Friday, March 30, 2012

G is for God Map, Part One

A few years back I volunteered as a Minority Faith Chaplain for the California Department of Mental Health, in addition to conducting religious services, I also taught an approved 12 week course: Introduction to Earth-Based Religions. I was never quite happy with the title, because one could make the argument that Paganism is culture based, but that is another post.

Anyway, I used Paganism: An Introduction To Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce & River Higginbotham as the textbook for the class.

Chapter three is "A Pagan View of Deity," this is perhaps my favorite chapter of the whole book, and one of my favorite topics in general, both within and without Paganism. In chapter three the authors present the God Map, and I don't know if this is their original concept or not, but its pretty cool. Their map is in an "L" formation, but I like the doing it this way.

The horizontal line deals with image, is your concept of deity abstract like Allah or the Force? Or is it concrete like Jesus or Zeus. The vertical line deals with the presence of deity, is God in heaven (transcendent) or immanent and permeating like Mother Nature? So if you grid the X&Y axis, you can find your concept of deity of the map. It is a really fun group exercise!

I took the liberty of placing Christians (A) and Muslims (B) on the map as I understand them be, and (C) is the general area I have noticed Pagans tend to hang out. But (D) is the official position of our Tradition. Like most Pagans we believe deity to be imminent and permeating, but our comprehension of deity is limited and there is a much that is beyond our understanding, we acknowledge this unknown as transcended.

We also acknowledge deity as abstract (like the Force) and often adopt images as personifications of those abstract beliefs. But nature (natura naturata) is the physical (concrete) manifestation of deity. This is why we place ourselves at the center(?) of the Map.

Deity is always one of my favorite topics, and at times it is a soapbox of mine. Pagans are polytheistic, so we have more Gods than other religions, and if you're a Wiccan you at least have two. So it would stand to reason that we should be praying twice as much as the monotheists. But I can count on one hand the number of Pagans I know who pray on a daily basis. I only know two who pray before they eat. Sadly I know one person who identifies as Pagan, but has no actual spiritual practice, he's just got a big axe to grind with Christians, which is what makes him a Pagan(!?!?!?!).

I don't think its actually a religion without deity.

So take some time to find your place on the God Map and explore your concepts of the divine. If you have any problems finding yourself, pray on it. Next week I will add the "Z" axis of our Tradition.

Thank you Lord & Lady for giving good directions. Blessed Be.


Anonymous said...


Many of us Christians consider God to be both fully Transcendant and fully Immanent... There's a lot of discussion about it in the field of theology. I think any mature faith (including of course the various Paganisms) comes to broaden its concepts of its god(s) to include all four of your (well-thought-out) categories... Which also expands the depth of the tradition.

WitchDoctorJoe said...

Anon, I agree and am glad to hear it! My placement/example for Christianity was a generalization, based on my experience as a student in a Baptist Seminary. I also agree in the hope that any mature faith would broaden it's concepts of deity, something I will attempt to expand on next week.

PS the well-thought-out categories are not mine.