It’s Eric Steinhart here again.
I’m going to begin my critical philosophical posts on Wicca by dealing with the Wiccan ultimate deity. First, I’ll present some quotes from Wiccans describing this deity. Next (in a separate post), I’ll do some analysis and compare and contrast this deity with some other deities in the Western religious traditions. One thing should be clear right away: the Wiccan ultimate deity is not the Abrahamic God. And it is not a theistic deity. The concept of the ultimate deity in Wicca is non-theistic. Of course, some of these quotes also talk about the male God and female Goddess. These deities will be dealt with in later posts. Right now, our focus should be on “Ultimate Source”.
The quotes are taken from the books listed at the end of this post. I’ve chosen these books because they are highly recommended both by writers in print and on the web. However, since I’m an outsider to Wicca, and I’m not an expert, it will probably be easy to object that I’ve missed some essential data. Fair enough. If anyone knows of any serious discussions of the Wiccan deity that I should look at, I’d love to learn about them.
Here are the quotes:
“Wicca is both a religion and a craft . . . As a religion . . . its purpose is to put the individual and the group in harmony with the Divine creative principle of the Cosmos” (Farrar & Farrar, 1981: 12)
“the God and Goddess [are] aspects of the Ultimate Source” (Farrar & Farrar, 1981: 49)
The Farrars say that the “Seventh Plane” of reality is the “Upper Spiritual” plane and consists of “Pure or Abstract Spirit. The ‘Divine Spark’. Substance and energy direct from the Great Unmanifest.” (Farrar & Farrar, 1981: 117)
“To the witch, the Divine Principle of the Cosmos is real, conscious and eternally creative, manifesting through Its creations, including ourselves” (Farrar & Farrar, 1981: 154)
“This higher power – the “Ultimate Deity” – is some genderless force that is so far beyond our comprehension that we can have only the vaguest understanding of its being. Yet we know it is there and, frequently, we wish to communicate with it. As individuals we wish to thank it for what we have and to ask it for what we need. How do we do this with such an incomprehensible power?” (Buckland, 1986: 19)
“The Wicca acknowledge a supreme divine power, unknowable, ultimate, from which the entire universe sprang. The concept of this power, far beyond our comprehension, has nearly been lost in Wicca because of our difficulty in relating to it. Wiccans, however, link with this force through their deities. In accordance with the principles of nature, the supreme power was personified into two basic beings: the Goddess and the God” (Cunningham, 1988: 9)
“All is therefore sacred and bears the blueprint of the Divine Source manifest as a binary force of male and female which we call the God and Goddess, complementing one another to form the Whole, The All. We are an integral part of the All, having been created by the Divine Source of All, and therefore bear the blueprint of the Divine Source, giving us potential for a direct connection with the All, and the Divine, which are One. The concept of Deity and the sacred in Paganism and therefore, also in Wicca, is not transcendent, but immanent and indwelling in all. The divine is therefore integral with ourselves; we are inherently divine. We respect Nature as all is alive and divine for we are a part of that All.” (Silver Elder, 2011: 9)
“We conceive of the Creative Power of the Universe as manifesting through polarity – as masculine and feminine – and that this same Creative Power lives in all people, and functions through the interaction of masculine and feminine.” (Thesis 4 in the Principles of Wiccan Belief, from the Council of American Witches, 11-14 April 1974; taken from Cuhulain, 2011: 28)
“The Wiccan concept of the Divine is shaped by what we see around us in the natural world. . . . We believe that the Divine is immanent in everything around us. We do not separate the Divine from the everyday world . . . Everything around us is divine.” (Cuhulain, 2011: 14)
Buckland, R. (1986) Complete Book of Witch Craft. Second Edition Revised and Expanded. St. Paul, MI: Llewellyn Publications.
Cuhulain, K. (2011) Pagan Religions: A Handbook for Diversity Training. Portland, OR: Acorn Guild Press.
Farrar, J. & Farrar, S. (1981) A Witches Bible. Blaine, WA: Phoenix Publishing.
Silver Elder (2011) Wiccan Celebrations: Inspiration for Living by Nature’s Cycle. Winchester, UK: Moon Books.
Other posts in the series so far: