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Author Topic: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"  (Read 1909 times)

Khep

Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« on: July 02, 2016, 07:43:27 pm »
I'm curious as to what thoughts people might have about an illustration I found in Wikipedia.  As far as I can see, it's only been used there and one other web site.  I can't find any info about who created it. The user who uploaded it is called "Camocon", and they declared it Public Domain. The description is . . .

Quote
The divine couple in Wicca, with the Lady as Diana, the moon goddess, and the Lord as Pan, the horned god of the wild Earth. The lower figure is Mercury or Hermes, the god or divine force of magic - as shown by his wings and caduceus.

See article here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiccan_views_of_divinity

Personally, I like this image. I find it sort of 'deep', so to speak, (like a Tarot card, for example), in the sense that there's obvious symbolic content beyond what you might expect in simply portraying two divinities as a couple. Hermes seems to be depicted as a child - like a 'cherub'? - but clearly identified by the Caduceus.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2016, 07:45:38 pm by Khep »
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Jenett

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Re: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2016, 08:32:18 pm »
Quote from: Khep;193408
I'm curious as to what thoughts people might have about an illustration I found in Wikipedia.  As far as I can see, it's only been used there and one other web site.  I can't find any info about who created it. The user who uploaded it is called "Camocon", and they declared it Public Domain. The description is . . .


If you click through to information about the image (by clicking on the image), you'll get taken to a page with more information, where the user (Camocon) identifies it as their own work.

If you click through to the user's talk page (talk pages, for people unfamiliar with Wikipedia and Media Wiki installs, are pages that talk about the content of a page - either content pages, or user pages, and they're meant to provide a public conversation about edits, concerns, etc.) you can see that this user has made a number of other image uploads, and that people on that talk page raise some concerns about whether the content and assumptions that user makes are supported by evidence, and about some specific uploads.

Quote

Personally, I like this image. I find it sort of 'deep', so to speak, (like a Tarot card, for example), in the sense that there's obvious symbolic content beyond what you might expect in simply portraying two divinities as a couple. Hermes seems to be depicted as a child - like a 'cherub'? - but clearly identified by the Caduceus.

 
That page in general has a bunch of assumptions that are - iffy, shall we say, and that do not distinguish well between initiatory Wicca, more popular forms, etc. (And some of this is because of the way Wikipedia works and their sourcing requirements.)

However, it's safe to say that the image is only one possible depiction.

On Hermes as a child - one commonly told story about Hermes is when he's a child (stealing Apollo's cattle and making the first lyre) so it's not an extremely unusual depiction. Theoi.com has a bit more, with useful references.
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Khep

Re: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2016, 10:50:56 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;193415
If you click through to information about the image (by clicking on the image), you'll get taken to a page with more information, where the user (Camocon) identifies it as their own work.
If you click through to the user's talk page
[ . . . ] you can see that this user has made a number of other image uploads, and that people on that talk page raise some concerns about whether the content and assumptions that user makes are supported by evidence, and about some specific uploads.

Thanks, Jenett.   Unfortunately, Camocon never replies to any comments on his uploads, as far as I can see.  Interestingly, though many of his contributions are questioned, I don't see any mention of the image I'm asking about.  Although the "WikiProject Neopaganism" talk page has some discussion about proper depiction of "the God" or "the Goddess", there are only two images in the article - the "Divine couple" image in question, and the well-known abstract 'waxing, full, waning'   - ) O ( - symbol for the triple Goddess.

I'm not all that concerned with what is "iffy" in the article itself; but more interested in the thought / creative process that went into depicting the Lady and Lord as Camocon has done.  I'm interested in the idea of these two deities *as a couple* / a sysygy.  To go back to the article for a minute, it says . . .

Quote
In traditional Wicca, as expressed in the writings of Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente, the emphasis is on the theme of divine gender polarity, and the God and Goddess are regarded as equal and opposite divine cosmic forces.
 

Is this an accurate statement?

In any case . . . Camocon's image includes a third god, and I think it should be easy to imagine it as a symbolic depiction of a family group - mother, father, child.  It sparks my imaginative curiosity -- regardless of how near or far the idea may be to any Wiccan orthodxy, or to historical accuracy. (I believe Pan is actually one of Hermes' progeny.)  And I do find it a bit curious that what is in some ways "obvious" -- Lady and Lord as a Divine Couple -- isn't at least speculatively / (philosophically?) considered more than it apparently is. (But most of my reading has been stuff found on the net.)

Yes, I know Diana ( / Artemis) is a virgin goddess, but that may, perhaps, fit with the idea that Hermes as offspring of this couple symbolizes a spiritual, non-corporeal birth.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2016, 10:57:06 pm by Khep »
“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart\'s affections and the truth of the Imagination.”    ― John Keats

Jenett

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Re: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2016, 05:04:10 pm »
Quote from: Khep;193429

I'm not all that concerned with what is "iffy" in the article itself; but more interested in the thought / creative process that went into depicting the Lady and Lord as Camocon has done.  I'm interested in the idea of these two deities *as a couple* / a sysygy.  To go back to the article for a minute, it says . . .


This is, alas, one of those "It's a non-traditional iconography, so you're basically left with what the artist says, or what you can piece together on your own" problems.

That said, I can point at some other data that might be helpful. It's worth noting that this is an area that a lot of general discussion about deity and Wicca does very badly for various reasons, so it's worth looking closely at sources and derivations if you're trying to track back to specific perspectives.

The text you quoted says:
In traditional Wicca, as expressed in the writings of Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente, the emphasis is on the theme of divine gender polarity, and the God and Goddess are regarded as equal and opposite divine cosmic forces.

Quote

Is this an accurate statement?


So, first we have to figure out what accurate means here.

Traditional initiatory Wicca is oathbound. Material generally considered part of those oaths includes the specific names and attributes of the deities, and thus also a lot of information about their relationships with each other, cyclical mythology, etc.

Thus, it's really hard to tell from outside those oaths what the practice is, and anyone who tells you differently is either working from dubious or limited information, or breaking oaths, both of which are a problematic base for meaningful research.

(The article in question mentions that Cernunnos and Aradia - who we'll come back to - are names that turn up in some texts, but mention of Aidan Kelly is a good time to be cautious about conclusions based on that information for various reasons, and it's also true that many trads use common names for deities while having somewhat different deities who answer to those names than might be expected. In short, it's complicated from the outside.)

Many exoteric models based on traditional Wicca (starting with the Pagan Way material and similar projects designed for Outer Court or public ritual use) use a model of Lady and Lord who change roles in relationship to each other over time (young lovers to a young couple with an expectant mother, to a sacrificed king and mourning goddess, to a reborn sun-child and then mother of a young child who turns into a maiden of the spring over the course of a year, very roughly speaking.)

Others use a Oak King / Holly King model, where there is one Goddess, and two Gods, each ruling half the year. (And there are some other variations out there, but I'm highlighting the major ones.)

As you can see, none of those generally fit the Diana and Pan and child-Hermes model at all.

In answer to the actual *quote*, yes, that's more or less true. Equal and opposite strikes me as a weird phrasing - equal and complementary would be more in tune with my practice, and conversations I've had and read from people who are from British Traditional Wicca trads.

(Opposite for me, would imply that meeting in the middle would be very challenging, or that the interrelationships would pivot on the differences, not the similarities, as it were. But I might just be overly specific about language here.)

And then there's the other part.

Quote

Yes, I know Diana ( / Artemis) is a virgin goddess, but that may, perhaps, fit with the idea that Hermes as offspring of this couple symbolizes a spiritual, non-corporeal birth.

 
So, here's the other thing. The Diana most commonly referred to in witchcraft texts is not the same thing as Artemis. The references here are most commonly to Aradia, in which Diana and Lucifer are seen as the parents of Aradia, the queen of witches. (The Wikipedia article in this case has some useful citations and further references.)

Pretty clearly, the Diana in question here is not a virgin goddess, the way we normally use the term. Also, of course, Aradia is female, by all accounts, and also not Hermes.

So, what do we do with this info? If you're just intellectually curious, fine, have a nice intellectual puzzle about a particular depiction.

However, I'd be cautious of assuming that *any* single image or explanation (never mind one from someone whose background, preferences, and goals are entirely unclear) is particularly worthwhile for explaining the concept.

For people who are curious about the trad Wiccan discussions that can be had in non-oathbound context, the Amber and Jet mailing list on Yahoo has extensive (very extensive) archives, and you can probably get the (lousy, because Yahoo) search engine to pull up some useful posts if you search on Aradia, or Diana or similar terms.

Reading what Gardner and Valiente and the Farrars (among others) have said is also useful, but this is definitely a topic where how people talk about it has changed over the years (in the sense that we've sometimes gotten better as a community at having conversations about oathbound materials, and that various points can be clarified over time that can't be in a given book) and where modern understanding, explanations, etc. may be different than in older texts.
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Darkhawk

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Re: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2016, 07:05:39 pm »
Quote from: Khep;193429
And I do find it a bit curious that what is in some ways "obvious" -- Lady and Lord as a Divine Couple -- isn't at least speculatively / (philosophically?) considered more than it apparently is. (But most of my reading has been stuff found on the net.)

 
It seems to me the Great Rite - purported to be one of the core and essential practices of Wicca - is kind of... all about the Divine Couple?
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Khep

Re: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2016, 11:49:31 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;193470
This is, alas, one of those "It's a non-traditional iconography, so you're basically left with what the artist says, or what you can piece together on your own" problems.


Many thanks for the very thorough reply, and links.

Quote
[. . .]
Traditional initiatory Wicca is oathbound. Material generally considered part of those oaths includes the specific names and attributes of the deities, and thus also a lot of information about their relationships with each other, cyclical mythology, etc.  [emphasis mine]
[. . .]

Many exoteric models based on traditional Wicca (starting with the Pagan Way material and similar projects designed for Outer Court or public ritual use) use a model of Lady and Lord who change roles in relationship to each other over time (young lovers to a young couple with an expectant mother, to a sacrificed king and mourning goddess, to a reborn sun-child and then mother of a young child who turns into a maiden of the spring over the course of a year, very roughly speaking.)
[. . .]

As you can see, none of those generally fit the Diana and Pan and child-Hermes model at all.


I suppose not.  Still, as far as I can see, the great majority of artistic depictions to be found by Googling "Wicca Lord and Lady" don't deal at all with the idea that out of the meeting of the Two may come a third. (Not that I've done any kind of real research on the available imagery.)  At least Camocon's image does, as I read it, show that where there is a "theme of divine gender polarity" it doesn't mean only some kind of static, perpetual balance.

By explicitly including a child, depicting a triad, the image points to a dynamism and depth resulting from the relationship.  I'm glad to know, as your words quoted above confirm, that not just the individual figures of the God and Goddess, but (in some form) their relationship and the results of the relationship, form part of the Wiccan view of divinity.  

Quote

So, what do we do with this info? If you're just intellectually curious, fine, have a nice intellectual puzzle about a particular depiction.
However, I'd be cautious of assuming that *any* single image or explanation (never mind one from someone whose background, preferences, and goals are entirely unclear) is particularly worthwhile for explaining the concept.


No, I don't assume this image is particularly good for explaining traditional Wicca's concept of divinity. The Wikipedia - Wicca context of its on-line use where I found it may be personally significant to me, or perhaps that's only a minor thing.  (See my original post, where I simply ask if people have any thoughts about the image itself, not the context in which it's used.)  There's definitely things worth noting about it from a traditional initiate's point of view. So I more or less expected that would probably be someone's response.  I appreciate how you've filled in some gaps in my knowledge of that view, and I'm now more inclined to at least read some of the "foundational" authors like Gardener.
 
It's not just intellectual curiosity.  The inclusion of child Hermes intrigues me on a gut level, and it relates directly to at least one dream I had a couple days ago, before finding the Camocon image:

     I meet a young man and woman, who are a couple, for the first time. This is in a natural setting, at a 'retreat' of some sort where the couple and I have been assigned together as mentors - pupil. The purpose of the retreat is teaching people about the education and upbringing of young (grade school age) children.  In real life, I have no children, and can't remember even one dream before this where any children are part of it.  

In a general sense, I believe dreams are one important way the gods speak to us.  This one came very soon after recently reviving my interest in  religious practise. So -- trying to assess the image's "fitness" as a depiction of Wiccan divinity is very interesting, but wasn't specifically my conscious goal behind posting here, as much as simply hoping that bringing up the child / triad configuration here might help jog ideas for greater insight into the dreams.
“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart\'s affections and the truth of the Imagination.”    ― John Keats

Khep

Re: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2016, 02:34:57 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;193478
It seems to me the Great Rite - purported to be one of the core and essential practices of Wicca - is kind of... all about the Divine Couple?


Yes, as far as I know, that's true.
“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart\'s affections and the truth of the Imagination.”    ― John Keats

Jenett

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Re: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2016, 02:48:46 pm »
Quote from: Khep;193498

I suppose not.  Still, as far as I can see, the great majority of artistic depictions to be found by Googling "Wicca Lord and Lady" don't deal at all with the idea that out of the meeting of the Two may come a third. (Not that I've done any kind of real research on the available imagery.)  At least Camocon's image does, as I read it, show that where there is a "theme of divine gender polarity" it doesn't mean only some kind of static, perpetual balance.


Ah! Okay, that gives me a much better sense of the confusion.

The reason you don't see many depictions of parent-parent-child in Wiccan iconography is that at least in the exoteric myth cycles, you never have both adult parents and a child at the same time.

Your options are (using Sabbat names for a general sense of timeframe here.)
1) mother and child (Yule, Imbolc)
2) pair of young teens or young adults (Ostara)
3) lovers (Beltane, Litha) (possibly with the Lady visibly pregnant)
4) or possibly sacrificed king and grieving and expectant Goddess (either Lammas or Mabon, depending)
... before the Lord is reborn as a baby at Yule.

It's two different cycles of transformation and rebirth which don't quite sync with each other.

Now, it's certainly possible for people to explore other options - but you'd be seeing a variation from the most common myth cycle, and as such it's not going to be either as common or in as much standard imagery.

There's also another part, about how and when images might be used in ritual that  gets a bit more complicated (and again, not an initiatory in BTW traditions myself) but a common exoteric altar model has Lord and Lady separate on the altar, often depicted with individual statues, in part because the center of the altar is often used for larger objects (working items for the ritual, things being charged, bread and wine, etc.)

Quote

In a general sense, I believe dreams are one important way the gods speak to us.  This one came very soon after recently reviving my interest in  religious practise. So -- trying to assess the image's "fitness" as a depiction of Wiccan divinity is very interesting, but wasn't specifically my conscious goal behind posting here, as much as simply hoping that bringing up the child / triad configuration here might help jog ideas for greater insight into the dreams.

 
So, here's the thing. The deities of Wicca are only two of many possible deities out there - they have a specific relationship with each other, and myths and stories about them, just like I have specific stories about my parents and how they met, or friends in long-term relationships have stories about how they met their partners and their kids.

But there's also tons of other options. There are certainly many other deity relationships where having both parents part of their child's life is a bit part of the story and development. There are also witchcraft traditions which are not Wicca, which do more with these particular stories, because they honour either a broader range of deities, or different ones.

(See Aset/Wesir/Horus, or Zeus/Demeter/Persephone, for example, though there are obviously many other possibilities.)

So, yes, I totally agree that that kind of dream can be an important thing to follow up on. Just that looking at it in context of a specific religious path, without being able to follow up on relevant details from that path (because of the oathbound part, and because what is discussed doesn't seem like as useful a match) may not be the ideal way to take a next step.
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Khep

Re: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2016, 04:48:40 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;193545
[ . . . ]

So, yes, I totally agree that that kind of dream can be an important thing to follow up on. Just that looking at it in context of a specific religious path, without being able to follow up on relevant details from that path (because of the oathbound part, and because what is discussed doesn't seem like as useful a match) may not be the ideal way to take a next step.


Yes, - some truth in that.  But it has, for the time being, kept my focus on the dream, while learning some new things that may find their way into a different next step.  

Thanks again.
“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart\'s affections and the truth of the Imagination.”    ― John Keats

Darkhawk

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Re: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2016, 10:49:40 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;193545
(See Aset/Wesir/Horus, or Zeus/Demeter/Persephone, for example, though there are obviously many other possibilities.)

 
Though Aset/Wesir/Heru is more similar to the Wiccish structure than not, given that Heru is not merely a posthumous birth but a posthumous *conception*.

(Gods, man.  Their sex lives are really rather perverse.)
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Khep

Re: Wikipedia Illustration: "The Divine Couple in Wicca"
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2016, 01:09:52 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;193553
Though Aset/Wesir/Heru is more similar to the Wiccish structure than not, given that Heru is not merely a posthumous birth but a posthumous *conception*.

(Gods, man.  Their sex lives are really rather perverse.)

:)

Heru's conception is still "miraculous," though.  Not just the posthumous part, but, if my quick reading to recall the details is right, Aset joins with Wesir while still in the form of a bird.  There also appears to be some ambiguity -- Aset "revivifies" her husband, at least enough to conceive Heru.

I see that Leland's Gospel of the Witches (1899) has some similarties -- Diana and Lucifer being siblings; the sister first changing to animal form to get into his bed (then back) ; and the brother being in a situation where his conscious awareness of what's actually happening is compromised.

Quote
And it came thus that Diana took the form of a cat. Her brother had a cat whom he loved beyond all creatures, and it slept every night on his bed, a cat beautiful beyond all other creatures, a fairy: he did not know it.

Diana prevailed with the cat to change forms with her, so she lay with her brother, and in the darkness assumed her own form, and so by Lucifer became the mother of Aradia. But when in the morning he found that he lay by his sister, and that light had been conquered by darkness, Lucifer was extremely angry; . . . .
http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/aradia/ara05.htm

(And no, I'm not equating Leland with Wicca.  Just noting some similarities I find insteresting in themselves.)
« Last Edit: July 05, 2016, 01:16:08 am by Khep »
“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart\'s affections and the truth of the Imagination.”    ― John Keats

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