The truth is, even if UU’s embrace so many different sources and principles—to say nothing of the range of Druid beliefs—I do not believe I can function as an aspirant, let alone as a candidate or beyond, without further understanding of Christianity and its theological views of God, Christ, and doctrine. Growing up in Catholic High School, Elizabeth I, Catherine Parr and Anne Askew were my heroes because whatever Henry VIII’s motives in embracing aspects of Protestantism, it was the young intellectual women and girls who studied, questioned, learned, and carried the ideals of reformation and women’s education forward. I felt, and continue to feel, an intrinsic need to understand Christianity from a perspective that included but ranged outside Catholicism, and I suspect I always will.
In attempting to explain my belief in God and the nature of God, the stumbling blocks I run into most often are “as a UU do you believe in God as an all-powerful divine force, or do you embrace other sources that make up the foundation of your faith?”. –Because, of course, we have those, among them, Jewish and Christian teaching, the lives and works of prophetic men and women, humanist teachings and perspectives and the spiritual teachings of Earth-Based Religions (www.UUA.org). And of course people also ask me ‘If you are pagan, how do you express a belief in one God, if you can do so at all?’ Succinctly: I can and I can’t. Forest Church’s statement about God the Mother provides one vehicle for Unitarian Universalists to believe in an all-powerful God while also exploring other aspects of that God’s identity that may prove more healing, enlightening or comforting. Church’s perspective differs from foundation of my personal faith as a Pagan or Druid.
I believe in a compassionate Mother Goddess. The problem is, that because I believe in more than one deity, I may not worship every God or Goddess in existence (and in fact, based on my personal beliefs and the limitations of human physical endurance, I don’t) but I acknowledge other Gods and Goddesses. I may not be entirely convinced of every other Deity’s true existence and power, but the very premise of paganism, including pagan belief through a Druid lens, encourages me to believe this: if I believe my Gods are real, others believe their Gods are real—and the belief in multiple deities, by nature, obligates us to accept the principle that other gods are also extant in space, time, word and deed. This is why Church’s ‘loving’ maternal God is problematic. Goddesses that preside over warfare, death, untimely death, violence in nature, and even violence across the dimensions of all existence are worshiped all over the world. I am not sure that encouraging UU’s to look at just “the Goddess” and “God the Mother” as Church does—with such wonderful intentions and tolerance—is as holistic as a more thorough—if stark and unsettling—acknowledgement of all the faces of the Goddess.
The Goddesses I pray to most frequently in my personal spiritual practice are Irish and Gaulish/Britannic respectively. Brighid, primarily an Irish deity, although she has ties to Britain, is the suzerain of blacksmiths, poets (and therefore, arguably, Druids themselves), healers and midwives. Epona, worshiped in ancient Gaul and eventually in Britain, is a Goddess of earth, primarily horses, although she has healing properties and some connection to guiding the dead to the afterlife (Green).
I believe in Christ and, in fact, believe in his divinity—as I have mentioned to you before. I believe in his father as a very specific force. I tend to view the Christian “God” as a continuation of Elohim, the Lord in Hebrew Scripture and therefore for me, Christ as his son would, of course, be divine as well. After all, other deities I acknowledge, Isis, for instance, have children who are also divine. Even if I had not been raised a Christian, accepting Christ as the son of a God is much less of a novel idea to some pagans, myself included. In personal practice, although that is evolving for me, I’ll refer to “God,” meaning Biblical Elohim, “The Gods,” acknowledging the reality of deities I worship and those of other cultures, “The Living Gods,” or “Christ and the Living Gods” in an interfaith worship or, when working with UU’s I may also refer to “the spirit of life” in an attempt to avoid pushing any one deity down the spiritual throat of an atheist, agnostic or humanist.
Ironically, although I’m sure followers of Athanasius might have cheerfully stoned me in a convenient 4th century agora
(Not that this ever happened to smarter women, cough, AHHUMHARUMHP< Hypatia of Alexandria, humpharumph…), the idea of an infinite God resonates a lot with my personal spirituality. Many of the Gods, Goddesses and divine forces I worship, are, indeed guardians or aspects of the physical world we live in—earth, air, fire and water, poetry, metal craft, medicine and animals. The physical world, however, in its finite forms, has come together in its elements (the periodic kinds: iron, oxygen, etc.) from infinite sources. Everything on our world was once part of a star, and everything that was once in those respective stars came from other stars, or other electromagnetic activity before and beyond them. The spiritual entities that I view through the lens of this world are tied to our world either comprehended or slowly comprehending through time.
In their very connection to this world, just as in the case of my connection to this world, the deities or entities I revere come from those same elements that have traveled infinitely through space and time in one form or another. –The iron in my blood and in the veins of the Earth Goddess traveled through time and space, for instance. The gasses and solids that burn in the sacred fire of a UU chalice—or personify the Goddess Brighid—have also been traveling that same endless journey. It is my belief that my Gods and spiritual Guardians walk roads that I can never follow in conscious understanding. This forces them to choices that I can never fathom, choices that are not just about me and my prayers to them but follow the obligations of the Gods to the truth of those incomprehensible roads. The statement is both a metaphor for some of the commonly accepted science I’ve outlined and a belief routed entirely in the spiritual, non-corporeal realm. Even as I can respond to the images of star stuff and its kinship to me, and our relationship to space and time, it means something distinct to me when I say the Gods walk other roads. In the sight of my heart, in the space of meditation, sometimes I conceive a brief glimpse of this, a brief idea of the footsteps a Goddess or Guardian spirit might take, walking through the roads of existence itself, watching the stars and planets around and below them, drinking from solar winds and guiding souls through roads of nebulae and particles.
I do not feel entirely comfortable describing my own beliefs without repeating, forcefully, that they are only my view of the acts or nature of the Gods. I do not describe my ideas as unique or preferable to any one approach. They probably owe much more to the last scraps of my childhood imagination or my less focused adult perceptions than they do to any sound and logical structures of intellectual and well-thought out theology.