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Author Topic: Questions about Deities, Rituals, and Adherence (Wiccan)  (Read 3921 times)
High Adept Member
Last Login:February 23, 2020, 06:56:44 pm
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Religion: Priestess in initiatory religious witchcraft tradition
Posts: 2506

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« Reply #4: August 05, 2009, 11:41:28 pm »

"The Wicca Bible," by Ann-Marie Gallagher. I was told that it is a bit of a difficult book after I got it from Chapters

I haven't read that, but my impression from looking at the preview on Google Books is that there are lots of places that she's less than clear. (for example, she describes Wicca as polytheistic, but then says all Goddesses are faces of the one Goddess, which .. well, is not a model everyone uses, for starters.)

It answered a bit about the rituals, but not about the questions involving deities (unless I somehow missed that in part 2)

The reason I referenced it is mostly to give you an idea of the *huge* range of different ways people use the terms 'Wicca'. The link to the Wiccan Church of Canada link in there does talk some about different approaches to deities.

Ah, I remember that part from the book. It confused me a bit, however. I guess it is due to me being more used to a deity never dying and having to be reborn

Here's the thing, though (former Catholic here myself.) It's not that far a stretch from Christian practice: a God who is born into the world, who dies, and who returns (albeit not through rebirth, but through resurrection.)

That said, the mythology I described is one that a number of people find somewhat contrived for various reasons - that's why various traditions have gone off in other directions with it, and why other traditions make use of it but focus in ways that reduce the places that make it seem most contrived.

That was the most confusing part to me. When it said that they were different faces, well, I could understand that. But, when it said that one could also see them as separate, well, that confused me. After all, many deities from the religions and cultures they are borrowed from would conflict greatly, due to sharing the same roles or due to the very culture that they are from

Well, yes. But that doesn't mean they're not still separate.

There's three different ways to look at this.

One is that all deities are faces of the same underlying God or Goddess. This, however, leaves deities who are some gender identifaction than (conventionally) male or female out of the picture - and those deities do show up in a number of pantheons.

One is the idea that all deities are totally separate - but that deities do share families and other communities and other connections. For example, Artemis and Apollo are siblings (and share some things) but are also connected to the 12 Olympians in a wide variations of relationships.

(One way I explain this one is that my brother, sister, and I all share some stuff in common - the same parents, the same basic values in our family, etc.) But we also have some differences (I am the youngest by 15 years, and grew up in a very different economic setting, especially in my early years, than they did, and so on. And if you try to get us all the same present for a special occasion, we're probably going to look at you funny, because we have different tastes and preferences, even though we have stuff in common. For example, we're all avid readers, but we prefer different genres.)

I understand this. I was going for simplicity's sake by grouping Wicca more with monotheistic when asking my question, as I was more curious about how the God and Goddess works.

Makes sense. But while it's tempting to compare to what you know (and very human), I'd suggest it might be worth stepping back, and looking at Wicca (and other non-Abrahamic religions) from their own roots. Sometimes it's very easy to get tangled in comparisons that don't turn out to make sense.

I understand that, say, Poseidon would be great for issues involving the ocean, but one would want to talk to Anubis when dealing with the passage of the dead (I am sorry if I got their roles grossly wrong somehow. I have more of a basic level of understanding when it comes to the roles of each deity in polytheistic settings)

Yep. But at the same time, there are hundreds of deities. So one model of interaction is that you form independent relationships with some of them (based on your interests, their interests, etc.) just as someone might have relations with a doctor, a librarian, a musician, a teacher, in all sorts of different parts of their life.

So spells and rituals are more like recipes in that one can go off of a set recipe, but as they get better, they can alter it to fit their style, leading to a more unique, more powerful spell/ritual in the end when applied by the person themself, thus meaning that the circle, candles, etc. may not actually be needed after one gets more skilled and can see what works and what doesn't work for them, correct? Or am I misunderstanding here?

You're on the right track.

It's good to know *why* you're using your tools though. For example, I cast a circle not just because it makes my magic more effective (though it does, by helping to focus my intention from the very beginning, rather than diving into it quickly.) But I also do it because it's a space to welcome the deities I work with in my home, and because it helps me focus and direct the work I'm doing. Just because one of those reasons goes away, doesn't mean the circle is no longer useful to me.

But in principle yes. Once you know the method and are familiar with *why* the recipes work (and what changes will affect), then you can start experimenting.

So, if one sees the other deities as separate, then one could compare them more to, say, the angels of Jewish/Christian/Muslim/Mormon religions?

Why so? Why can't they be deities in their own right? They're just not necessarily omnipotent or omniscent. (Honestly, I'm not sure how we tell whether deities are or not, regardless of the religion they spring from. I work on the theory that they have wisdom, scope, and perspective that goes far beyond mine, and that that is as much as I care about in practice.)

In other words, I can learn a lot from my boss or from my mentor at work, even though they are not omniscent or omnipotent - but they do have a great deal more experience and knowledge than I do in certain realms.

As for actions and how you treat a deity, it would be like how there are times in the Bible where people either treated an Angel well or badly, and the Angel reacted by thanking them and helping them, or scolding and punishing them, correct?

I think of it very much like people. If you consistently treat another person badly, they're going to want to avoid you, at the least. They might go further than that, depending on them, and on what the issues are. At the same time, if you take time to build and nurture your relationship with them, they may be very happy to do a lot more for you than they would be for someone with whom they didn't have that depth of relationship.

Me, I tend to think thanking and respecting tend to work well whether I'm talking to a deity, to someone human who's 'above' me in rank, or to someone I've got responsibility for (like the students I work with.)

For the part about evil... So, the God and Goddess tend to remain neutral about that, then, allowing the person's actions to affect them in the end? Instead of a more, "I am all loving and powerful," figure, they take the role of, "We don't exactly care what you do, but we are warning you now that if you harm your fellow man, you are likely going to regret it"?

In my experience, the individual deities don't do that. They do the "If you do X, *I* won't like it" or "If you do Y, there will be consequences." But it's not a 'stand on high and talk down' thing. It's a "If you do this, you'll damage our relationship."

For example, if I have a friend, and I constantly stand them up when we're supposed to get together, my friend will be annoyed, but we can probably fix that if I get my act together.

If I, say, break a major confidence with my friend, and hurt them very badly, I've damaged our relationship seriously, and there may be no coming back from that to what we had. In neither case is it a deity tsking and saying "Don't do that, it's bad'. It's all about my actions having repercussions and echos in the world.

My deities give me advice, perspective, wisdom - but they don't tell me what to do. They do (like my friends) tell me when something will cross a line they really care about.

I hope this gets some of it cleared up, and am glad to keep going around with questions...

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