On the treatment of deities -mini rant

Have you ever experienced a ritual, either in a group or alone; where god(s) are invoked, and you just know they haven’t shown up?  Sometimes, no matter what you do, they aren’t going to make an appearance, i’m sure they’ve got lots to do.

Other times, it really is no surprise that they aren’t showing.

I attended a rite last month that involved the apparently random invocation of 4 unrelated deities (both to each other and to the rite) for which I can only assume was because they were ‘witchy’. They were called to attend the rite…and then promptly ignored. There wasn’t any mention of them in the rite until the end, the rite was not specifically for them; nor were they invoked to assist. There weren’t any propitiatory  offering or even a ‘welcome‘.

Needless to say, It is with a reasonable amount of certainty that I can say those gods didn’t show. At the very least, the Hekate of my understanding (she was one of the ‘witchy’ gods) didn’t show because I know what she ‘feels’ like when she’s even a little present.

If you in any way believe in the literal existence of deity then I urge you to think about how you approach them. I won’t rehash the ‘gods aren’t correspondences’ thing because people who are much more articulate than me have already addressed this topic. It also makes my blood boil and I’ll end up getting all red faced and shout-y. Basically, the gods are more than a list of attributes in a fucking dictionary of t3h gawdess. They are huge and complex beings and way beyond most peoples comprehension. To give Aphrodite as much consideration as a pink candle can only end badly.

Lets turn our attentions to the anecdote at the top of this post. Why might the gods not turn up to a ritual?

Well, the invoking of those gods is akin to opening the yellow pages, calling the first number you see without looking at the details and asking them to do your plumbing without any payment, or even specification as to which pipes need fixing.

If I was on the receiving end of that phone call; I wouldn’t show up either. I’m not even a plumber and you would have known that if you read my description in the classifieds, or had spoken to me first.

It also doesn’t hurt to look briefly at the culture your deity is from, as well as how they were honoured traditionally; and some myths associated with them. Cultural context is not something that should only relevant to a re-constructionist. I’m not saying that in order to honour a god properly you need to understand and emulate obscure temple rites, but it doesn’t hurt to know what offerings the deity likes to receive traditionally, and it is useful to know about any potential restrictions or taboos.

If you would like to forge even the most basic of relationships with a deity, think a little about how you would like to be treated. Then go ahead and treat them better than that..

This entry was posted in Hellenic polytheism, Local community, Religious practice, Ritual, The gods and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to On the treatment of deities -mini rant

  1. I had to chuckle and *facepalm* at the same time while reading this. I’ve run into SO many people who do the “random invocation” stuff, and it has always driven me nuts. I’m very lucky in that my Wiccan mentor/teacher/High Priest spent a long time explaining to me just how potent deities can be, and that one should never invite them over randomly. We always made offerings, and treated them with respect. I don’t see a lot of that in today’s Wiccans, and I admit, it disturbs me a lot.

    • Patch says:

      This is indeed a trait that appears mostly in the ‘wiccanesque’ pagans. Though not so much in those wiccans that have had training/mentoring like yourself.
      I see it more in those who get into paganism because they love the idea of magic, and the existence of gods and all the religious trappings are an afterthought.

  2. Heather says:

    I’ve always felt that this treatment of the gods is somehow related to the fact that most of the people who are practicing rites like this come from a Judeo-Christian background. And in what passes for mainstream Christianity, “God” is always there, ever-present, ever-attentive, and ever-focused on the practitioner. This is the culture that these people, these newly-forged “Wiccans” and, even worse, people who use the word “pagan” without knowing what it means,” come from.

    I’ve also experienced a few of these sorts of rituals (including one where, at a traditional heathen meetup, a woman insisted on summoning Loki, not realizing the effect it would have on the hosting group) and I think people aren’t so much interested in changing the *culture* of their religious practice, as changing the face or mask they’re worshipping. : \

    • Ruadhan says:

      I think people aren’t so much interested in changing the *culture* of their religious practice, as changing the face or mask they’re worshipping.

      Very well-put. I’ve had my own suspicions, as well.

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  4. Kullervo says:

    Eh, Wicca is just a different religion. The fact that witches use the names of pagan gods and goddesses doesn’t mean there’s anything else similar, right down to a totally different conception of those gods.

    I think we probably shouldn;t be surprised when worshipping with Wiccans is not really satisfying for a non-Wiccan.

  5. It is certainly a strange attitude but it seems like the gathering wasn’t for celebrating the gods, but rather for some other purpose, but even in that case the polite thing would do is at least give a libation or some small token to those gods which you invite. Of course I don’t understand why anyone would invite a god to a ritual that has absolutely nothing to do with them. It is something I actively discourage, and often don’t invite Apollon to rituals for other gods (no matter how much I love him) if the ritual is not something with I feel is pertinent to him. It strikes me as the kind of opinion that children have that the fact that they invited someone aught to be enough. So in a sense this seems altogether rather jouvenile to me…lets invite “the cool kids” and reap the benefits of said invite. Of course since I don’t do “witchy” type stuff I guess invititing a god to a ritual without purpose seems rather alien because the only time I do rituals is give offerings and loves to the gods 😉

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