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What is a Triune Deity?

The Triple Goddess or God

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What is a Triune Deity?

Brighid is a well known triune deity.

Image © Patti Wigington 2012; Licensed to About.com

Sometimes, you’ll see deities referred to with the word triune here at About Pagan/Wiccan. A triune god or goddess is simply a deity with three different but connected aspects. An example of this would be Brighid, the Celtic hearth goddess. In addition to being a goddess of the home and domesticity, she is also a goddess of the smith’s fire and artisanship, and of healing and diving inspiration. In Brighid’s case, each of these three aspects are still called Brighid.

Some triune deities, however, have three uniquely named aspects that comprise the whole. In Greek legend, although they are individual entities, Artemis and Selene form a triad with Hecate, representative of the maiden, mother and crone. Even Catholicism honors the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost – three different beings altogether, but at the same time, all part of God.

Not all religions have triple gods and goddesses – it appears to be a concept found in primarily Indo-European belief systems. Scholars believe that this triple-deity system may have evolved from societies which had three distinct classes of people – warriors, priests, and average peasants.

In modern Pagan religions, the triune deity often makes an appearance in the form of the Maiden, Mother and Crone archetype. This may be due to some influence from Robert Graves and his work The White Goddess, in which he states that ancient peoples all worshiped a triple goddess. However, much of Graves’ work has been questioned over time, and his scholarship called into doubt. Professor Ronald Hutton has argued that the triple goddess in the Maiden/Mother/Crone format is largely Graves’ invention, rather than a carryover from some ancient pre-Christian belief system.

 

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