Although the Source of Being underlies all that is,
it is essentially unmanifest and without qualities in the usual sense,and
per se cannot be the object of religion. However, in answer to human spiritual
need, it manifests in form as human deities. These are AS IF objective
and independent gods and goddesses. I acknowledge that the component of
the human mind is part of the process, but the fact that these deities
may spring in part from the collective unconscious or Jung's archetypes
does not obscure their status as deific entities which serve as the focus
for the individual's spiritual life, and which do so as effectively AS
IF they were what they seem to be....I do not find profit or point in debating
what anything "IS" beyond what I can experience it to be...I find comfort
in a Source generous and loving enough to appear in the guise which serves
best to help me in my quest
to love Goddess or God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and my neigbor as non-different from me in esseence.
It would take a really dense polytheist to insist that
there is only One Right Way....that's authoritarian monotheism in thin
disguise...but it would take an insane polytheist to believe that there is more than one "ground of all being"--- contradictory by
definition..HOWEVER (CRITICAL POINT AHEAD!): pagan polytheism is more than "many masks of the One God"...These deities we experience really are indistinguishable in practice from MANY, and so we treat them as such.....The spiritual experience involved "doesn't happen" otherwise. Note, though: the Wiccans who believe in a Mother Goddess and a Nature God realize that the highest mystical experiences lies in the two becoming one...But this does not deny the separateness in a
reductionist way. As perceived and experienced within a rich and real spiritual life, the Two are two.....But just as the material Earth and its growing life are non-separate, so every year we experience in the cycle of the seasons the manifestation of the polar principles uniting to become the one manifest world of life and nature. It is precisely because we perceive the Two functioning as separate entities that the vision of unity is so mysterious (in the good technical sense) and ineffable, and moves us so. For some people, me for example, it is only through a real and ineffable union of Two that are really separate that the Oneness becomes a numinous and mystical fact instead of a numerical datum.
There is a theology, or for a Goddess-worshipper,
"thealogy", that can articulate all this in better and more formal language,
but I hope something got across...Of COURSE the unmanifest Source is not-two
(NOT the same as ONE!), but what is absolutely unmanifest is too close
to being really "NOT" for humans. So the Ground Of Deity (note the acronym!)
is quite happy to manifest as Real Gods to meet human spiritual needs,
with a bit of co-operation from the human psyche, and
would in theory gladly emerge as, ACTUALLY, Klukk the great Chicken-God if that's what it took to integrate worshippers into loving unity with one another and the world and the divine.
Just be sure you realize that, just as a Krishna
worshipper REALLY does encounter Krishna and a Christian REALLY has an
experience of the Christos, a pagan can actually experience deity within
as a loving, beautiful feminine Presence of unmistakeable reality and cosmic
scale---indistinguishable from ANYONE ELSE'S mystical experience only in
form. Since operationally and experientially the goddesses and gods are
in no way distinguishable from what one would experience in the
instance of "they really exist", we pragmatically say that they really do...Any other assumption abolishes the numinous mystical
experience.....And since my root assumption is that this experience is the ultimate point and goal of any non-trivial religion, I am a polytheist. Being one gives me a simple explanation for the fact, and it is a fact, that Jews and Christians and Muslims and Hindus, and ad infinitum, ALL report mystical unions/apotheoses/epiphanies of a real meeting with a real deity....Their interpretation of this universal fact leads them, usually, to the conclusion that they finally have personal proof that they are right and all the others are deluded. My pagan polytheist view is that they are all non-deluded: that, out of the Unmanifest or (pardon the plagiarism/blasphemy) Ain Soph arise Real Deities who, from all appearances, have an independent existence apart from the observer/worshipper. Out of an unseen and featureless Void, pregnant with Being, Love and Consciousness unexpressed, all of us get what we need.
To voice this paradoxical fact that there are Many at the same time that there is Unity requires one to tread as carefully as a student of Kabalah dealing with Emanations as not effecing the Oneness...I can't do it on that high a level, but I hope I communicated something.
There are the "play Pagans" and the "shock their parents"
pagans, but most of us, for all our glaring faults, have found in our faith
an approach to that ineffable experience behind all religions that works
for us as no other has....and which integrates it into our lives, and our
lives into our world in loving and compassionate manner as no other way
Shalom, Blessed Be, and may the great Gee Whiz take a likin' to ya...