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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Thinking about Gods

Gods are very important in the pagan religion but their role in Magic is a little less clear. My personal belief is that their is only One Thing that takes on lots of different roles. Paganism and modern paganism in particular with its Goddess obsession does as much to move me as the Christian idea of a male God. However the question then comes to the idea of worship. How do you worship One Thing? The sort answer is that you don't. It is as vain as worshiping yourself. You are part of the One Thing so you are just saying to another part of yourself how brilliant you really are. This is silly.
But I use Godforms a lot and so the question is what sort of relationship should you have with them?

Terry Prachett said in one of his books Lords and Ladies:

"Once you start paddlin' with the occult you start believing in spirits, and when you start believing in spirits you start believing in demons, and then before you know where you are you're believing in gods. And then you're in trouble."
"But all them things exist," said Nanny Ogg.
"That's no call to go around believing in them. It only encourages 'em."

If you replace the idea of believing in them with worshipping them you get where I am coming from here. I don't believe in worshipping gods any more than I might worship an aeroplane which takes me on holiday. Gods are masks, bits of the One Thing, which I use to get me from one state to another. A god or a bus it is the same thing. Now I can worship the One Thing through one of those fragments but it ends up being the same as worshipping the coffee table.
The Bible is full of references to “not worshipping idols” and what I think is meant here is don't worship fragments. Both you and Gods are fragments you are both equal so kneeling before them is not a good idea unless you BOTH are kneeling before the One Thing.
Gods are creations of the created tools to understanding... you don't want to go around worshipping them it only feeds their huge collective egos :-) .
The universe is made up of stories. When you use a godform you are choosing to look at he universe through one lens and through “one story”. There are many stories but you benefit from understanding the world through many different ones (it is when people think their story is the only one that people start getting burnt at the stake). In Aurora Aurea when we adopt a god form we are putting on a mask to understand a story or an aspect of the one thing which is above all stories.
Magicians are not priests. We do not have the job of bringing one story to others to believe in. We are looking for the story that suits us and living it.
So I see the Godforms as realised aspects of myself with the power to do more than me because they have a bit more history. But I don't think I would ever go around worshiping them.
BY the way the beautiful Green Man picture on the left  is one of Paola's.


  1. Hi Nick,

    Thanks for this post. You express the healthy magical approach very well. I am aware however that without care the concept and practice of using godforms blurs easily with using the gods. When this occurs the result is one where the magician begins to think s/he is larger or better than the Gods. Ego inflation and dysfunction soon follow. At least this is what I have seen in my short and limited time and experience.

    Now the GD originally required applicants to have a belief in a Supreme Being – One Thing in your terms. It never said we should worship it. However, I believe from the rest of the GD corpus we can see that tremendous respect and even awe was applied to the Gods and Godforms. This is something that often seems to be lacking in the modern GD community – again from my limited experience and bias.

    Often this lack of respect is couched and validated by a psycholgizing of magic, seeing all beings, demons, angels, gods etc as ‘within us’. If something is ‘within us’ then ipso facto we are greater than it. While the magical worldview does not say this and is in fact very subtle and profound encompassing both the ‘within’ and the ‘without’, I do feel we need to be very careful how we talk about Gods and godforms. It is all too easy, for those without direct magical experience of such matters to think within a too narrow field.

    My own personal understanding, informed by my teacher, is that we need to relate to, not worship, every being, name, letter, symbol, God etc we engage with in ritual magic. And this relationship, like any, is built and deepened over time through work, risk, intimacy and love.

    Thanks again :)

  2. I think I have seen the dangers of people worshiping their own creations as extensions of their egos too. "What I think Horus is trying to say is...." "The Opener of the Ways says that I am a great magician of the age" etc. I am also deeply suspect of things that want servants...

  3. First, when speaking of paganism in modern context its important to realise that there are in fact a few groups that do recognise that Robert Graves was speaking an awful lot of twaddle. Graves' focus on a universal Goddess worshipped across the ancient world was a romantic one and one that many modern pagans can't really avoid being lumped into because the coverage has been so widespread.

    Though I would AGREE most vehemently with your assertions concerning the limitations of one short story in the history of the world and the many cultures that have made it up and continue to make it. In my own practices and those that I know the role of the gods is one of exploration through familiarity for the community and the culture. I don't work with all the Irish gods but those that provide markers around my community and my life at this point.