an existential ramble while washing the dishes
I’ve been thinking about how I, as a pagan and Buddhist, often respond to posts or comments from Christians about God. I’m often using masked language, to assuage their fears or misconceptions about me since I’m a witch in the Deep South, the Bible Belt, and must live among these people. They are my neighbors, my acquaintances in rescue and in activism, my fellow yoga practitioners. I often feel as though it’s safer to be queer in the Bible Belt than it is to be pagan. I don’t wear my pagan regalia publicly, but have no problem with having my rainbow or LGBTQ+ symbols seen. I’ve been threatened only once in my 30+ years of being pagan, and many of that a public priestess in NY and that was here, in Alabama, simply wearing a t-shirt.
So I will often choose to use language that’s couched in pleasing terms that I’ve heard used in yoga studios, that “God is Love” or that “it doesn’t matter what you call God, as long as you practice love and compassion”. And in many senses, that is true. In the Buddhist sense, it is most definitely true — compassion and loving kindness is all you need, you don’t need a “god” in any sense to be a practicing Buddhist; there is no religion involved.
Once upon a time, back when I was a hardcore elitist BTW (British Traditional Wicca, of the Alexandrian variety) participating in online pagan forums, I was often called a “fascist meanie poopoo head”, one of the “meanie brigade” that feasted on the “fluffy bunnies” in neopaganism that lacked critical thinking and would combine gods from disparate pantheons and say things like, “Wicca is whatever I want it to be.” No, no it’s not. I’m still a FMPPH, I used to have the t-shirt (yes, there were even t-shirts made once there were so many of us that corrected the misconceptions of newbies and fluffbunnies), and Wicca is a specific religion with specific deities and you can’t just stick Kali and Odin on your altar and call it Wicca. It might be fulfilling to you and you go on with your bad self but it’s not the initiatory Mystery Tradition with the particular Gods you meet in the initiation circle. End, full stop.
So. Why am I using this simplistic “fluff” analogy now? I was thinking about this as I washed the dishes yesterday.
Many years ago at my job, I was talking with a co-worker about this very topic on our smoke break, about creation and evolution and whether there was an “intelligent design” or it was God or what. He was (is) very Christian and believed in the Biblical take on creation. I, being a rational and non-Christian person, believed in evolution but was also willing to entertain the idea that there’s a “God” or Divine force that had a role in all of this. My rambling explanation as to what I believed happened has now become less of a ramble, and more of a “this makes sense to me” and also explains (to me) the existence of many Gods AND how we as humans understand them. It’s MY take on it all.
The Big Bang
(I am not a cosmologist, so please don’t roast me for not knowing the true physics. I’m paraphrasing.) Out of nothing, the Universe just expanded into existence. In my tiny little human mind, there was nothing…the void. Then two atoms appeared and somehow found each other and…boom. Things started to happen. They reacted and the Universe expanded and came into being. In a simplistic way, those two little atoms are positive and negative, Yin and Yang, God and Goddess. The ONE GOD, the ONE GODDESS and from them all the others come. Choose your pantheon, your culture, your time period…doesn’t matter. Heck …some other planet out there in some other galaxy — their Gods also derive from these two little atoms and these two ancient, simple, male/female, positive/negative, yin/yang, attracted to each other from across the yawning void of nothing to create it all. It matters not your gender identity or sexual preference in this creation story – it just takes the joining of two opposite halves to create.
BUT Where Did Those Two Atoms Come From??? Why Did They Exist In The First Place??
Whatever, or Whomever created them….is GOD.
That unknowable, unimaginable…FORCE. That WHATEVER that came from absolutely NOTHING and created two tiny little atoms, or particles that are literally just well…held together by FORCE and heat and gravity and stardust and all the other stuff we are made out of. THAT, to me, is the ultimate Mystery. You may speak to “God”, Jehovah, Allah, Krishna, Ares, Odin, Cernunnos, Ogun, take your pick. But They are made of this stuff. This same unknowable Mysterious force that made it all happen. Ultimately, that is ‘the one true God’ and IT is most likely completely unaware that we’re so in awe of it all.
All the others come from it, as do we. We are all made of this “star stuff” this same basic breakdown of the matter that made the Universe. We as humans just bound together in one form, on this one planet, with brains that think about how we got here and created the idea of divine beings to explain our existence. So I’ll never understand why we all fight over which God is the “right” God. They ALL exist. They are all worthy of reverence, or faith, or worship, if that is someone’s path. But WE are also of the same stuff and therefore — worthy of reverence (compassion) and faith (love).
So no, my God(dess) is not the same as my neighbor’s God. They are different. I have different rituals, different beliefs and different practices. But deep down, They are made of the same stuff. As am I. And I shall continue to treat my neighbors and acquaintances with the loving kindness and compassion that I do. It’s not always returned but that’s OK. They’re learning. And I will continue to use the analogy — it’s not wrong.