus it would be progressivly harder to 1) make a coin land on the same face three or four times, 2) pull the same card out of a randomised deck of cards three or four times, 3) fly.
Those creatures of creation that have not the ability to think and deliberatly apply their own wills still have spirits. These spirits have an innate "intelligence", even if the body they currently inhabit is limited. These spirits can also be called upon to aide us in Magic, and will sometimes consent. Their powers tend to be very specialised to things that their current body has skill in. Thus a dog spirit migh be willing to help one track something.
So there you have it, My theory of divinity and magic. I'm aware that there are holes in it, I'm still refining, but that;'s the basic run down. So my answer to the question is "all of the above"
| All Things In The Universe Are Truly ONE ||Oct 7th. at 2:45:48 pm EDT|
|Sylvan G. (West Virginia) ||Age: 42 - Email |
I think that ultimately there is only ONE Divine Source. We are a part of it, just like everything else in the Universe is a part of it. Humans envision Deity in the way that they can easiest understand. That's why there are countless Gods and Goddesses. The ONE will respond to a sincere worshipper in the form that is best suited to that particular person. Being human we cannot truly comphrend the vastness, immmensity and complexity of the Universe, nor can we comprehend the boundless, intricate permutations of Divinity.
To me, the Lord and Lady are the masculine and feminine aspects of the ONE. Whether they are actually masculine and feminine is irrelevant. Because I am a hetrosexual human, that is a convenient way for me to catergorize them. I know my limited intellect cannot see them as they truly are. I also consider each God/Goddess, ever conceived by humanity, to be a distinct aspect of Divinity. Some people have a mental illness where they contain multiple personalities within their brain--each one with a distinct personality and character. If this is possible in humans, why can't it be possible for Deity on a much grander scale. I'm not suggesting that the ONE has multiple personality disorder or any sort of mental illness. It's just a simple way of illustrating my point. With the limitless creative potential available to Deity, It could manifest however It so chooses, in whatever way would best facilitate Its relationship with worshippers.
I think I can identify with all of the labels--Monotheist, Polytheist, Pantheist, Dualist. Perhaps we need a new label for those who believe that everything in the Universe is a part of Deity, that there are many Gods who are ultimately ONE and that the ONE is actually TWO who exemplify the masucline and the feminine and yet are really ONE.
| Polytheist ||Oct 7th. at 3:33:05 pm EDT|
|Peter (Stillwater, OK) ||Age: 48 - Email - Web|
I believe that the God(dess)s get quite chuckle when they hear us try to define them. Is there one, two, a group or something else we can’t even comprehend. I don’t know, however, I do believe it only matters to use, they surely don’t care. If your relationship with your God(dess) is fulfilling then you have chosen well, and it matters little if there are other possibilities . Our God(dess)s can be a real and personal part of our lives if we allow them to be, however, they like all relationship requires dedication, trust and a lot of work.
| All Of The Above ||Oct 7th. at 4:33:52 pm EDT|
|Mica (FL) ||Age: 32 - Email |
My views really defy any attempt to squeeze them into one category. I identified with what many of the other posters wrote (Matt Ikonen, Dark Moon Panther, Alumenios, Nikos Wolf, Ashe Winterwolf, Sylvan). I think of the "big" deity as everything, but I also recognize the individual deities that humans worship in an attempt to understand the "big" one. I don't even have a name for it, because as soon as we try to put it into words, we limit it, so I'll try my best to explain my multi-faceted ideas.
The energy of the universe is constantly changing and transforming itself. Now it's a wave, now it's a particle. It manifests as the galaxies and stars and planets and all of their inhabitants and even things on the non-physical level... now a bit of the energy is a leaf or a bird or a person or a spirit, and as its manifestation reaches the end of its "life," it transforms into something else... food for animals, dust that might become rocks or mountains or planets. All of these manifestations are part of each other and part of the whole. For me, this is how I picture "the Force" in the Star Wars stories, but I don't know if that's how it was intended to be pictured. To me, this is the universal deity and it doesn't have a consciousness beyond the consciousness of its own manifestations. It doesn't have a moral system or a sense of "right" or "wrong" beyond the morals of its own intelligent manifestations. As energy, it simply is. Like one of the other posters said, it does not care whether your worship it or not (but, different from what that poster said, I do not believe that it is the stuff out of which a "Creator" creates... I don't believe in a Creator). In this sense, I'm a Pantheist.
But I also recognize our other ideas of deity. On our planet, humans created myths, religions, and gods and goddesses to explain what they understood to be the larger universal deity. Of course, they were only explaining the bigger picture from what they could see of it and from their own perspective. (From here on, when I speak of "deity," I'm talking about gods and goddesses, not the universal deity described earlier.) Although the deities and nature or ancestral spirits these cultures worshipped were based on their own cultural perspectives, they shared many of the same archetypes because they stemmed from similar human experiences and observations that people have had since humans could ponder and wonder (Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell are important teachers for me)... archetypes such as Mother, Father, Warrior, Maiden, Eggs, Sun, Moon, and many others... This is why so many myths and deities share similar elements.
I think that deities are entities that exist as individuals. In this sense, I suppose I'm a polytheist, but here is where I probably deviate from most of the rest of you. I believe that deities exist as extensions of our collective human psyche within the framework of a culture (whether it be a small-community culture or a national one). I believe that they were created by us and their existence is dependent on the people who worship them. The energy we invest as individuals and as a culture or community in worshipping, believing in, or working with a deity creates and keeps that deity "alive." If all humans were wiped out from the face of the planet, our deities would go with us. I'm sure there were countless other deities worshipped over time for which we have found no record, no myth, no statues, no temples, and they as individual entities are gone from existence, although the archetypes they are based on live on in other deities. Furthermore (and I know a lot of you are probably going to gasp over this one), I don't think that the gods and goddesses that we worship today are *exactly* the same as they were thousands of years ago. The people and cultures who originally worshipped those deities are gone and, in many cases, a lot of time has passed since anyone has worshipped them again. Myths and stories help us, but there is more to a deity than its story. As I said earlier, the deity exists within the framework of the culture that it is rooted in, and it is impossible for us to step back in time and know what it was really like to live in an ancient (or even not so ancient) culture with its perceptions and customs and traditions and experiences and ways of thinking. We can only do the best we can with the myths available to us and by tapping into our own understanding of the archetypes.
Many have stated that the tradition and the deities you work with should be within the framework of your culture, and I agree. However, our Western culture is anemic in that area. We are not ancient. We have no rich pantheon of gods and goddesses. For me, all I have to work with is the gods and goddesses that went before me (unless I want to go back to Christianity, which is lacking on many levels for me). I tend to work with the deities of other cultures on an archetypal level, knowing that no matter how much I read and study about the culture that gave birth to the deities, I will never really be able to worship or understand them within the framework of that culture because I can't live in it. I can only worship or understand them within the framework of mine.
| I Believe In Many Things ||Oct 7th. at 5:02:13 pm EDT|
|Rowan (Broadneck) ||Age: 14 - Email |
I believe that there are many different goddesses and gods,and that each one is a key part of a Whole Goddess or God, I have a Rather dualitic/polytheisitic veiw to all of it, but I also believe that Both the Goddess and God are part of a singular bigger thing, Call it the universe, Spirit but It's all part of something bigger. I believe in many different pantheons and such, but I believe they all add up to something larger. I suppose I'm slightly monotheistic, but not soo much because I praise both and all aspects of Deity/Spirit and not just the entirety.
| Democracy Rule's ||Oct 7th. at 6:04:13 pm EDT|
|The Son of Medea (U.S.A.) ||Age: 38 - Email |
I am a polytheist. It was polytheism that gave us democracy, and it is polytheism that rule's our destiny now.
Always think W.W.M.D. The Son of Medea
| How I Vew The Gods ||Oct 7th. at 6:16:01 pm EDT|
|Thunder Mouse (Saint Joseph Missouri) ||Age: 21 - Email |
Hm....One would think this would be a simple question to answer. For me I find it rather complex. I was raised Christian so for the longest time I vewed god as being one being seperate from everything that comands all from affar. I now vew the gods as being a part of everything and in everything yet still having there own self awareness of there own existance as individual entities. I personaly belive that there are two gods. A god and A goddess. Both are so vast that they are in everything. I also belive, that like a husband and wife, who once are married in my vew are individuals still, yet are also one person now, that the goddess and god are one. They are so vast though, that nomater how hard you try to consider that the goddess and god are in everything (speeking from my point of vew) Its realy hard to picture two beings as being within so much. There for, If I am being specific on something (and depending on my knowledge of particular gods from the different world mythologies) To kind of try to comunicate sommething to the gods, to make it a little more specific, I invoke a deity that is specific to what is the subject. Im not entierly shure how to explain how I vew them. Its hard to explain something so vast and wonderfull as the creator of all things within all things. I also feal that it is wise for me to point out, that because I am still rather young, and new to the craft, that my vews and opinions and perceptions of how thigns work, the world, Deities, etc are still evolving. But at this moment, this is the best way to describe how I vew the god and goddess as two different beings within everything that are one (I belive that everything in existance is a part of everything ells)....ok ok...time to stop rambeling now. This is just my two cents.
| Everything Is Everything Is One Is One Is One ||Oct 7th. at 6:25:03 pm EDT|
|lilith (los angeles) ||Age: 33 - Email |
or something like that.
let me put it this way-- when i do various workings i call upon various deities. most of them are female, since my patriarchy issues largely prevent me from being comfortable working with a male deity, but occasionally i have called upon a male entity with excellent results. i dont know if i have any hard and fast beliefs on the state of these beings, if they are actually "they", if they are actually outside of my own head, whatever, but i do notice from a purely empirical point of view that if i call upon a specific entity for a specific reason there is always something quite peculiar to that entity and to how the working turns out.
i dont think one should mix pantheons within a particular working-- in fact i make it policy to never call upon more than one specific entity for a single working. and i wont switch horses either if the working isnt, well, working, because that is impolite. the only time i call upon multiple entities is when i call the names of the goddess for ritual purposes, or to oversee something of a more general nature.
i dont have an opinion yet as to whether there actually is more than one entity out there, or if they are all different aspects of the same, or whether the universe has multiple personality disorder. i may have more of a grasp on this in ten years.
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