What Does Divinity Mean?
Divinity, often also known as the divine, are entities that are either connected to or devoted to a deity or a figure of spiritual importance. However, whether a thing being divine or not is wholly based on subjective faiths and belief systems that might be different from one another—rooted in the term ‘godly,’ divine as a word varies in its utilization based on its context.
Divinity as an attribute is known to have two distinctive usages –
- Being a Divine Force or Power is universal and capable of transcending human capacities.
- Being a Divinity applied to mortals that have specific attributes of special access or connection to the divine.
Most of the time, deities or godly entities are often identical, which results in an overlap between the usage of these words. These entities are then identified based on the powers and forces they have been credited with. Numerous cases are such that a deity is only power or energy personified. These powers or forces are also extended to mortal individuals in several circumstances. For example, Jehovah is closely connected with storms and thunder throughout the Old Testament. Thunder is shown as a sign of his anger and the way in which he manifests his speech. This power was then extended to prophets such as Moses and Samuel, who utilized these thunderous storms to take revenge on their enemies.
Divinity has been known to symbolize positive prosocial blessings such as goodness, beauty, beneficence, and justice. These blessings have been countered in monotheistic faiths, with an equivalent community of maleficent supernatural beings and entities. These beings, known as demons, carry powers that are primarily used to counter goodness. Popularly referred to as the demonic are often used as antonyms to the divine,
Pantheistic and polytheistic faiths and schools of thought have been known to make no such distinction in their definition of gods and other beings of supernatural power, considering that the both of them often have complex, ignoble, or even irrational excuses for their acts.
Religious discourse utilizes three distinguishing facets of divinity and divine, which are as follows –
Monotheistic faiths have been known to use the word divinity to refer to the singular idea of God, which is subjective to varied beliefs. Often capitalized and mentioned with a definite article, “the Divinity” is a symbol of honor in its linguistic studies. On the other hand, with its first letter capitalized, Divine is actually used as an adjective to symbolize material representation of Divinity and its powers: e.g., “basking in the Divine presence…”
Additionally, divinity or divine without their capitalization or definite articles is used to denote God, singular or plural. They may also include entities that are not absolutely defined as Gods but are known to exist outside the human realm.
Divine Force or Power
Notably, divinities have been associated closely with supernatural forces or powers that have been credited to them based on their affiliations. In fact, these powers or forces can be viewed independently as well because of their virtue of being invoked without the presence of their divine bearer. This leads us to the second utilization of the word divine (and less common usage of divinity), used to refer to power or its transcendent operation in the world.
Straightforwardly, power or its transcendent operation in the world has been known to imply a divine intervention of sorts that has the ability to change human lives for better or for worse. Especially for pan and polytheistic faiths, this divine intervention symbolizes a direct action of God for human events.
For instance, in Greek legend, Poseidon (God of the sea) raised the storms to blow Odysseus’s craft off course on his return journey. Similarly, in Japanese traditions, it has been held that it was actually a god-sent wind that saved them from the Mongol invasion and thus, altered their entire history. Additionally, prayers or propitiations are also offered to specific gods to garner favorable interventions in particular decisions and challenges.
Transcendent force or power has also been known to work through more subtle and indirect paths in life. Focusing on the possibility of divine retribution, one can hold faith in the fact that the divine will eventually use their universal power to bring evil-doers to justice unexpectedly. It may happen in the form of the conventional workings of the world. These retributions can range from the subtle redressing of minor personal wrongs to large-scale havoc such as the biblical Great Flood.
Another procession to work along these lines is the doctrine of Karma, as is believed in Buddhism and Hinduism. Karma is a divine law similar to divine retribution but excluded from the punishment that the former focused on. This law states that acts, good or bad, intentional or unintentional, have a way of reflecting on us as part of the universe and its natural working.
Lastly, divinity and divine power have been associated with living, mortal and human individuals in the third usage. Political leaders from time immemorial have claimed an actual form of divinity in specific early societies. A primary example of such a case is the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs who took roles as objects of worship and were consequently credited with superhuman positions and powers. Other than this, many faiths have numerous people who are believed to have been touched by divine forces, such as saints, prophets, heroes, oracles, martyrs, and enlightened beings.
However, generally, mortals with divine qualities have been carefully differentiated from the deity or deities in their religion’s main pantheon. Even in the Christian faith, where Christ is identical to God, God and Christ have been differentiated as the Father and the begotten Son.
Additionally, certain esoteric and mystical schools of thought believe that all humans are divine and exist in a place that has been unified with divinity. This divinity would have expressed itself naturally and more freely if it was not for the social obstructions around it. Given the constraints of the world, if these divinities are to be brought to the forefront, then appropriate spiritual practices must be employed in the right way.