When it comes to setting firmly in stone what it is that I believe and don’t believe about the Gods, well you can get a bit dizzy trying to keep up with my ever changing thinking.
You tend to read about Pagans in two camps. There’s the “hard polytheist” who firmly believes that all of the Gods are real, and each is a separate entity in its own right. There’s the soft polytheist, who sees all Gods as being aspects of each other.
On the other hand, I once had a conversation with Modron where I asked her – what name should I call you by? Her response was to tell me that the names They are given by humans are not necessarily the names they know themselves by. And it doesn’t really matter what we call them. What matters is our intention when we speak with and to them. Names are shortcuts. It being much easier to call upon Modron than ‘the Welsh Mother Goddess whose son was stolen from her.’
I talk to the Gods, but I don’t worship them. I invite them to observe ritual, but very seldom invoke them. I did once ask Modron if She wanted me to worship her, and She just laughed. Told me, “If you tried to worship me, you wouldn’t be you.”
Are the Gods created in our image? Do they become because of how we imagine them to be? How much of our ideas on who and what the Gods may be come not from personal experience, but from the words written by others?
Now, there’s nothing wrong with using the words of others to find out. But as I have seen many, many times, what happens when you have an encounter with Deity, and you know in your heart that is is God A. But in an authoritative blog or book you read the author proclaims something just the opposite is true.
When people come to me with this question, I tell them one thing. Ignore the book and listen to your own messages.
The way I experience and interact with Herne is different from the way others experience and interact with him. He’s very informal, and perhaps a bit mischievous with me. The sort of bloke you could have a good chinwag with down at the pub. Think easy-going biker. Others see him as being somewhat scary, very formal. Same God? Probably.
Think about it. Do you act and behave the same way with your parents, or your children as you do with your spouse or your mates down the pub? Do you show the same side of your personality at work as you do at play?
No, you most likely don’t. And neither do the Gods.
So where does that leave me? I’ve had encounters with several Gods, spoken with quite a few both for my own personal growth and development, and in order to pass messages on to others. Do I believe they’re really real?
Yes, and no. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t believe in the Gods because I know they are real. But, are they real only in my head? Or do they have a real existence outside of my consciousness? Or, are they all part of a great Jungian Collective Consciousness?
That, I don’t know. But for now, I suspect the answer to all of these questions is “yes”.