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So I’m talking with one my best girlfriends this morning, pacing around her kitchen as she cooks up some kale, and I’m telling her the story of me being told by a women that,

“Women, by nature, understand the Goddess better than men,”

or that,

There’s just something about women that makes it easier for us to understand human emotions,”

or some other such gender-stereotypical malarky.

I told her how there was going to be this paradigm shift from God-centered spirituality to Goddess-centered spirituality, and that I didn’t know what that meant for men (who, in this new paradigm stood the chance of becoming othered from the Goddess, just as for centuries woman have been othered by a “male” God).

Then, my friend, in true lioness form, puts the spatula down and says,

You need both. You need the Goddess and the God. You need the balance. You can’t just have one, or say that we’re moving from one to the other.

You. need. both.

Picture it: clouds part in the kitchen, the eggs sizzling in the background, and Clarity in the form of my friend arrives with the Goddess on one arm and the God on the other. Together they surround the fiercest woman I know and say to me — “See… we’re both here.”

Holy crap… I think I may be a Wiccan, I thought to myself.

Gender’s big on my brain at the moment. The Goddess, or the Divine Feminine (not sure if the capitalization is necessary), made her way through my last blog post, and she isn’t going anywhere soon, it seems.

A common theme in the responses, which at this point number well over 50, is that the idea of the Goddess taking center stage and replacing the God is false. Or, rather, it’s incomplete because it’s imbalanced. The problem in the logic, in this attempt to conceive of or work within some Goddess-exclusive paradigm, is in thinking that either God or Goddess should – or could – take the place of the other.

Standing in the kitchen, this God/Goddess balance finally made sense to me. It seemed correct, logical. It may still be lacking (isn’t everything lacking just a little bit?), but it felt right.

But What Will The Druids Say?

I’m an ADF Druid for a little over a year now, and there’s much about the group’s theology that I’m still wrestling with. They are not Wiccan, they’ll have you know. Nowhere close. They edge nearer to Reconstructionism, the practice of approximating and seeking to recreate the religious and cultural practices of an ancient culture within a modern context, than does the other group to which I belong – OBOD.

The OBOD model has a great deal of flexibility built within it, as it isn’t really a religious system as much as it a philosophical one. There are OBOD members for whom the idea of God and Goddess working together makes perfect sense, and they hold that theological tenant while still perceiving their path to be druidic, in nature. Some OBOD’ers even practice what is called, DruidCraft, a blending of Revivalist Druidry and Wicca.

Maybe that’s where I’m headed?

Personally, I think that we live in a world of many Gods (intentionally capitalized, because I think they’re distinct, divine beings), and I also think that this idea of God and Goddess may speak to something very true.

What I’m not sure of is how to reconcile those differing theological viewpoints.

Forgive me for my machinations, but I feel this need to find and develop a firm religious identity; one that is exactly what it is, and that functions in a clear, delineated way. I want something that simply is one thing.

But then, I’m standing in the kitchen with my friend, who’s not a Wiccan, thinking that Wiccan theology makes a lot of sense, just as parts of ADF Druidism make a lot of sense, and OBOD philosophy makes a lot of sense, and I come face to face with the awareness that it all makes sense, a little.

My need for something firm and fixed is countered by an awareness that Divine Reality, if there is such a thing, is actually formless and fluid.

Despite my best efforts, I end up walking between these conflicting ideas, trying to hold the tension between the two. This seems like my spiritual and religious path, to be honest: some sort of Sacred In Between-ness.

Ok, Bishop In The Grove readers — here’s where you come in. Let’s keep the conversation going.

How do these insights resonate with you? Have you had a similar experience of being in between traditions, and if so, does that feel comfortable to you? How have you been able to reconcile conflicting ideas about the God, the Goddess, or The Gods?

Post your thoughts, musings or questions in the comment section, and then click “Share” to post to Facebook, Tweet it, or pass it along to a friend who you think might have something interesting to contribute.

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34 Responses to Holy Crap… I think I may be a Wiccan

  1. I think that while we may, as individuals, be pulled more toward one side or the other that a balance between the masculine and feminine is the most balanced and makes the most sense. Throughout different cultures you find sets of things that work best together (you can consider the yin-yang a good example). In the end, it’s just what works for me.

    I also like the OBOD philosophy in that there is a lot of information without a forced dogma. If one is to see religion as experiential you have to allow for experience to guide you rather than the beliefs of another. In the end we all have those Gods that speak to us and have to be free to experience and walk with them.

  2. Ursyl says:

    Near as I can tell from the ADF rituals I’ve had the joy to attend, both Goddesses and Gods are acknowledged and needed. I see balance there, without the reduction of Goddesses to one Goddess or Gods to one God.

    • Sisterlisa says:

      I have been in fellowship with an ADF grove and find plenty of metaphors similar to my own, so the rituals are vibrant for me and full of spiritual nourishment. ūüôā

  3. Kayla Luckey says:

    *found your post via the Patheos share on FB

    Your post is very interesting to me because I actually *started* with OBOD about 8 years ago, and have still found their philosophy to be so very accommodating that I never cease to find identity there. Over the years I have developed a much more Witchy Druidry for myself than I ever thought I would. I would not say it is a blending of Wicca and Druidry, as I have never identified with the strict theology of Wicca (nor of ADF), so much as Witchcraft and Druidry.

    Eloquent post, I shall follow you sir.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think humans are nearly smart enough, wise enough, insightful enough, or just plain big enough to apprehend what IS or IS NOT about the gods.

    But maybe that’s just me projecting my limitations onto others. If others out there are smart enough to understand the gods, power to them. I’m certainly not.

    I’m one of those philosophical OBODies that thinks the best way to deal with the gods is whatever way makes the most sense in the moment — it’s as likely as any other way to be right.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is where I am at as well Рthere are several deities that I have met and honour, but I do not think that humans have the capability to comprehend the gods.

      Also, FIVE TONS OF FLAX.

  5. √Āine says:

    “Despite my best efforts, I end up walking between these conflicting ideas, trying to hold the tension between the two.¬†This¬†seems like my spiritual and religious path, to be honest: some sort of¬†Sacred In Between-ness.”

    Oh my goodness, this. ¬†Very, very this. ¬†I’ve studied and walked the paths of Wicca, Druidry, Celtic Reconstructionism, and none of them quite is “The One” for me. ¬†

    I wonder some times if this is exacerbated for me by my gender identification and sexual orientation, both of which exist as neither this nor that, and at this time, that seems to be applying a lot of pressure to my spirituality, as well.  

    To one degree or other, I’m working on coming to peace with the liminal spaces and I find that part of the process, for me, is to let go of the labels and just let things be as they are, even if I don’t always ave words for them.

    Thank you so much for sharing this, it resonated very deeply with me.

  6. Aj / Melia says:

    I am a Hellenic Polytheist.  But that is an over simplification.  I am a polytheist in that I acknowledge that there are many Gods yet I tend to only honor a select few.  Unlike many Pagan females that I have met, my main deity is male with only occasional inputs from a goddess.  I am Hellenic in that the Gods I honor are Greek in origin yet they are not static so are not confined to that time period.  I have not left my past beliefs behind.  There are spiritual elements from my past that still hold a place in my current practice.  My practice is an accumulation of my past experiences yet always taking on new (or new to me) modes and methods.  So from the outside looking in, it may appear that I am between traditions but really I am exactly where my Gods and my experiences have led me.

  7. For me, personally, my spiritual beliefs are very fluid.  As I learn, grow and change as a person, the way I look at the way I work with the Gods changes as well.  

    I think that’s the way religion should be. ¬†It should ¬†be a balanced, every changing path that goes round full circle.

    • Kate Dennis says:

      I too have a flowing spirituality. I’m definitely a witch, but everything else shifts continuously in my spiritual exploration. The road keeps bending for me.

    • Kourtney says:

      I’d have to say the same is true for me as well. I¬†straddle¬†to different systems, but because I allow it to become fluid, not cementing into one thing or the other, I can mold my spirituality to myself. And since I’m always changing, so is the way I work within my belief system.¬†

  8. Myself, I find gender to be pretty much irrelevant to my religious practices.¬† Or most of my non-religious practices.¬† But I know I’m in the minority on that one.¬† >8)

    As far as what group you “belong’ in, ultimately that’ll be up to you.¬† ADF’s orthopraxic stance keeps us very open to people with different beliefs.¬† (Except the ones who think we should be orthodoxic instead, and yeah, they’re out there.)¬† I’ve been a member of the Clergy Council for nearly ten years, and even I don’t agree 100% with every official stance, never mind what other members think.¬† (Ask me about my relative indifference to the Earth Mother some time.)¬† But they’re the best match for me to do the stuff I wanna do, so they’re the ones I’m sticking with.

  9. Moma Fauna says:

    A dear Druid friend & reader of yours shared this article on Facebook. I am so glad she did.

    I am a Sacred In-Between & have been for a very long time.

    Perhaps it was because I spent my baby Pagan days as a ‘Wiccan’ (or so I thought) among Asatru. Perhaps it is because I have always spoken with a multiplicity of deities; female, male & in-between. Perhaps it is because I read too much, question everything, dislike structure & very often prefer to get my input from the gods (or Gods, if you prefer) than from people.

    After all this time, I feel more certain about what I am *not.* It can be frustrating, not being “textbook,” yet there is a certain liberty to being undefinable, religiously & spiritually feral. That said, it sure makes it complicated during introductions. Everyone else can say, “Hi, I’m Nancy & I am a practicing insert-path/tradition-here.”

    I’m going to make someone mad by saying this, but I think the denial of the masculine divine in favour of the the feminine divine is malarkey. I guess that makes me something of a subscriber to the gender dualism in the divine concept (except that I don’t really think it is that simple). But I agree with your friend & I have found myself saying the very same thing from time to time.

    In a blogosphere of people presenting themselves as very certain about what they are & what they believe & what they “know,” it is refreshing to find someone questioning themselves out loud. It makes me feel that I am in good company. Thank you.

  10. Stephanie Zibbell says:

    Personally, I don’t think the two ideas are mutually exclusive. I’m also a member of ADF, I practice Hellenic polytheism, I believe that there are many distinct gods, and I have no problem with the idea of the God and the Goddess, or even one genderless God. No way of confirming this, but I don’t think the ancient Greeks would either.¬†

    According to the common ancient Greek idea of the birth of the world and the gods, everything ultimately comes from one source, genderless. That gives way to other beings, and then they have many many descendants. The Orphics recognized Aether as the soul of the world, and saw all life emanating from that. So I think it could easily be said that Aether is in everything, in the sense that the God and Goddess might be. All gods, all people, completely transcendent. And yet, it’s also separate from all of those beings.¬†

    I’m very comfortable with the idea of God and Goddess as names for a universal masculine and feminine energy that are simultaneously separate from and dwelling within all of the other gods. That doesn’t make the other gods merely aspects of the God and Goddess, it means that “god” is a very broad category and we’re talking about two very different types of beings here.

  11. Michael Hardy says:

    You’ll find the Ancient Order of Druids in America to be close to OBOD in philosophy and much more affordable to be part of. They too are very different from ADF. Me, I’m a few weeks into the ADF Dedicant program and so far liking it a lot — Wiccan theology doesn’t resonate with me much, and while I like the people I know who are associated with AODA, I like that ADF offers a specifically pagan training program.

  12. Nara says:

    I am Wiccan. I’ve been in many a Spiritual In-Between before and probably will be again. Just this summer I thought I might be a Kemetic Reconstructionist. Wicca seems to be my spiritual home-base though,¬†¬†it’s the path I keep coming back to in the end and¬†it’s the path that, in the end, resonates most deeply with me. Still, I love learning about other paths and will probably venture into many more In-Betweens in the future — they always teach me something valuable, for example, my foray into Kemeticism helped me sort through and define the way I view Divinity (for the moment anyway ūüėČ ).¬†

    I discovered this post on Facebook and have read a few others and I like what I’ve read so far. I shall keep reading ūüôā Til next time~¬†

    • Nara says:

      “Personally, I think that we live in a world of many Gods (intentionally capitalized, because I think they‚Äôre distinct, divine beings), and I also think that this idea of God and Goddess may speak to something very true.¬†What I‚Äôm not sure of is how to reconcile those differing theological viewpoints.”¬†
      I have similar views. The way I reconcile it is that the Wiccan Goddess and God are sort of a Pantheon unto themselves, like the Celtic Pantheon, Egyptian Pantheon, Greek Pantheon and so on¬†(I personally don’t agree with the “all gods are the God, all goddesses are the Goddess” way of thinking– I think it’s kind of imperialist and unfair to other religions and their Gods). All of the pantheons are equally real groups of equally real divine individuals. In addition, I think there are more primal, less-easily-definable divine energies which created the universe, are inherent within the universe, and keep the universe running (which you could call God/Godess, Shakti/Shiva, the Force, physics, what have you), and it is from these more primal energies that the individual Gods came into being. When I think of needing both God and Goddess, I think of needing a balance of those primal energies, it can’t just be energies of conquering, sacrifice, and battle all the time, it needs to be balanced out with energies of coexistence, self-love, and peace (the fact that we associate some of those with God/masculine and some with Goddess/feminine is arbitrary – they are primal forces beyond gender, though we might call them God/Goddess for simplification purposes). [/my two cents]

  13. I came to Paganism, speficially Wicca, via feminism and goddess consciousness. As a child and adolescent in a loosely Catholic home, I was unable to connect with God and Jesus. As a Pagan, I still struggled to connect with male deities. Mythologies around male deities are often heavy with stories of violence and rape and I just couldn’t get behind that. It’s ironic perhaps that when I had my crown reading in Santeria, I turned out to be a daughter of Ogun, a male warrior orisha often (mis)understood as being bloodthirsty even. It’s taken me a few years to be able to reconcile with male gods, but my spirituality feels more whole now.

    I understand Wiccan theology, but lack knowledge in Druidry to identify how the two conflict. I’ve run into conflicts trying to reconcile Wicca and Santeria and have explored other religions briefly, but ultimately I am Wiccan. I find that Wicca offers the flexibility to explore and incorporate bits from other paths because it is more focused on practice than belief.¬†

  14. kenneth says:

    “I want something that simply¬†is one thing.”……………………………..You picked the wrong universe to be born into! ¬†The truth of it all is much too large and complex to be contained within any one religion, or for that matter tradition within a set of religions. ¬†Wicca, or Druidry, are both human constructs. The only human divine interaction which matters is the one which takes place between you and them. ¬†As you discern and experience that, you may find that understanding resonates well with Druid practice, or Wicca, or some other trad, or none of the above.¬†

    People in neo-paganism tend to spend too much time and effort worrying “What am I” ie what trad? ¬†I think in part its a habit of mind carried over from Christianity, where the whole name of the game was to sort out which denomination was God’s Real Operating System. ¬†I have found that “What am I?” is not nearly as important a quest on these paths as the work to learn “Who am I?” As you begin to do that hard work over months and years, you come to understand more of who you are, and who your gods are. You find that the ritual forms or cosmology or even just the sort of people you meet in some trads facilitate your devotional and magckal development better than others. ¬†Trads are just tools in the journey, not the point of the journey. ¬†You might find that you are Wiccan after all, or not. You might find that part of your life’s journey was best taken and learned in Druidry, another part in Wicca, another in Hellenic or something we haven’t even thought of. ¬†My own journey took me from solitary to a fairly traditional Wiccan coven to a more eclectic Wiccan(ish) trad and group I helped found. ¬†In between was some more time as a solitary and a brief journey into Thelema and the OTO.¬†

  15. I very much like the idea of “Spiritual In-Between”. ¬†I came into the pagan world through an eclectic blend of Wicca and have recently joined the ranks of the ADF and OBOD. ¬†I enjoy what they each have to teach me, but I’m not sure that either one is going to be my “one true path”. ¬†

    I seek to balance the traditions and things from Wicca that support me, while integrating the things from Druidry that support me. ¬†I’ll probably come out with some sort of Witchy-Druidic result that works for me.

  16. Kilmrnock says:

    Teo, you must find what fits your own mind and feelings . I am an ADF druid and Sinnsreachd.Iin the Gealic/celtic pantheon i’ve found what works for me .¬†I am of Celtic heritage , this works for me .I have no problem w/ the whole god/godess concept b/c within our pantheon we have both gods and godesses as do most polytheistic pantheons .My Adf grove is Celtic Focused ,we follow the Tuath de Dannon as does SinnsreachdTthe Later has a tribal element that goes quite well w/ the celt mindset In the Modern celt beliefs there is a strong equality amoung our gods and a strong code of ethics/ conduct that also suits me .Kilm

  17. Kilmrnock says:

    Cossette……….where Wicca uses jugian concepts like architypes and a duothiest approch, Druidry , atleast ADF uses Indo -European pagan concepts and deities . In ADF Druidry a person is encouraged to choose a particular pantheon within the afore said reilgions. Druids in general are Hard polythiests working within one pantheon usually of their ancestry. I am Scottish , therfore i use a Celtic pantheon, the Tuath de Dannon. where as¬†Wicca says all gods are of the god and godess. We druids have a major problem w/ that , we see our gods as individuals , by name ……..not an architype. And we donot mix gods , we stay strictly within our chosen pantheon

    • That’s one possible approach to Wicca and I think it was more common in its early days. That’s not my approach nor that of my coven mates or other Wiccan friends.¬†

      • Ian Phanes says:

        Actually, that would have been *very* uncommon in the early days of British Traditional Wicca (1950’s-1960’s).¬† It was most common during the period when the word Wicca got stretched and stretched again to no longer mean anything specific (the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, in particular).

        • Are you referring to Wicca or British Traditional Witchcraft? Or something else altogether? It’s been a while since I read Gardner, but I think he identifies the deities of Wicca as a lunar goddess and a horned god. He doesn’t describe a pantheon of gods and I don’t recall references to archetypes. I thought both of these were later developments. My approach to Wicca and that of my coven and most Wiccan friends is one with a polytheistic practice.

  18. Kilmrnock says:

    And as far as being inbetween traditions i have spent some time there as well . while on my long, interesting journey to say the least. having been on my pagan path for over 25 yrs , i started out sorta wiccan , altho¬†there was things about wicca i couldn’t reconcile¬†.after a difficult coven experience i became a traveler on the warrior path , spent a fair amount of time working there. now my path has morphed to Druid warrior/Sinnsreachd.this has been a long strange journey , but now i’ve found where i feel completly comfortable …….where i belong. the point of all of this don’t get discouraged , your path will change / morph over time w/ experience and pain , but hopefully we will¬†¬†all find our place.¬†¬†¬† Kilm

  19. Will Dees says:

    In my experience, all spokes are part of the same wheel. Everybody is trying to reach the Divine, but we use different language based on culture and experience. Now, if it so happens that being a little bilingual (religiously speaking) gives you a better understanding of the Divine, then so be it. 

    We’re not like the monotheists obsessed with the One Right Way to Be (and willing to go on Holy Crusade to prove we have that ORWtB and to enforce it). ¬†I consider myself a Wiccan, who often has the perspective/attitude/outlook/worldview/whathaveyou of an Asatruar, and the Sumerian goddess Inanna as patroness. ¬†

    I think most people you run into in the Pagan world are going to be somewhere on the spectrum of Sacred In Between-ness, and that’s probably a result of living in the Information Age, where we can pick and choose what feels best, instead of having grown up with the same beliefs that our village/tribe has had for centuries, like the Paleo-Pagans did.

  20. Kilmrnock says:

    Leona , we have a few of those that attend our grove in ADF. We/they call themselves Druitches.    Kilm

  21. Sisterlisa says:

    I’m a Christian and I believe in having a balance between male and female gender Deity. There are several examples of God having female attributes and even though much of Christianity disagrees with this, I just tend to think outside the box. ūüėČ And even though I consider myself a Christian by tradition, my spiritual life is more fluid and growing over time and I find more freedom that way. If there is a wide enough open space between the Druid community and Wiccan to find your balance in between, then why not enjoy both? Why do we need to continue to draw lines around our paths and continually creating divisions? We can simply love one another and enjoy the differences and embrace the similarities.

  22. Ian Phanes says:

    My current spiritual paths are:
    * third gender transperson (since birth) * Witchcraft: ContraryWise Craft & Wheel-Dancing (since 1987)
    * devotee of Eshu, the trickster orisa of the Yoruba of West Africa (since 1988)
    * Hermeticism: The Hermetic Order of the Celtic Cross (since 1994) * Celtic retro-paganism, devotee of Gwydion ap Don (since 1996) * Wicca: American Welsh Tradition lineage (since 1998) * Christianity: The Episcopal Church USA (since 2000)

    The reality, of course, is more complex and dynamic than a list of affiliations can possibly imply.

    “Do I contradict myself?Very well then I contradict myself,(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”–Walt Whitman

  23. Kilmrnock says:

    Cossett, please explain your pactice of wicca . how and what you do . I’m curoius¬† ? The Wicca practiced around here is Gardenarian.¬† What your talking about sounds almost¬†ADF Druidry. we Follow¬†a 8 fold year but from a¬†Celtic perspective w/ the Celtic Pantheon . I’ve never heard of a pantheistic Wiccan.Many yrs ago i started out sorta wicca , the group i belonged to used a douthiestic approach w/ the prevously mention all gods are of the god and godess concept mixed w/ kabalistic concepts.¬†The large and many covened Wiccan group here is Sacred Wheel and is Gardnarian in structure.¬†ADF uses Indo European Pantheons and Concepts , each grove picks it’s own focus,ethnic/cultural pantheon to follow.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Kilm

  24. […] Now is the time for me to become whole. My biggest problem is that I seem to have a problem with walking multiple paths. As Teo Bishop recently put it: Forgive me for my machinations, but I feel this need to find and develop a firm religious identity; … […]

  25. Chris Godwin says:

    One thing about ADF I’d like to make clear here is that its a religious system in which to insert your beliefs. There are no prescriptions of belief within ADF that will cause you to choose one belief over the other. You must simply create your beliefs and fit them into a context.

    The Ideas that there is One god and one Goddess or One divine force, I cannot buy. The Divine is a¬†continuum of all things. Gods have personas, therefore when you talk about Divine¬†essence¬†you aren’t talking about gods at all, you’re talking about the universe that birthed the gods. You are talking about a gender-less principle, not a persona which is a collection of memories and social duties.

    • Teo Bishop says:

      What an interesting comment, Chris. Thank you for writing it here.

      I respect your beliefs, and I appreciate the clarification about ADF. While there may be freedom to develop beliefs within the ADF system, I understand that ADF is also open about it being hard polytheist. So, in that way, they seem to be making a religious statement about the nature of the cosmos.

      I’m interested in the idea that there might be One, and Many; that somehow the persona might be constructed *and* essential, and that the continuum might also be personal and individual at any given moment.

      Just a though…