Today, I want to talk about the gods. I’m not going to comment on how anyone else thinks of the gods, because that’s not my business. I’m only going to talk about my own polytheology.
To my eyes, the gods are real. I’m a person, you the reader are a person, and they are likewise persons. I’m influenced by Buddhism in that I believe there is an imminent and eternal Sacred behind all beings and all creation. I like to equate this imminent and eternal Sacred, which I follow Mircea Eliade in calling the Numen, with the ocean.
The Numen is an ocean and in it we are fish. We swim through the Numen and it flows through us. Without it we would die. However, the Numen doesn’t have consciousness on its own, and it would be both pointless and ignorant to pray to it or expect it to have any emotions towards us. Water doesn’t care for every tiny minnow or even every mighty giant squid.
The ocean/sea life metaphor has its limits there. Smaller sea creatures don’t pray to the squids or the sharks. However, just as sea life is comprised of mostly water, life in Midgard is comprised mostly of the Numen. This is, at its simplest, what we mean or should mean when we say, “All life is sacred.”
For me, the gods are beings which are characterized by being more intensely concentrated of the Numen. They are individuals with likes and dislikes, emotions and actions, and abilities. No two are alike. For instance, the Roman Apollo is syncretized to the Greek Apollo, but he’s still not the same. The Romans could call Thracian Taranis Jupiter all they liked; it doesn’t make those gods the same person.
Since the gods are people, we can relate to them. Since they aren’t alike in substance to a human being, we have to have different relationships with them. We meet, we find we get along, and we maintain our relationships. The important difference enters into how the gods are transcendent in a way we humans aren’t, with powers we can’t touch, so we need to be “in tune” with them in order to understand the back-and-forth between them and us. I can’t draw any generalizations or put forth any ground rules because, as I’ve written already, they’re individuals.
It should be remembered that not all gods will like you, just as not all human people will like you. This is their prerogative, and shouldn’t be taken personally. If you appeal to one deity and he/she tells you to get lost, unless you are an absolute unlikable bastard there’ll be one out there who thinks you’re keen and who will be happy to make your acquaintance. I struggled along with God the Father for decades before finally accepting that he wasn’t the one for me.
I tend to deal more with land and nature spirits than gods, and recently confirmed that I need to pay a lot more attention to my ancestors. Blessed be. * Like the gods, they have preferences and dislikes. Along with the nature spirits can come gods of place. In the past month I’ve been struck by how powerfully Kokopelli strides through the southwest. He’s always lived there and he gets lots of attention and energy from admiration lavished on the petroglyphs that depict him and from suburban gardeners putting iron cut-outs of him by the sidewalk up to their front door. He’s the Lord of Fertility there, and since we are planning our raised-bed gardens, we need to be on good terms with him.
Archetypes may be applied to gods, but they aren’t gods, and gods are not personifications of archetypes. Gaia, Rhea, Demeter and Cybele are all great Magnae Matres, but they aren’t “faces” of the archetype of Great Mother Goddess. The Virgin Mary and Anahita are virgin mothers, but they are not the Eternal Virgin.
The overwhelming reason I’m not Wiccan is because of their theology. “All gods are one God, all goddesses one Goddess does not fly with me. Not my polytheology.
I’ll let Allison Lonsdale explain it all to you. Her CD, "Live at Lestat's" is full of science, spirituality and god-talk.
*I say “blessed be” when “Hail!” doesn’t work, and where I would previously have said, “Amen”. It’s not heathen, but since I “viked” it from the Wiccans, I claim it as spoils.