Tuesday, August 21, 2012

God is XYZ

It has been a constant of Western theologies for centuries to try and explain the nature of divinity. In fact, the majority of Western based religions will quickly state, “God is XYZ” believing that they have uncovered the answer. This just isn’t the case with Witchcraft, or Contemporary Paganism as a whole.

Witchcraft exists as traditions. Now, I don’t mean that in the commonly used sense similar to denomination, I mean it as in tradition as a common practice/s that exists between people. For example, the men in my family, going back to my great grandfather, carry a large coin, half dollar or silver dollar, on their person most of the time. I have one in my pocket as I type; my dad out of all the gifts he could have given my son gave him a silver dollar at his one-year birthday. It is a tradition, it is what we do. Witchcraft has at its core foundation these kinds of traditions, only a bit more engrained in folk lore and magickal ancestry (such as the earlier grimoire traditions or alchemy). Modern Traditions were born forth from these traditions. Some Traditions of Witchery may have common ideas about the nature of the Gods, but as a whole Witchcraft is mute on that front. Why? For two reasons.

As far as Witchcraft practice is concerned, the nature of the Gods is irrelevant. It just isn’t important. Nor does it need to be. Whereas Witchcraft is practiced in both groups and by individuals, there does not need to be any form of standardized legitimately correct, as decided by others, answer to belief for people to come together based on a commonality of said belief. Witchcraft’s commonality is practice, as already mentioned. It is what allows people with vastly differing ideas and beliefs to conjoin and practice together as one cohesive whole. Trying to figure out a universally correct definition for the nature of the Gods and impose it upon the whole only fragments, divides, and prevents us from working as a group. As the old proverb goes, “Ask three Witches a question and get seven different answers.”

The second reason that Witchcraft and Contemporary Paganism doesn’t bother to provide an answer to what the Gods are, is because practice begets belief. Practicing and experiencing the ins and outs of mystery religions, which we are, and whether or not anyone has issued forth proclamation or declarations of belief, the individual will develop about them their own understanding of belief, partially as a result of the common practices of the Craft. For example, Witchcraft teaching one how to engage in trance-like ritual. The experience of that ritual and what it says about the Gods and existence as a whole are for the individual; they will make realizations, draw conclusions, and have some form of belief. On that note, belief itself is not something that is defined either. An individual is equally at home in our ranks whether they believe the Gods and Goddesses to be material bodied beings, simply complex biochemical reactions in the brain, archetypes, motifs of nature, energy forces, or anything else for that matter. Personally, I may believe one thing over another and even argue my point if asked, but that personal belief is mine and not the group’s.

All of this is the reason why I have a hard time answering the question, when asked, “What do Witches/Pagans believe?” The only answer is yes, because every –ism and –ist ever defined or yet to have been defined has Witches and Pagans carrying the banner, and usually more than one. Likewise, and for the same reason, the answer is equally no.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

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