Balance between “The God & Goddess” and Polytheism

English: The sculpture of the Wiccan Horned Go...
Sculpture of the Wiccan Horned God at the Museum of Witchcraft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just to set the stage, I’ve been with ADF for a little over a year. Whereas many I’ve encountered came to ADF Druidry from Wicca-based models (i.e., either actual Wicca or Wicca-based stuff such as Cunningham’s works but non-initiatory) I came straight into Paganism and ADF at the same time as I figured Wicca wasn’t quite for me. Fast forward to today and the ADF model doesn’t quite click for me either, so I’ve been exploring other things including ideas from Wicca, general religious witchcraft, Feri, and such. While ADF has some good stuff and I remain part of my local grove because the folks are awesome, there’s a personal component I find lacking for myself in “bringing it home.” Witchcraft is proving to provide that internal development that I didn’t quite get with ADF’s models (no reflection on ADF… just how I jive with it).

Part of what wasn’t working was what I call the “deity du jour.” As a beginner without a solid relationship with a particular pantheon, I haven’t had a broad array of deities to call out and honor in relation to particular high days, workings, etc. And I feel somewhat disingenuous picking one or two for a ritual just because some source links them to a particular high day. Not that I’m beyond honoring a being for the sake of honoring, but I can’t base my personal Paganism around that.

In my current mode of thinking, there’s a Divine Source… that ground of being that everything emerges from. From there, the “God and Goddess” loosely duotheistic model has merit in that much in the universe is a dynamic between polarities. Yin and yang. Creation and destruction. Male and female. So I see the God & Goddess model having merit as embodiments of that dynamic… anthropomorphized representations of a myriad of things that emerge from a polar dynamic. From there, I can see how you get “the gods” and “the goddesses” as separate entities that emerge from that dynamic. Many of them are beings in their own right, yet still having ties back up the “family tree” to the divine masculine and divine feminine that then unify in that pre/non-gender source of all.

The place where it gets sticky is in ritual format. When I do rituals for my grove that’s not a question. ADF has a certain format I have to adhere to. I could just not help with rituals, but I want to support the group, especially since I’m one of the few willing to step up and do ones other than our senior druid. At home, however, I’m wrestling with how to work a ritual. This isn’t set in stone, mind you. I’m open to it evolving over time, but I still need to find a starting point.

Here’s points I’ve been mulling over:

1) I do have at least one deity that has emerged from the group of many to do some work with. So I get that they do step out as individuals.

2) If the more “duotheistic” (not trying to assert Wicca=duotheistic.. just using the term as a handy reference) model is based on polarity and the interaction between two sides of various spectra, what does one do if they have a male or female deity they work with but does not generally work with one of the other gender that is a “consort.” That is to say, if you work with Isis and Osiris you’ve got that covered… but say you work most notably with Herne and Elen of the Ways? Similar in some ways, but not related enough to draw a “consort” style relationship. It seems some folks I’ve seen talking about their model use A god and A goddess, but do not limit the choice to those that are paired to a consort-style relationship. It’s simply one embodying a masculine side and the other embodying the feminine to represent those forces in nature… not a “they’re totally gonna do it” kind of thing which I may be thinking of something that is a holdover from folks expressing distaste at Gardner injecting some of his… preoccupations.

3) What about basing early work in the “God & Goddess” model but establishing that the intention is that deities are invited to step forward out of the crowd of many if they so choose?

Basically the problem is that I see the merit of the harder polytheistic approach in some ways, but it also sets the stage for sampling like at a buffet, even within a single pantheon, and for me that seems to present obstacles toward developing deeper relationships. The “duotheistic” model keeps things a little simpler, but while I agree with the sentiment that “the universe doesn’t get upset at what you call it,” I also don’t want to disrespect the individuality of beings.

So, TL;DR version… I’m curious as to how folks that blend concepts into a duo-polytheistic model manage to do so.