Reconciling Wicca’s Gods

(I should state that I am not yet an initiate of the tradition I am studying, so nothing beyond the quote is representative of my tradition.)

I’ve noticed an interesting thing. There are people who identify as Wiccan who shun the term Pagan and people who embrace the label of Pagan that shy away from anything that suggests Wiccan. I used to be one of the latter but I now embrace both labels. Often once I’ve reconciled something within my own heart I tend to assume everyone else has reached the same conclusion and perceived this polarized view of labels with irritation. Then I ran across something that made me pause.

My tradition has this statement on their website:

Wiccans believe in God ~ To a Wiccan, God (The Creative Life Force) is the all-encompassing, all-powerful force of life – the Creator. Wiccans view The Creative Life Force manifested in a duality of male (God) and female (Goddess), each of equal importance. Though the different religions of the world worship gods and goddesses of many names, Wiccans consider all gods to be one God and all goddesses to be one Goddess. The Wiccan God and Goddess are the same deities as those worshiped by everyone else. There are many pathways, but they are all traveling up the same mountain along the way to spiritual fulfillment and a personal relationship with the Divine.

Now this doesn’t seem to correspond with my beliefs. This is a very popular Wiccan view but as a hard polytheist it’s not representative of my views, is it? The answer to that lies in what I believe about the God and Goddess of Witchcraft.

As a hard polytheist I believe each and every God and Goddess is a separate, sentient being in their own right. While some Gods bear many names, they are not merely masks worn by some overarching, omnipotent God. Thus I believe the God and Goddess of Witchcraft are separate, individual Gods in their own right.

The Goddess of Witchcraft is the Goddess of the moon, that reflective, ever-changing orb. The God of Witchcraft is the Horned One, an antlered man. Both are shape-shifters. While we worship them in their own forms, they are capable of assuming the guise of anything and anyone. In some way it’s allegorical of Witchcraft itself, changing the changeable while remaining true to your core being. We alter our appearance, our habits and our circumstances all while remaining grounded and connected to sacred center, our True Will.

The God and Goddess of Witchcraft use what tools are necessary to get the job done. Fire, water, earth, air and spirit, age and youth, mirth and reverence, fullness and emptiness are all used by them to achieve their goals. They are the God and Goddess of Witchcraft because they work as Witches do, using combinations of primary materials in diverse methods. They are not bound by a single direction, color, scent or element but they use them all as needed.

As Gods and Goddesses go, they are quite different. They do not belong to a large pantheon but to their Witches alone. They are dark, mysterious and veiled. While most Gods have their stories laid plain to all, the God and Goddess of Witchcraft invite you to worship them first and then only later do they reveal their stories to you.

So yes, I do not believe identically to the tradition I study, but my experience of and love for the God and Goddess of Witchcraft is the same. The Horned One is not all Gods to me, but he can take on the appearance and attributes of any God as he has need. The Lady of the Moon is not every Goddess, but  she can shift into the likeness and powers of any Goddess at will.

This is how I reconcile the Wiccan Gods with my firm belief in polytheism. We are all of us right in our perception of the Gods, as we each perceive according to our need. All paths lead to the Divine if we just keep our eyes and hearts open, and keep moving!

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://www.kathrynhinds.com/ Kathryn

    Hm… I think the quotation from the website is stated very broadly and also exoterically–it seems to interpret “All the gods are one god and all the goddesses are one goddess” literally, rather than treating it as a mystery to be pondered and delved into. But maybe that’s really this particular tradition’s take on it. Other Wiccan traditions have different understandings of that teaching and of the nature of the deities. For example, it would never remotely occur to me to worship or work with only the moon goddess and the Horned One!

  • http://FernsFronds.blogspot.com FernWise

    I wish you would have said ‘the God of Wicca….’ and ‘the Goddess of Wicca’ instead of ‘the God of Witchcraft’ and ‘the Goddess of Witchcraft’. Because for me, Wicca doesn’t hold copyright to the term Witchcraft, and Witchcraft is a religion-neutral skill set, a ‘craft’.

    Other than that I’m with you, full on.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Kathryn, I work with other Deities as well. Obviously I can’t speak for the tradition, but I think the Gods should always be considered a mystery to delve into.

    FernWise, good point. It’s a difficult distinction for me. I think of Wicca as religious Witchcraft and sense I’m discussing the worship of the God and Goddess of Witchcraft it just made sense to me to frame it in terms of Wicca, especially as it’s the path I’m trying to integrate with my own spirituality.

  • http://www.citywiccan.blogspot.com City Wiccan

    One of the reasons I was drawn to Wicca is that it didn’t have the dogma that other faiths have. I love that people have their own perceptions of the Goddess and God. Personally I believe in that quote but I don’t think it speaks to all Wiccans and therefore isn’t accurate. I think that it is good that you brought this up :)

  • Pingback: Star Foster

  • http://tpoaic.blogspot.com/ Cora

    This is one (among a few) reasons why I left Wicca: I don’t believe in this teaching; I couldn’t reconcile my hard polytheist beliefs. I don’t, however, believe there’s thousands of Gods and Goddesses…probably a relatively small number who are known by different names.

    “I tend to assume everyone else has reached the same conclusion and perceived this polarized view of labels with irritation.”

    But keep in mind that those of us who are not Wiccan don’t want to be lumped as one. It would be like saying if a person is Christian then they wouldn’t mind being lumped as a Baptist even though they are Mormon. ;-)

    Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans :-)

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Cora, I never meant to say all Pagans are Wiccans. I should have spent more time on this rather than firing it off so fast because there are a lot of nuances and points I wish I’d made…

  • http://FernsFronds.blogspot.com FernWise

    I understand that you view Wicca as religious Witchcraft, I don’t happen to share that view. I see Witchcraft as religion-neutral, a set of skills that can be used by people of any or even no religion

    Almost like Boy Scouts or the Masons, with atheists and gays and broads allowed in.

  • Vivianna

    Tough topic but one worth sharing about. At the very least, you’ve got people thinking and talking! That’s where the work begins (at least for me)! ;-)

  • Bookhousegal

    That’s a pretty problematic claim this starts off with. The phrase ‘Wiccans Believe In God,’ for instance, taps into a lot of notions and connotations in the wider culture that simply don’t apply.

    (Actually, that’s one reason we tend to refer to Goddess in that regard,even when we mean ‘Any given sense of Divine unity:’ not only is ‘God’ in Pagan senses usually seen as a birth-giver rather than law-giving artificer, but it’s very common for most of the people using the same language to conflate that concept of ‘God’ with a very specific sense of a particular male deity. )

    On some levels, it’s true. On others, it’s not.

    ‘All Gods are ‘One’ may be true in a cosmic sense, but that’s not the same as saying, ‘All Gods are One God.’ And since a lot of people use ‘God’ as a *name* of the God of Abraham, it’s still more confusing. Interestingly-enough, according to Rabbis, I have enough in common with Starhawk that I could technically skate by in a Jewish theocracy, not that the good ole’ boys from the Likud party would likely stop to have a theological discussion about my ‘idols.’ I may sincerely believe in a Divine Unity, shall we say, but I don’t think that means there aren’t a lot of individual Gods, and the more you think about said ‘Unity’ the more you’re dealing with an abstraction, not a ‘personage’ per se.

    Saying ‘Great Goddess’ isn’t just about *gender,* it’s actually about a different view of What That Is. While I may be more comfortable with a Deist or Hindu or Sufi or translation of Aristotle’s meaning when they say ‘God,’ the use of it as a *name* in language confuses the issue, as well as tending to obscure the very distinct conceptions about whether the universe is something in our terms ‘birthed’ or ‘created like an artifact.’ (One might see some of both, but, for instance, the ‘laws of physics’ aren’t ‘things’ imposed and followed like some Divine computer program, they are *our maps and charts of what we can see.*)

    …I’d call that Wiccan website a poor use of language, or, well, call it problematic. Not because it can’t express something, but because such language does seem to lead to a lot of confusion: in the ‘debate’ about ‘Hard v. Soft Polytheism,’ what seems to end up happening is that everyone’s applying connotations of that word and name ‘God’ that may not be what’s really operative.

  • http://mysteryofthemoon.blogspot.com katsutoshi mitsue

    Hellow!

    I love your site, It is a pleasure to visit.

    I have added your site to my site.

    Please link my site to your site.

    Thank you!

    http://mysteryofthemoon.blogspot.com

  • Colimpo

    Ok I can agree with some of that but I think your last statement actually supports the quote you posted. “All paths lead to the divine…” and I think the passage isn’t meant to be interpreted exactly – not that wiccan Gods and Goddesses are the same as those of all other religions but rather that the divine spark is the same. Shakespeare isn’t a theologist but he put is so tactfully when he said “…a rose by any other name is still a rose” just like the divine spark of the God and Goddess is the same whether you worship the sun itself or the Son of God (Jesus). The archetype may change in our perceptions but the sun is still a force to be reckoned with and burns too bright to look at directly and is still associated with masculinity (root word is latin – sol is conjegated in the masculine).

    I think we as people tend to over-analyse everything yet no mortal is meant to know everything. If we put less focus on whether or not it is a rose and just accept the beauty in its scented petals and the remain aware of the threat of its thorns, we can stay in balance which is really what the God and Goddess represent, the dualities of everything (including the duality of the divine spark – male and female). That’s my view.

  • Colimpo

    Ok I can agree with some of that but I think your last statement actually supports the quote you posted. “All paths lead to the divine…” and I think the passage isn’t meant to be interpreted exactly – not that wiccan Gods and Goddesses are the same as those of all other religions but rather that the divine spark is the same. Shakespeare isn’t a theologist but he put is so tactfully when he said “…a rose by any other name is still a rose” just like the divine spark of the God and Goddess is the same whether you worship the sun itself or the Son of God (Jesus). The archetype may change in our perceptions but the sun is still a force to be reckoned with and burns too bright to look at directly and is still associated with masculinity (root word is latin – sol is conjegated in the masculine).

    I think we as people tend to over-analyse everything yet no mortal is meant to know everything. If we put less focus on whether or not it is a rose and just accept the beauty in its scented petals and the remain aware of the threat of its thorns, we can stay in balance which is really what the God and Goddess represent, the dualities of everything (including the duality of the divine spark – male and female). That’s my view.


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