While I don’t want to completely build my theology from the ground up on this blog, there are a couple of foundational issues I need to discuss. One of them is the question of how many gods there are.
Some Pagans see God/dess as The All, and we are simply a part of that All. Others prefer a binary arrangement, with a Mother Goddess and a Father God. Still others are polytheistic and follow the gods and goddesses of our ancestors. Being a good, inclusive UU, I agree with all three.
Ultimately, I believe there is one Divinity, who is both Creator and Creation. The ultimate nature of that Divinity is beyond our limited human understanding, so I envision the feminine side as Goddess and the masculine side as God – anthropomorphizations of forces beyond my comprehension.
Clearly, though, our ancestors believed in many gods – some of whom were personifications of natural forces and some of whom were deified ancestors. Some Pagans say these gods and goddesses are aspects of The All, but that’s not how they were understood (a comment I read somewhere: “maybe YOU want to tell Kali she’s just an aspect, but not me!”). And I have experienced some of them first-hand – most notably Cernunnos, the Celtic Lord of Animals and the Hunt. After that, I have little choice but to approach them as individuals.
So, I like to think of the gods and goddesses of the various pantheons as individual beings. Perhaps they’re thought-forms created and sustained by worshipers. Perhaps they’re beings more spiritually advanced than we are. Perhaps they’re something totally different. What they are isn’t as important as how we relate to them, and how we can learn from them.
Building and maintaining those relationships is at the core of all religions (or at least all the theistic ones), and it’s at the core of mine.