God is XYZ, pt.3: The Paradox
For a long time now I have purposely withheld my personal opinion about the Nature of the Gods and any belief I may hold or not about them. My reason is a simple one. I have had a hard time putting just what I believe into articulate words I can intellectually grasp, let alone so that another can understand what I am babbling on about.
Part of the issue, and a minor part at that, is I largely don’t actively engage in a belief based paradigm. I practice. Sure that which I do, Contemporary Pagan Initiatory-based Witchcraft (feel free to toss Mystery-based, Orthopraxis, and Oath-bound in that description too), is a practice that interacts with the world with an Oligotheistic lens. As such, one would assume that my own practice begotten beliefs would fall into one of the forms of Polytheism common to such a practice.
Truth be told, it is a bit more complicated than that. Please understand, I am not in saying this in any way trying to say anyone else’s beliefs, to include those that solely subscribes to one of these –isms, is any less valid or complicated. I am just saying that my own take on the Nature of the Gods is complicated, or maybe I am making it that way.
The most common short list –isms that I encounter in the Craft are Monotheism, Monism (arguably a form of Polytheism or Monotheism depending on whom you ask), Polytheism whether “hard” or “soft” (to include Oligotheism, Duotheism, Henotheism), Agnostic, and Atheism. Yes, all of that under the same roof. Easily so too, because orthopraxis embraces that belief belongs to the individual not the group.
The problem that I have with explaining my beliefs about the Nature of the Gods is that there is an apparent paradox in that I wholeheartedly feel that each and every one of these is simultaneously wrong and correct all at the same time. How is that for not making any new friends or pissing off the ones you have?
Sure I invoke, pray to, ritual with, and a whole host of other interactions with a whole legion of spirits, beings, and Gods and Goddesses. I also assert they are all real too. It is just the nature of this realness exists in various contradictory forms all at once. From the logical arena of arguers this view is ridiculous and so full of rhetorical holes that a sunken ship is more likely to stay afloat. To that, I simply say “So? My Craft is a Mystery Religion.”
The thing is I believe that any Gods and Goddesses and the Self are of the same nature (that whole Natural Theology thing)... and the Self is paradoxical. The Self has no birth, no death, it is not coming from anywhere, it is not going anywhere, it is not the same as anything, it is not different than anything, there is no being, and there is no non-being. All of this is true about the Self and about the Divine (no matter how you chop it up, or not).
I think that the Nature of the Gods (and the Self) can best be described with the four following statements, of which all are equally true. The Craft is a mystery religion and when we sit in the place where the mind accepts them all then we truly open the door for the Gods to enter, or at least so I believe:
The Gods and/or Goddesses are not this.
The Gods and/or Goddesses are not that.
The Gods and/or Goddesses are not both.
The Gods and/or Goddesses are not neither.
So there you have it, my belief. I think I will dub it “Superpolyoligotheisticmonoagnodocious” or I guess we could just go with continuing to call it “Witchcraft” cause that already covers all of that. Anyway, at the end of the day I still hold to the whole idea that one’s practice is paramount and that the Nature of the Gods is irrelevant to such, so let’s not get too wrapped up in concrete definitions that deny very real aspects of the divine.
"Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path."