Unmasking Divinity

In the past decade or so, my beliefs regarding divinity have bounced around all over the place.  As a lifelong pagan I have had a large part of my journey be to include a pantheon of gods, namely the Irish Pantheon.  I did of course study other pantheons and anyone who studies paganism, Wicca, earth spirituality in general will have come across the little area in the back of the book with a list of attributes, followed by a list of deities from various pantheons that hold dominion over that attribute in their respective cultures.

I have a belief that divinity or some sort of spiritual essence is in everything.  Since the time I was a child I also prayed to a goddess and a god.  When I learned the names of the Irish Gods, those were the names I began using to pray to since my own heritage is Irish. In the past few years I began simply praying to a more generalized "Mother Goddess and Father God."  It became part of my belief structure to think of the different gods and goddesses as just names and personifications created by humans to put on a faceless energy that was just out there somewhere.  My thoughts became, 'Why pray to just Brigid, or Lugh, if they are only two aspects of a much greater whole?'

Suffice it to say, this has not simplified my spiritual life.  I went looking around the web for a definition to describe my belief around divinity and came up with Pantheism, and Panentheism. Among all the many similar yet slightly different definitions I can find for Pantheism, basically it is the notion that divinity is everything and everything is divinity.  I have come to believe that, that essence I pray to is everywhere. It is in me, it is me, and it is the earth beneath my feet and the wind in my hair. Pantheism is very much concerned with our connection to nature and reverence for the natural world.  Panentheism is similar to Pantheism except that it seems to equate a sort of sentient aspect to divinity, but with less of an emphasis on nature.  Again, there seems to be several definitions of these terms.

If I follow the belief that there are many gods or even an all knowing god such as the Christians believe I am putting god in a box so to speak.  I have just put this thing that is everything into a container and labeled it with a name and given it a personality so my well meaning human mind can easily cope with its grandness.  If we accept that humans are flawed (of which we have ample historical and day to day proof) then by allowing ourselves to believe in a being or beings in the traditional religious sense is to do this sacred all encompassing essence a disservice, not to mention ourselves.

If I put a name on divinity, then I am also limiting divinity.  I have in a sense put blinders on so that the only part of it I see is the one I want to see, and not all of what is there.  If I put a female name on it than I cover up the masculine aspects, if I put a male name on it I am covering up the feminine.  I have come to believe that divinity is something that is neither female nor male.  It is much grander than that.  It is everything all at once.   This essence I have come to believe in is expansive and yes, hard to explain, and try though I might there are just no words to describe it.

To go a step further, if we accept that life on earth is not the only life in the universe, than what can we make of our god/s?  Does each planet have its own little group of sentient beings who are superior and above the ordinary life on the respective planet? If and or when these extra-terrestrials arrive (assuming they haven’t already) on our world will they bring their gods or god or whatever it is with them?  Of course they will.  If they take up residence on our planet will we have temples erected to their deities? I am sure that would happen.  There is a wide spread assumption that if there is life out there in the universe that they are further evolved than us meager humans and are probably beyond believing in godlike beings. We are still trying to decide IF they exist let alone whether they have gods or not so who is to know for sure?

I stopped believing long ago, that god, or gods were something I was to be subservient to.  I stopped believing that should I do something wrong, that a spiritual force or lightning bolt was going to strike me down in my tracks or sentence me to an eternity in hellfire.  Being that I was never really on a Christian path, I never believed I needed to apologize to a deity for any 'sin' or transgressions.  I never believed I needed 'saving'.  To me being good or kind is just a basic part of human citizenship.  If I wrong someone else or do something stupid, I will reap the consequences of my own actions.  If I'm a jerk, I won't have any friends.  If I lie, no one will trust me.  These things cause more than enough detriment to my life and create a hell for me to endure right here on earth, without having to worry about angering the gods. 

Saying all that, I did accept the belief that the gods were something I could work WITH and along side.  I believed I could pray to them for blessings and for protection and comfort and guidance.  So where am I now, if I no longer believe in gods as individual beings?  Remember that all encompassing essence I speak of?  I pray to that.  As you may have noticed, I have been having trouble describing it.  It is totally understandable that throughout the histories and cultures of humanity we have so many names for this 'thing.' I have come to just call on it as the "Sacred Divine." 

In my Devotional Practices, I have written many poems and affirmations over the years to focus my intent.  In many of these I refer to a god and or goddess.  I have begun replacing those names with "Sacred Divine."  I have undergone a revamping of my rituals to erase the names of deities and to rework them into a more pantheistic sort of practice.  I am a very spiritually minded person and whatever way my beliefs in this area evolve I am being guided by my instincts.  For instance, I do not believe I will ever be an atheist.  I feel too much the presence of that divine essence I have come to adore.  I feel that this divinity is something that I can reach out to and I believe it can reach back. 

I believe this essence is basically neutral. I don’t believe this divine thing is out to get us or cause us harm. It just is.  It is my belief that whatever hostile aspects the gods have been described as having were man made by those in power to conquer, frighten and control the masses. I believe that by connecting with this essence I can ask for blessings and guidance.  I still believe I receive these things from connecting with divinity.  I don’t know the how or the why I just know that in my perception at this moment in time, it’s true.  I do have a theory though.

If divinity is that essence in all of us and we are all connected than maybe the ways in which our prayers are answered is through each other.  Let me explain.  There are always stories of the person who shows up right when another person needs them.  Such as the person who decides in the spur of the moment to take an alternate route to work when they come across the stranded driver in need of help.  What about the time you were feeling particularly sad and in need of comfort when your friend decided, just at that moment, for no apparent reason, to ring you on the phone? I believe this is the sacred divine answering our prayers. 

This is why it is important to take on a regular practice of helping others and paying it forward.  I believe this connects us with that aspect of divinity that is concerned with reaching back to us when we reach out to it.  For myself, I feel like I am experiencing divinity for the first time.  It’s as if I was viewing this essence through a mask and every time it tried to speak to me genuinely I would shut it out if it didn’t fit with the face I put on it.

This is freeing, empowering and frightening all at the same time. The ego in me wants to know where I fit into the world believing this way.  So naturally I googled things like 'pantheist witch' and the like and came up with a few others that are coming to the same conclusions.  That is comforting to be sure.  My spirituality had stagnated over the years and this new found sense of wonder and oneness I have has instilled in me a passion for life that I had once lost. I love this and it has been a long time since I have been this exhilarated to be alive. 

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