My friend, Moonwater SilverClaw from the blog The Hidden Children of the Goddess, and I were having tea and a nice chat. I was in the middle of an existential crisis, like I sometimes am, where I question the very nature of the gods, the universe, and everything. Most of the time, I’m fine with how I feel deity is presenting itself to me but, sometimes I get locked in intellectual mode, stuck. I start doubting everything, including myself. And that’s the state she found me in when she arrived at my house.
So many thoughts were swirling around in my head and felt like they all needed to come out at that exact moment. So, while I busied myself turning on the kettle and grabbing a small portion of my extensive tea collection (any more would have overwhelmed most) so she could choose, I started firing off the ideas upon which I had been dwelling.
I was struggling with being 100% positive that the gods were separate individuals rather than different facets of one god and/or goddess but, I was 96% sure. I normally feel that They are as separate as you and I are from each other. And, just as we humans are all one, on a certain level, so are They. But, I wanted to be completely certain. I was tired of doubting my views. Sometimes, I wish They would just be completely clear.
When it comes to deity, or God and/or the gods/goddesses (whatever term you’d like to use), we’re sometimes given clues and occasionally, tossed an epiphany. But, how can our limited brains really understand infinity and/or another dimension or world? Sure, maybe we get incredible experiences that make us positive that we “know” the nature of deity but, they are short-lived. We’re left with a memory. Yes, some memories stick with us in a way that lays a permanent foundation for our spiritual views – like when I danced with my father’s soul soon after his death. Because of that dance, I am 100% certain that we have an afterlife. Other experiences have proved to me, completely, that Deity exists. I’ve felt Hekate’s hand on my left shoulder. I’ve felt Her presence in my soul, as I have Brigid and Manannan Mac Lir. The breath of the Lady and the fire of the Horned One reside within me.
As I explained all of this to my friend, I made certain to tell her that I while felt that these were my thoughts and experiences, it was totally cool if her experiences and thoughts about deity were different than mine. I started in on my normal spiel of we all experience deity differently and that was perfectly fine, even beautiful. Some of us are polytheists, some are monotheists, duotheists, and atheists. We can also be animists, pantheists, and would have kept going on (and on) when she spoke up. She said something so profound that it stopped me mid-sentence.
“What if the gods were like water?” she said.
She went on to talk about the nature of water, how it takes the shape of whatever cup it’s in. What if how someone experiences deity has to do with the shape of the cup they’re holding? The water is still the same, it doesn’t change even if the form of the cup changes. It may look different but, it’s still water I couldn’t help but think that this was a perfect way to explain to others why we see deity differently.
While there may be one universal truth, it’s impossible to fully comprehend infinity and/or another dimension/world, as I wrote before. There’s only so much our limited brains can comprehend, so we break down deity into what we can understand – ourselves and our surroundings. We limit It/Them into a being/or beings that we can understand. Sometimes, They/It imposes limits so our minds don’t explode.
I did have one trouble with the cup analogy, though. Each of us carrying a cup of water would suggest that we could put down the cup and pick up another one of our choosing. As a child, I would have loved to have been holding the same size and shape cup as my Catholic family. When I asked if confirmation of belief in God also meant that I believed in Jesus and they answered that of course, it did, I realized that I had to stop. I couldn’t continue forcing myself to follow the family’s faith. I couldn’t put down my cup and pick up one that looked like theirs. I couldn’t see things the same way as they did, no matter how much I wanted to.
What if, instead of us holding these various cups, we were the cups? What if we were the vessels of various and unique size and shape? So, when deity is “poured” into us (for lack of a better expression), our perception of deity would depend on the shape of our inner “cup”.
As we learned in school, water exists in 3 forms, liquid, solid, and gas. So what if our perception of deity didn’t just have to do with the shape of our cups but, the state of the “water”?
Someone whose Deity/water state was like ice, would have a more solid view of the Gods. Their view wouldn’t leave room for much doubt. Perhaps, their deity would also be frozen in time with unchanging qualities. They might look more to history to offer the Gods exactly what They’ve always liked rather than try a new offering.
Another, whose deity/water state was like liquid might view the Gods more as flowing, changing, and evolving. Mat Auryn wrote a beautiful blog entitled “Deity as a River”.
Someone else, whose deity/water state is like gas would have an airier view of the gods. Their god/s might be more omnipotent, infinite, and esoteric. Perhaps, their deity would be more defined as a force like love rather than having a personality or a gender. They might use words like “the divine” or “the universe” to describe their god.
I’m coming to realize that this viewpoint of a universe with different forms of thinking from the solid (“rigid”) all the way to expansive (“air”) provides two blessings. First, we have an understanding and perhaps, more tolerance for different perspectives. Second, we can take comfort that the universe is expansive enough for such diversity and even admit that we are still all connected.
This was originally published in Pagan Bloggers on September 7, 2017