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  • Polytheism in Witchcraft

    Most Pagan Witches consider themselves to be polytheists, but are they really, and to what extent? I'm talking about all types of Pagan Witchcraft here: Wicca, Feri, Dianic, the offshoots of these, and any other tradition, including eclectics.

    I'll use Wicca as an example; my understanding is that there is one Goddess and one God. Most traditions will use ancient god/dess names for these archetypes, but ultimately see them as just another name for THE Goddess and THE God. So we don't have multiple gods here, we just have two that can be known by a bunch of different names, but those names don't carry individual persons of their own.

    Feri is a lot more polytheistic. The Star Goddess is the Creatrix and Mother of All things, she is beyond gender, she is all genders and all things. The many gods were born from her and there are an infinite number of them, but Feri itself focuses on 7 deities in particular, but is open to working with any others, My impression is that each of the gods are seen as distinct individuals, not as aspects of the Ultimate Source (Star Goddess), they are seperate beings, but lower on the divine hierarchy.

    Then you have some of the eclectics who worship a particular pantheon, or many gods from different pantheons using a Witchcraft framework. They can range from soft polytheists to hard polytheists, seeing their gods as distinct or facets of a higher power.

    I'd say that the majority of Witches see their gods os facets of One power. so is this really polytheism? They may use the gods as symbols, but not really worshiping them, worshiping instead more of a monotheistic-type Godform. The only hard hard polytheists I've encountered seem to be re-constructionists trying to re-establish old beliefs. Maybe living in a monotheistic society has made us less polytheistic.

    Would you agree/disagree? How does your tradition view divinity? Would you say that Witchcraft is as polytheistic as we say it is?

  • #2
    I can't speak for others, but I am a soft polytheist Wiccan. But I have known many hard polytheists, and they are not all recons. I've definitely known hard polytheist Wiccans. I honestly don't think it would be very easy to figure out which view of Diety hold the majority. Around here, I feel like I've read more from the hard polytheists, actually. I feel like I'm in the minority holding onto that Dion Fortune addage "All Gods are One God, and all Goddesses are One Goddess, and there is One Initiator". My view of Diety tends to jive comfortably alongside the ideas of Joseph Cambell.---shuvanilu
    "Calm down, Neddly diddily diddily diddily, doodily. They did their best shodaiddily iddily iddily diddily diddily. Gotta be nice, hostidididildilidilly ah HELL diddily ding dong crap! Can't you morons do anything RIGHT!?"---Ned Flanders

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    • #3
      Originally posted by purplepanther
      I'd say that the majority of Witches see their gods os facets of One power. so is this really polytheism? They may use the gods as symbols, but not really worshiping them, worshiping instead more of a monotheistic-type Godform. The only hard hard polytheists I've encountered seem to be re-constructionists trying to re-establish old beliefs. Maybe living in a monotheistic society has made us less polytheistic.

      Would you agree/disagree? How does your tradition view divinity? Would you say that Witchcraft is as polytheistic as we say it is?
      Hi, i'm Theres and i'm a hard polytheist and a witch.

      however i do not consider myself a reconstructionist, although i couldn't really give you a proper label for what i do believe... possibly a 'Hellenic Classicist'?
      but i do not see all the various god/desses as mere facets of some great deity, nor do believe in any single 'source' ('The One', 'The All', whatever) as anything more than a background canvas.

      i've never been a monotheist, having come to my Pagan beliefs from an agnostic background, so the only influence monotheism has had on me is as a comparative belief system (and one that i can't really make any sense out of).
      some people are like slinkies -
      not good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when they are pushed downs the stairs.

      True enlightenment comes from discovering principles which challenge your spiritual view, not from inventing principles to confirm it.



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      • #4
        I'm an Irish Recon.

        I'm a hard polytheist.

        All the Gods and Goddesses, from all cultures and mythologies are all seperate entities, unique on their own right.

        I dont see them as all a diff aspect of THE God or THE Goddess.

        Not at all.

        PS -- I forgot to mention... I dont consider myself a witch though I have studied witchcraft and can do spells and energy work. However, I am very interested in Kitchen Witchery. So I guess you could call me a Kitchen Witch in training, or on the side
        Last edited by Morr; June 25th, 2006, 03:34 PM. Reason: Automerged because you posted again within 5 minutes.

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        • #5
          Well, I'd soemwhat agree with your analogies scott...but then there are a lot of witches who are not part of Paganism that view Gods as seperate and polytheistic entities. So I cant entirely agree. In Hinduism, as Im sure you know about that from me by now lol, there are many ideas...and in contrasting that with the Pagan side of me I think ultimatly its Monotheistic, but poltheisticly worshipped through.

          Namaste

          Tobias


          असतोमा सद्गमय। तमसोमा ज्योतिर् गमया।
          मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय॥
          ॐ Om Asatoma Sadgamaya, Tamasoma Jyoti Gamaya, Mrityoma Amritam Gamaya ॐ

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          • #6
            I'm a 'hard' polytheist, and i believe that all the gods are individuals, I've heard of the Star goddess and i've read that the gods came from it/her/whatever, but are individuals, that's something i could believe but i just don't believe the gods are 'aspects' of other gods (like some might believe there only a few gods like one thunder god, one love god, etc that manifest in different cultures, which i don't believe, i don't think Hel and Kali are the same 'death' gods, or that Yahweh is the same as Zeus and Odin, etc, they're all seperate individuals, i haven't had many experiences, but it's just something i feel is right.

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            • #7
              So, purplepanther, you're probably seeing exactly what I love about paganism. All of us who have replied to your post see the gods differently, and that's ok. No dogma. I even know pagans and witches who don't believe in gods as beings at all but as energies and forces. That's different than me, and that's cool ---shuvanilu
              "Calm down, Neddly diddily diddily diddily, doodily. They did their best shodaiddily iddily iddily diddily diddily. Gotta be nice, hostidididildilidilly ah HELL diddily ding dong crap! Can't you morons do anything RIGHT!?"---Ned Flanders

              Comment


              • #8
                Would you agree/disagree? How does your tradition view divinity? Would you say that Witchcraft is as polytheistic as we say it is?
                I would agree that a great deal of pagans are soft polytheists. I am not one but I think its fine. What bothers me is when people use the Gods as job descriptions and simplfy them as just a love goddess or a hunter god but that is a personal pet peeve of mine so, whatever (man I love that word). I tend to view the Gods as really really powerful spirits. I would like to point out that there are hard polytheists who are not recons. There are a lot of eclectic pagan non-wiccan (and possibly wiccan) polytheistic witches (hey that was long), and certain druid groups like ADF who are not strict recons.
                ___________________________________________________



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                • #9
                  Would you agree/disagree? How does your tradition view divinity? Would you say that Witchcraft is as polytheistic as we say it is?
                  I'm a soft polytheist, but I'm a Dianic Eclectic Witch.
                  Facebook::Witch blog::Book Blog
                  Gods and Goddesses, Paths: Dianic & Goddess Witchcraft, Theology & Philosophy, Just Current Events, and Political Pagan Forum Guide.

                  Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. - Buddha

                  Question everything.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by shuvanilu
                    So, purplepanther, you're probably seeing exactly what I love about paganism. All of us who have replied to your post see the gods differently, and that's ok. No dogma. I even know pagans and witches who don't believe in gods as beings at all but as energies and forces. That's different than me, and that's cool ---shuvanilu
                    You're absoultely right, we each have our own views, and that's what makes Paganism such a personal take on religion. Diversity is a beautiful thing


                    Originally posted by Sage Rainsong
                    I would agree that a great deal of pagans are soft polytheists. I am not one but I think its fine. What bothers me is when people use the Gods as job descriptions and simplfy them as just a love goddess or a hunter god but that is a personal pet peeve of mine so, whatever (man I love that word).
                    OMG yes, it bothers the hell out of me too. If anyone has read any of my posts on Aphrodite, you see how annoyed I get when she is described simply as a love goddess or "personification" of love. Ugh, drives me nuts.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Theres
                      however i do not consider myself a reconstructionist, although i couldn't really give you a proper label for what i do believe... possibly a 'Hellenic Classicist'?
                      "Hellenic Classicist"......I LOVE that!!

                      I'm a hard polytheist as well and believe that each god and goddess are their own complete beings, and are not merely facets of a larger god or goddess.

                      I am not Wiccan. I'm a Pagan who honors and follows mainly Hekate, but I attempt to learn about, meditate on, and honor other Greek deities fron time to time, as well.

                      I can't say I'm a reconstructionist, because my practice is not that structured, but I take what you might call an academic approach to my spiritual path, attempting to go back to the earliest sources and verify what I learn (as much as I can) before I incorporate it into the framework of my path.

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                      • #12
                        I see witchcraft as a practice because there are lots of very different religions that all consider themselves to be witchcraft. There are monotheistic witches, duotheistic witches, soft polytheistic witches, hard polytheistic witches, and even atheist witches.

                        Wiccans are just one type of witch and are hardly the only type out there. There are witches in other parts of the world who probably have never heard of Wicca let alone Gerald Gardner and the people he inspired. And there were certainly witches long before Gerald Gardner's time, many who probably never heard the word Wicca or Wiccan throughout their lives.

                        So I think it's a bit misleading to try and make a blanket statement like witches are polytheists because while some certainly are there are also some who most definitely aren't.

                        Ben Gruagach
                        MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
                        author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
                        visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
                        read my LiveJournal blog
                        find me on Facebook

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ben Gruagach
                          Wiccans are just one type of witch and are hardly the only type out there. There are witches in other parts of the world who probably have never heard of Wicca let alone Gerald Gardner and the people he inspired. And there were certainly witches long before Gerald Gardner's time, many who probably never heard the word Wicca or Wiccan throughout their lives.

                          So I think it's a bit misleading to try and make a blanket statement like witches are polytheists because while some certainly are there are also some who most definitely aren't.
                          Like I said in my original post, I was referring to all Pagan Witchcraft, not just Wicca, but Feri, Dianic, eclectics, and anything else.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by purplepanther
                            Like I said in my original post, I was referring to all Pagan Witchcraft, not just Wicca, but Feri, Dianic, eclectics, and anything else.
                            Lots of people miss that point so I thought it was worth repeating. (And also because the list of Witch types you provided are pretty much only English-speaking forms of Witchcraft, and left out non-Pagan Witches too...)

                            Ben Gruagach
                            MysticWicks forum guide in "Paths: Wicca", "Books" and "History"
                            author of The Wiccan Mystic: Exploring a Magickal Spiritual Path
                            visit my website at http://www.witchgrotto.com
                            read my LiveJournal blog
                            find me on Facebook

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by purplepanther
                              Most Pagan Witches consider themselves to be polytheists, but are they really, and to what extent? I'm talking about all types of Pagan Witchcraft here: Wicca, Feri, Dianic, the offshoots of these, and any other tradition, including eclectics.

                              I'll use Wicca as an example; my understanding is that there is one Goddess and one God. Most traditions will use ancient god/dess names for these archetypes, but ultimately see them as just another name for THE Goddess and THE God. So we don't have multiple gods here, we just have two that can be known by a bunch of different names, but those names don't carry individual persons of their own.

                              Feri is a lot more polytheistic. The Star Goddess is the Creatrix and Mother of All things, she is beyond gender, she is all genders and all things. The many gods were born from her and there are an infinite number of them, but Feri itself focuses on 7 deities in particular, but is open to working with any others, My impression is that each of the gods are seen as distinct individuals, not as aspects of the Ultimate Source (Star Goddess), they are seperate beings, but lower on the divine hierarchy.

                              Then you have some of the eclectics who worship a particular pantheon, or many gods from different pantheons using a Witchcraft framework. They can range from soft polytheists to hard polytheists, seeing their gods as distinct or facets of a higher power.

                              I'd say that the majority of Witches see their gods os facets of One power. so is this really polytheism? They may use the gods as symbols, but not really worshiping them, worshiping instead more of a monotheistic-type Godform. The only hard hard polytheists I've encountered seem to be re-constructionists trying to re-establish old beliefs. Maybe living in a monotheistic society has made us less polytheistic.

                              Would you agree/disagree? How does your tradition view divinity? Would you say that Witchcraft is as polytheistic as we say it is?
                              Well, first off I'll say that I disagree with the idea that Wicca is separate from Witchcraft. By my training and in my definition, these are the same thing, so for anyone who uses these terms differently - I ask kindly that you please state what differences you see between the two when answering this question. otherwise, I get confused. Thanks in advance:fpraise: .

                              Now to my own answer - there's not a lot I can say specifically about what my Tradition believes. I'm Gardnerian and these details are considered oathbound. Personally, I don't think it's an either/or proposition. IMO - yes, there is One Source of divinity - and that's the whole of everything in all the universes. It's kind of a "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts" thing. Therefore, with that in mind, all Gods, all people, all spirits are ultimately part of the same Consciousness.

                              That said, however, we do not exist in that moment of Eternity. We exist in Time. Therefore, we have what Joseph Campbell liked to call the illusion of separation - which is both real and not real at the same time. So, yes, all Gods, spirits, and other entities (including us) are separate, self-aware individuals with their own personalities and their own agendas, likes, dislikes, purposes, etc.

                              To hold a non-dualistic view like this is difficult, but when it comes to how one deals with one's relationship with the Gods - as I said, we don't (can't for more than a few moments at a time) exist in Eternity without losing our individuality. I realize that's the goal of some Eastern religions, but IMO, it's NOT the goal of The Craft. Therefore, for all practical purposes, and for the truth of our interactions with Them (since it's impossible in a real-world sense to ritually interact with oneself - which would NOT be the same thing as practicing Solitary) - They are all as separate and individual as each one of us is. All God/desses are not One God/dess anymore than All People are One Person - except, as I said in the beginning, all things are One Thing.

                              Any heads hurting yet?:hahugh:
                              AkashaW

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