Moon Phase


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pantheons & Concept of Deity

Over the centuries similar concepts of Deity have been identified and grouped together as sharing certain characteristics. Some of the more common of there are monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, and animism.

A monotheist believes there is only one Deity. This Deity may or may not be alone in the cosmos, and may have a variety of spirit helpers. A monotheistic Deity may express itself in only one form, or its essence may be split across several forms, which still reduce back to only one Deity. The Trinity within Christianity is an example of the latter.

A polytheist believes in more than one Deity; that is, divine power that is spread and shared among other Deities.

A pantheist believes that all the created world together equals Deity. There is a little bit of the Divine in your arm, some more in the grass, and so on, and when combined all together, it adds up to Deity. In these systems, Deity may or may not exist as a separate being or personality.

An animist believes that every part of creation - both animate and inanimate - is filled with the Divine or has a soul. Deity is equally present everywhere, but is usually not divided into parts as with pantheism. Depending on the tradition, Deity may or may not also exist as a separate being.

These are some of the terms you are likely to hear in a Pagan discussion about the Divine. These terms include mythology, deity, and pantheons.

A mythology is a collection of stories created by a culture to explain how and why things are as they are. A religion’s mythology tells the stories of the gods, deities, spirits, and important people that relate to that religion. Sometimes these stories are legend, and sometimes they are part history and part legend. From the Pagan perspective, the stories of the Greek gods on Mount Olympus are a religious mythology. From the Pagan perspective, the stories of Yahweh, Satan, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are a religious mythology.

Deity is another word for God or the Divine and describes any energy or being that is ascribed supernatural powers. Deity can be a catch-all word that includes gods, goddesses, angels, guardian angels, spirits, spirit guides, elves, fairies, elementals, higher selves, future or probable selves, and nature spirits, among others. Since the word “God” with a capital G is assumed by many non-Pagans to mean Yahweh, a specific Deity of the Judeo-Christian pantheon, Pagans tend to use the word Deity instead to avoid any confusion.”

“A pantheon is a collection of Deities connected by a common culture or mythology. You might on occasion hear Pagans refer to the “Roman pantheon,” the “Norse pantheon,” or the “Hindu pantheon.” Pagans often study pantheons in order to learn about a philosophy more completely. (1.)

“The Gods and Goddesses on the lower branches of the deity tree belong to a specific pantheon, therefore you would have a tree symbolizing each magickal system if you were to draw it on paper.

A pantheon is a set of human images designed to serve a specific culture of people. These images are sometimes called the Old Ones, or the Ancients. When choosing a pantheon for yourself, you must become your own detective. If your parents belong to a coven already, you will most likely have a pantheon that has been selected for the group mind. Likewise, if you work with a teacher or High Priestess, that individual will teach you what they know best and what images they are familiar with. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you keep in mind that if a particular set of images does not basically appeal to you, even though they are wellaccepted by someone else, it is more than acceptable to choose something different. The process of unification with the Divine is a very personal experience. There is not right or wrong set of images as long as those you choose reflect positive energy. As a solitary Witch, you have the privilege to design your own pantheon and determine how you will work with it. Some examples of pantheons are: Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Celtic, Nordic, Native American, Mayan, African - just to name a few. And don’t forget Fairy Tradition, either; that’s an interesting one as well.

What is important is that you pick a pantheon and stick with it while you are learning the Craft. Do not mix pantheons or interchange deities from different pantheons in the same ritual; you are likely to screw up your magickal satellite if you do. In the future, after you have thoroughly studied the different images it is possible to mix deities, but I would save that endeavor for later on. In time, you will learn who matches whom and which ones react like oil and water.

Visit your local library and the library in the biggest city near you. Hound the local Craft and metaphysical stores. Use your networking contacts to learn more about the deities you have chosen. Ask others how they celebrate holidays, what rituals they use and what personal experiences they have had with the deities you are interested in.

Visualizing and talking with the members of your chosen pantheon is the next step. Sit quietly where you know you will not be disturbed, for at least half an hour, and meet each image, one at each sitting. Carry on a mental (or verbal) conversation with them. Outline your reasoning for seeking them. Let them know exactly why you have thought of them above all the others. Do not force conversation; let it drift to you.” (2) Keep the research you accumulate from your search for your chosen pantheon. This information could be invaluable to you in the future as you begin to gain more knowledge and explore other paths.

Now let’s list a few pantheons and Gods and Goddess within those pantheons.

Greek Pantheon

Zeus: Divine god
Apollo: God of prophecy, archery, and music
Aphrodite: Goddess of love
Artemis: Goddess of hunt and protection
Athena: Goddess of war and wisdom
Eros: God of love

Roman Pantheon

Bacchus: God of liquid spirits, fruits, and parties
Cupid: God of love and passion
Diana: Goddess of the moon, hunting, children, and Witches
Mars: God of war and action
Venus: Goddess of love

Celtic Pantheon
Dagda: Father god
Brigid: Goddess of healing, fertility, poetry, and the forge (Irish)
Belenus: Sun God (Welsh/Irish)
Lugh: God of the sun (Irish)

The Morrigan: Goddess of war; original goddess of the earth and agriculture

Norse/Germanic Pantheon
Freyja: Goddess of fertility
Loki: God of fire
Norns: Goddess of fate - Urd (Past), Verdandi (Present), Skuld (Future)
Odin: Father of the gods; gifted in eloquence
Thor: God of Thunder

Egyptian Pantheon

Anubis: God of the dead and protection
Bastet: Goddess of cats, fertility, music, the moon and protection from evil
Horus: God of the sky, divine child
Isis: Goddess of all; Divine Mother
Osiris: God of vegetation and the dead.

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