The Naming of the Divine: A Non-Binary Perspective

Lately, I’ve been reading more and more articles written by practitioners of magic who identify as non-binary, gender-fluid, etc. Many of them are expressing their desire for us to move beyond the traditional god/goddess language when referring to the Divine and adopt a more inclusive approach.

I must admit, I totally relate to their struggle with this issue. Growing up as a Christian, I reached a point where the male-dominated language of my faith no longer worked for me. I began infusing some feminine energy into my concept of the Divine, always referring to the Holy Spirit as a “she” and trying my best to get away from “Lord” language when referring to the Creator by using other nouns such as “Eternal One” (which is what the Hebrew word YEHOVAH actually means instead of “Lord”). When the goddess Brigid entered my life, the feminine aspects of the Divine were a permanent part of my spiritual life which feels a lot more balanced than it did before.

That being said, while my spiritual life includes Divine aspects that are both traditionally male and female, I often seek terms for the Divine that move beyond gender completely. This is especially true as I write liturgies for both Christian and Pagan gatherings. For example, when casting a circle I often welcome the “Divine Presence, who is known to us by many names.” One of the reasons I do this is that The Welcoming Circle, which I lead at Asheville’s Raven & Crone, is open to people of all spiritual paths. I try to honor all the names we attach to the One we know as the Divine.

My biggest source of inspiration for naming God more inclusively are the various Native American spiritualities, some of whom refer to the Divine as the “Great Spirit,” or my personal favorite the “Great Mystery,” since none of us can completely understand nor comprehend the Divine.

Recently, I’ve been using the First Nations Translation of the New Testament which came out in 2022. While it uses male pronouns when referring to God, it also gets creative with more generic terms for the Divine such as “Maker of Life” and often uses “Great Spirit” or “Creator” in place of “God.” It also takes a few steps toward inclusivity by using “sacred family members” instead of Paul’s typical “brothers and sisters” in his letters. It also describes the “kingdom of God” as “Creator’s good road” which I really like.

Language is always an evolving thing. The point of this article is to get us thinking about the names and pronouns we use to describe the Divine. I encourage all of us to listen to our non-binary siblings because they have some important wisdom to share with us!

Copyright ©2023 by David Taliesin,

About David Taliesin

My name is David Taliesin. I'm an writer, teacher and retreat leader who explores the connections between Christian and Pagan Spirituality. E-mail me with any personal comments you'd like to share and I will do my best to answer them. You can also contact me through my Facebook page
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