Why Wicca Works.
I've been considering the maxim "all paths are valid." This is an idea that most, if not all, of self-described pagans use to say that we should not criticize someone else's beliefs, as long as those beliefs 'work' for that person. This is possibly the most generic way of looking at religion/spirituality in the modern day.
It is really easy to criticize these maxims. What if someone finds God in the joy and exuberance of bloodshed? Is this path valid? What if someone believes they are God? Not an idea that they have a divine spark, but that they, themselves, should be worshipped as a deity? Certainly that can't be valid, right?
But, then I thought about one of the basic tenets of Wicca, or neo-paganism in general that comes, originally, from the Latin writer Apuleius' work The Metamorphoses:
All gods are one God, all goddesses are one Goddess, and there is one Initiator.
When I first began to seriously study the neo-pagan/Wiccan path, this concept was a bit foreign, and originally didn't sink in. It wasn't until the last 3-4 years that I really began to understand what this means. If you trace the origin of any deity, you see that He/She evolved from some various incarnation of one God or Goddess or another from any given region going all the way back to the Fertile Crescent and those lovely little Goddess figurines early peoples carved in veneration.
For example: The same Goddess we know as love personified, Aphrodite, has evolved from the Sumerian Inanna (who was over warfare), the Phoenician Astarte (fertility, sexuality, and war), the Etruscan Turan (vitality), and the Roman Venus. She also has much older correlations to various goddesses of the dawn, and others. Yet, we think of her as the silly Goddess who flippantly fixes people up for fun, flies around naked on a seashell, and screws whatever hot boytoy of the week she feels like. This oversimplified version of this aspect of the Divine works for some people, and not for others.
The wonderful point is that aspects of the Lord and Lady are not set in stone. This is why neopaganism/Wicca works. I do not have to worry about my God(dess) being only one particular way all of the time. Women going through childbirth are not condemned to look to the heavens and pray to a male deity known for vengeance to aide in the easing of her labor pains. We can speak to whatever aspect of the Divine we need to for whatever given purpose under the sun, or moon. There is a Divine force, an Initiator, a primal energy that binds and pushes the actions of the universe, and this force, I believe, is split into two aspects, as is all of creation. Just as everything has its opposite, it only makes sense that the Divine would be a duality. Thus, rather than being limited to one concept of deity, we are allowed to ebb and flow into all aspects of the divine. I can say a prayer to Ganesh just as easily as to Hermes, the Great Spirit, Kali, Bast, or Brigid.
This is why the statement "all paths are valid" works better than I originally thought it did. Though, I would like to make a small addendum, and say that "all deities are valid." While I may not believe that someone worshipping a rock is exactly right in the head, I believe that someone that speaks to the spirit of a mountain for guidance might just be onto something. The God and Goddess are in everything and have an endless number of faces. They are brilliant, and ugly, and fat, and thin, and every color under the rainbow, and gay, and bisexual, and have wings or fishtails or are simply the air around us, the earth beneath us, the fire that warms us, and the water that makes us. They are purely pure. There are criticisms that this path, and its followers, simply attach themselves to the neopagan/Wiccan logo as a way of not really believing in anything solid, but I firmly believe this path is astoundingly profound in its simplicity, and that uniqueness just can't quite be found in any other path.
Love and Lyte,