In comments to my post on Pagan Values, nanoboy asks a good question: I am curious about something. In the Socratic dialogue Euthyphro, Socrates catches Euthyphro in a logical fallacy. Euthyphro is a good guy, as he's acting as a witness against his father who murdered a slave. In discussing the morality of his situation, he must decide whether something is pious (or moral, for our purposes) because the gods approve of it, or whether it is approved by the gods, because it is pious.
He doesn't know in the end and heads off to court. Now, Socrates was a monotheist (a crime in Athens.) However, regardless of the number of gods, any religion needs to grapple with this issue. Did the gods make morality, or do the gods honor morality, because it is constant? I am curious of the response to this question by modern pagans.
You know, a lot of Pagan Godesses/Gods don't really have a lot to do with morality. They generally don't hand down lists of "Thou Shalt Not"s or even "Thou Shalt"s. The Wiccan Rede: "An it harm none, do as thou wilt," doesn't come from any particular deity that I know of. The Charge of the Goddess is sometimes associated with Aradia, but I think of it as a lovely piece of poetry written by Doreen Valiente for Gerald Gardner. Doreen could, though, have been channeling Aradia as much as Moses channeled Jehovah or Joseph Smith channeled Moroni. Crowley's "Love is the law. Love under will," was, according to Crowley, authored by an entity named Aiwass, whom Crowley later referred to as his personal Holy Guardian Angel (or "Higher Self"). Several Egyptian deities speak in Crowley's book. But that's it, as far as I know, at least in terms of generally-recognized explicit Pagan "commandments."
One thing I like about a lot of Pagan deities is that they're imperfect. Zeus runs around on his wife and isn't above trickery to land a young woman in the sack. His wife is jealous and often misdirects her jealousy. Seth killed Osiris. Diana turns Actaeon into a stag to be torn apart by his own hounds simply because he comes upon her bathing and is struck by her beauty. When Persephone is abducted, none of the Goddesses or Gods will tell her mother, Demeter, what happened until Hecate speaks up. And we won't talk about how the Trojan War got started.
I'm going to take moral instruction from this crew? ;)
To me, they neither, to answer nanoboy, make morality nor do they always honor it. What they do is to personify powerful forces and important archetypes. And, they just . . . are. Process theology would argue that they not only "are" but "are becoming," as well, and that makes sense to me. And, there's a point at which The Goddess and I are one, just as there's a point where Baba Yaga is a completely different entity from, say, Quan Yin and I am distinct from both of them.
However, while Gaia never handed down any specific commandments, I don't think that you can know her without accepting certain values, without valuing the Earth and all that She is.
As a devotee of Hecate, I try be willing to speak truth to power, especially if it will defend women. I try to be open to liminal times, spaces, experiences. I try to honor change in myself and others. I try to be aware of the value of those times when nothing is certain, to recognize that good things, as well as bad, can come from chaos. But it's as likely that I'm drawn to Hecate because she personifies those values as it is likely that I value those things because they're sacred to Hecate.
I don't know if this answers nanoboy's question, or not. Do you get your values from the Goddesses/Gods?
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."