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Academy Excerpt: Gods, Goddesses & Beliefs

Your ideas may differ and that is great!

There's a Deity on My Altar!

Deity, The God & Goddess:

In this section, we enter some pretty tricky subjects.  If you ask 100 Wiccans what they think Deity is, you would receive 200 different answers. Covering this topic comprehensively is beyond the scope of any single source, however Deity remains the core of Wicca. Although this is a touchy subject, we will attempt to cover many different Wiccan viewpoints. There are some Wiccans who believe to call yourself "Wiccan" means that you believe in a specific pantheon, or have a specific belief system. However, in real life, you will meet Wiccans with beliefs which vary widely from one another.  One of the goals of this class is to give you an overview of these beliefs, and from there you may choose your own path.  We will not entertain discussions on which belief is more "Wiccan" than another and this is counterproductive to your individual path, as well as to Paganism as a whole.

This article is an excerpt from the PaganPath Academy course: Witchcraft & Wicca - Finding Your Path. Full enrollment in the Academy with access to this entire class and many others is available here.

For purposes of simplification, the word Deity is used in these lessons to represent the the divine force, the universe as a living force or the all.  This is not presented so much from a monotheistic perspective but rather a pantheistic perspective.  Generally, this force is beyond gender, however we witness the manifestation of the divine in all that is around us.  That said, there are no absolutes and we must explore a variety of ideas.

Because much of nature is divided into male and female principles, many Wiccans identify with the God and the Goddess. This is a very broad statement and it is important to keep in mind that some traditions and solitary Wiccans only acknowledge the Goddess in their rituals. Still other Wiccans do not see the God and Goddess as separate entities, but rather different symbolic facets of Deity. Because Deity is a creative force, the Goddess is often stressed more strongly as She is the Mother of all creation.

The point is that every Witch has a different view of Deity as is entirely appropriate. Each of us are individuals, and each of us will relate to Deity in our own way. Again, we will cover a variety of Wiccan viewpoints, but will not contribute to popular arguments of which viewpoint is more "Wiccan" than another or which is more historically accurate than another. The primary focus of this class is on modern Wicca and how it applies to your personal path.

The basic words to learn in order to understand belief systems.So let's take a look at several different Witches and their views of Deity:

Please remember that you can click on images to enlarge them, and to reveal extra tidbits of information that will be on your exam.

MoonBeam's Views
MoonBeam identifies with the Goddess. She feels a close connection with the creative feminine energy of the Mother. She is not yet comfortable with the idea of the God, particularly the Horned God, having come from a strict Christian background. She realizes that her anxiety about the Horned God is unfounded but nevertheless she chooses to identify with the triple Goddess.

For MoonBeam, the Goddess has three faces, Artemis (or under her Roman name, Diana) the maiden of the new and waxing moon, Selene the mother of the full moon, and Hecate the crone of the waning and dark moon. She sees the Goddess reflected in myths of the three fates, the cycles of the moon and of life & death.

She feels that her focus on the Goddess is a way to heal some of her past which involved abusive relationships, and is a way to counterbalance a patriarchal society. She represents the triple Goddess on her altar with her three legged cauldron in which burns either a white (maiden), red (mother) or black (crone) candle depending on the current phase of the moon.

MoonBeam has an Irish heritage in her family  and has begun study of The Morrigan who has three phases, Ana (maiden or virgin) Babd (mother) and Macha (crone). She has not connected with this personification of the Goddess as she is only in the beginning stages of her research.

MoonBeam's favorite book is:
Power of the Witch by Laurie Cabot

Pat's Views
Pat feels that Deity is omnipresent and places pictures of space on the wall above the altar to represent Deity. Pat does not separate Deity into sexual polarities and does not adhere to organizational forms such as patriarchy and matriarchy, but rather believes that gender should not matter. Pat belongs to a coven in which decisions and ritual workings are based on the unity of a circle. Each covener takes turns coming up with ideas for ritual and there is no High Priest or High Priestess.

Pat's favorite books are:
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
The Grandmother of Time by Zsuzsanna E. Budapest

Alex's Views
Alex started his studies in a Gardnerian coven, but after only a few months with them, he moved to a city very distant from his home coven. Currently he is with an Alexandrian coven which practices according to his views of Deity. He now considers himself an Alexandrian. Alex sees the God as aspected in the Oak King of the Waxing year (Yule to Midsummer) and the Holly King of the Waning year (Midsummer to Yule). He uses oak branches and acorns, or holly to represent the God on his altar. The God in both aspects dies and is reborn. The Goddess also changes in her aspects as Earth Mother and the lunar Queen of Heaven.

Alex's favorite book is:
A Witches Bible Compleat by Janet and Stewart Farrar

Diane's Views
Diane relates to the Triple Goddess much like MoonBeam does. Diana is her maiden of the waxing moon, Selene is the mother of the full moon and Hecate is her crone of the waning moon. She also identifies with the Sun God. She sees the God in two parts, Kernunnos (balance and inspiration) and Pan (flexibility and sensuality). The pentacles Diane wears, and the one on her altar represent to her the five aspects of Deity.

Diane's favorite books are:
Earth Magic by Marion Weinstein
Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein

Terry's Views
Terry believes that Gods and Goddess are separate entities, not simply facets of the All. Terry believes that for thousands of years people have worshiped very specific Deities, and through their worship have created energy pockets, a sort of collective memory or morphogenetic fields (as Rupert Sheldrake describes them in his recent work). Terry feels a close connection to certain Deities, and has developed a relationship with some through meditation and shamanic practices. Terry utilizes the runes in his magical and divinatory practices and uses certain runes to represent Odin and other patron Deities on his altar.

Terry's favorite books are:
The Archaic Revival by Terence McKenna
The Rebirth of Nature: The Greening of Science and God by Rupert Sheldrake
Natural Grace: Dialogues on Creation, Darkness, and the Soul in Spirituality and Science by Matthew Fox

GreenLady's Views
GreenLady sees the Goddess as Gaea, the primal mother of all things. Her animistic-like view is that the Goddess is present everywhere, and that Mother Earth is a living entity with consciousness. She feels that the God is the Sun which brings light and life to the creative womb of the Earth. The Goddess is represented on her altar with a small Venus of Willendorf statue (such as the one in the picture) and the God is represented with grains, wheat, and sunflowers.

GreenLady's favorite books are:
The Great Cosmic Mother by Monica Sjoo 
The Great Goddess: Reverence of the Divine Feminine from the Paleolithic to the Present by Jean Markale 

Page's Views
Page is reading and learning. She can relate to many different views of Deity but has not yet formed her own. She has had two experiences which are helping to shape her beliefs. The first was a vision she had during an intense meditation of what seemed to her to be the Goddess. The second was a feeling of being looked after when she came very close to being in a collision in her car. She remains open to new ideas, and meanwhile places a white candle on her meditation altar.

Page's favorite books are:
The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects by Barbara G. Walker
The Goddess Companion: Daily Meditations on the Feminine Spirit by  Patricia Monaghan

Matthew's Views
Matthew grew up Catholic and felt very close to Mary throughout his life. As he adopted Wiccan views, he maintained his relationship with Mary in the guise of the Goddess and sees Jesus as a symbol of the God. To the fury and amazement of many of his Wiccan friends, he insists on placing a statue of Mary on his altar next to the cross.

Matthew's favorite books are:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (Fiction)
Practical Candleburning Rituals by Raymond Buckland 

Lafayette's Views
Lafayette grew up in New Orleans and combines Voudou with his Wiccan practices. His believes that the world was created by One God, NaNa Buluku who is both male and female. Nana Buluku gave birth to Mawu, the west, moon and female and Lisa, the east, day, and male. Lafayette's' beliefs are rather complex, but to simplify them for an example: he sees Obatala and Yemonja as God and Goddess. He also recognizes many other Deities.

Lafayette's favorite book is:
Jambalaya by Luisah Teish

In later lessons, we will go over what many of these viewpoints have in common, but for now, here's your assignment!

Assignment:

Take a few days to assess how you view Deity. Write down your conclusions, thoughts, or confusion in your notebook. Be as descriptive as possible, even if you aren't sure. You are not expected to be absolute in these beliefs, just put out some ideas for your own reference later (in your notebook or book of shadows). Also mention what could be used on your altar to represent Deity to you.

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Terms to Know

Polytheism is the belief that deity takes many forms, the belief in more than one god.

Omnipresent describes that which present at all times in all places.

Monotheism is the belief that there is only one god.

Patriarchy is a form of organization in which the father or authoritarian male is ruler.

Matriarchy a form of organization in which the mother or authoritarian female is ruler.

Animism 1. attributing conscious life to objects and phenomena in nature 2. belief in the existence of disembodied spirits.

Personification For purposes of this lesson: to represent or symbolize a complex or abstract quality, idea, person, entity or energy. To represent an abstraction.

This article is an excerpt from the PaganPath Academy course: Witchcraft & Wicca - Finding Your Path. Full enrollment in the Academy with access to this entire class and many others is available here.

 

About the Author
Friday
Author: FridayWebsite: http://PaganPath.comEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Author & Academy Instructor
Friday is devoted to writing books and articles on a variety of Pagan subjects, and is the instructor of the online PaganPath Academy. She has studied and practiced the Craft since 1987, and worked as a professional tarot reader and vice president of a national psychic network for several decades. Currently, she is now a practicing herbalist and ordained minister. As a Master Gardener with a deep interest in permaculture, she is developing the PaganPath Sanctuary with her partner. This long term community project is an edible landscape demonstration, orchard and educational facility for future generations.

Log in to Comment and Discuss Article

Go to the full Comments and Discussion Area for this Pagan Path Article (5).
Posted: 15 Jun 16 1:17 pm America/Chicago by Ouroboros #2945
Ouroboros's Avatar
Happy Birthday!
Posted: 14 Jun 16 7:52 pm America/Chicago by TRIBUL #2940
TRIBUL's Avatar
Last Sunday I turned45 years old36 years old in the Craft's workings as-well.
Posted: 14 Jun 16 7:49 pm America/Chicago by TRIBUL #2939
TRIBUL's Avatar
Can you give me a list of Celti Celtic Goddesses and Gods???
Posted: 12 Mar 16 11:52 pm America/Chicago by hoodoowytch #2775
hoodoowytch's Avatar
I have a statue of Hecate on my altar. She is the aspect of divine I most identify with and have for as long as I can remember. Goddess of Witches and Magick...The Cosmic World Soul, Keeper of the Crossroads, Lady of Darkness, Lady of Death...etc. She is the aspect of Divinity that, for me, is most real and resonates with my spirit. She is, for me, the one that all other aspects of the Feminine Divine have come from...whatever their names be.

I was raised in a very christian household...and grew to loathe that belief system with a hard passion. I do not identify with any male aspect/god, although I recognize the duality and balance in Nature and the Cosmos. My reasons for lacking the desire to have a male 'god' representation on my altar, or my magickal workings, stems from my utter loathing of the largely patriarchal, misogynistic societies rampant in the world; as well as a childhood full of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a paedophile stepfather who used religion as a way to justify his crime. My opinion of the male of the species, with very few exceptions, is that they aren't worth the powder it would take to blow the majority of them to whatever hell they may or may not believe in.

All that being said, I would say I was a polythieist. ;)

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