Journals are valuable tools, especially for spiritual matters because looking back on them, reading entries made at specific times, can teach one a great deal about oneself. Mundane journals describe situations and feelings at the time they occur (if the entries are kept current). While spiritual/magical journals record thoughts and beliefs about the nature of various experiences.
My earliest thoughts and beliefs were heavily influenced by a deep-seated longing to find a connection to deity. This first manifested as realizing that my truest experience was with deity as female: a Goddess. Once I realized this and had this experience, I hungered to learn more about who She is. My studies were split between history/anthropology and religion/witchcraft. Most of the witchcraft books I got ahold of though weren’t the most historically accurate things around, unfortunately. I’m glad I read both topics at about the same time to achieve, what I feel, is a more balanced view of things. This went on for a few more years and I was happy to remain in the embrace of purely female divinity.
Deity as male was still too close to the unrelenting and difficult-to-align with beliefs of monotheism. I was coming out of that and into my own understanding of things and I think that this period of separation – of focusing entirely on the Divine Feminine – is what I needed.
A few years later, He made himself known to me. I talk about this more in another blog post, of my experience with the God as I came first to understand and recognize him. In books and through personal reflection, I came to believe that all of the world’s deities were aspects or faces of a single universal divine force. That they were all sort of part-and-parcel of each other and that their individuality was only a construct of human society and culture. Essentially, I had Dion Fortune’s core philosophy in mind: All gods are one God; all goddesses are one Goddess.
It’s important to note that Dion Fortune was not a Witch. She was a Christian mystic and Hermetic magician. But at the time, I didn’t think of things like that. I believed that Aphrodite was Venus who was also Freyja, who was also Isis, who was also Brighid, who was also ___, and on and on. There were individual cultural ‘flavors’ to them, but essentially, they were all just name of The Goddess. The same thing went for the God: Zeus, Thor, Pan, Osiris, and even Yahweh/Jehovah found his way in there through that understanding.
I no longer think or believe this. But as I look back over old journal entries and such, it’s interesting to note that years ago, I did. I believed this as strongly as I hold my present beliefs now. But they’ve changed and that change, like the formation of my old beliefs, happened through personal understanding and revelation.
Now, I understand and believe the gods and goddesses to be individuals. They are not all the same, with different names for the same unnamed deity. Aphrodite is not Freyja. Zeus is not Osiris, and so on. I’ve had in-depth interactions with different gods and goddesses and not only are they not all the same, most of them don’t seem to like being lumped together.
However, here is where things can get complicated. Not all gods and goddesses are the same. But some are.
Along with these deeper understandings of deity that I’ve developed, I continue with a passion for history and anthropology. Deities are not existent totally independent of people, and certainly not of their followers and they exist whether people believe in them or worship them, or have a relationship with them. They don’t ‘depend’ on human connection for their existence in all but the most abstract understanding of things. But, and each person can take this and think on it for themselves, they do grow in strength and power among people, and increase their influence as a whole by virtue of having followers. Even people who are atheist or don’t think that deities are anything more than a construction of human thought can understand what I mean by that. The gods of Europe have a huge gap of time between actively involved worship in the past and what they have going on now. Several centuries of Christianity disrupted the flow of their power and I think that can be felt. They are still strong, but their strength isn’t widely known or held as it once was. However, in places such as Africa and India, where the old, original gods remain in tact and their worship has been unbroken for several thousand years, the difference is clear. I’ve witnessed rituals and ceremonies involving these deities according to the traditional rites and for me personally, there is no denying the power that they hold. This is evidence the gods definitely gain a benefit from our interaction with them.
People move, migrate, and interact, and bring their gods with them as they do so. Mediterranean people moved north in Europe; Romans brought their gods to Britain and while Minerva and Sulis might have been separate before, as the people who worshiped them were separated by miles and miles, when the people came together, so did the understanding of this Goddess. Minerva and Sulis, to me, are the same goddess, recognized by different peoples (Britons and Romans) but understood as a single being. However, this does not mean that Minerva is Rhiannon, Frigg, Isis, Astarte, or White Buffalo Calf Woman. It makes no sense for the deities of different regions to be one-in-the-same when the people of those deities never merged.
Deities are localized for this reason and it’s this reason that leads me to the belief that one culture or society’s God or Goddess should not be taken to be universal and that uprooting a localized deity and replacing it with a foreign one is wrong. That’s another topic to cover, though, so I won’t digress. I’ll simply say that if followers of a deity migrate or immigrate to a new location and bring their gods with them, that’s fine. But migration for the sole purpose to implant a foreign deity (missionary work) is something I will never agree with.
This is also a large part of the reason I disagree with only dabbling with deities, or thinking that they can be pulled forth on a whim to serve a specific need. I don’t agree with ‘correspondence charts of gods and goddesses’. I find such to be trite and insulting, as if a divine being can be so briefly categorized. If that is all they are, then why bother working with them in the first place when a stone, candle, or mixture of herbs could do the same thing?
I expect that in another ten years, my beliefs will alter and shift a bit from what they are now, just as they have changed from what they used to be. I see that as a good thing. It’s because I can look at my beliefs and understand how they’ve deepened or shifted or changed that I am able to look at others who follow or believe something different and not have a problem with them.
Everything changes and this is evidenced most through life. So if you are so rigid that you won’t allow that experience, then ultimately, what does that say about you?