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Switch to Forum Live View How do Pagans see their gods?
4 years ago  ::  Mar 06, 2011 - 11:12AM #1
John_T_Mainer
Posts: 1,658

My friends Mojo and Sparrow in their latest podcast but one (Wigglan Way episode 80 )  thewigglianway.ca/ ) talked about the different ways that Pagans understand their gods.  The model  they discussed was based on a triangle of Red, Blue, and Yelow.


 


At the apex of the triangle is the Red of the Hard Polytheist.  The orthodox heathen stance is that the gods are discrete knowable named entities that may be directly communicated and interacted with.  The touchstone of the Red is faith.  Faith is the core of the Red belief system, as they know through personal experience or through their reason and study that the gods exist and may offer guidance and instruction to aid us in our daily endeavours and are worthy of praise and offerings in return for the many real gifts they have and continue to give to us.  Ritual thus is seen as direct communication in which answers may be received to questions, or indeed questions may be received for us to seek answers to for ourselves.  To the Red ritualist, the gods are (at least for Heathen and Druidic ritual) seen as present as independent entities as guests at our rites, and thus what is done in ritual is deemed done before the eyes of the gods themselves.  Red ritual is also seen as part of the gods interaction with the world.  As the gods have changes that they make in the world to ensure its continued viability, ritual is seen as one aspect of our aid in that endeavour, and thus our rituals at various points in the year are deemed a very real duty not simply to the gods, but to the world itself. The Lore is important because it contains truths that your practice will continue to reveal over time, but it contains wisdom not orders.


 


On the Left base of the Triangle is the Blue Pagan.  To the Blue Pagan the divine is a single unknowable essence that is far beyond human comprehension.  Using the metaphor of the diamond, the divine is the unknowable whole of the diamond, which humans cannot comprehend.  The diamond may be divided into male and female halves (the God and Goddess of Wiccan worship), and further into individual facets which are knowable and comprehensible for human interaction and working, known to us as the gods.  As all are facets of one truth, all paths may be deemed to lead to the one.  The touchstone of the Blue Pagan is mysticism.  Blues are the magic workers, the energy workers, the seers.  While magic may be a part of both Red and Yellow practice, in no other place is it given the prominence that Blues give it. To a Blue ritualists see the function of ritual as being to deepen their connection to the cycles of life, to initiate them into the deeper mysteries and understanding of their craft and tradition, and to bring them into harmony with their circle, grove or coven.  The gods are real but not of discrete existence, and ritual has real effects on this word and ourselves.  Lore is less important than personal experience for the Blue.


 


On the Right base of the triangle are the Yellow Pagans.  Athiest Heathens, many Thalemites, and the large number of “Seekers” in the community would fit into this category; they see the gods not as beings but as ideas, archetypes, or platonic forms.   The gods are important to Yellows just as ideas of democracy, freedom, beauty, are important, but they have no more independent material or spiritual existence independent of the minds that hold them than do freedom or beauty.   The touchstone of the Yellow is truth.  The true seekers, the questioners, the Yellow hold the essence of divinity to be inside man, and thus the purpose of ritual practice is to deepen your connection to the divine essence within, to bring yourself more closely in alignment with the ideals of your faith in your daily life.  Oddly enough the lore can have as much meaning for the Yellow Heathen as it does to the Red.  While the Yellow does not believe a one eyed god dictated these truths to his people, a Yellow Heathen will see the virtues and duties laid out in the Hamaval as being the touchstone for living a virtuous and harmonious life, of both fulfilling his duties and becoming the person closest to his ultimate potential to be.


 


Mojo and Sparrow who practice as High Priest and Priestess together found him to be Red with a hint of Blue, and her to be just a little green with a Blue tint to a largely Yellow centre.   This is not unusual and honestly promises a good dynamic to the Wigglian coven.  Our own Heathen Freehold holds many members of each colour, although honestly most people combine some elements of all of these positions in their beliefs and practice.


 


My background in the sciences lets me draw upon physics, which gets just as fuzzy towards the subatomic level as Pagan theology ever will, for a good model.  Light is considered by physics to be both a particle (with discrete mass, position,  and velocity) and a wave (with direction and amplitude but without discrete point position or mass).  Further, science can prove both, requires one model to explain certain behaviours and the other  model to explain the rest.  They are demonstrably both true, and yet each can in certain cases also be proved not true.  I am a Red, a Hard Polytheist that knows the gods are discret knowable named entities that can and do interact with man.  I also understand the gods are more than that, are indeed the pure or Platonic form of ideas and ideals that man struggles with his reason and science to understand imperfectly, even as our spiritual and emotional  growth as both individuals and societies struggles to find the harmony the gods idealize but man has such a hard time sustaining.  All three models are workable within Heathen, Druidic, Wiccan, and many other styles of Pagan practice.  Some types of Paganism may theoretically only be home to one or two of these colours.  Human beings being the contrary critters that we are, I am going to state that you WILL find all three colours present in every single tradition, if no in every individual circle, grove, hearth or coven.


 


 

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3 years ago  ::  May 14, 2011 - 7:13AM #2
Karma_yeshe_dorje
Posts: 12,766

John_T_Mainer:


I do not see myself as having a deity, in the same way as I have a car! If I were to beseech a deity, as for example I might coax my car around a corner, then I would be manipulating it. And so I would make it into a tool that I used. By so diminishing the deity then, I would necessarily sap its power!

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3 years ago  ::  May 14, 2011 - 9:55AM #3
John_T_Mainer
Posts: 1,658

And there you have the division between Eastern/Asiatic thought and traditional Indo-European (Western) belief.  To the easterner, connection is bad, detachment is good, to possess is somehow suspect.


We know better.  I have many friends and neighbors.  Are they lessened by having my friendship?  No.  They are stronger for my aid, support, defense, and advice.  Am I weaker for their friendship?  No I am stronger for their aid, support, wisdom, and collective defense.  I have many family, are they weaker for having me as kin?  No for while each faces their challenges themselves, they know they have the love and support of their family in times of need, and know as well the pride and joy that comes from being able to be that aid in time of need for one of their own.  I have a community, a regiment, a nation.  Are they the weaker for having me, or I the lesser for having them?  No, for as a community leader and volunteer I help to shape my community, and make it a better place for all of our children.   As a soldier I dedicate myself to the defense of the folk, suffering privation and risk in their service, knowing the power of a body and mind pushed to become what it must be for its challenges.  I become more than I was, and defend those given into my protection by the crown from both natural disaster and armed threats.  As a citizen I bring that dedication towards holding our elected officials to their duty, and being watchful of any abuses of power.  In this way I serve my nation and my people by holding myself and our elected servants to a higher standard than some in society would accept.


Easterners teach this world is illusion, teach that seeking oblivion or seperation is noble.  Westerners know that we live in this world.  The truths of ourselves are found in our deeds.  We learn less from ourselves from looking within, than we do by meeting our challenges in this life, by daring ourselves to be more than we were, by reaching out to others in hospitality, in friendship, and in love; discovering worth in both parties in the doing.  This world is the canvass on which we paint ourselves.  The canvass is not illusion; it is the place on which you write your truths.  To have nothing is to risk nothing, to dare nothing, to accept yourself as you are and never dare to discover what you could become.


I have my gods, and they have me.  This world has drank my blood, my sweat, my tears.  This world has been shaped by my efforts, brightened by my words, shattered by my wrath, healed by my hands.  When I die, I will have lived, not simply existed.  I am the sum of my deeds, my choices, my relationships.  I am so much more than what lives within my skin.  When my flesh dies, my name and power will live on in those I have shared these struggles with, and those we have taught to face them.


 


Cattle die, Kinsmen die


You too will die


One thing alone will not die


The fame of a good man's deeds.

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3 years ago  ::  May 14, 2011 - 11:09AM #4
Karma_yeshe_dorje
Posts: 12,766

Eloquent.

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