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Different views of deity, How it's put into practice.

I'll preface this by saying I might end up rambling nonsense at some point while writing this. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings swarming in my heard from reading too much too soon. Regrettably, I'm probably looking over some common sense answers out of this confusion and might end up sounding pretty stupid. Try and bear with me. =)


It's also largely to do with Neo-Wicca and/or witchcraft.


My question revolves around all the different ways one may may view deity and in turn, how that person puts it into practice. Soft polytheism,hard polytheism,duo theism, panentheism,etc. How it effects your worship,rituals, and witchcraft (if you practice this).


So, firstly, something that mostly confuses me:


I have heard of groups of people who feel the divine is one or two beings with many facets, and these people are also classified under the Neo-Wiccan category. They may choose a pantheon to their liking, but only see them in a soft polytheistic eye. They only see them as facets of their one or two gods. I'd like to know the hard polytheists view of this soft polytheistic view, and any issues one might have with it.


Next is on the horned god,Triple Goddess, and other various figures of Neo-Wicca. I understand the sabbats are of great importance. The goddess and god change during these cycles. However, what of different points of the earth? Currently the Goddess and God would be getting older in my part of the world, but in the south hemisphere they'd be in their younger phases due to our location on the planet. How do I make sense of this? It's probably simple and I'm just over thinking it.


Then there's those who have a hard polytheistic view on, let's say the Kemetic deities. How do they include the neo-Wiccan god figures and a literal view of the Eqyptian gods so that it works together in harmony? I have heard of people also separating their practices so they do NOT blend together. I'd like to know the thought process on this decision. I also would like to know the problems in doing this.


My last question involves witchcraft. I think I've certainly had a bad choice on the books I've picked up. The books I purchased all place witchcraft in the neo-Wiccan view. Others keep telling me that witchcraft is a practice anyone can DO, and that it doesn't have to do with spirituality at all. However, I've never heard of witchcraft talked about in this way in more detail. How would an agnostic's witchcraft practice be different from a Kemetic revivalist's practice, for example?


Once again I apologize for anything I've sound that sounds idiotic. I've been spending a lot of time reading books,forums, articles,etc for information and I don't understand why I keep getting more confused instead of enlightened. Makes me feel rather intellectually inadequate!


Thanks for your time.It got kind of long!

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"witchcraft is a practice anyone can DO, and that it doesn't have to do with spirituality at all."

I think you'll find most people agreeing with this statement.  In British Traditional Wicca you follow the tradition of the craft and your beliefs will follow.  You have no requirement to believe anything, you just follow the tradition and let your personal gnosis grow from it.


Here are some great words of wisdom from Aleister Crowley which may help you along your way.  "Should […] the candidate hear the name of any God, let him not rashly assume that it refers to any known God, save only the God known to himself."  Liber LXI Causae, Aleister Crowley

Thank you for your reply! That makes sense. I was certainly getting thrown off by statements such as "We as witches view the God and Goddess..." which kept contradicting the view that witchcraft practice was  dependent on spirituality or lack thereof. The book I am referring to in this particular example is Christopher Penzcack, whom I thought had a good reputation in the witchcraft community.

What an interesting thread! Thanks for posting this. :)


First of all, I am a hard polytheist. I view deities as distinct entities although I accept the overlapping and conflation/syncretism of the cultural image(s) deities have (since those are man-made and thus prone to flaw). Due to this, I genuinely cannot fathom how a soft polytheist works with the "facet model". That doesn't mean I outright reject it. Still, I cannot understand how can someone who has worked on a deeper level with a deity say it's only an aspect of something else. But then again, if I could understand it fully, I might also be a soft polytheist. :P


I'm not Wiccan (Trad or Neo) so I can't speak for them. I can tell you how I understand that paradox though. I think it's the energetic flavour of the Wiccan deities that changes and since that energy is connected to the seasonal changes (as marked by the Sabbats), it means it's different between the two hemispheres. The Gods themselves probably don't change per se. However, the energy and the way it's perceived and/or acts change depending on the seasonal progress of an area. E.g. the "unaltered" Goddess is felt as a Maiden during Spring in the Northern Hemisphere *because* it is Spring there. She acts as a Crone during Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere *because* it is Autumn there.


That might be similar to social behaviour. We act differently in our work and in another way when with friends. We are still the same individuals, but our actions and how others perceive us, change.


As far as I am aware, Neo-Wicca does not dictate how the Gods are understood (e.g. poly-, duo-, pan-theistically etc). Most books and sites tend to use this or that mode of understanding for simplification. You can certainly view the Wiccan Gods as literal, distinct figures. I bet the specific deities of Trad Wicca are like that. :D


Witchcraft, in its most basic and simple form is a magical practice anyone can indulge into, as long as they don't have any ethical/religious/etc reasons against it. Books and sites are often focused on Neo-Wicca because a) it's popular and common and b) it sells. There is a subcategory of Witchcraft, that of Religious Witchcraft, which deals with systems of Witchcraft functioning as independent religions/spiritualities unto themselves. Wicca is an example of that. DRW (Dedicatory Religious Witchcraft: the... benevolent twin of Neo-Wicca), Cornish Witchcraft, the various TIW (Traditional Initiatory Witchcraft) branches such as Clan of Tubal Cain, Anderson's Feri etc, are all examples of that category.


To use your examples, an agnostic's Witchcraft practice would obviously not feature any deities. A Kemetic Revivalist, provided they practice Witchcraft (which isn't a default part of Kemetic Revivalism) would probably incorporate Kemetic deities in their workings. I can't give any specific differences since those depend on the individual case.


One can practice Witchcraft (and indeed most kinds of Magic), without any interaction, help or incorporation of deities and yield amazing results. Personally, I prefer to work my Magic with the aid of my Gods and have thus centered my Witchcraft practice around them (specifically Hekate). It's all up to the individual and/or the system they follow, really. :)


That was an amazing response, Alorer! Thank you!


The sabbat piece really makes sense. I was looking at it through one lens,unable to see it in other ways. Some places in the world don't even experience all the seasons! That has earned me a good face palm for somehow not being able to interpret the way you mentioned.


Random thought on traditional Wicca: I'm surprised no one formerly/currently belonging to Gardnerian Wicca has ever spilled the beans on the uber secret stuff.


I'll keep my eye out for information regarding DRW, seems to be a lot of it on here! Yay!

Regarding you Random thought on Traditional Wicca......
They wouldn't be a Gard or a Lexi ,if they spilled the beans.....
Hugs, MJ )O(

Trad Wicca (BTW aka British Traditional Wicca) includes many more than simply the Gardnerians. ;) My understanding of the secrecy is as follows: it's not that there are any uber secret stuff hidden in there. It's more akin to secret family recipies rather than awesome occult secrets. I'm certain that oath-breakers exist and have "spilled the beans" as you said but the BTWs I know tend to say that "the Mysteries protect themselves". I also think they would face some serious problems from breaking the oath. Gods and such do not take kindly to such offence.


In the very end, Wicca is orthopraxic. Even if you learnt all the oathbound info, it would do little good. In addition, it would ruin many aspects of the practice, including psychological ones. There's a reason why initiation even in generally non-oathbound systems, is rarely explained in detail. There's something about not knowing, not falling into the all too human trap of assuming and expecting, that makes the experience raw and powerful. :)


Of course we would have much info on DRW. Its pioneers are among the regulars here. ;)


Melissa said:

That was an amazing response, Alorer! Thank you!


The sabbat piece really makes sense. I was looking at it through one lens,unable to see it in other ways. Some places in the world don't even experience all the seasons! That has earned me a good face palm for somehow not being able to interpret the way you mentioned.


Random thought on traditional Wicca: I'm surprised no one formerly/currently belonging to Gardnerian Wicca has ever spilled the beans on the uber secret stuff.


I'll keep my eye out for information regarding DRW, seems to be a lot of it on here! Yay!

Oh I agree. I support their initiation fully. I'm very glad that their internal secrets are not being spread about by people who may have broken off from those groups. I just hear all too often of stories of betrayal and such, so it gives me a little more hope for humanity.


I also thought of some more questions.Surprise,surprise. I just watched a youtube video and really wanted to ask in a forum setting. This woman was describing her view of the triple God and Goddess more as symbolic figures to the accessible energies of the planet and everything therein, while her pantheon was separate from that- individual and unique.The change of seasons changed the energies of the planet, and the triple god and goddess symbolism also applied to the individual's life stages and energies.Only her separate pantheon were actual deities in the definition of the word. I would like opinions on this as well and if it fits into neo-wicca or DRW (I'm still learning of this title).


I don't know if I should be asking this in the DRW group or not, so please let me know if I should ask these questions elsewhere. Also sorry for asking tons at once. I can't seem to focus on much else!

Since I feel like you might be referring to my video (since I know few others who have discussed the idea of the Triple God online in video format), I shall pop in for my two cents here rather than in the DRW group.


I've discussed online how I feel that there is often no real distinction between the different views of deity.  For example, I can in a debate or teaching video discuss the symbolism of deity (as I did in my Triple God/dess video) while actually worshipping my patron and matron as real, distinct deities.  I am a hard polytheist (as well as a panentheist).  I was torn for years because I can easily see both sides of the hard/soft way of thinking.  However, as Alorer said, having worked with my patron and matron as well as other deities on a very personal level, I see their distinct differences.  The combination of hard polytheism and panentheism confuses some people, but I believe the Gods all have the same divine "stuff" inside them, though they are all separate beings much like we all have DNA.  So, because I have this "divine DNA" present inside me as it is present inside everything in the universe that the Gods made, I have immanent divinity.  I have a piece of Brighid, Manannan, Isis, Thor, and any other deity because of this.  


So, I can see how the symbolism behind each deity and myth is related to our own human experience because we essentially shaped them through our worship, but I don't think we created them (though I can, again, explain and discuss that point as well).  


I ended up discussing the different views of deity on my site:

In there, I cover the various ways people relate to deity, how it might affect worship and the working relationship, etc.  So, it might answer a lot of your questions.

A DRW can be a hard or soft polytheist, a duotheist, a monotheist, or any other theist because DRW is orthodoxic (we were discussing whether or not agnostics can be DRWs, but we decided it wasn't really going to work out for them so much) while Wicca is orthopraxic, so you can have any belief (even atheism) and be Wiccan.

One thing I should note, however, is that almost all DRWs I've met view our mythology as symbolic.  I'm sure there are some out there that view it as reality, but I am not among them and they, from my own encounters, are rare.  So, most DRWs wouldn't see it as a problem that those in the southern hemisphere are working with a God and Goddess in a different life stage than we are because we are working with symbolism not fact and that particular symbolism fits what they are experiencing.  Does that make sense?  These myths are used to explain the world around us symbolically and to shed light on our own experiences, to help us see the divine around us.  Most do not literally believe the Goddess is giving birth to the sun at Yule nor that the Gods mate at Beltane. 

Ah, I was referring a bit to your video. I hope I did not offend!


Looks like everything is starting to make a lot more sense, though I'm sure I'll have many more questions later.


Thank you everyone for answering! I feel like a hurricane storm just cleared in my head. What a relief.

Oh, no.  I'm not offended.  I just wanted to pop in to answer the questions.  I also wanted to be clear about what I meant by that video.  I was simply urging people to look beyond the symbolism of the mythology.  I kept hearing people telling others that they weren't in their "mother phase" because they didn't have children.  As one who cannot have children, I suppose I began examining the phases before others generally do.  I felt it was important to share that examination with others so that they can begin to see that our symbols mean more than they appear to at first glance lest we turn into religious fanatics who view all mythology as law (i.e. if it says God created the world in 7 days, science must be wrong!).  I also don't really remember saying my pantheon was separate from that symbolism.  I still see all that symbolism in the Gods I work with, I simply view them as more than symbols while others might view them as only symbols created by humans to further understand and examine ourselves and our experiences.  


For example, I might see Brighid as a creator because she is a Goddess closely tied with art, inspiration, poetry, and smithcraft.  I connect this particular symbolism to my life whenever I create something (writing, a video, a ritual, a craft project, etc.).  I work with her for that to help bring it out and find its importance to me.  I believe she shows us the importance of placing our mark on our world and progressing spiritually and emotionally through artistic growth and expression.

One who views all deities as man-made might believe she is only a symbol used to express all of those things.  They might work with her for the same reasons, but they don't believe she is a real being separate from themselves.  They might think she's merely an energetic construct or part of their own psyche.  

So, I'd never say that my Gods are separate from that symbolism.  I see it in them, and I believe they are real.  I also believe other pantheons are real; I just don't work with them because they do not call to me.

I hope that cleared up that misunderstanding.

Now that all of that has sunk in, I want an opinion on specific pantheons being used in religious witchcraft.


Ancient peoples and their specific pantheons were saw in different lights than one another. Some may have viewed their Gods as equals, just with different attributes...and others saw their Gods as being so superior that mortals were much more insignificant.


So if you take the hard polytheistic approach to Kemetic,Hellenic, Celtic, and other such deities,How would you include them in a religious witchcraft practice without being offensive to that pantheon? I recently read some Hellenic views on people "using" or "working" with their deities in withcraft practice and they said they found it to be insulting. Do some feel that Hellenic deities shouldn't be used in this fashion at all?Why? If some feel they are acceptable in religious witchcraft, how would you put them into practice in a respectful way? What about Kemetic deities or others I've not listed?

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