Wiccan Deity- Who, What, and How
Article ID: 11239
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Chris K Underwood
Posted: March 25th. 2007
Times Viewed: 3,006
There is an issue that I see as a problem in the Wiccan community and that is how to balance the desire to allow Wiccans to form their own beliefs about issues without becoming the "anything goes" religion for which we have gained unfortunate notoriety.
How do Wiccans see and understand deity?
One student was having a hard time with the polytheistic view of deity and asked me if it was possible to think of the God and Goddess as energy.
I told the person that a person could view deity in any way that helps him/her visualize and understand Their role. Certainly you can see the Goddess and God as purely energy, or even as a non-sentient "force" that binds everything. Even further abstract concepts, such as an all-permeating, dimension-crossing energy field can be applied to Goddess and God.
The problem here is not that you differ in your beliefs or views of deity from the majority of Wiccans, but that people who are not Wiccan use this as an excuse to say we have no set belief model. According to some, Wiccans can believe whatever they want. Furthermore a person’s personal beliefs should never be promoted as a “Wiccan” concept.
The student I was speaking to at the time certainly understood this, but I have received e-mails from many others who do not.
Wicca allows for personal beliefs and encourages such, but we have to be careful about what is being promoted as Wicca or the religion will be lost in a sea of competing philosophies. What may start out as Wicca today could later be lost and turned into something completely different. Change is not always a bad thing, but with too much change the unique nature of a system could be lost.
Let us examine a few of the concepts of deity that I have seen in Wiccan books and Websites in the past few years.
Depending upon one's point of view, Wicca can be considered a monotheistic, duo-theistic, polytheistic, or atheistic religion:
Some Wiccans recognize a single supreme being, sometimes called "The All" or "The One." The Goddess and God are viewed as the female and male aspects of this single deity.
Also some use the concept that all gods are one like a diamond with each god being a facet of that single concept.
I personally do not agree with this philosophy since it does not fit into the concepts of Pagan theology. It certainly is not a Wiccan idea, but herein lays the main problem and argument.
Many have told me that this is how they perceive deity, and in almost every other way they are practicing Wiccans. I have also seen more traditional Wiccans slam those with a monotheistic view calling them “Bunnies” and making mention that if they wish to be Christians, then they should stop playing at paganism. (Ouch)
It almost comes down to a crossroads: either change your beliefs to fit the religion or change the religion to fit your beliefs. I can agree with neither.
I have always been (and taught) of the mind that people can believe whatever they like. My only complaint, as I stated earlier and in another article, is that I believe it is wrong to change a religion to accommodate the personal beliefs of everyone concerned.
People need to understand that Wiccans encourage personal beliefs of any form, but also that those beliefs may not necessarily be Wiccan ones. There is no reason you cannot be a practicing Wiccan and view certain aspects with your own personal slant -- Just do not promote it as what all Wiccans believe.
Those on the outside who claim Wiccans have no beliefs should be ignored as you would any bully. It’s not up to outsiders to define our religion; it is up to the practitioners and clergy to know what it is. Since we practice a mystery religion, our goal is not to “save” anyone, but good public relations and education is important to all of us.
Some Wiccans are duo-theistic and recognize the Goddess and the God as two separate unique beings.
There are only the Goddess and God; all names for deity are only referring to these. In other words Demeter, Isis, Hecate, are all the same goddess. Just as Ra, Cernunnos, Pan are all the same god.
I have spoken to many Wiccans who follow this view of Deity.
Of course, we know that Wicca is polytheistic, recognizing the existence of many ancient gods and goddesses.
This is the most common Wiccan view of Deity and the most traditional. The ancient Pagan idea is that there are many gods and goddesses and each is a unique sentient being with their own powers and abilities.
Personally I am a polytheistic Pagan and a Wiccan who tries to follow a traditional Wiccan path. I do not believe it to be better; it is just what I believe and adhere to.
How can Wicca be atheistic?
Some Wiccans view the God and Goddess as symbols, not living entities.
Depending upon which definition of the term "Atheist" that you adopt, these Wiccans may be considered Atheists.
I don't like using the term "Atheists" for Wiccans since the impression people get is that Wiccans don't believe anything. It would be more accurate to point out that these Wiccans just believe that the Goddess and God are the whole energy rather than sentient beings. Everything is the God and Goddess from magic to matter.
Bottom line is that you need to find for yourself how your relationship with deity will connect you to Wicca. As long as it works for you, my only advice would be to keep balance in mind since that is the essence of Wicca.
Even if you see deity as an abstract concept, you can still pay homage and call the deity during ritual since you are honoring the whole or energy that permeates all. (Or whatever concept you have chosen to help you with this issue)
We must always remember to keep the original concepts intact so as not to lose all that we worked for. Be as eclectic as you wish and find for yourself the best way to interact with your gods. Just remember what Wicca is when speaking to and teaching others.
Religious diversity is a wonderful thing and should be encouraged as long as we remember to respect the original concepts of Wicca.
Written by: Chris K Underwood
Edited by: Peter Hamel
Copyright: Permission to freely distribute is granted as long as the original content and credit is maintained.
Chris K Underwood
Location: Palm Beach County, Florida
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