A recent Sunday morning, the Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael, senior co-minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, NJ had us thinking. He asked, “What would you say God is? What would you say God is not?” in his similarly titled sermon.
There were many different responses to these questions and all like-minded and agreeable to a point. However, there were no Pagan responses that I heard in person or have yet seen online. I was running the live stream, other Sacred Wheel CUUPers were monitoring Facebook chat or had other plans. Therefore, this had me thinking as I do follow the Druidic path and work with deity. I know what I believe in, but to what extent would be the question here.
A few people have told me that I “don’t believe in God” or that I “worship the devil.” None of those people are Unitarian Universalists by the way. This is far from true though. Yes, Pagans do not follow a monotheist Deity and we do have a horned god. This whole notion of our Deity is really the devil comes from ignorance, 1700 years of indoctrination, and unwillingness to learn. Just because our beliefs are not based in Abrahamic religions, does not mean we are worshiping evil. In fact, my elder, the Rev. Foxxy Pullen, despises the word worship as applied to Paganism.” We don’t worship deity, we honor them,” she says. It’s a cooperative relationship, we are not their servants. Additionally, most, not all, Pagans believe in either the three-fold law (three times what you give comes back) or karma.
My friend’s Christian faith for example, instills the fear of God into their followers. I often wonder how someone can follow such a belief. However, he has strong ties, or so he says he does – always talking about repentance and to fear God. Now I’ve only known him about 15 years online but I cannot imagine all he claims he has to repent. I also question how you can follow or love something that you fear. I cannot be comfortable with something I fear, nor can I put faith into it.
Going back to those questions Sammler-Michael asked in his sermon, Deity is not singular in my view. I follow many deities on my path both female and male, which also means Deity is not only a he.
I do not believe that the deities are all-knowing either, If they were, accidents and diseases might not happen. Or perhaps we are supposed to learn from those challenges? Foxxy often reminds us that “Deity doesn’t give us more than we can handle; but exactly as much. It’s stretching to meet Their expectations that make us grow.”
Likewise, if you are looking for a sign, maybe you are looking too metaphorically. Sometimes it’s dropped on your lap such as a friend calling for something unrelated and voila, but you missed it. “Pay attention to everything around you,” something my martial arts instructor taught us for self-defense reasons but still it applies here. You just need to be alert, listen to the wind blow, feel the sun’s rays; sit under the moonlight. It’s sometimes subtle messages that the deities send out. It’s when you miss the subtle ones too many times the deity may drop one on your head.
Furthermore, stop praying for your favorite team to win. There is no reason deity would pick one team over the other. Deities have better things to do than pay attention to sports.
When I talk to my deities requesting help, I know I’m expected to do work to get what I want. It’s like that old saying goes, “I pray I win the lottery,” but never purchase a ticket. Sure they may help me, but not without my willingness to do the labor. I believe the Deities are there when we need them but they expect us to do our part. Envision the goal in mind and then go after it as my elder Hermotius taught us.
Recently, we explored this further in a new discussion group “Theology on Tap” led by Sammler-Michael at a local bar. The four part series asked similar questions related to our beliefs as we picked apart different writings.
One meeting we studied a piece in progressive rock musician/philosopher Robert Fripp’s upcoming book “Intro to Guitar Circle.” Sammler-Michael quoted Fripp, “Music is not even in the notes – it is between the notes.” In response, two of us answered similarly that music is everywhere. Music is in nature, in “every step we take, and every move we make.” This to me also applies to the deity. They are everywhere – in the trees, in the air, the sun, the moon, the stars, the water…
This is what the deities are to me and I’m sure that many Pagans (if not all) could agree. Everyone has their own experiences and answers to these questions though and none of them are wrong. As Joan Osbourn sings, “What if God was one of us? …just a stranger on a bus…”