Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Circle Within, 2

Someone once asked me, "What's the point of this Wicca thing? I mean, if you're not trying to get into Heaven or find Nirvana, what are you trying to do?"

That is a tough one, and a question I don't think many of us have given a lot of thought to. It is difficult to step back and look at the bigger picture. I gave the only answer I knew, then or now. The point of Wicca, the real mystery behind it all, is to remember the Divinity within ourselves and all things; to manifest our God and Goddess all the time, every day, every moment; to love as They love, to give as They give; to serve Them in perfect trust, and thus bring Their grace more fully into the world; to understand that we are the embodiment of the Divine love and nurture, and to express that love in the world; to walk as God and Goddess.
- Dianne Sylvan, The Circle Within, p. 5

"Up to this point, how have you seen the God and Goddess? Do They have faces and names? Are They a presence without words?"

It's characteristic of Wicca to conceive of the Divine as Goddess and God. Of course, if you ask three Wiccans how they do this, you'll get seven answers. I believe that the divine creative and destructive force in the universe is Goddess. I call the earth Goddess. It's important for me to conceive of the Divine as female because I am a woman made in Her image, because the idea of God brings with it monotheistic patriarchy (although, unlike some Goddess folk, I don't believe this is a necessary connection), and because I think it's important to craft a new imaginary of the Divine (this last point is made by Carol Christ in her excellent paper "Why Women Need the Goddess"). I don't believe that all the gods in all the different world pantheons are real and distinct entities; rather, I think each one reveals to us an aspect of the Divine. For myself, I often address Spirit or Goddess, but I also feel drawn to Her in Her guises as Artemis, Demeter, Hecate, Brigid, and Kwan Yin.

I resist what I see as the gender essentialism of much of Wicca, dividing qualities and tasks into male and female and thus into the realms of God and Goddess. That sort of thinking is evident in this image of the "Lord and Lady." Never mind that they are pale white with golden hair. The "Lord" is standing upright, body square to the viewer, clasping the "Lady" at her wrist and around her back. He is a head taller than she is, and far more muscular. Her soft body is turned inward towards him, her head resting on his shoulder, as if she is leaning on him for support. Her gaze is dreamy and far away; his is level and steady. This image is sexist and heterosexist. Hardly a powerful or liberating image of female Divinity!

The Divine is beyond human comprehension. However, being human, we imagine Spirit and put faces on it, and not just human faces. I think of the Goddess as human and animal, as transgendered, as intersexed, as both male and female, and neither. My favorite male face of God, and the one I invoke most often, is the Green Man. I think it's important to have conceptions of male Divinity; I'm not Dianic, although I respect the Dianics, and their work influences my own. But we, both women and men, need a conception of the male Divine because we desperately need new models of how to be a man. The God as queer, as trickster, as gentle parent, as nurturer, as part of nature, as bodily, as One who respects women and fights violence...this is my image of the God.


Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful vision.

Brings tears to my eyes.

Andy T. said...

That image of divinity is sexist. One thing I have learned as a pagan is that if an image of the Goddess looks like a centerfold, its a safe bet a guy created that image.

I see the Lady and the Lord (when I think in those terms, which I do not often do, I am very Goddess-centric) as a partnership where they work with each, their stregnths complement each other and together they are more powerful than each separately.

Two minor points; first the quote you started with - how sad if your only reason to worship the Divine is to get into Heaven! Maybe if people would give up on the concept of suffering now to get to paradise later they would recognize the paradise all around them.

Last, while I do agree we need a new concept of the male Divine your choice of words fights violence is ironic. I understand what you mean and understand how our language limits what you are trying to say.

Athana said...

When you look at the last peaceful, non-violent, equalitarian societies, you see "matristic" peoples who worshipped Goddess(es) and few if any Gods. I'm not sure men need male deity. The men we know may *think* they do, but the men we know are deeply flawed, patriarchal men (just as we women are deeply flawed, patriarchal women). Most women reading this are slaves in a world in which men are the masters. I often feel that we women "want" male gods because we are afraid of our male masters' reactions if we told them there may be no room for gods in a mentally healthy world.

Grian said...

On the subject of "Heaven" and/or "Nirvana" and the point of it all: Aren't we striving towards some kind of enlightenment? Most Pagans believe in reincarnation in some form, so becoming enlightened seems to go along with that concept - moving from body to body and learning as much as possible. What would the end result of this be but enlightenment? So some people call it Heaven, Nirvana, The Summerlands - but enlightenment works for me. Conciousness is a good one too. At some point it would seem a soul would have to find its way back to the source after having learning all of the things that it was created for in the first place.