Spiritual Spice: The Mixing of Pantheons
Isis. Odin. Hera. Anubis. We know the mythology which accompanies each of these ancient Gods. We study their history, their followers, the teachings and morals which we believe they stand for. Indeed, as with all ancient reflections of Divinity, it is only the mythology and scattered records of their existence which has been left for our modern interpretation. Yet when all is said and done and we sit before our altar in prayer, just who is a confused Pagan supposed to commune with? Isis? Odin? Maybe I’ll play it safe and just go with Zeus. Errr… but then Kali will get pissed. Oyi!
I believe that it could be beneficial for the Pagan community to stop and take a step back from the onslaught of Pantheons which seem to be flooding our global village. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Where do the Gods and Goddesses come from, and why do we really pay so much heed to their existence? The answer is one which philosophers have struggled with for years beyond measure, yet still the stories of Athena and Loki resound within our community. They are indeed teachers and guides to us, friends and approachable (within limit) allies. And beyond all, there is the fact that each God and Goddess is him/her self only a specific reflection of the Divine. They are portions of a greater view which, sadly, far too few attempt to see.
There is a ‘Pagan Spiritual Pyramid’ which can illustrate the idea of all pre Judeo-Christian Pantheons. It is by far not the only idea about Divinity’s structure, yet it is one which I find to be particularly insightful. At the peak of this proverbial pyramid is the Divine: omnipresent, omnipotent, the universal soul which resounds through, around, and within all living things. It is the beginning, the fount of life eternal, the circle of creation, death, and rebirth all in one. It is male, female, good, bad, and every shade of gray imaginable as well as the mixing pot of all emotions. It is the heart of Magick. Yet not all of us can, or particularly want to, envision such an immense source of life as that which we celebrate. Indeed it is hard, if not downright impossible, for any mortal mind to envision such an immensely beautiful consciousness while in prayer. Yet as nature is our most imminent teacher, we find that all things are born by two opposites. Male and Female. If it is reflected in all aspects of nature, surely it must be true for the Great Spirit. The Divine, then, can be divided into two separate yet unified halves- Male and Female. Let us name the second level of the Pagan Pyramid “God and Goddess.” Whether you envision the God and Goddess as metaphors for the split of Divinity to humanistic (and therefore slightly more understandable) representations, or as actual manifestations which govern the universe, it is not of primary importance. That is an essay unto itself. So now we have Divinity, the God and the Goddess. Yet even divided into the natural reflections of all things, all parents and thus all creation … there is still a vastness about them. They, split into the energies which might be best termed with their respective sexes, continue to be beings of immensity and, well, supremacy. As it should be. Right?
One God and one Goddess, as perfect as They are (whether taken in a literal or symbolic sense), still do not give much variety when it comes to matters of general theology. We have the story of creation in which They star, but … then what? The spiritual leaders of old knew that to further explain the many aspects of Divinity there must still be additional “break downs” of its diverse aspects. If the Divine is the proverbial sea of all existence, and a mortal desires to work or appeal to one specific aspect of its depths, then how are we to extrapolate that faction from the rest? The Gods and Goddesses might have been seen as ways to not only appeal to the specialized emotions, energies, creativities and overall power of the Divine, but also as ways to grow myths rich with symbolism and story about the way the universe works. If an individual Pagan wants to get in touch with the Love energies of the Universe, it can be intimidating to pull (or call) that specific desire amongst a sea of equally powerful and pure emotions. Yet there is a Branwen, a Chama, an Aphrodite to appeal to. They are the focal points of a unique aspect of the Divine. They are teachers through their myths and the personalities which have sprung from their stories. The Gods and Goddesses speak to the generations as beings of human quality, while providing a pure focus to attain connection with portions of Spirit. Despite the fact that I personally choose to appeal directly to the Divine, or to the God and Goddess, I do understand and value the legends of the fragmented forms of Divinity which exist throughout the world.
Should we mix Pantheons? Of course we should! Each legend, personality born through associated emotion, power, and reflection of the Divine should be treasured. If one God or Goddess particularly “speaks” to you, then commune with them. Perhaps they offer a channel to an aspect of Spirit which you might not currently have open to you. Perhaps they can help unlock a greater portion of yourself, and share some of their own knowledge. The Gods and Goddesses are alive and well, each one sustained by the rainbow of emotion, thought, and will which exists in all expressions of creation. If anything, it is no wonder why there are so many Pagans flocking to research about the Gods and Goddesses of old. Who knows the wonderful treasures an ancient civilization might have discovered then imbued in the likeness of a God? Who knows what wisdom lies out there just waiting to be uncovered! However when seeking Pantheons to research, keep mindful of the religion from which they spring. Many of the pre Judeo-Christian religions have Gods and Goddesses which can basically “stand on their own”. However later religions have a different form of spiritual ‘families’. Christianity, for example (as it is a religion many of us are quite familiar with), has a Deity structure which will not stand without the backing of the religion as a whole. If you are to accept one aspect of its Pantheon, you must accept it all. Or at least recognize its relation. Such religions and their Pantheon make incorporation to Paganism a titch more difficult, however not truly impossible.
Some think that the act of being “eclectic” can lead to the pollution of the Pagan path. They might go so far as to state that the use of too many Deities will dilute the pool of “hard core” Paganism we are still working to purify. I, for one, believe that all the Gods and Goddesses are simply further avenues to celebrating that which is the Divine, the Great Spirit, the Universal Soul. Celebrate, learn and grow from each fragment you study. We all have a working mind and spirit of our own. I believe that each one of us is more than capable of differentiating fact from fiction. By carefully examining the myths of ages past, and working with those aspects which speak to us as truth, we can further regain our Pagan heritage. After all, isn’t one of the greatest truths in our religion the realization of Divinity as a whole?
Just as there are Male Gods for any particular legend, energy, or emotion there can be seen a Female counterpart. In the Universe there is balance, and this simple truth is reflected too in our religion through the equality of the Male and the Female. Be it the God and Goddess, or the multitude of “specific” Gods and Goddesses which have sprung forth from our own human history. In any light the balance is kept. The mythology which fuels the personalities of Spirit are alive through our texts, in our minds, and in our hearts. By keeping Paganism (or any one of its divisions; Witchcraft, Wicca, Shamanism, etc.) as your spiritual rock, I do not believe it is possible to be “too eclectic”. How can one home have too many paths leading into the world? How can a tree have too many branches?
These have been a few of my own thoughts and should be taken as such. The Gods and Goddesses truly are alive and do speak to us. They are never silent. Their voices are whispered on the wind, and their messages written in the veins of every leaf. Strive to understand them for yourself, and truly know the touch of Divinity.
In blessings and light,