There are two levels to the Wiccan understanding of Deity. The first is Personal, the second Universal. On a personal level we approach Deity as an entity with Which we interact through words and actions and with Whom we maintain a personal relationship. At this level we give Deity many names and faces, and interact with Deity through these. Most Wiccans will use a variety of names and faces for Deity in this personal sense, and will have one particular form which they perceive as their PATRON. They will interact with this Patron Deity, or in some cases Patron Deities, in a very personal way, seeking guidance, inspiration, and practical help in both daily life and esoteric matters.
Let us use the Goddess Sekhmet as an example. Sekhemet is a Goddess of Egyptian provenance, and Her worship goes back to and beyond the dawn of recorded history. Sekhemet is commonly portrayed as a woman with the head of a lioness, carrying either a scepter or a sword. Sekhemet is the patroness of magic, but also of courage and strength. A DEVOTEE of Sekhemet might hope to be inspired by Her with these qualities. Does this mean that we believethat Sekhemet is an entity living somewhere with the actual head of a lioness on a human woman's body? No.
The best analogy of how Wiccans look at Deity is the famous example of the diamond. We think of Deity rather like an enormous diamond of many facets. Each facet is beautiful in and of itself, and can be used as a way to access the heart of the diamond, but in reality each is only a different way of looking at the same stone. Thus when the Devotee speaks to Sekhemet, they are in reality using a personal form to access a Universal power. The reason we need such personal forms is that we build our bond with Deity through emotion. All of the abstract understanding in the world will make no difference to you if you cannot connect to it emotionally -it will seem dry and empty, striking no resonance in your being.
Since everyone's emotional nature is different -being as we are, individuals- we Wiccans use many different images of Deity. A person who has negative feelings toward their mother may have difficulty identifying with the Mother Goddess, but may find a Crone Goddess a great source of strength and comfort. A person who loves the ocean may find it much easier to connect with the more aquatic Mother Goddesses like Yemaya, than with an Earthy Mother Goddess like Gaia. Both are the same concept, but the exact approach offers variety to the individual.
At no time do we perceive an individual face of Deity -such as Venus, or Cerridwen, or Xochitl-as being the only face of Deity -only our individually preferred face.
Also it must be remembered that we live many lifetimes, through reincarnation. Sometimes we resonate very strongly to a particular face of Deity because we have interacted with Deity through that face in previous lifetimes. Thus we might be drawn to Isis for example, because they have in previous lifetimes been a devotee of Isis.
The second way in which Wiccans look at Deity is Universal. We acknowledge that the true nature of Deity is beyond all names and forms, and indeed perhaps beyond all mortal understanding. As our personal images of Deity are the facets so UNIVERSAL DEITY is the diamond. Wiccans believe that any one name or form for Deity can never possibly encompass all of the nature of Universal Deity, but can only serve to limit our understanding of it. Because of this we regard monotheism as an extremely primitive and limiting point of view. Rather we use our personal images of Deity symbolically to help us understand the nature of Universal Deity, using myth as a tool to illustrate the qualities and processes of Universal Deity without ever imagining that a single view can encapsulate the whole nature of the Divine.
Having laid out this basic understanding of how Wiccans view Deity, let us illustrate it by presenting one of the most sacred myths of the Wiccan faith, and explaining it's deeper meaning.
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