The God Map, Part 1

So many of my blogs need to have a preface saying, “I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a long time…”

Our Religious Exploration Coordinator conducted a workshop last year called The God Map. It was informative and provoked some great conversation.

The God Map, in a nutshell, attempts to pinpoint various major concepts of deity using an X axis (concrete to abstract) and a Y axis (transcendent to immanent).

Last night, we had a class on Neo-Paganism and the concepts of Deity present in modern-day Paganism, and we revisited the God Map.

Looking at the list, I realized that I was almost comfortable with any of the presentations and definitions.

My issue comes down to this: multiple views of Deity may be held at the same time. Some of them are mutually exclusive; some of them easily bleed into one another, and some may simply be different perspectives on the same thing with slight nuances that may or may not matter.

I am, and have been, in some capacity, an archetypalist for some time.

The definition given in relation to Paganism provided on a sheet of paper for us is this:

“Archetypalist- a Pagan who believes that the gods are psychological archetypes that are created in the mind of humans; we created the gods in our own image and out of our own needs. If humans ceased to exist, so would these gods.”

Here’s where I differ, besides the obvious aspect of not being Pagan and not self-identifying as such:

First, I would argue that archetypes are not created but are foundational to the human mind. In other words, in every human ever born, the archetypes exist. How the archetypes manifest according to time, place, and culture is where our god-images arise.

In other words, we don’t create god, but we do play dress-up with god.

This would extend and apply to saints, angels, spirits, demons, and what have you.

Now, where I might differ from other archetypalists on another level is that I see the foundational archetypes present in humans as a manifestation of cosmic archetypes.

In other words: there are patterns, rhythms, and principles that occur in Nature and in the Universe. These same patterns, rhythms, and principles then form organisms and manifest in the organisms as well.

To relate to deity is to relate to these patterns, rhythms, and principles that are present in the universe- we as humans have a special capacity to see it from our experience as human, our awareness that we’re aware, and it’s a meaningful and even FUN thing to do.

I could veer of and say this is wha ritual is about, this is what tradition is about, and so on, and in many ways, it is.

Anyway, I know I sometimes go off and become frustrated with other people’s perspectives, but that’s because all the above are things I take for granted as part of my worldview. When I talk about religion, I’m not talking about authorities abusing their power for the sake of money-grubbing; I’m talking about the wonder of relating to the infinity underlying and manifesting in all things.

Which means I’m probably actually a panentheist, but I have some mixed feelings about Matthew Fox, and we’re going to continue exploring these questions anyway.

Steve

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