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Traditional Wiccan ritual addresses two deities, one male and the other female. The names of these are, in British Traditional Wicca, kept secret, making public descriptions of them necessarily incomplete.

Some things that can be said about these deities are:

  1. There is both a god and a goddess.
  2. The God is often publicly described as a horned god, and the name Cernunnos is often used as a public name. However Alex Sanders used the name Karnayna
  3. The Goddess is often publicly referred to by the name Aradia. Gerald Gardner found it fruitful to think of her in terms of a Triple Goddess[1], a popular view of looking at goddesses at the time[2].

In British Traditional Wicca, A Wiccan is introduced to the God and Goddess at their First Degree Initiation, but the names are not revealed until a later degree. This practice of keeping the names of gods secret, including that of having other names that are used in public, is common throughout religious practice, for example in Judaism.

In line with the gerenal Orthopraxic nature of Wicca, there is little in the way of teachings about the nature of the gods; rather the experience of undergoing initiation and elevation, and of continual working of Wiccan ritual brings the initiate into contact with the gods, and this experience informs their view of deity. Hence different views of the divine that are of primary importance to faith-based religions (atheism, monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, agnosticism) may each be held by different Wiccans, though reconciling these beliefs with experiencing contact with the gods will take different approaches:

  1. Polytheism is most easily reconciled, as the existence of two gods clearly suggests such a polytheistic view. Differences will still exist on opinion about the existence of other gods, and the relationship of the gods of the Wicca to these other gods.
  2. Atheism can be reconciled with Wiccan practice by considering the experience of the divine to be entirely a human psychological reaction, though one that is still meaningful.
  3. Monotheism can be reconciled with Wiccan practice by considering the God and Goddess to be aspects of a single ultimate deity, as with Neoplatonism or the reconciliation between monotheism and polytheism expressed by Dion Fortune in saying "All gods are one God, all goddesses are one Goddess, and there is one Initiator"[3]. It can also be reconciled by considering that there are both gods such as the Wiccan God and Goddess, and also an ultimate creator-god of different nature. Gardner expressed such a view[1].
  4. Pantheism can be combined by considering that there is also an immanent aspect of the divine.

Of these different attitudes, the atheist and monotheist seem to have declined in popularity, perhaps with the rise of other forms of witchcraft derived from Wicca, in which they are particularly popular.

While the orthopraxic nature of Wicca does not lead to any established theology, there are certain aspects of how the gods are treated that one can talk about:

  1. The gods are not treated as omniscient, omnipotent or omnibenevolent. They are held to benefit from the rituals, and to need the help of the priesthood in giving help themselves.
  2. Most expressions of a belief in an ultimate deity do not result in it being addressed directly, with the implication that it is not active in human affairs; an opinion expressed directly by Gardner[1].
  3. As such, there is no need for a theodicy to explain how bad things happen, the gods being treated as not being all-powerful and the ultimate deity, when belief is expressed in it, being treated as uninvolved in human affairs.
  4. Other gods are commonly addressed by at least some Wiccans, implying that there is no mandate on exclusive worship of the Wiccan God and Goddess alone.

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gardner, Gerald. 2004. The Meaning of Witchcraft. Newbury.Weisner Books. ISBN 1578633095
  2. Graves, Robert. 1961. The White Goddess. London. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0571069614
  3. Fortune, Dion. 2003. The Sea Priestess. Newburyport. Weiser Books. ISBN 1578632900

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