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From Druid's Path
All the gods are not the sameby Searles O'Dubhain
All the gods are not the same. All the gods are not actually one god either. This does not mean that humans from different cultures do not *view* the gods as being the same or as being one in most cases.
I believe that some gods do exist across cultures. I also believe that there are deities of place that are tied to the nature, creatures, plants, animals and physicality of a place. I believe that each river is a different river. I also believe that rivers are connected through streams and the nature of water. Some deities are like rivers and are connected by spirit just like rivers and water. Some deities are like places, and are distinguished one from another by the lay of the land and its influence on its surroundings.
I haven't talked about sky deities yet as they represent change to the max and have aspects of "coming out of nowhere or the unknown," a characteristic they share with deities of the Sea. In some cultures "atmosphere" and "sea" are seen as the same (but different) parts of the third leg of the three realms. The true Sky realms are those that are beyond the mortal pale and represent the future in most cases. The Land and Sea realms/deities have "borders" that touch on the other two aspects of reality.
Sky is something we all see by day and night. Atmosphere and Sea are parts of a realm that touches us everywhere with changes that are eventually the same. It is the Land that maintains its Nature the longest for humans and its other hosted plant and animal children.
We see the Land deities as local and specifically different (unless the Land is somehow the same). The Sea deities seem to be more universal but slightly different in the way they touch the Lands of humans. Across cultures, Sky deities have more in common, but with different names. This is because the Sky touches us all at the same time, distinguished only by separations into day and night or the local effects of weather.
That's how I view the deities of the three realms in general but in particular I can only view the deities personally as they call forth their images from within my psyche. If my traditions are Celtic, the images that I can best perceive are Celtic ones. Other cultural visions and images of deities will vary. Deities can call up whatever image and appearance they so desire and we'd see them that way to the limits of our perceptive capabilities. If they uncloaked themselves before us and appeared in all their power, we would just be psychic cinders before them.
In the Irish tales, deities often appear as humans and only throw off these cloaks and shells when they've achieved their purposes for us to realize their purpose. It is at that point in the tales, when clarity is restored and the subject realizes that the person is Lugh, Manannán, the Morrigan, or some other deity or Sídhe being. These beings are described when in human guise, but rarely are they described in their deity aspects. One just *knows* who they are through realization.
When tales are told across cultures, people have a natural tendency to consider these deities to be similar or the same as their own with different names and some cultural quirks. The Celtic culture moved across a large part of Europe influencing local tales of deities as it went. Some Celtic people raided and conquered one another across local seas and land boundaries until their cultures and traditions blended. This is why the deities in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Britain and Brittany often have similar sounding names as well as very similar tales associated with them. Language and this blending of cultures also prepares people to assign their names to similar deities.
Are all the deities the same?
No! Two beings are never exactly alike even when they are twins.
Are all deities one deity?
No! Deities can be seen as a collective unity in the same way that worlds can be seen as one thing, but certain aspects are different when one gets close enough.
When taken to the limits, one extreme is infinity, which is so large that it cannot exist in a finite space. On the other extreme of limits is *nothing*. In nothing there cannot even be the smallest perception. In both cases *knowing* is impossible. It is only between the two extremes that real and perceived life can occur in being. It is due to these three aspects of possibilities that there are three realms and three deities who are said to be the top deities of their realms in the cultures touched by Triads. There is a deity of destruction who borders the goddess of nothing (i.e. the eternal and non existent, unknown depths; the abyss). There is a deity that is very large and represents the All-Father who touches on the goddess of the infinite whose realm expands beyond our perception into ever growing and all encompassing everywhere. Her streams are star rivers yet she is everything even the All-Father's mother. Between these extremes are the localities that are physical both in being and in dreams. These are the deities of creation and chaos. They are the deities we speak of in our various cultures; they take on shapes that are local, shared at times and seemingly universal if they touch us in every part of our lives. The “All-Father” and the “Great-Mother” represent these deities for us. We call them by the names we've been taught and have learned from our families, teachers and psyches.
I know the names of the deities that touch and affect the world around me from my own upbringing and education. I don't know all the deities of other people as intimately. I experience my deities as they allow me to perceive them. I can tell you how they appear to me, but cannot truly tell you how they are. Other folks do much the same. It's good to have a relationship with one's deities and spirits. That is what is so marvelous about finding one's ancestors and roots. It is then that we recognize their deities as our deities.
I call the Great Abyss, Domnu. I call the Infinite Sky, Danu. I call the All Father, An Dagda. I call the Great Mother, An Morrigan. I name their children in families according to the tales of the Tuatha Dé Domnann and the Tuatha Dé Danann. Those who exist locally have their own names that they tell me or have told my ancestors and friends. Some of these have names like the Sons of Mil while others have names like Niall of the Nine Hostages and Dubad. On one of the wheels I use in divination there are nine ancestral deities or Great Ones. There are nine children from the Abyss, the Fomorii and their minions, the Firbolg. There are nine children of the Sky River, the Tuatha Dé Danann. When fate or destiny winds and weaves over this wheel, chance and power shape the readings as the deities will it to be and as my feeble abilities can discern their resolution.
[Disclaimer: The views presented here are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the theological position of The Henge of Keltria nor Keltrian Druidism. -editor]
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