Thursday, May 10, 2012

Goddess without a face, God without a name

"What is another name to one such as I?" -Patricia Keneally Morrison from The Deer's Cry

Humankind is finite. We also like categories and groupings; it's simply how our brains work. No matter what culture we come from, we order the world within our minds to make some sort of sense. That all being said, it's no surprise that we do the same with our deities. We mentally take something huge and unwieldy and chop it up into more easily dealt with pieces.  We describe it as best we can, assigning it place marker names, so that we can communicate with it, with ourselves and with others.

Humans are marvelously and endlessly creative.  Give us half a chance and we'll trun the most boring thing imaginable into something poetically amazing, and the other way round.  We can be bored and uninterested by those things which are the most miraculous.  It's just one of our strange little quirks, as a group.  Of course, there have always been people who can see meaning in emptiness or beauty in what the rest of see as ugliness.  They are the exception, rather than the rule. That creativity is where the faces of the Gods come from.  It's a reflection of ourselves of our humanity to see a being that resembles us.  We see what we want and need to see.

I don't worship any Goddess that can be named, and yet, I can't deny those faces exist.  It's like looking at a faceted gem, very close.  All we can see is a small slice.  Praying to Brighid or Innana or Kali is merely a tool to focus my intent; when it comes down to it though, those costumes of the Goddess aren't real.  Maybe this is why when I try to depict a Goddess  in a visual way, I only include the barest suggestion of a face.

I've only accepted the God, the Divine Masculine, into my life and worship, but I find that I cannot give him a name or face, as well.  It doesn't mean that I don't acknowledge his presence; I find him in many unusual places.  Yesterday, it was a pair of bucks running along the creek bed as I waited for my son at school.  They arrived, with a crash of hooves against stone and the rustling of the ivy.  They moved with incredible speed, and for one second, the bigger of the pair, turned and looked at me before disappearing.  I see the Masculine Divine in oak trees and hawks on the wind.  I see him in mountains and hear him in the roar of the Oceans waves.  I see him in the artifacts of hunting and often in crafts.  I hear him most clearly in the translation a professor gave for the Hebrew name of the Jewish god: YHWH, "I am what I am". I see the reborn god-child in my sons, and I feel him when my husband holds me to calm my fears. I have a much harder time praying to a name with him than I do with the Goddess, and I'm certain that says more about me than about his nature.

In the end, I think even separating Gods from Goddesses is probably another way of attempting to understand.  In nature, in the Universe, all things coexist and strive for balance and their own role.  Why would deities be any different?  If we learn to accept that what we see when we see our gods is not universal, maybe we could learn to accept each other just a bit better.


  1. I completely agree. I do not see God or Goddess as human-like. The title "great mystery" or "great spirit" is closer to how I perceive God. Sometimes I feel that it is presumptuous of us to even assume we know this spirit in such a way that we can name or attach gender to it.

    1. Thanks, Aine. I sincerely doubt that It, or They care what we call them, as long as we call to them with an open heart and a willingness to listen (it's amazing how many people simply ignore the answers they receive because they don't like them).


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