The Subjectivity of Deity
Article ID: 14582
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,096
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Author: Ryan Hatcher
Posted: July 31st. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,448
Each week I'll have a look at the articles on the Witches' Voice. Sometimes none will appeal to me, “just the same sort of stuff as usual” is often my thought in this situation (probably pre-judgmentally, but if the content doesn't grab me, then it doesn't!) , and sometimes there are weeks where I feel like reading every article published that week!
The week I write this I have just submitted an article comparing the old and new styles of witchcraft. After which, naturally, I had a peruse of the articles already published. This week’s theme seemed to be on the deity-human relationship, and so inspired me to write this essay. Why was I inspired? “Why not?” is the usual pseudo-witty reply, but that doesn't really answer the question. What was it that inspired me to write this essay? Reading the articles on deity-human interaction got me to thinking about how different pagans and witches of the world's views and perceptions of deity are.
Now, I am a firm believer that spirituality and religion and the like are entirely subjective. There may be many areas and ideas that are held by many (and this goes for all spiritual paths, whether Judeo-Christian, Eastern, Pagan, 'Holistic' (which is a new philosophy which amounts to being widely spiritually eclectic. Apparently) or other) but each individual's perception and understanding of these seemingly objective ideas is going to differ. Taking a Christian example, imagine if you will, 2, church going, god loving/fearing (seems to me that Christianity doesn't see the two as mutually exclusive) individuals, attending Church on a Sunday morning as the Vicar/Reverend/Priest/Pastor delivers a highly inspirational sermon on Christ's humanity and his devotional work on earth (say) .
Now, both these individuals, providing they were both paying attention, would have heard the same words from the same source, and probably both felt inspired. But their understanding of what was being said may and probably did differ. One may feel that, since Christ was once human that he felt the same weaknesses, desires, hopes and fears as they do; thus perceiving Christ as an individual, compassionate, and willing to hear and answer their prayers and petitions. The other however may see Christ's work as a holy mission, a spiritual raison d’ętre, so they perceive him as a highly spiritual, ascended and god-like entity.
Now that may sound more like a psychological analysis of 2 people of a Christian persuasion, but it can and does apply to the Pagan mindset. Let's take my own perception of the divine as an example:
I work with the divine in the triple Goddess, horned God paradigm. I use the names Bride, Dana and Morrigan for the respective aspects of the Goddess and Cernunnos as my horned God. However, I feel the names aren't as important as their concepts. I follow the line of “all gods are one god and all goddesses are one goddess) and there is logical reason in this. As I see them, the divine are a personified manifestation (created by man-kind) of the forces of life, love, death and rebirth, the forces of nature (wind, rain etc) , as personifications of the Sun, the Moon and the Earth.
But at the foundation of it all, as the personifications of the balanced male and female aspects of the divine life force energy that flows through our universe (whether you call it Spirit, Akasha, Aether, Ki, Qi, Prana, Mana etc) which also constructs and is constructed by the elements of nature (whether you prefer the four western system of earth, air, fire, water, or the five eastern system of earth, wood, metal, water, fire) . I feel that since it's not particularly easy to pay homage, appeal and petition to an abstract, intangible force of vitality our ancients appealed to Gods and Goddesses, designating them dominion over certain aspects of life. This is merely my view.
Now I ask that you sit for a moment or two and consider how you view the divine and their interplay with life and humanity. Perhaps you see the Gods merely as symbols, representing an idea and nothing more, perhaps you see them as people who may have lived here on earth and died, much like Christ and Ascended Masters, Perhaps you see them as living, breathing, existing entities in the Otherworld, perhaps on a different plane, perhaps the Jungians amongst you consider them symbols of your own male and female parts of your psyche.
What I'm trying to get at is that all these ideas, perceptions and understandings are equally valid, so long as they work for you. As pagans we're meant to develop, grow and transcend (to draw inspiration from a Witchvox article read today) , and if that means our perceptions of reality, ourselves, and Deity alter over time (to the betterment of ourselves and our spiritual path) then so much the better! Grow, change, transcend and never be static! Be as fluid and dynamic as the energies we work with. No one ever said we walked a straight path.
Subjectivity in spirituality, particularly paganism is a necessity. If we all held exactly the same views of our world and how we interact with it (on every level) then we would just be sheep that can't think for ourselves, and then where would we be? Back at the beginning? Or just the beginning of the end of a liberating, free-from life way of being?
My final thought (when did this become Jerry Springer?) is what our American brothers and sisters may call “my 2 cents”. Or what we Brits might call an opinionated rant! I bring our thoughts to conflicts over religious difference. Ireland comes to mind, as do religious extremists. These conflicts boil down to wanting consistency of thought, of belief and of spirituality. The desire is for everyone to have the same belief forced upon them (for one reason or another) and everyone to believe the same. If these people acknowledged and celebrated the spiritual diversity of the world they would understand that there is no “true religion”. All are rivers from the same source leading to the same ocean.
Perhaps if those who would cause conflict over religious difference were to consider potential differences and subjective views within their own belief system they might be wiser and more tolerant for it.
Thank you for reading this, and may your Gods, however you see them, keep you blessed, happy and well.
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