MONISM, One Wiccan Perspective Durwydd MacTara Henotheism n. Belief in one god without den
MONISM, One Wiccan Perspective
Henotheism n. Belief in one god without denying the existence of others.
Monism n. philos. A metaphysical system in which reality is conceived as a
Monotheism n. the belief or doctrine that there is only one God.
Pantheism n. 1. The doctrine identifying the Deity with the various forces
and workings of nature. 2. Belief in and worship of all gods.
Polytheism n. The worship of or belief in more than one god.
(all definitions from American Heritage Second College Dictionary)
"To witches, deities manifest in different ways and can be worshipped and
contacted through any form suitable to local conditions and personal needs.
Wicca does not believe, as do the patriarchal monotheisms, that there is only
one correct version of God and that all other God forms are false: the Gods of
Wicca are not jealous Gods. We therefore worship the personification of the
male and female principles, the God and the Goddess, recognizing that Gods are
aspects of the One God and all Goddesses are different aspects of the one
Goddess, and that ultimately these two are reconciled in the one divine essence."
(Vivianne Crowley, WICCA: The Old Religion in The New Age, pp. 11-12)
Vivianne Crowley, a very capable spokesperson for British Traditional Wicca,
identifies the core belief of Wicca (at least BTW) as Monism in the piece
quoted above. However, she also opens the door to defining Wicca as
duotheistic in principle with the subdivision of the monist reality into the
praxis of worshiping both Lord and Lady.
However, there is yet a THIRD level of obscurity in Wiccan Praxis! Most
Wiccans worship a threefold Goddess (Maid, Mother, and Crone) and many also
worship at least a twofold God. So, are the Wicca REALLY polytheists or
perhaps pantheists or even modified Henotheists as some have claimed? Or,
perhaps, a new category altogether needs to be invented to accurately
describe Wiccan belief and practice.
One suggestion has been made to add a word to our Thea/Theo-logical lexicon,
perhaps "Chthonotheism" (provided we MUST have a "Theism") to describe "Theistic
Wicca." One advantage is that it makes the assumption of worshipping that which
was there to be found and worshipped, NOT a Deity or deities invented in 1939!
(More on this later.)
The following is the only published copy of the (Gardnerian) Blessing Prayer
that I know of.
"In the name of Dryghtyn, the Ancient Providence, Who was from the beginning
and is for eternity, Male and Female, the Original Source of all things;
all-knowing, all-pervading, all-powerful; changeless, eternal. In the name
of the Lady of the Moon, and the Lord of Death and Resurrection. In the name
of the Mighty Ones of the Four Quarters, the Kings of the Elements. Blessed
be this place, and this time, and they who are now with us."
("Witch Blood! The Diary Of A Witch High Priestess!"
by Patricia Crowther in chapter four [paperback edition 1974,
House Of Collectibles, Inc.].)
Airmid (aka Erynn Darkstar), a contemporary craft scholar and researcher says
of this new (to most of us) name of Ultimate Deity:
"Dryghtyn is also the name used for JHVH in some old English bibles. I think
that was where the term actually originated. I think I saw a passing reference
to it in some boxed comparative translated text in "In Search of the
Grendel, an Asatruar from Seattle suggests the "Dryghtyn" may be an alternative
spelling of the Teutonic "Drighten" meaning "Lord." I admit this is interesting
to me, as the closeness of the linguistic link between the Old English and Old
German languages has been a scholarly "fact" widely known for many years.
As a side issue, this might be some evidence that runs contrary to the thesis
put forth by Aidan Kelly that Gerald Gardner "manufactured" Wicca in 1939.
From personal experience, I have found that one unique distinction of the non
BTW strains of Witchcraft (some times called "FamTrads" of Family Traditions)
is the incorporation of old Christian Imagery, often including ArchAngels for
the four directions or elements. Though this instance does not include
Archangels, it DOES include archaic (and relatively unknown) Christian
terminology. If Gardner did discover a remnant of the Old Religion upon which
he based his modern reconstruction effort, it is this sort of linguistic
"artifact" which would have survived. Perhaps a more scholarly investigation
than Mr. Kelly's will "turn up" more evidence?
Jim Taylor, an Eastern Orthodox Theologian, also makes two (to me) illuminating
statements, concerning "The Dryghtyn Prayer":
1. "'In the name of Dryghtyn, the Ancient Providence, Who was from the
beginning and is for eternity, Male and Female, the Original Source of all
things; all-knowing, all-pervading, all-powerful; changeless, eternal.'
"This would be, entirely, an acceptable way of describing God, both for most
Jews and for most Christians."
2. "'In the name of the Lady of the Moon, and the Lord of Death and
"The Lord of Death and Resurrection would seem, to any Christian to refer to
This evidence of a possible mixing of an older (unrecorded) Christian Prayer
may lend further credence to Gardners' claims of building on an older, hidden,
I, personally, also agree with Mr. Taylor's statement that "the idea of Wicca
being 'manufactured' in 1939 is far too pat, and ignores a great deal which
ought not to be ignored. At the very least, some degree of recognition
should be accorded to the obvious fact that most Wiccan practices and attitudes
predate Wicca by considerable periods of time--possibly even millennia".
The existence of Monism, Duotheism, and Polytheism simultaneously in the
belief structure of Wicca is one good example of one of the Five Mysteries
of Wicca, that of Union. Wicca is a mystery religion, a PARTICIPATORY
religion, and much of its symbology must be lived and practiced to have
meaning because much of the real (some say hidden meaning is based on the
knowledge of experience and not the intellectual knowledge of mere logic and
conscious thought processes.
I am an eclectic Wiccan with strong ties in my beliefs and practice to
British Traditional Wicca. I am a Monist, yet I have had strong direct
experience with Brigid, Danu, and the Morrigan as well as the Earth Mother
and the Horned Lord of the Forests. So my personal answer to the question
of "What kind of Theism fits Theistic Wicca?" is "several, or none; it is not
really a valid question in those limited terms!" But perhaps the concept of
"Chthonotheism" would give a better label to this concept when attempting to
discuss the idea of the peculiar theism unique to Wicca?
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank