Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Personal and Universal Deities

Understanding Personal and Universal Deities

As with most all belief systems, past and present, there is usually a god or Deity called upon for guidance and help. Some faiths, such as Christianity, refer to this person as “God.” In this context, God is viewed and worshiped in generally the same way by all who follow that faith. God is seen as a single entity existing outside of this world while ruling everyone and everything within the world. In Wicca this is not the case at all, simply because it is not possible for every individual to all relate to one Deity in the same way.

Personal Deity and Universal Deity are two aspects by which Pagans view Deity. Universal Deity is the sum of all things both seen and unseen. Universal Deity does not merely exist outside of this world but also includes all of which is inside the physical world and inside each of us. As humans, this is not an easy concept to grasp. Our minds, by nature, have limits. These limits are what make Universal Deity far more complicated and confusing. The true nature of Universal Deity is so vast it can often times be far beyond just hard to comprehend. In fact, for most it is closer to being completely impossible to comprehend.

Most Pagan paths involve creating a personal connection with Deity. For many, doing so through the Universal Deity aspect alone would be difficult to accomplish. Universal Deity has no single face or name so it does not allow one to form the personal relationship with deity that is desired. Additionally, it is not Pagan belief that Deity must be seen and interacted with exactly the same for all people. We cannot all drive the same car, wear the same clothes or all give our children the same name. Therefore, only the purpose of Deity is viewed as being the same. If we all are expected to see and interact with Deity the same way, it may exhibit only one face and one name. As humans, we are very diverse and individual -- not only in our beliefs but also in how we view things, our abilities to interact with other people, our understanding of our self and the world around us. It is simply impossible for everyone to relate to one named Deity or the nameless Universal Deity which has no has no true form. However, this does not mean there is no connection to Universal Deity.

It is necessary for most that we envision Deity as an entity. The chosen entity to which we may apply a face and name allows for a much more personal and emotional connection to the one true Universal Deity. The Patron Deity is one that we may connect with on a very personal level. Patron Deity can be different from person to person depending on the individual. The fact that we are all different, having different views, emotions, and experiences plays a role. It would be difficult for us to connect and relate in the same way. The Patron Deity is what gives us the ability to connect based on our own personal needs and what feels right. This makes it possible for us to achieve the emotional, deeply personal connection to Deity through our chosen entity.

Just as there is no one name and face for Deity, there is no right or wrong Deity. Each of us through our different experience and previous incarnation will be drawn to the Deity who is right for us in this incarnation. There is no right or wrong way to decide what Deity to work with. There is also no limit to the number of Deities we may choose to work with. In ritual we worship the God and Goddess. Many people choose or are chosen by one pair, while others may have more that one or even multiple pairs with whom they work and are comfortable. This is really as much of a personal choice as deciding what you would like to wear today.

Which Deity we relate to best can depend on many different factors. It is not uncommon to choose a deity with attributes or qualities that we wish to draw upon to better ourselves. Perhaps we have always felt a fascination for growing plants and love flowers. We, then, might find Flora, goddess of plant life, as the deity we best relate to. Or perhaps we will look to Caffeina who offers inspiration and creativity. I have named these two as examples because I personally feel an attachment to them. Our own Patron Deity may not always be who we decide on. We may find that we are drawn to a Deity through symbols, visions, dreams or thoughts of that particular Deity. It is also very possible for our Deity to change over time. We may find that at different stages of our lives different Deities call to us which, I believe can depend on the lessons we each have to learn in this life. As we move forward to the next life we may feel a strong relation to the same Deity or it may be a completely different one. Above all, our relationships with our Deities should be well respected. Work and interaction with the Deities should be a cherished friendship. If we find it feels more like we are speaking with a “friend-of-a-friend,” perhaps that isn’t the right Deity for us.

The uniqueness of this is that it allows everyone the ability to have that personal relationship. With your own personal Deity you will find it easy to form a relationship and interact not only through ritual but in you day to day life. This is very different than many other religions where “God” is seen as a single entity. This is not to say that everyone will feel that they need to have a Personal Deity. The most important thing for each individual is that they take the time and find what works best for them.

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