The Nature of the Divine
How many of you have been asked to explain what you mean when you talk about the Divine/Deity/Gods etc? Have you struggled to have it make sense to the person asking? Have you struggled to come to a solid conclusion in your own mind? How do you put that into words? Do you think it even matters?
I think this is one area in which those that follow a pagan path(1) counter resistance not only among ourselves but from those outside our belief system. Firstly, the practical - there is such a diversity among those who practice Pagan faiths as to what the nature of their divine is. Sadly, despite the claims to be inclusive I've also found that many do not like it if your idea and their idea do not mesh well together. It is virtually impossible to come up with a definition of the divine to a pagan that would happily satisfy all participants and so do we try? Should we try? I had this discussion recently in a class of mine over the nature of faith and the inability to define it because it was faith which by its nature cannot be 'proven'. Secondly, a common grounds for evidence. Generally speaking most of the more modern pagan faiths do not have a sacred text and for many outside the system this lack of text amounts to a lack of evidence for our belief in the divine. A majority of paths claim to get their evidence from nature, yet the conclusions drawn can still be quite varied.
Does it all even matter? I know some claim that theology is not important to the pagan system. That an intellectual understanding and discussion is secondary to our practices, that to act is more important and I have to wonder at this. While I believe that participation and practice are vital to connecting and growing I cannot discount the need to have some understanding of where it is all coming from. Perhaps it is the teacher/historian in me that wants to understand but I find it difficult to fully participate in anything when I can't explain to someone why I do it. If I don't have a clear idea in my head of what the divine is to me, what is sacred, how prayer works, etc how can I practice and participate fully. How can I call upon or connect to the divine if I don't understand what it is I'm connecting to. For me personally I think we should take time out of our practices to solidify our understanding.
1. I should clarify here that when discussing pagan paths I am mostly referring to the modern pagan systems.