Deity and The Sacred

Deity and The Sacred

Deity Definition

  • A God or Goddess
  • Anything natural or supernatural that is considered divine or sacred
  • A person or thing revered as a God or Goddess

Sacred Definition

  • Entitled to veneration or religious respect
  • Pertaining to or connected with religion
  • Regarded with reverence

As the Old Ways are animistic (seeing the numinous life-force as within everything - for a fuller description see 'World View') everything is seen as sacred, entitled to veneration, regarded with reverence; plants, animals, trees, rocks and the Earth Herself and all her places.

Where a particular facet (Mountain, River, Spring etc.) of the natural world displays a special or unique energy this energy may then be viewed as a God or Goddess. These facets have an inherent nature or essence that makes them distinctive - they have quiddity.

Within the Old Ways attributing Deity status isn't limited to just geographical features of the landscape; when the whole world is sacred, anything within that world that demands a particular attention, that causes a feeling of awe and wonder and thereby engenders an attitude of reverence toward it, is worthy of the status of having a Deity ascribed to it. This does not necessarily mean that the thing itself is an ACTUAL Deity, it means that that quality is regarded as BELONGING to it. So the mountain itself is not a God/Goddess but the quality of God/Goddess BELONGS to the mountain - it is a very subtle difference.

Probably one of the best examples to illustrate is that of the thunderstorm - not just the odd rumble but a full-blown raging, tumultuous, cacophony. The energy behind this force of nature is immense, it can easily kill and it certainly demands our respect and reverence. It is unsurprising then that all indigenous cultures have a Deity associated with thunder.

Neither is Deity just about things that are tangible - there are abstracts that whilst having no physical or concrete existence are still forces and phenomena that are to be reckoned with; War - Peace - Love - Sovereignty -, these have qualities belonging to them that engender an attitude of reverence toward them, which brings us back to our oldest Deity; Elen of the Ways, Lady Sovereignty, concerned with the balance of the land and the guardianship of the ancient trackways - she is the spirit of the deer that our ancient ancestors followed, the deer herds that led them to safe pastures and food, summer and winter - read more in The Old Ways and Brythonic Deities.

Elen is a female antlered Deity and it is only Reindeer where the females have antlers, so she dates back to when the Reindeer were the indigenous deer of our lands, before the weather warmed and they died out to be replaced by the Red deer. She still exists today - that quality of her energy teaching us how to live in harmony with the Earth, how to follow the ancient trackways.

Personifying - attributing a personal nature and human characteristics to Deities makes it far easier for us to understand and relate to them - or is it personifying? even as energies they do have these qualities and characteristics.

Elen of the Ways (Wildwood Tarot)

The Old Ways are Polytheistic (Poly - many, theistic - belief in the existence of a deity or deities), how can they not be? When everything is seen as sacred and many facets are seen as having special or unique energies that deem them worthy of reverence there has to be many deities.

Some Deities appear to have been 'universal'; recognised over very large areas of what are now referred to as 'Celtic' lands, spreading not only the length and breadth of the British Isles but also onto the continent, into Gaul and Germanic regions as well, others appear to have been far more localised such as Brigantia who was the protective Goddess of the Brigantes tribe located in Yorkshire and northern Britain.

Brythonic Deities

a  large listing of the Gods and Goddesses of mainland Britain