(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!