My recent post on the thealogy behind the Conception of Anna inspired me to look more deeply into the thealogy behind the Déanic/Filianic concept of Dea as Daughter, Mother, and Great Mother.
My home altar to Dea features three large pictures on the wall which represent Mari, Anna, and the Mysteria, respectively. Then, on a shelf beneath those three I have seven small pictures set up, one to represent each of the seven major Janyati. A friend visited my place recently and asked about my altar, so I tried to explain what Déanism was to them. When I mentioned it was monotheistic, they were a bit confused, and said, “But your altar- there’s so many!”
I explained to them about the Janyati being Dea, but I think the intricacies of this question are worth exploring (or at least I find them fascinating), but I confess that in researching this post (after feeling like my brain was being painfully stretched) I determined that there are no logical answers available and that all I can say is that God’s nature is above and beyond human logic.
Both the Filianic and Janite Déanic Creeds affirm that Dea is “One,” and that “She is also Three.” The Deity of the Janyati is well-attested to across Deanism, and is stated explicitly in the Janite Déanic Creed.
Insofar as I understand, Déanism can be understood as both monotheistic and panentheistic. That is, we believe in one God, not a multitude, and we also believe that God is greater than the universe, yet She includes and merges with it as well.
I will explore the concept of singularity and multiplicity of Deity in other faiths and traditions in order to help understand the particularities of Déanic understandings.
Pagan Triple Goddess: Aspects
An “aspect” is a “particular feature of something.” So when Neo-Pagans refer to different “aspects” of the God or Goddess, they are referring to different features of those Deities.
This is fairly straightforward, insofar as I understand. I could talk about different aspects of myself- Jacqueline the student, Jacqueline the writer, Jacqueline the girlfriend, Jacqueline the sister, and so on. I am always myself but I have lots of different features which are separate from each other, though interconnected as well because I am one person. I think when Neo-Pagans speak about aspects of the God or Goddess, this is what they are referring to. So if we look particularly at the Triple Goddess (Maiden, Mother, Crone), the thealogy there, I think, is that the Goddess is singular, but variously takes on the role of Maiden, Mother, and Crone (presumably Deity is not limited by time and space the way that we are, so it’s conceivable that She could be all three at once).
Christian Trinity: Hypostasis
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is usually expressed as “Three Persons in One Being.” This begs the question of what is meant by “Person” and “Being,” since in our common English usage we tend to conflate the two (that is, a human “being” and a “person” are generally understood as equivalent).
“Being” in the context tends to refer to “essence,” the essential nature of a thing. “Person” (hypostasis in Greek) means substance- literally “sub stance” -to stand under. It refers to an individual reality rather than an essence (see Christology Terms for more on this).
So in Christian theology you have God as one Being, but expressed in three separate realities, or Persons (Father, Son, Spirit). The Son is “begotten” of the Father, and the Spirit either proceeds from the Father (Orthodox) or from both the Father and the Son (Catholic, and at least some Protestants). Nobody seems to have a solid idea of what it means that the Holy Spirit “proceeds” from the Father (and possibly the Son).
The Son “begotten” is generally understood not to refer to Jesus’ human birth, but His eternal identity as God the Son. It is not a literal begetting; it means the Father caused Him to be. This is a real brain twister because Christian doctrine teaches that the Trinity is eternal, so it isn’t as though the Father was alone until He “begat” the Son. The Son always was. This may be a distinction from Déanic teaching.
Now we turn to emanations, a concept extant in Neo-Platonism, Gnosticism, and Hasidic Jewish philosophy among others. To emanate is to “flow from.” The idea of emanation is not wholly separable from the concept of the Christian Trinity, as the Son and Spirit both “flow forth” from the Father; that is, they emanate from Him.
So basically an emanation is an extension of the Deity into a separate substance while the emanation retains its unified essence with the Deity.
The Filianic Scriptures speak of Dea laughing the world into being. Unlike a neat creator/creation dichotomy sometimes espoused in faiths like Christianity where “creationism” is the term used to refer to how the world came into existence, Déanism suggests a more panentheistic perspective wherein”creation” is an extension of Dea Herself; this is emanationism as opposed to creationism.
The Mother could be understood as an emanation from Absolute Deity (the Mysteria; the Ground of All Being), and the Daughter as an emanation from the Mother (or from both the Mother and the Mysteria). We humans and our fellow creatures (for lack of a better word) can also be understood to have emanated forth from the Mother through Her laughter. Of course, what makes us different from Anna in this regard is that we are entangled with kear and She is not. Everybody and everything is sharing the same Divine Essence, despite the fact that we are all different individuals and that we humans are entangled with kear.
Dea: Triad and Septad
On the subject of the Janati and the Deanic Trinity, ArchMadria Pamela has stated the following: “Janites are careful to never refer to the Janati as ‘aspects’ of Dea, because, again, that may be misleading. Just as the Trinity is Three Distinct Separate Beings and yet, are of one Essence…so too, the Janati are Distinct, Separate Beings and yet, are of one Essence.”
I would venture to assume that here ArchMadria Pamela is using the word “Being” to refer to hypostasis- Persons sharing the same Essence (I use “Essence” and “Being” interchangeably earlier in this post, hence why I make this clarification), although hopefully she corrects me if I’m wrong about that.
In contrast, the Chapel specifically does refer to the Janyati as “aspects” of Dea, stating: “the seven Janyati are aspects of God Herself. Just as the pure light of the sun is without color, but refracts into the seven colors of the rainbow when it passes through a drop of water, so the Supernal Light that is Dea refracts into Her Seven Powers, or ‘Goddesses’, as it touches the waters of manifestation.”
Before we latch on to this supposed distinction in thealogy too tightly, it is important to note that the Chapel also refers to the Janyati as “prolongations” of Dea (a prolongation is an emanation, as you will recall). This seems contradictory, however, an explanation they give for distinctions in views of the Divine Triad may be useful here:
“However, there are those (‘pure Déanists’) who cannot accept the Daughter as a separate Person…who will nonetheless agree that the Saving Function of the Daughter (the ‘Daughter Aspect’) is part of the Mother…
“Such Pure Déanists usually have no difficulty in attending Filianic ceremonies on this basis, seeing the Daughter Mythos as a metaphor rather than a Revelation. Indeed many of us take a position somewhere between the two extremes, without feeling the need to define that position in precise rational terms. We do not, after all, forget that in matters of the Spirit, reason itself can never leave the plane of metaphor. Only Pure Intellect can be precise, and the precision of Pure Intellect cannot, by its very nature, be formulated in words. The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao.
“Not being bound by the ‘literalism’ and ‘personalism’ that has characterised Western Trinitarianism, Aristasian Déanists have a somewhat more fluid view of both the Trinity and of Godhead. The statement of a Devotee of Sai Sushuri…that Sai Sushuri is the One Dea would not be considered heretical or even eccentric. Since each Janya is, in her highest essence, a ‘prolongation’ of Dea Herself, Dea can be worshipped not just through but as any of Her Great Janyati.”
(Sai Sushuri is another name for Lady Grace.)
Here the Daughter is referred to as an “Aspect” and the Janyati are referred to as “prolongations.” If I understand correctly, I do not think the Chapel means either of these as absolute distinctions. In response to a question I recently posted on the Déanic Conversations forum, Race Mochridhe mentioned that “one cannot develop a ‘logical’ thealogy if reality itself does not correspond to the impositions of human logic.” This is frustrating for those of us who would like to nail everything down neatly, but I think it’s probably the case that the nature of God Herself does in fact defy the rules of logic conceived by the human brain.