How many names do you know for Deities? Do you know what their attributes are? Do you know whether they're Celtic, Greco-Roman? Are they Norse, Hindu, Sumerian or Egyptian? Perhaps they're Asian, Mayan, Native American or African? Does it matter? How do they fit into your spiritual life? Do you feel that certain ones really fit into your life and some don’t?
The concept of deities has been around for a very long time although it is unclear when the belief in a deity or deities truly appeared. Early burials, as far back as 50,000 – 30,000 BCE showed at least a belief in the afterlife. Some cultures view deities as being “above” them, not interacting directly with their human “subjects”. Others see the deity as a supreme being to be fear and worshipped. In many pagan beliefs they see the deities as being both a part of them and not. Another way to think of this would be ‘within and without’.
What is this theism thing?
Monotheism is the belief in one deity, usually a god figure. This one god figure it thought to be the creator of all things. The common religions that follow this theism are Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Baha’i Faith.
Polytheism is the belief in many deities and usually come together in the form of a pantheon or group of gods from a similar culture. Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Germanic, Norse, Sumerian, Incan, Celtic, Slavic, Hindu, Japanese, Aztec, Mayan, Native American, and African are all cultures that hold to the belief in many deities.
How this fits into Paganism
The above list of polytheist cultures can also be called a list of Pagan cultures. I am going to focus on the polytheism and the Wiccan beliefs. Within most Pagan cultures there is a the belief in a Goddess and a God figure. Most Wiccans hold to this belief, and every Wiccan possesses his or her own conception of the Goddess and God. The concepts are obtained through research into those deities and subsequent pantheons that interest us. Others might work toward those deities and pantheon that are a part of their ancestry. Still others will go to deities and pantheon that the coven they belong to. There is no wrong way to find the deities and pantheon that resonates with you.
Personally I feel a draw to Hecate and Cernunnos which are of two different pantheons, Greco-Roman and Celtic. My ancestry is German/Swedish so if I was to go with the pantheons of my ancestors I can go with Germanic and Norse. I find the Norse Gods interesting but I am not drawn to them on a spiritual level.
The Goddess is seen as the female aspect of deity. She is seen as many different things to many different people. The Goddess is most often seen as a healer, a provider of wisdom and guidance and the child-bearer. The most common concept of the Goddess is the Triple Goddess; Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The Goddess is also related to the Moon and its phases. This also corresponds to the triple aspect. Maiden is to the New Moon & Waxing Moon, new beginnings and virgin. She is Artemis, Diana, Kore, Athena, Nimue, Sekmet, Luna, and many others. Mother is to the Full Moon, creativity, child birth, fertility and manifestation. She is Semele, Isis, Hathor, Shakti, Yemaya, Cybele, Demeter, and many others. Crone is to the Waning Moon & Dark Moon, magic, prophecy, and wisdom. She is Hecate, Baga Yaga, Morrigan, Grandmother Spiderwoman, and many others.
The god is seen as the male aspect of deity. Like the Goddess, He is seen as many different things to many different people. The God is most often seen as the Hunter, the Warrior, the protector and provider. The most common concept of the God is the Sun. Egyptians called Him Ra, Greeks called Him Helios, Romans called Him Sol, the African Yoruban tribe called Him Shango, and in Scandinavia He was called Baldur. The God is also associated with the two kings, Oak King and Holly King both which rule the seasons at different times of the year. The God is a complex concept, there are many different aspects, many more then I will mention here.
In rituals both or just one can be called. This is going to be the topic of one of my entries. Also I am going to break down each of the major pantheons that most people associate with and that is going to be over several posts.
Shameless plug time – We carry many statues to many Goddesses and Gods in our store at Grove of the Ancients Pagan Marketplace.