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How Does it All Fit Together?

Deities, Concepts, Archetypes

How Does it All Fit Together?

Postby Burning Falcon » Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:00 pm

Hello everyone!
As I'm sure you all know, people have some differing views on religion/spirituality. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. Everyone you meet is gonna have slightly different beliefs than everyone else, pretty much. I've been wondering about people's beliefs regarding how the universe is st up, and how the Gods/God/Spirits/Spirit/Fæ/Dæmons/what have you fit into it. There are of course the various classifications given by academics in this subject (Monotheism, Ditheism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Panentheism, etc.) which I normally try to avoid, as one religion, or even one person's beliefs, can rarely be shoved neatly into a box (for instance, Catholicism definitely seems to be a monotheistic religion, but, especially in more rural local traditions, the veneration of the saints gets to the point where it barely resembles a monotheistic doctrine, but much closer, seemingly, to polytheism.) But, they are good points of reference, so I'll lay some of the more common ones out here.
Belief in and worship of one god. When one hears this, the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, come immediately to mind. But there are many, many other monotheistic religions. Zoroastrianism, an ancient Iranian religion worshipping Mazda (the car brand was named after him), is thought to be the ideological ancestor of the Abrahamic religions. It has a strong dualism of good and evil. Zoroastrians believe fire is holy, and fires must be kept burning at all times in Zoroastrian temples. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion originating from the western portion of the Indian Subcontinent, which developed from the merging of Hindu and Islamic culture and religion. Some sects of Hinduism can be said to be monotheistic as well, such as ISKCON (International Society for Krishna CONsciousness), more popularly known as the Hare Krishnas. The Cherokee people are believed to have originally followed an indigenous monotheistic religion, although we know little about it now. There are many others that subscribe to a more monotheistic doctrine as well. Though all the aforementioned religions can be considered monotheistic, they are to varying degrees. One one hand, in Islam, Allah is said to be the only God, period. One could say Islam is a hard monotheistic religion. On the other hand, ISKCON could be said to be a very soft monotheistic group, as most members acknowledge the existence of other gods, and many actively worship other gods than Krishna. Christianity as a whole would fall somewhere in the middle, slightly to the "hard" side.
Belief and worship of two deities. There are fewer religions following this philosophy, the most well known of which is mainstream Wicca. This philosophy is less well known to me, and I don't want to give any misinformation, so if you are interested into learning about this particularly, I'd recommend you go elsewhere.
The belief in and worship of many gods. This, historically, has been, by far, one of the most common of these theistic views. The religious practices of the ancient Mesopotamians, Greeks, Norsemen, Fins, Slavs, Egyptians (this is debatable), Maya, Aztecs, and many, many more fell under this category. Often, polytheistic religions can also be classified as Pantheistic or Panentheistic (see below). Again, polytheistic religions can be said to be hard or soft. In Helenism, the Gods are very much separate from one another, each their own, separate individual, a more hard polytheism. According to some scholars, the ancient Egyptians held much more pan- or panentheistic views than polytheistic ones, a much softer polytheism. in modern and ancient Hinduism, we can find everything from Hard Monotheism to the completely polytheistic "the Gods are all separate" view, although a vast majority of Hindu schools are pantheistic or panentheistic.
Pantheism and Panentheism
Although these views are distinct, I've lumped them together to save space and time, as they are very similar. Pantheism is the belief that God/Spirit/Brahmah/Wakan Tanka/Arcenaroror/etc. is everywhere and in everything, and that everything is quite literally God. Panentheism is the same, but that God, while in everything, is also separate and transcendent. So, Panentheism=Pantheism+Transcendence, to be simplistic. These are, like Polytheism, some of the most common types, historically, and polytheistic, pantheistic and panentheistic beliefs can often be found together, feeding and growing off of each other. Most Hindu schools are a prime example of a panentheistic system. Regardless of what particular name they give to the supreme personality (Brahmah, Vishnu, Krishna, etc.), all gods are one. All things come from God, whatever name you give him/her/it, both good and bad. There is no duality of good and evil or right and wrong or male and female. Many indigenous North American religions agree with much of this. In Lakota spirituality, Wakan Tanka, meaning Great Mystery, is the originator, and is everywhere and in everyone and everything. Wakan Tanka, although often referred to with the pronoun "he" in English, is without gender. Wakan Tanka is beauty and goodness and wonder. He is the vast universe and all its mysterious beauty. These are prime examples of Pan- and panentheistic beliefs. Among those with such beliefs, it is generally accepted that there are many ways to know God. Just as a man could be called John, Mr. Doe, Johnny, Daddy, Grandpa, and many more names, God may be approached from many different directions, with many different names.

I personally am panentheistic. I call the ultimate reality (God) Wakan Tanka, and approach him both directly and in the forms of the likes of Viśnu and Śiva and Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā and Rāma, all Hindu gods, and in Alisanos and Arianrhod and Blodeuwedd, Celtic gods, and in others still.

So, how 'bout you?
-Garrett van de Polder, Burning Falcon

Priest of the Arkenvale Order - Mason of Alisanos - Follower of the Buddha - Child of Wakan Tanka

Musician - Druid - Herbalist - Linguist

The candles are lit and the incense is burning,
The prayers have been said, the wheel's been set turning,
So come in and eat, for your stomach is churning,
And know this-
You are welcome here.
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Re: How Does it All Fit Together?

Postby Thistle » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:40 am

I believe I am pantheistic. I'm still kind of sorting what I believe. I've gone through a lot of has thrown a lot of curveballs recently. It's affected me spiritually as well. But I do believe everything is connected. I've been delving more into the Celtic though, as it's what I've always been drawn to.
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