In religion, you often find debates on literal or symbolic belief systems. In the literal sense, its take at face value. Teachings and principles are exactly as written (or spoken), and not to be changed or adjusted in any way.
Symbolic, on the other hand, means teachings and principles hold meaning to the person, often being flexible, and even abstract.
Take, for instance, the Wiccan Rede. For some, this is Law and understood to be “Harm none”. Period. You don’t hurt anyone, including yourself. Others, however, see the Rede as advice, (the word rede means advice) and to be mindful of how one lives one’s life in accordance to society as well as personal belief systems. For some, this doesn’t include a passive practice. You’re allowed to defend yourself, or even retaliate in some cases.
Even the Divine can be perceived as literal or symbolic. I personally see Goddess as Higher Self, but also part of the delicate balance of inner and outer worlds, of Nature, and other aspects of life and death. I do not see the Divine as a sentient being.
We use symbols all the time in our practice;
Cauldron- represents the Goddess, the womb, and mysteries.
Athame- represents the God aspect, the phallus, and represents directed will.
Even our dreams offer symbolic representations to communicate with us. Symbols are often just as important as the real thing.
What are your thoughts on the Divine? Literal? Symbolic?