One of the ideas of modern liberal theologies is that the names of God are really not that important. Names, in fact, are commonly used to exclude people socially and theologically. Thus references to Christianity, God, Jesus can be used to exclude those people such as Hindus, Jews, and Moslems to whom these religious labels, persons and symbols mean little. In other words the names of God can be used to say “We worship the true one God and you worship false gods.”
However, names do matter. The name of Yahweh, God the Father, and Allah while they do have much in common also have much in the form of differing theologies, devotional traditions, and historical communities that differentiate them. For those such as myself who am interested in what is often called in Christianity the “Divine Feminine” or in Modern Paganism the “Goddess” names also matter. The ancient goddesses Cybele, Inanna, Athena, and Isis for example are all were connected to very different theological conceptions and traditions. They were radically different goddesses if one wishes to see them as different divine beings. Or from a more monotheistic way of thinking they all represent differing visions, aspects and ways of the Goddess. Their names can not be used interchangeably. The use of the generic divine title the Goddess itself is indicative of this reality.
I was first introduced to the Goddess by writers such as Merlyn Stone a radical feminist writer and Starhawk a priestess of Wicca in the early 1980s. At that time in my life the Goddess represented to me nature, wiccan worship, and an ancient matriarchal egalitarian civilization that supposedly existed prior to the origins of patriarchy. I assume that perhaps most pagans still believe in this Goddess. However this Goddess certainly does not resemble the classical goddesses such as Isis, Hear, or Demeter. Neither does she resemble the Hindu goddesses Durga, Parvati, or Laksmi. The traditions that they represent are quite different. This is not to say that similarities do not exist between these goddesses. However the differences are as important as are the similarities. Thus Isis is the goddess who makes the power of women to be equal to men. She is mistress of the elements. Yet in many way she differs from the Goddess of the old radical Feminist Spirituality movement.
I have just changed the name of this blog to reflect my own devotion to the Goddess Isis. Her Name is important because it reflect a particular theological vision and tradition of goddess which in many ways differs from other goddess traditions. This Isis as envisioned during the Greco Roman period is the creatress of all reality. She is central to my religious being.
Another aspect of Isis that she is the Name behind the names of the other goddesses. Thus she can be Isis Demeter or Isis Hathor or …?
I will resume my discussion of Mary in another post.