Every Monday and Friday in January we will be asking people questions about Wicca. Want to weigh in? Find the next question at the bottom of this post!
Who are the God and Goddess of Wicca? Are they specific Gods, or the focal point of all Gods and Goddesses?
Not a lot of interest in this question. I think partly because for many people the answers are oathbound and I think a lot of folks simply don’t care. Which is odd, because I think this may be the most fascinating question about Wicca. So I’m going to give you my only response to the question and then ramble on at length why I think this question is important. Of course, once again, all respondents represent their own views and not that of their coven or tradition.
Lady Moonshadow Xian (Ravenwood tradition) responds:
There is not one “God and Goddess of Wicca”.
There is the Creative Life Force that is the basic energy of the universe. It is the unknowable force in the universe that all religion has been invented to try to explain.
Religion, Goddess and God are all human constructs that are tools to be used to understand the world as we know it.
The Creative Life Force is the Divine in all things. It works in polarities such as God and Goddess, Positive and Receptive, Force and Form, Ebb and Flow. It is neutral. There is no ultimate good or ultimate evil.
Each Goddess or God is a construct of humans trying to explain the world that we live in. We tend to model them after what we know. Just as we divide ourselves up into groups, Mother, Maiden, Crone, Youth, Sage, Father, Builder, Destroyer, etc. The ancients divided up the characteristics of their Gods like God of Lightening, God of the Sun, Goddess of Water, and Goddess of the Moon. We use them to explain what happens in the world around us. They are the personification of Nature.
I also believe that we deify other humans into gods and goddesses. If you look at the Titans and the Olympians they sound like a very powerful family who fight among themselves for power with those under their rule as collateral damage for which they have no concern.
You have Buddha, Jesus, and Mohamed depicted as people who lived in the mundane world and became Divine. If you look in India there are regularly children born with multiple arms and legs and find Gods and Goddesses that reflect this. Could those deities not be based on influential people?
My Grandmother had a portrait of Jesus surrounded by children looking raptly up at him. Later I saw the same portrait but it was Martin Luther King, Jr. rather than Jesus. I saw a disturbing portrait of Barack Obama depicted hung on a cross with a crown of thorns over the Presidential Seal. There is actually a Church of the Blue Suede Shoes dedicated to Elvis and many make pilgrimages to Graceland and make remembrances on Elvis’s date of birth and death. John F. Kennedy has become idealized well beyond what he actually accomplished.
We as humans are always looking to something outside of us to take responsibility for us; some outside force to appeal to for Divine intervention in our lives.
The more we discover about the basic energy of the universe the more we understand that all things are connected at the most basic levels. We are part of the whole. We are not separate from the whole.
You can use the different goddesses or gods to understand more clearly that aspect of the whole. Like facets of a cut diamond. However they are each only an aid to understanding the greater whole and identifying oneself as part of that greater whole.
Each of us has the ability to use the energy of the universe to bring about that which we desire. It is understanding and working with that energy that is true magick. Gods and Goddesses simply are an aid to framing it in a manner that is comprehensible in our everyday lives; a smaller piece of the whole to help connect with the larger unknowable whole.
“There is One Mind, One Law, One Substance in the Universe and I am One with All that IS.”
Or to quote John Travolta’s character in Phenomenon, “It’s energy, Bob.”
So my response to my own question is going to take a bit of explaining. You see, I am studying the Ravenwood tradition, and the respondent above is one of my elders. I’m just a student of the trad and I’m an odd Wiccan. So let me see if I can explain how I disagree with her and agree with her at the same time. This may require coffee.
I also believe there is a vast Creative Life Force that governs the ongoing creation/destruction of the Universe. I also believe this is unknowable, un-God-like and not conscious in any way we can recognize or interact with. This is the force that creates galaxies and has no thought for humans or squirrels or dandelions. It did not intentionally create us, does not care about us any more or less than the most wayward quark or nebula. It thinks and reasons in ways we cannot comprehend, but we know it’s purpose is to maintain the balance of energy and matter, to create from destruction and make marvels far beyond human comprehension.
As we are made of star stuff, of atoms and molecules and cosmic dust, and under the influence of and forever within the boiling cauldron of life and death that is the Creative Life Force, I believe “There is One Mind, One Law, One Substance in the Universe and I am One with All that Is.” This maxim reminds me of the inability to escape nature, that I am ever subject to it and that I am forever connected to everything that is. You might say no atom is an island.
Where we see things differently doesn’t really matter in practical terms. We all have different ways of perceiving all that which is Divine. It’s not for us to search each other’s hearts but to honor each other for our right action and service to our community. I strongly believe theology should not be a divisivee issue, but then I am an odd Pagan.
I completely understand and respect what my elder is saying about the Gods. Over the past year I have seen my tradition treat the Gods with respect and honor, and I could care less about whether they perceive them as personifications or avatars or aspects. My experience with the Gods leads me to a different view. Not a more right view or more correct view, just a different one.
I am a literal polytheist. I believe the Gods are complete individuals, bigger than I can imagine but not omnipotent or omniscient. I believe we are made of the same building blocks of nature, though they are as different from me as a comet or the rings of Saturn. So for me, the God and Goddess of Wicca must be individual, sentient beings, albeit seasonal shapeshifters. I can’t claim to be right in this or for my view to be the true one. What I can say is this how I am able to interact with and perceive the Gods.
Who are the God and Goddess of Wicca? I don’t have the foggiest idea. It seems to be an ongoing pattern in this series that we talk about the questions more than we answer them, which is in and of itself fascinating.
Maybe with initiation will come revelation, so that I can see the God and Goddess of Wicca as clearly as I do the Gods of my personal devotions. Or maybe they are a Mystery by design. Or maybe my elder is right, and this need I have to see them as concrete, palpable entities is a bit futile. Or maybe, like any Gods, they choose how we will see them and none of our protests can change that?
At any rate, I still think this is a fascinating question. One I should probably discuss with my elders over beer.
What do you believe the origins of Wicca to be? Does academic research affect your views on its history?
If you’d like to weigh in just e-mail me your short response (250-500 words) before Jan 21st. It’s sfoster at patheos.com.