Inherent Divinity and its Ethical Implications

The majority of this week is going to be about the divinity within and without of ourselves and how at least some pagans feel that works.  A part of that is sacred life and inherent divinity.

So far we’ve learned that every culture in human history have had some variation on the God and, in most cases, the Goddess.  We also know that in polytheistic religions that each deity has influence over specific areas.  While I’m not sure if we’ve talked about it yet, there are connections between certain Gods and Goddesses of different pantheons such as the connections between Odin, Thoth, and Mercury.  And no matter which name we call them by they have some lesson hidden within those depths that they can share with us.

However, most pagans also believe that the divine is inherently in every single thing in this world, including ourselves.  We all have a bit of the aspects of divinity such as Freya, Hecate, or any other male or female divinity.  We all touch on any of their aspects on any given day or even on a rare day once in our lives.  From the televangelist to the witch, divinity is a part of us and we are a part of it.  Their wisdom is available if we only ask and listen. That is inherit divinity.

On a deeper level we are two sides of the same coin. All of us have masculine and feminine traits, whether we show them or not.  I’m very girly in the way I dress, but I have a tendency to take charge and be the leader when there isn’t anyone else to stand up (which seems like a lot recently).  This is how I can understand transgendered people.  It’s not my life, my choice, but maybe it’s their happiness and I have no right to judge.  Feminine and male aspects are equally important in our lives.  We cannot exclude love and a nurturing nature (feminine attributes of many Goddesses) from our lives any more than we can exclude wisdom and protection (often considered male attributes).

It’s also important to realize that different cultures have different norms as to what side of the coin these attributes lie.  Historically there have been matriarchal societies where those norms were different. A part of embracing ourselves is embracing both of these sides of us as well. I recognize that I have masculine traits that go along with what makes me a woman and men have the same thing as well. We all have both sides of the duality just as the God and Goddess are two sides of the same coin.

Honoring the God/Goddess in One Another

So, if we believe in inherent divinity, we have to honor ourselves and others.  We are all living and vibrant magickal beings. How else can we explain a body? I’m sure we’ll eventually find science to explain how things work, but we’ll never be able to explain exactly why it all works and that is the magick of life no matter what our station within it is.

This is something that makes the craft unique. We do not believe that God is entirely separate from man. I know there are Christians who believe it as well, but they are far and few in-between. And no, I’m not saying that either belief is wrong, only that it exists.  This is why we believe in reincarnation. We are always growing to become better people throughout all of our lives.

Ethically Inherently Divine

I’m going to touch on three subjects that could have been placed in the Ethics section, but I remembered my discussion in class. My teacher had to explain why we were discussing these at this time and not in the previous lessons. And the simple answer is that they just didn’t fit.  The discussion of inherent divinity brings up a whole new set of ethical issues for anyone practicing the craft.

Not to mention that you have to have a discussion about inherently divine so that you can see the controversy of these topics from a pagan perspective.

  1. The Death Penalty- There are people for and against it. And sometimes even I feel torn myself. I take issue with the idea of taking a life to show that killing people is wrong, but I also understand that there are some people out there who never show any remorse. Something in their brain just isn’t wired to care. And all I can hope for those individuals is that in the next life they grow.

But is it right? Do we have the right to take their life away or are we causing harm? Where do we draw the line? I’m not sure what the right answer is, but it concerns me because what about those who we later find out are innocent? I accept that people have to pay for their actions, but I have trouble justifying capital punishment while I believe in inherent divinity.

The best answer I have goes back to intent. Was the intent malicious? A mother protecting her family is defensive, not malicious. On the other hand, the man who goes out and murders and sexually assaults women does that with malicious intent. I can’t say he deserves death, but I can definitely say that the mother protecting her family does not.

  1. Do we have the right to take our own lives? Or is it right to aid another in doing the same? Most pagans disapprove because it can be seen as a betrayal of our trust in the divine. Everything in our lives can be overcome with divine faith. The only place where people find shades of gray here tends to be in regards to irreversible medical conditions that destroy quality of life, but some might say that shouldn’t even be considered a shade of gray.  It’s a matter of perception and we just have to go with what feels appropriate according to our own faith.

What you think may be different and that’s fine. But these are ethical considerations that we must consider. Most medically assisted suicides involve terminal illness that is going to slowly spiral down into physical agony with no relief.  Rather than just fading away, there are a number of witches out there who support facing death on their own terms. There are many who find this an honorable or courageous decision.

What do I think? I have to think about how much pain I’ve watched my mother endure. I have to think of how she’s never given up.  I know that she has considered it or thought that we would be better off without her, but we always tell her that none of us want that. If she ever asked, I think it would pain me, but I don’t think that I would have the right to stop her. But beyond that, I honestly couldn’t say what I would do if I found myself in her situation or that of another person with a terminal disease and I hope to never find out. I guess my answer is that I understand and would support another’s decision, but I don’t know if I could do it myself.

  1. The last one probably contains the most contention out of the three. Abortion. However, from the people I’ve encountered there tends to be not as much debate on this one because of our beliefs. I’m not saying this holds true for every pagan, just the ones in my own community. Part of this goes back to the concept of reincarnation.  For many witches, there is no exact “point” at which life starts. It’s a feeling within the mother.

Let me explain it this way. When I found out I was having my little Freya, I was mortified. I hadn’t had any symptoms. Granted my body is weird and doesn’t work right half the time anyway, but I didn’t.  I found out I was pregnant five months into my pregnancy.  I spent most of April in May just saying oh. I’m having a baby. I mean I felt wonder in it, but it’s like there was something missing. We had a lot of turmoil, but looking back I know that wasn’t it.

It wasn’t until June that I started sparking up and saying “Oh feel that” or “Oh Mommy is going to love you so much.” It wasn’t that I didn’t care. It was just that I hadn’t felt that spark of life. For me Freya got her soul the moment I started to feel that spark of life within me. And there are mothers out there that feel that way.

Now getting back to the topic at hand….how do many (or at least some) pagans feel about abortion? Well it’s still pretty heated and conflicted.  And there isn’t a pure one size fits all answer. In my case, I feel it’s not my right to take away another’s right to have an abortion. However, I personally could never have an abortion. Life is too precious. I can understand how someone raped would not want that constant reminder (nor do we want her to mistreat the child because of it). I also understand that there are a lot of families looking to adopt.

What you believe may differ and once again, that’s okay. We all have a right to our opinion. All we can do is live the best life we can and be the best people we can. We live these lives to learn and grown and we can only do that by the experiences we have and the choices we make.

Blessed Be.

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