Arkadian Anvil: Hammering out a Pagan Future
Steel is tested and shaped on the anvil. Here, we try every Pagan idea on the anvil of history, hammered by insight and intellect, to forge a Pagan Future.
Creation and the Divine Being
As promised, I’m beginning below the process of building a positive notion of the Divine, a constructive, systematic, theology. Of course, this is built on my own thoughts and views developed from my studies of science and the humanities, informed by the various theologies and narratives I have been exposed to. It is the output of that internal discussion and so I’m not constructing this as an argument, rather as something of a discursive story.
I presume your milage will vary, and well it should. I’m not writing this for you to agree with me (although you are welcome to), rather as an expression of my thoughts on the matter and as an example of one way to do this. We can debate forever, but at some point we need to make and here is my current product, ever subject to change. Frankly, you should do this for yourself, based on your own foundation. Nor do I claim the below is complete. I expect to be adding to it as time goes on and this is just the first layer. There are many issues with the Divine that need to be discussed but that won’t happen in one blog post. For now I simply invite you to read, reflect, and if you wish, respond.
Before the beginning there was nothing. We can call it empty or full, but at this level there is no difference. In this nothing/void/pleroma (fullness) all of the primordial forms were equally present as are their opposites and so no particular form could exist. Thus, if there was anyone to see, there would be nothing to see. In no direction would anything look any different than any other direction. There was nothing.
At some point this changed, but before we discuss the change please note that the primordial nothing did not go away. What is (now) is surrounded and permeated by that nothing. Called Shunyata (emptiness) by Buddhists, or the Not by Thelemites, this ‘nothing’ is from which all arises and to which all returns and is the ultimate and fundamental (re-)source.
One, and Two
Being all, in an implicate manner, the Not contained awareness as yet unmanifest. This would change. At some point the hyper-symmetry of the Void broke. Whitehead described it as the ‘primordial Divine envisionment of the graded relevance all eternal objects’. Awareness (which we can all Divine or God, since it is from that beholding and Beholder that all awareness derives and from which act all creation arises), beholds a way in which all of the primordial forms, the forms from which all other forms will be derived, can be related to each other (their graded relevance), such that enduring existence can be. The ‘proof’ of this is that we exist in a world that endures.
This act of beholding is the primordial moment of creation. A quite probably ecstatic moment of, in hindsight, cosmic orgasm as Being explodes into existence (a big bang?), self-creating, screaming I AM! (AHIH in Hebrew), streaming light, perhaps the fundamental energy-matter/wave-particle, from which All will eventually condense or be compounded.
Three, and One
What results is a primordial Triad: Awareness, Form, and Energy (which we know now is none other than Matter, unless it is Energy patterned by Form, but we never see unpatterned Energy). The Awareness of the All has been called God, but history has made that word problematic. We tend to impose mammalian power dynamics on the word and project as well our human limitations and motives on it. We make of God a King or a Father. We apply gender to It. Mythologically the female gender would be a better choice being as she is productive in physical terms. But we are not up to gender yet, the world is simpler than that just yet. So for now we will use the term God, but advisedly, as the simplest form.
Once danger in the baggage associated with this word ‘God’ is the notion of transcendence. But, what I have come to see is that if there is a transcendence in God-nature it is that what is (Being) transcends all of our notions of It. Other than that, there is no point in any transcendentalism. Making God be outside Creation adds unnecessary complexity to the system. It seems to be a projection of our experience of giving birth or making things outside of ourselves. We are making God human-like and we are not that far along in our ‘story’. Rather, if there is nothing but God, where would there be an outside? What would there be to make with, other than God?
Not Immanence, either
Having eliminated transcendentalism, I wish also to eliminate ‘immanence’. There is no ghost in the machine. Here is an image that will illuminate the issue: Some say “God made the tree.” This is transcendentalism, God is outside the creation. Some say “God is in the tree”. This is immanence. You can cut up the tree all you like and not find God, but in some ineffable way, God is nonetheless ‘in’ the tree. Not good enough. What I say is that ‘God is the tree’. The tree is not all of God, a part is not the whole. But, by being, and by being a tree, the tree is none other than God, is ‘made of God’, is God taken form as a tree and so to touch the tree is to touch God. As so it is with all things. This is called ‘immediacy’. There is nothing to mediate between anything and God. Everything is a part of God and a manifestation of God. In my view all else is sacrilege as it denies God. But I am not one to impose my views on others. . .
A Choice of Names
This is what I mean when I use the term God. For variety, and to avoid over singularity and gender, I often use the term ‘the Divine.’ I may also use the term ‘the One’, if I am emphasizing the wholeness of Being taken as a single entity. I might similarly use the ‘Grand Unity of Being’ if I’m trying to avoid person-like entitativeness and overbearing oneness. Similarly, I might refer to The Whole or the Whole of Being. When I wish to foreground the complex unity of the world as living, aware, and divine I call it Cosmos. At base, none of these terms mean anything other than ‘God.’
One, and Many
Thus far we have focused on the one side of the plural-unity equation. To understand the Gods, we need focus on the other. By seeing how the Forms fit together into something that works, Awareness, a.k.a. God, established the primordial Forms in their relationships to each other as foundational structures of existence. In the same way as God and the Cosmos may be said to live, so it is with the Forms, they each live and have their own entitative existence in the system beheld by Awareness at the Beginning. As those structures, They are, or if you wish, They ‘rule’ a certain and necessary aspect of existence. At the most primordial, or highest, level of being they are the causes of that aspect of existence. Through Their combination and recombination they produce the unspeakable variety of the manifest world.
Anthropomorphic, as required
Since ancient times humans have related to these structures as persons, often bestowing upon Them human form and characteristics. Clearly, from the above, They are not human, or even human-like. How can that which structures the entire universe be at all like us? Yet, humans have directly experienced these Entities and most often they appeared like us. This is because we find it hard to relate to that which has no person-hood, no face or mouth to speak with, no ears to hear. (But how many of us talk to our cars or computers?) In interaction with us, They produce images or embodiments that we can relate to. While this has the downside of potentially over-anthropomorphizing the Gods, it lets us build a relationship with Them that is more intimate than the mechanics of the world. Also, by being anthropomorphic, it points the way to how we can be Them.
Having just touched the Divine Art of Invocation and the Mystery of Incarnation, for the moment we will stop here to reflect on this scientifically, mythically, and philosophically informed Pagan theology of the Creation and the Divine Being. Next, we will pursue the implications of this understanding in greater depth and detail.
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