Aileen's blog post reminded me of this discussion I had a while back with some folks, and figured it would make a good discussion topic. As I'm trying to keep busy before a funeral tomorrow, I figured now was as good a time as any to write it up.


I can't count the number of times when I've run into people talking about their first experience meeting a particular Goddess where the description of the Goddess in question is almost always the same, regardless of the Goddess in question. She's almost always got long hair. She's almost always wearing something long and flowing. Her skin is flawless, and her body is immaculate, skinny, and supermodel-esque. 


I suppose it isn't surprising that we, as a society, have a desire to see deities in a human form because we are human. And because we often have a society-trained view of what "beautiful" is, our deities fit into the Barbie-doll mold. And because we seem to think of our past with great fondness for the "ye olde age" that never was (think the polished veneer of a RenFaire), our deities are often dressed accordingly.


As a result, many pagans I've run into seem almost obsessed with statuary, and often feel the need to put very classical-styled statues of deities around their homes and gardens.


But then there's me. :)


I must admit, there's very few statues that I've ever seen that I find attractive, and most of those are not deity statues. A few years ago, I was attending a ritual where every person was supposed to bring a deity statue they work with. When I pointed out to the officiant that I didn't have a deity statue that I worked with, I was met with stunned silence--more than a decade in the Craft and you don't have *any* statues? Consequently, I bought one for the rite, and then gifted it away as soon as I could.


When it comes to "visualization", I hear more than I see. I can hear the differences in the way circles are cast by the sound the edge of the circle makes. I hear the differences in cones of power. I can even hear the difference between different deities that are drawn down (and, to the dismay of some public ritual officiants I've seen, when deity doesn't show up).  But when it comes to what a god or goddess looks like, I very very rarely see a human form. 


I was curious if there's other people out there who view/interact with deity in a non-human form. And, for those who do interact with deity in a human form, any idea why your particular deities have chosen to show themselves in a human form when they have the entirety of the universe to choose for a form?


I probably won't be too active in this thread for the next day or two, but am very excited to see what people have to say when I get back. Cheers!


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Glad I could remind you of what seems to be a very interesting discussion.


I believe thinking back to previous experiences, most have had animals especially cats involved in someway, though I can't be too sure without looking through my journals, though with Bast a human figure was present, though I can't remember what she looked like.

I work with male deity a LOT. I most often work with Cernunnos and the "Green Man". Cernunnos is a horned god and has the form of a Stag. While most would see him as a human form with horns, I dont. I have had visions of a very very large stag. Looks like an ordinary stag, just much much larger, and that is Cernunnos to me.


Like I said I also work with the Green Man a lot. But once again like most. They see a human figure covered in foliage. I dont. When I see the Green Man, I dont see the "Green Man" I see a breeze through the leaves of the tree and know that he is there. I feel more than see his presence. I never see a man when I see the Green Man, I just know that his presence is imbued by the trees and plants around me. I dont know if that counts, but seeing as a I dont see a human form. I think it does.

I work with Hekate, and her appearance is never twice exactly the same. I also found that other people who have had visions about me involving Hekate will see her differently than me, but I always recognize her for who she is.


I rarely have a clear view of the face - it only happened once, and I was in dire need of support when I called upon her that time. Otherwise, I only have a general shape of either a young woman - which usually means something is afoot and I'm in "need" - or a very old woman, which will mean all's well.


I've seen her in black, and in white, head covered or not, with lit torches or not, underground, aboveground, in a forest, on a pathway, accompanied dogs at times...


The way she appears will tell me more about the message she has for me than anything else, since I don't hear much, nor feel much, but visualize a lot. Unless she "touches" me in the "visuals" I get, I don't feel much emanating from her.


And although I do have a statue of her, she sure doesn't appear in that shape to me.


And why she appears in human form, and never with animal heads like she is sometimes depicted? My only guess it because I would not react well to it, and she knows it. I will be more at ease and interact better with a brilliant ball of light than with a dog, a snake, or any other of her sacred animals. But that's just me. :)

I love this post! I work closely with two female Deities; Brighid and Pallas Athena. Both have been with me since childhood. I believe they appeared to me in human form as a child because it made it easier for me to identify them. They were never shaped like the Barbies that were forced upon me, though. Yes, Brighid appeared to me with long red or blond hair but she was always soft, with a good amount of meat on her bones, a bright smile and a full bosom she would press me against. Her attire varied but was always practical and nothing fancy. Pallas Athena appeared to me as a tall and broad woman, a warrior, muscled, wearing a full set of armor and carrying a spear. She was my protectress when I was a child and her long, brown, hair, was always braided down her back. 


When I grew up, realized who these women in my dreams and visions were, they came to me in very different forms. Pallas Athena usually as an owl, Brighid usually as a flame, or fire. In rituals I hardly ever see them but I feel they're there. I always feel Brighid's hand on my left shoulder and it always hurts a little bit; as if I'm remembering a burn that was never there. Pallas Athena's hand is on my right and it feels like remembering a stab wound or the talons of her owls that, also, were never there. 


I can sometimes feel the energy of other Goddesses and Gods but they have never appeared to me in any way, shape or form. I feel I was claimed by my two Goddesses long before this life and they don't let anyone else stake a claim. I'm perfectly alright with that. 

I love statuary, but that's more because I'm an artist than because of any paganish tendency. I've collected statues and figurines since I was little girl so its nothing new for me.


As for the way in which my gods appear. Hekate has come to me as a young woman with black hair in a dream, She has come to me as my dead grandmother as well which although is disconcerting I understand her immediately. She, along with Anubis have appeared as black dogs. And of course Anubis has come to me as a Jackal. Anubis has also strangely come to me in the form of a golden moth- definitely not something he is traditionally associated with, but makes sense to me very specifically. 


As for other gods that I have interacted with, Morrighan regularly comes as a Raven. The only image of her as a human that I have is of a lovely artwork by Louis Royo, but I feel her as the Raven. Baba Yaga has never actually appeared in physical form to me and the one time that I *saw* Cernunnos he was a stag.


A reason for my *need* for statuary on my altar is that it is imperative for a certain part of my practice to offer at an image of that god i.e Anubis. Although a picture on the wall would serve its purpose enough, it does not hold weight psychologically to me to offer at a picture. I mean I could have pictures of gargoyles by the door as protection but a statuette of one feels so much more effective to me, the same with images of my patron and matron. 

Hekate (hey Elise! :P ) has appeared to me, one way or the other, in various forms and only very recently in a human shape. Most of the time, I feel Her presence and energy (since in regards to spiritual perception, I get the "flavour" or "essence" and understanding of what something is/does, not so much other senses). Some notable instances were: feeling She was present as something non-corporeal encompassing everything in a layer deeper than the one we are accustomed to, yet still in this realm (post describing this HERE); as a breeze and a presence of invisible eyes (or rather, a tremendously potent gaze) as described in my article HERE); very recently, as a woman in my room (again, described HERE).


As for the "why": I guess they use what works best, be it in terms of what is more fitting for us to perceive or what teaches a lesson best.'s yur postings like this and many others of similar "flavour" that make me sit back and ponder the issue i have... within this context of paganism, am i really of a pagan mind'd mindset?


... i'm not a deitist of choosing, nor of chosen thus far, although were i to interpret what i experience on a daily basis to be of a deitic characteristic or nature or influence, i'd find likely be able to find almost -any- if not all interactions as a result of deitic operation or influence of character/association connected within the  interaction in one way or another....what i do experience or believe is that all things imbibed with an energy has a patterning specific to each "family" of object/item/thing, whether transformed from one item to another matters not within the cellular level of live matter with the exception of purposefully needing the item in a processed form (ie.medicine processing, etc).....just as nature has it's own structural boundaries limited to live genetics and life experience with respect to each individual growth in specific environments, so too the human form and interactions observed...each is universal in the energy guided, but the choices of free will and interpretation are what guide... the only "inherent" difference is that we as humans/mindful operating species have a choice to choose what interactions are taken...if one were to be mindful of deitic workings and associations, then the interpretations associated within their context will be that much more feasable and notable in observation and correlation of occurances, either in "signs" or "visitations manifested within or out as human form/animal/etc" ..... me, if i had to choose terminology best to describe in absolute terminology i'd refer to the natural energies of "growth, death, or a little bit of both" context within the framework of a "male/female" aspect'd singular resultant from combined aspected energy necessary to "create"..... this energy translation i have always had a hard time relating to a deitic force, thereby i've desired not to use a label as such..... but with audio and visual and mental cues and observations i've made with respect to possible indications of finding character specific interactions within a certain deitic cultural application, i -could- reason out if i made a point of doing so...things mostly to do with nature'd influences or signs in general... nature's goin's on with animal/species interactions, environmental shiftings/movements, energy interactions with humans/nature, perceptions of flows, audio and visual cues and emotional impression cues/intuitions, etc.... these things could also find placement in deitic character if i were to find or seek, but because they are not inherent enough to investigate further for myself, it's simply nature's energies interacting and revealing from perceptions and contemplations ....

...just as with any plant species, they are all connected by genetics, and interact energetically with purpose and need, they are also all individual and separate and as important as the one next to it, albeit the same plant cultivar, with a -slight- genetic variant they all interact in the similar manner dependent upon the environment grown in ...they all have needs and desires for betterment and utilizing that which is provided for further growth, each having a specific purpose and use dependent upon idealism and context and action/result.... and science is daily finally catching up with the understandings that plants do in fact interact on an emotional and physical level as individual and separates within the whole genetic strains...but i digress, as usual... i refute or negate the existence of deity and their purpose?... not in the slightest... nor would i refuse them a cup o' tea or mug o' ale or chalice of wine, nor honoring's befitting when and if i felt need or reasonings or asked upon to do so... but to me, in my honest opinion, the individual is but a thread'd string upon the entire complexities of the web'd rings and strings of life, and they all deserve just as much honorings as the next, nor are any one more nor less than the other, simply different with different qualities and reasonings and workings and understandings befitting/accordingly specific to the observer. i hope the understanding of my own thoughts runs through the words here, and not simply "confusional masterpiece'd" as it seems to be looking back over it...{grins}

...which leads me back to my original i really a pagan?... ;)

Well, keep in mind, Cru....


.... I don't self-identify as pagan. ;)

I have been working with Sekhmet for a number of years now.  The first time that she appeared to me she did so in the shape of a huge lioness that came walking out through the pillars of her temple.  Since then I have occasionally seen her in human form with the head of a lioness, but more often she continues to appear to me as a lioness. 


When I was very new to the Craft I remember doing a meditation in which one was led to a large meadow.  While standing in the meadow one was to feel the presence of another behind oneself and turn to see what was there.  In my case it was an enormous stag...who promptly snorted in my face...dropping me right out of the meditation.  As a result of that contact I worked with Cernunnos for a number of years.


What I find interesting is that whether my Deities appear to me in human or animal form there is never any doubt in my mind that I am facing the Divine.  There is something about them that tells me at a gut level that the animal form I am seeing is far more than simply a beast.

I had a similar meditation experiance as you Lark, different animal and different God, I turned and there was a pack of dogs, very distinctive dogs, they rushed at me and I almost fell off my chair. Very embarassing for a Noob coven member! But I work with that God still.


As for a face/form, I'm with you on this one Leisha. I predominatly hear/see with my "inner ear"? "3rd ear"? "wild frontier"? when in circle, so I know who is there and if they are there.

When one is drawn down, I feel the energy and then I see my form change, so of course I see a human shape then, but from the inside.

The way I think of it is, when filling a glass of water from a tap, the water does not travel from the tap to the glass in the shape of the glass, it only takes that form to fill the glass. (if you know what I mean)


But usualy during meditations if I do see a deity in human form it is either just a part of them or they are behind me and see a reflection, usualy I will see some other shape, either animal or an inanimate object.


When I used to take a ceramics evening class, back when I was a new initiate, I felt I had to own a statue of my deities.

So I made one, She is a large breasted, large bottomed, pregnant female form, no head, no arms and no legs. She has a hole cut in the belly for offerings or candles. She sits on my alter for any rituals where I need her kind of primal force. I'll post a picture of her when I get home.

The figure I use for my Male energy is either a phalus shape rock I found, or a crystal skull (a gift from my HPS on my last initiation), again, the choice will depend on the season or the working.


Count me in on the "not tending to be visual" and the "don't have deity statues" (Ok, I have one human-shaped one, but I made her: I also have two non-deity statues which are human shaped: one is for prosperity workings (a woman holding a basket), and one is for ancestor-of-profession work.) The one actual deity statue I have, for periodic consulting work with Artemis (for lack of a better description) is a carved stone bear.


I tend to hear energy more than anything else, though I hear it as something like music (not so much the melody, but in terms of timbre of different instruments, or in terms of the underlying harmonies.)


I do tend to 'see' the deities I work with in human form, but not in highly-improbable supermodel form. My primary personal deity work is with two English deities of place: I tend to see them in clothing that would have been highly common for most of their existence (loose tunic, tunic and breeches) but as healthy beings, but not superhumanly attractive (or even attractive in supermodel ways). Clear skin, easy movement, etc. but not unusually attractive beyond that. Some of that is also specific to them: I have long gotten the strong impression that they haven't been highly active in the world for a couple of centuries, and that a lot of modern technology (for values of 'modern' that come much after the printing press) just hasn't been of particular interest.


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