Devas, in Hinduism and Buddhism, are exalted beings of various types. The term 'deva' in Sanskrit means "shining one". Hinduism recognizes three types of devas: mortals living on a higher realm than other mortals, enlightened people who have realized God, and Brahman in the form of a personal God. In Buddhism, devas are gods who live in the various realms of heaven as rewards for their previous good deeds, but they are still subject to rebirth.
Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, introduced to the West her own conception of devas. She proclaimed them to be types of angels or gods that were progressed entities from previous planetary periods. They came to earth before the elementals and human beings, and would remain in the state of dormancy until a certain human evolutionary stage was reached. Then the devas would join with the elementals to help further the spiritual development of mankind.
Presently devas are more commonly thought of as nature spirits. They are invisible to most people, except those possessing the psychic ability of clairvoyance. They are said to communicate through means of clairaudience and meditation.
There seems to be a cooperative partnership between devas and human beings which has attracted attention in this time of increasing ecological consciousness. This partnership was discovered in the produce of Findhorn in Scotland and Perelandra in Washington, DC. It seems that devas are the "architects" of nature. A deva is assigned to every living thing, even the soil. They are the blueprint designers for all living things, and control all necessary energies for growth and health. At the two above mentioned facilities, it is said devas
dispense information on planting, fertilizing, watering, and general plant care. Devas seem very astonished and disturbed about man's destruction of the environment. But, they remain willing to work with people who strive to
understand the intricacies and harmonies of nature.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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