I’m an eclectic pagan, so my overall pantheon is pretty…varied. I have three gods from one culture, and some from the Hellenic pantheon, and then there’s the Otherfaith and my D’Angeline Recon…right. Four separate pantheons; lots o’ gods.
So instead of taking each of these pantheon posts as a chance to talk about an individual deity, I’m going to use them to talk about the separate pantheons I have. Which works perfectly — 4 pantheon posts, 4 pantheons.
The Sacred Triad/Big 3
I suppose it’s more accurate to say I’m working within an Irish or Gaelic context here, but so far it’s only these three, and Manannan spans some cultural boundaries in my experience. So the Sacred Triad it remains.
These gods came to me separately over a period of several years. It was only after all three had been in my life for a while that I started to realize They worked together, that Their mysteries were entwined, that I was meant to understand Them not only as individuals but as a collective. I started calling Them the Sacred Triad for a lack of a better name, and had some thoughts of building a religion based on Them.
I don’t know if I’m still doing that, but I’m still exploring the collective of The Sacred Triad, and the mysteries of each of the gods in it, as well as the mysteries of the collective.
First was the Morrigan, May/June 2007. She was the loudest of all of Them, probably because at that point I was much in need of a two-by-four to know that a god spoke to me. Shortly after Brighid poked Her head in, but I asked for Her to come back later because while I was definitely interested, I just didn’t think I could handle both tM and Brighid showing up within a month of each other (I was right; Their tag-teaming can be brutal). So Brighid came back later, in January 2010. A few months later, Manannan poked His head in.
And then my journey with the Sacred Triad really began.
I began to understand Them beyond what I’d read, either in the lore or in other people’s interpretations. I came to realize that dualisms never really worked for me, and started to see things as groups of threes. In that way, They affected my cosmology too.
It was no longer birth/death; it was creation/living/ending. It was land/sea/sky. It was birth/sex/death. It was fire/dirt/salt-water. And there is overlap.
Brighid is the sun, the fire of creation; She is birth and beginning and making something from nothing. But She’s also the fire in the water — the pinpricks of light in the deep dark of space, and that deep dark of space is Him. Manannan, lord of death, of the deeps, of rain and ocean and the endless expanse of space. Birth comes from death as much as it leads to it.
And Brighid is wells and rivers and fresh water, too — and so is the Morrigan, who is the land, who is living, who is the middle between birth and death and the moment we cross over from one moment to the next, who is the hard fast beating of your heart that tells you you’re really alive. She is all the liminal spaces; She is fairy forests. She is the queen of that otherworld, and She is the queen of the land. Sovereignty over it is given by Her and no one else. And She is salt and sweat and tears, and in that way Her areas are mingled with Manannan’s, whose ocean is salty, whose rain is like tears.
And She is blood, which is fire in the water, which is all of Them.
She is the act of cutting away and knowing when to stop cutting. She is the force between Brighid and Manannan that binds Them, that connects Them. Her land is the fabric that holds the sea and sky together.
And I feel like I’m working with primal forces, here. I feel that these forces have been around for much longer than we have, and it was only through their interaction with people in certain areas that they became the Morrigan, and Brighid, and Manannan — and that in other areas these forces might have become very different gods indeed. Those forces are still behind the gods I know, still there, simmering beneath the surface, and they are still out there in the world, doing their own thing.
Deity individuation is very different from human individuation.
It’s through my relationships with the Sacred Triad and my conversations with other polytheists that I have come to believe the gods would exist with or without us, but it is because of us that they are how they are. It is through interactions with us that they have changed, have molded their energies to become the shapes we know and recognize, and it is through our interactions with them that we have changed, have molded our shapes into what they know and recognize.
You cannot know something without changing it. You cannot observe something without having an effect — and being affected, in turn. The gods — the primal forces — were always there, but as soon as we came on the scene they became something else, sometimes many different times in many different areas, even if the original primal force was the same source.
And for me, in my experience, the three forces of Brighid, the Morrigan, and Manannan work together, as a collective, as much as They work by Themselves or within more traditional pantheons.
That’s the basic gist of The Sacred Triad. I ramble more about it and Them in the category of the same name on this blog.