All Gods Are One God

In your exploration of Wicca, you may have come across the ideas that ‘all gods are one god’ and ‘all paths lead to the same place’. I had read these many times, in many places, and never really given them more than a passing thought. It was Kaatryn MacMorgan-Douglas that made me start to think more deeply on them when she addresses them in her book Wicca 333: Advanced Topics in Wiccan Belief.

In her book, Kaatryn objects quite strongly to both ideas. She says this;

…the concept of all gods being one God is not only incorrect, but also offensive, often flying in the face of personal experiences of the divine. To the follower of Apollo, there is no question that Apollo and Zeus are discrete entities, and the insistence that both are, for example, mere facets of the god of Abraham, not only makes no sense, but may be seen as offensive, attributing acts committed by one god to another.

I never once interpreted the phrase ‘all gods are one god’ as meaning that all the different deities people have worshipped are just one single, individual deity. It is not saying that all gods are one god, and he is Jeff, right over there.

I see it more as liberal polytheism; the idea that all deities ever worshipped do indeed exist as separate, distinct entities. There is no one individual among these gods that is the One True God – although the people worshipping them may believe that theirs is the correct one. The ability to acknowledge the existence of many different gods, possibly from opposing pantheons, is one of the beauties of Wicca in my opinion.

This does not mean that these gods become interchangable, a random pick and mix selection. Instead you have the opportunity to study the cultures that worshipped these deities initially, and gain a much fuller, richer understanding of their gods and goddesses.

When I say then that all gods are one god, I do not mean that Apollo is Zeus wearing a mask, or that Isis is Aphrodite in disguise. Instead I see the Lord and Lady as being composed of all those different gods, and sharing in their different traits. More simply, all gods share the same spark of divinity and are connected by it, just as all humans share the spark of life and are connected to each other through it. One human is not the same as another, and one is not inherently better than any other. We all have different skills and qualities, but when we come together we can pool our skills and knowledge; together we can do more and be more than we can alone.

The idea of all paths leading to the same place is slightly different. To explain it simply, I will say that I do not believe this is literally true. Kaatryn says this;

All religious and spiritual paths cannot lead to the same place not because, as we might fear at first, one destination is better than the other, but because few religious or spiritual paths claim the same, or similar, ends.

This I agree with, which would seem to invalidate the idea that ‘all paths lead to the same place’. Taken literally, this cannot possibly be true, however you try to twist people’s personal beliefs. If there is one single place which many paths lead to, then it cannot be a true and accurate representation of the place each different path believes in. It cannot be the Christian heaven at the same time that it is reincarnation on Earth.

Just as Kaatryn says that the notion of all gods being one god is offensive, so too could this way of understanding the ‘same place’ be thought of as objectionable. It seems to suggest that one of the currently – or historically – held beliefs is the right one, and the others need to be twisted in form and meaning in order to fit with it.

This is not a problem if you reject the idea that the ‘same place’ referred to is an actual, single, all-encompassing place. I’ve always understood the phrase to be more supportive of individual beliefs than detrimental or offensive to them. To me, this phrase says that although we may practise our faiths in many different ways, walking many different paths, we are still walking side by side with one another. Although I may see the route and the destination as completely different to anyone else, I don’t have to fight against them.

I’ll try to make a real-world comparison. My friend and I could be travelling together to the same city. I might be visiting it for the first time, while my friend might be returning home after many years away. We would probably experience many different emotions while approaching our destination. I might be feeling excitement, a happy anticipation of the things I plan to do. My friend might be much more emotional, possibly nervous about the reception they will receive. We will experience our journey in very different ways, because our perception of our destination will be different. I will be thinking of a holiday, going sight-seeing and sunbathing. My friend will be thinking about returning to their family, seeing familiar places and faces again. We will make the same journey, but experience it according to our own beliefs. We will reach the same destination, and my impression of it will be different from, but just as valid as, my friend’s impression of it.

I can reach my own personal idea of what comes at the end of my path, while walking hand in hand with someone on a different path. That is how I interpret the phrase ‘all paths lead to the same place’. All personal paths lead to a personal truth. What is true for me, does not have to be true for anyone else in order for us to coexist peacefully together.

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6 Responses to All Gods Are One God

  1. Pamela Johnson says:

    The Divine energy that created life in each of us to walk this journey on earth, leads to the same “place” called physical death which is the end of our bodily journey on Earth. That same divine energy that animated cells to create life in our bodies must continue to exist postmortem. Divine energy, being a spark of the universal “God” as known by All religions, no matter the name, is used to fulfill the needs of continued life here on Earth. Whether it is in the form of more children, plants, water, air, etc, this same divine energy is given to provide for our existence. As we live “God” as Energy provides for the Universe and each person in its environment. Our beliefs are culturally based. We, as thinking beings, are left with the option to delve into the depths of understanding each-other’s beliefs. We may chose to walk in peace together or not. It is our choice.

  2. mon says:

    I tend to disagree, but completely respect everyone’s views as I don’t believe there is a right and wrong in religion unless you’re a “bad” person (ie. Harmful/evil/etc), however I completely believe that there are as many religions and people as ev en each Catholic or every Wicca (or any faith) ev en differs in their views. Religion is the way we connect to the divine God and it is just a personal expression of how we believe (as we all know there’s no actual physical proof for any) so everyone’s god is how they envision him/her/it and therefor they’re all referring to one and the same di vine power, but simply give it different names, and choose their way of connecting and worshipping in a way that feels right for them (choice of church/religion). So it is my truth that all “gods” are one God. And Summerland/reincarnation/heaven etc is one and the same. Yes even resurrection of the body… How is it possible? Well, seeing as it is what we BELIEVE we all have a different perception, but we’re all going to the same “happy place” :) We as humans have the need to envision a physical form so our minds feel the need to have a picture, and each one’s picture differs, that’s all it is. I feel that your explanation is missing one additional point that is forgotten, that even though you’re experiencing the same town differently to your friend… It IS after all… Still the same town! :) Off course no one has proof that is why it’s called faith. I find learning others beliefs/traditions is enriching and what I believe feels like the only truth, my truth because it’s the only belief that makes all co-exist in peace, it is a case of respecting how each one of us want to express our faith, but the most important is that whether you’re wiccan, christian, islam, hindi, bahai, scientologist… We are ONE and we’re good people. The common denominator… Being an overall good/considerate/loving/helpful/kind person :) That is MY truth. My goal in life is to attend as many churches as possible, to enrich my life and experience different ways of my belief. Dogmatic christians ask but God created the world, scientists say “but there was a big bang”. Has anyone stopped to ask: God caused the big bang!? We are one. My truth and I believe there are many like myself and would love feedback. Please don’t judge me as I respect every faith, because I myself have no proof as does no one else. We are free to interpret the divine power any way we’d like. I also don’t believe that the divine would want us to NOT explore these things, otherwise he/she wouldn’t have given us the knowledge and brains that we have. Everything is energy, we are energy, universe is energy, that is why to me it is actually all metaphysics. I am still looking for the “religion” that has MY belief. Closest I’ve found is Bahai, however they accept all truths BUT believe all gods/prophets are real, however I believe they are ONE. My truth, and the first truth that has me feeling content, but… Still exploring :)

  3. Sway says:

    I feel that your interpretation is very valid. I also did not agree about “All Gods are One God” and how you’ve written it is exactly how I felt also. I also believe in reincarnation and so does most of my family. Though they are Catholic they believe in Heaven. All I care about is being with the ones I love in the afterlife and guiding them spiritually. It’s a personal conflict I wondered about. In the end we all die and I will be there for my loved ones and they will wait for me. At least I want to believe that.

  4. Roger says:

    “Old Fogey” Roger here again:

    I hope I’m not boring you by writing again, but I have been meditating some more on your insights, especially your statement, “We will make the same journey, but experience it according to our own beliefs. We will reach the same destination, and my impression of it will be different from, but just as valid as, my friend’s impression of it.”
    Above I referred to the apparently mutually contradictory Christian views of (a) the soul leaving the body and going to heaven, as opposed to (be) the resurrection of the body. I never thought to include the view held by so many people of so many belief systems, that is (c) reincarnation, an impression which is “different from, but just as valid as” the two Christian views. And suppose that views (a), (b) and (c) are not merely “perceptions” or “impressions.” Suppose that the divine spirit is loving enough, and powerful enough, to allow each of these three views (and others as well?) to have its own “objective” reality, so that each of us will experience the afterlife in the way with which we feel comfortable, even after we have reached it. Some of us will be reincarnated in new bodies with new personalities, some will live as spirits and some will be resurrected. Could it be possible? If the divine is in each of us, can s/he not be manifested in a wide variety of ways?

    That’s where my thought is right now, and I am still trying to work it out.

    Peace and blessed be!!!

  5. Old Fogey says:

    I appreciate your explanation of the proper way to interpret those two statements. I think your example of you and a friend going to the same city but experiencing it differently is lovely and it sure rings true.

    As a retired Christian pastor, I have a lot of free time now to meditate on some of the doctrines that I always accepted and I find that some of those beliefs really do conflict with others. For example, how do I reconcile the belief in the soul going to heaven after it leaves the body with the belief in the resurrection of the body? The first comes from a belief that the soul or spirit is better than the body, and that the body is really dross to be discarded. The other comes from the belief that a person is an indivisible unity of body and soul. How can the two be reconciled? Your explanation of “one destination with different but equally valid ways of understanding it while I am still in this life” is enlightening, inspirational and, most of all, exciting because it will give me a brand new way of thinking and reading and understanding what I read about such matters in the future. Thank You.

    Roger

    • Pixi says:

      Hi Roger,

      It makes me so happy to know that something I’ve written has helped someone else; particularly an article like this because writing it wasn’t easy and made me do a lot of thinking myself. I’m glad when people enjoy my more factual pages, like the encyclopedias, but a lot more of myself went into writing this one, and I’m beyond glad that you liked it. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment – it really does motivate me to keep working on this site.

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