Major Religions & Spiritual Beliefs, Wicca Theology, Paganism
Wiccan TheologyAlthough Wiccan views on theology vary, the vast majority of Wiccans venerate a Goddess and a God. These are variously understood through the frameworks of pantheism (as being dual aspects of a single godhead), duotheism (as being two polar opposites) or polytheism (being comprised of many lesser deities). In some pantheistic and duotheistic conceptions, deities from diverse cultures may be seen as aspects of the Goddess or God.
Traditionally the God is viewed as a Horned God, associated with nature, wilderness, sexuality and hunting. The Horned God is given various names according to the tradition, and these include Cernunnos, Pan, Atho and Karnayna. At other times the God is viewed as the Green Man, a traditional figure in art and architecture of Europe, or as a Sun God (particularly at the festival of Litha, or the summer solstice). Another depiction of the God is as the Oak King and the Holly King, one who rules over Spring and Summer, the other who rules over Autumn and Winter.
The Goddess is usually portayed as a Triple Goddess with aspects of 'Maiden', 'Mother' and 'Crone', though she is also commonly depicted as a Moon Goddess.
Some Wiccans see the Goddess as pre-eminent, since she contains and conceives all; the God is the spark of life and inspiration within her, simultaneously her lover and her child. This is reflected in the traditional structure of the coven. In some traditions, notably feminist Dianic Wicca, the Goddess is seen as complete unto herself, and the God is not worshipped at all, though this has been criticised by members of other traditions.
According to Gerald Gardner, the gods of Wicca are prehistoric gods of the British Isles: a Horned God and a Great Mother goddess. Modern scholarship has cast doubt on this claim, however various different horned gods and mother goddesses were worshipped in the British Isles in the ancient and early mediaeval period.
A more polytheistic approach holds the various gods and goddesses to be separate and distinct entities in their own right. Pantheistic systems may conceive of deities not as literal personalities but as metaphorical archetypes or thoughtforms. While these conceptualizations of deity duotheism, polytheism and pantheism may seem radically different from each other, they need not be considered mutually exclusive: Some Wiccans may find it spiritually beneficial (or magically practical) to shift among one or another of these systems, depending upon time and circumstance.
Wiccan writers Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone have postulated that Wicca is becoming more polytheistic as it matures, tending to embrace a more traditionally pagan worldview.
GodheadGardner stated that a being higher than the God and the Goddess was recognised by the witches as the Prime Mover, but remains unknowable. Patricia Crowther has called this supreme godhead Dryghten, and Scott Cunningham called it "The One". This pantheistic or panentheistic view of God shares similarities with beliefs such as the Hindu Brahman.
AnimismWicca is essentially an immanent religion, and for some Wiccans, this idea also involves elements of animism. A key belief in Wicca is that the Goddess and the God (or the goddesses and gods) are able to manifest in personal form, most importantly through the bodies of Priestesses and Priests via the rituals of Drawing down the Moon or Drawing down the Sun.
There is no consensus as to the exact nature of these elements. Some hold to the ancient Greek conception of the elements corresponding to matter (earth) and energy (fire), with the mediating elements (water, air) relating to the phases of matter (fire/earth mixtures). Other exponents of the system add a fifth or quintessential element, spirit (aether, akasha). The five points of the frequently worn pentagram symbolise, among other things, the four elements with spirit presiding at the top.
The pentagram is the symbol most commonly associated with Wicca in modern times. It is often circumscribed depicted within a circle and is usually (though not exclusively) shown with a single point upward. The inverse pentagram, with two points up, is a symbol of the second degree initiation rite of traditional Wicca; some Wiccans have alternatively been known to associate the inverted pentagram with evil. In geometry, the pentagram is an elegant expression of the golden ratio phi which is popularly connected with ideal beauty and was considered by the Pythagoreans to express truths about the hidden nature of existence.
In the casting of a magic circle, the four cardinal elements are visualised as contributing their influence from the four cardinal directions: Air in the east, Fire in the south, Water in the west and Earth in the north. There may be variations between groups though, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, since these attributions are symbolic of (amongst other things) the path of the sun through the daytime sky. For example, in southern latitudes the sun reaches its hottest point in the northern part of the sky, and north is the direction of the Tropics, so this is commonly the direction given to Fire.
Some Wiccan groups also modify the religious calendar to reflect local seasonal changes; for instance, most Southern Hemisphere covens celebrate Samhain on April 30 and Beltane on October 31, reflecting the southern hemisphere's autumn and spring seasons.
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