Monism, One Wiccan Perspective

Durwydd MacTara

"Henotheism n. Belief in one god without denying the existence of others." (American Heritage Second College Dictionary)

"Monism n. philos. A metaphysical system in which reality is conceived as a unified whole." (American Heritage Second College Dictionary)

"Monotheism n. The belief or doctrine that there is only one God." (American Heritage Second College Dictionary)

"Pantheism n. 1. The doctrine identifying the Deity with the various forces and workings of nature. 2. Belief in and worship of all gods." (American Heritage Second College Dictionary)

"Polytheism n. The worship of or belief in more than one god." (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 worshipping 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 "Cthonotheism" (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.).) Courtesy of David Piper

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 Indo-Europeans."

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 Resurrection.'

The Lord of Death and Resurrection would seem, to any Christian to refer to Jesus Christ."

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, traditional remnant.

I, personally, also agree with Mr. Taylors' 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?

Blessed Be,
Durwydd MacTara

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