Articles/Essays From Pagans
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
My Father, My First God
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
The Fear of Witchcraft
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
The Evolution of Thought Forms
Magic in Sentences
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
Native American Spirituality Myopia
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Sex, Lies, and Witches: Love in a Time of Wiccans and Atheists
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
My Concept Of Grey
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
September 20th. 2014 ...
GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
September 7th. 2014 ...
Deer Man- A Confounding Mystery
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
A Strange Waking Dream
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
The Power of the Gorgon
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Mixing Pantheons in Modern Pagan Practice
Article ID: 4216
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 5,189
Times Read: 7,382
Author: Ben Gruagach [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 13th. 2002
Times Viewed: 7,382
It has been said by some Wiccan authors that mixing mythological pantheons is bad and should be avoided at all costs. The usual argument given for this admonishment is that each pantheon, indeed each deity, has very specific features and should be treated individually. To equate one goddess with a similar goddess from another pantheon is seen as disrespectful. Each deity, it is argued, deserves to be treated as an individual. Bringing together deities and elements of worship from different pantheons is confusing and results in muddled worship and ritual. 1
This argument appears, at least on the surface, difficult to refute if we want to honor the deities as vibrant, powerful, and alive.
However, it seems the deities themselves are not so hard and fast about the distinctions between individual deities, not as unforgiving when worshippers use different names for them, as we simplistic modern humans would make them out to be. There is a long history of mixing pantheons that goes back to the dawn of human reverence of the divine. There are gods and goddesses that we take for granted today as being individual which are actually composite deities amalgamated in the distant past from more than one source deity. Why should modern reverence of ancient deities force them to fossilize when they were clearly organic and changeable in the past?
Ancient Egypt, one of the oldest recorded civilizations in human record, developed from various groups into the Upper and Lower Kingdoms prior to their unification around 3100 BCE under the rule of the first pharaoh, Menes. This bringing together of peoples into one nation encouraged religious practices to come together, helping to establish ever greater temples and religious dynasties. Deities were merged, which resulted in combined names in many cases. Amon-Re (or Amun-Ra), Ptah-Nu, and Re-Atum are a few examples.2
The merging of local deities into a larger national deity and the incorporation of foreign deities into a specific pantheon were not limited to Egypt. They happened all around the world any time two groups of people with different deities met. In Mesopotamia, lesser goddesses merged into the great Inanna, who under the Babylonians was known by the name Ishtar.3 The spread of Greek culture, largely due to the conquests of Alexander the Great around the fourth century BCE, resulted in the 'Hellenizing' of many cultures and religions -- that is, making the local religions and cultures more Greek-like.4 With the rise of the Roman Empire, the Greek Artemis became the Roman Diana. Even Christian mythology adopted Pagan deities in a roundabout way, with goddesses like Brigid becoming Saint Brigit.5 Imagine that -- a Semitic desert religion adopting a fierce Pagan goddess from the Green Isle!
Walter Burkert describes how ancient Greek society included foreign deities: 'The Greek pantheon is not immutable. Only a small number of the Mycenaean gods are Indo-European, and Apollo and Aphrodite probably arrived only later. The fact that a fixed group of Greek Gods was established at all is due not least to epic art... [for example] The cult of the dying god Adonis is already found fully developed in Sappho's circle of young girls on Lesbos... For the Greeks it was well known that he was an immigrant from the Semitic world, and his origins were traced to Byblos and Cyprus.'6
Today, Wiccan practices most commonly draw upon mythology from the British Isles. Despite the geographical separation from mainland Europe, there has been plenty of opportunity for incorporation of foreign deities. John and Caitlin Matthews wrote: 'As successive waves of influence have dashed against our shores, so has the existing coastline of the mythic dimension been modified and moulded. Yet the persistent retention of certain characters, archetypes and themes is remarkable, revealing the true nature of British myth. Indigenous features, like our weather (which the Irish call 'soft' but which tourists find plain wet), form the prevailing climate of our belief. Sleeping kings who will come again, hags who become gift-bestowing maidens, wild men with staves and other-world women with cups, are all part of our composite tradition. Whatever gods and beliefs have been brought to Britain, they have a way of settling in so that the sharp definition of their origins is gradually blunted until it blends into the ambience of the new homeland.'7
Deities from different pantheons were mixed together in more than just the merging of lesser deities into greater deities, or the recognition and often integration of foreign deities into a local or national pantheon. Magickal practices, such as those recorded in the Greek magickal papyri dating back to the second century BCE draw clearly from such diverse sources as Egyptian, Greek, Babylonian, and Jewish mythology to achieve their ends8 Witches, wizards, magickians, priestesses, and priests did not shy away from communing with whatever deities they felt would be most effective as each situation warranted.
For example, a love spell includes the following invocation: 'I entrust this binding spell to you, chthonic gods, Hyesemigadon and Kore Persephone Ereschigal and Adonis the Barbaritha, infernal Hermes Thoouth Phokentazepseu Aerchtathoumi / Sonktai Kalbanachambre and to mighty Anubis Psirinth... '9 Within this one incantation, we find Kore (Greek), Adonis (Greek, adopted from Semitic), Ereshkigal (Assyro-Babylonian), and Anubis (Egyptian) along with others. The ancient magickian who wrote this spell obviously didn't think it was a bad idea to mix pantheons!
Modern Wicca continues this tradition of eclecticism at its very root. One of the foundation ritual pieces, the Charge of the Goddess, makes this point clear. It starts:
'Listen to the words of the Great Mother; she who of old was also called among men Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Cybele, Arianrhod, Isis, Dana, Bride and by many other names.' Again, we see within a single ritual passage the presentation of goddesses from various different pantheons all together: Artemis (Greek), Astarte (Canaanite version of Ishtar, also adopted under this name in Greek culture), Athene (Greek), Dione (Phoenician/Greek), Melusine (Irish/Scottish/French, possibly Scythian), Aphrodite (Greek), Cerridwen (Welsh), Cybele (Phrygian/Greek, eventually merged with Rhea), Arianrhod (Welsh)... you get the picture.10
Getting to know a particular deity or small group of deities thoroughly through the study of their myths is a good way to get started on an intimate relationship with these particular expressions of the Divine. We should be careful to not allow our focused studies to blind us to the larger picture, though, of how our revered deities and pantheons connect with the rest of the mythological world. As the Greco-Egyptian god Hermes Trismegistus put it succinctly, 'As above, so below.' The ecology of myth is the same as the ecology of life on Earth: everything is connected.
(1.) 'Deity' chapter, Ellen Cannon Reed's The Heart of Wicca, Weiser: 2000.
(2.) Introduction to Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero's The Magical Pantheons, Llewellyn: 1998.
(3.) 'Inanna's Family Tree, ' page ix, Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer's Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth, Harper & Row: 1983.
(4.) Entries on 'Hellenism' and 'Hellenize, ' Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary, Lexicon Publications: 1988.
(5.) Entry on 'Brigit/Brigid/Bride, ' John and Caitlin Matthews' The Aquarian Guide to British and Irish Mythology.
(6.) Pages 176-179, Walter Burkert's Greek Religion, Harvard University Press: English translation 1985.
(7.) Introductory section, pages 12 and 13, John and Caitlin Matthews' The Aquarian Guide to British and Irish Mythology, Aquarian Press: 1988.
(8.) Introduction to editor Hans Dieter Betz's The Greek Magical Papyri In Translation, University of Chicago Press: 1992.
(9.) Page 44, lines 335 to 345, editor Hans Dieter Betz's The Greek Magical Papyri In Translation, University of Chicago Press: 1992.
(10.) See individual entries for each goddess in Janet and Stewart Farrar's The Witches' Goddess, Phoenix Publishing Co.: 1987.
Location: Yardley, Pennsylvania
Author's Profile: To learn more about Ben Gruagach - Click HERE
Bio: Ben Gruagach is a solitary eclectic Wiccan who has been actively practicing for two decades. He is originally a country boy from Ontario, Canada. He currently resides in Glendale, Arizona with his non-Pagan but supportive sweetheart and two feline companions, Pip and Bub. He is working on other writing projects, both nonfiction and fiction. Ben maintains a website at http://www.witchgrotto.com.
Other Articles: Ben Gruagach has posted 2 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Ben Gruagach... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2016 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wren’s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witches’ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).