Letting Gods Be Gods

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Last year at Pantheacon, there was a huge Hellenic trance party. Dionysos, Ariadne, Bacchic Apollon, and Pan all came to visit for the evening. It was… intense.

A Gardnerian popped in, and asked, “how are you doing this level of trance without casting a circle?”

The warder answered, “the room is warded.”

Now, a completely reasonable thing, within the context of the Wiccan faith, is to say, “this is how it pleases the Lord and Lady to work with us. I notice that your faith is different.” That’s chill. And you know what, if you are Wiccan, and you’ve got something worked out with a Greek deity that you are going to work with them in a Wiccan way, that’s fine, too.

Where I get off the bus is when we start to assume that all people and all deities need someone’s trad-specific tech in order to do their work. This goes for the people who insist that it’s unsafe to work with deities –even Greek deities– except through dead people, the people who think that all traditions need to be using Wiccan tech, the people who think that you are a spiritual failure unless Jesus is your intermediary, and the Hellenes who think that deities don’t manifest because miasma prevents them from being able to do so (“y’all motherfuckers need khernips”).

To believe that deities need your tech in order to function is to place yourself above them. 

To believe that other humans need your specific path in order to succeed in their relationships with deities, and that they are going to fail if they do not do exactly as you have done is to place yourself above both the humans and the gods in question. 

Listen, ritual tech is great. I love it. The more the better. I love mystical ceremony. That stuff is there to beautify your devotion. It’s meant to elevate the level of hospitality you are offering to the gods. Maybe, if it’s done very thoughtfully, it can also help you to communicate your intentions more clearly, or help you focus. But there is no successful mysticism unless you trust the deities you work with, have faith in their wisdom, and believe that they have the power to keep you safe.

If you don’t have deities in your life that you can build that sort of trust with, keep shopping around until you find deities you can actually work with.

But as for those deities you cannot work with? Just let them be themselves, far away from you. It doesn’t mean that they’re flawed, or that you are flawed. It just means that you aren’t compatible. And that’s ok.

It’s a lot more OK than trying to control them.






  1. You’ve hit on a specific thing that is a HUGE issue all over the place, and not just for issues within different forms of paganism and/or polytheism these days.

    Something I have heard over and over is “How can you have X and Y Deities invoked in the same ritual/on the same altar/in the same shrine [etc.] without a meltdown?” Sometimes, it is Deities within one pantheon or culture; sometimes, it is Deities between several different cultures. There is some assumption–no matter how many people from other cultures one might know personally, or even in some cases how syncretistic one’s own practices might have become–that to do so is either impossible, or will result in an explosion, etc. And yet…!?!

    This has been said to me over and over again in regards to certain rituals and such I’ve done, especially publicly or at particular events, usually by people who have nothing to do with it and are not participating. The specific spiritual technology involved in an Antinous-specific one, i.e. the “God-Party,” which He seems to be especially good at facilitating…I have yet to have a situation in which Antinous is the overarching Deity and the practices based on His devotion are employed in which Deities from within or between pantheons have not been able to get along quite nicely for the duration of the ritual. (If humans of different viewpoints or cultures can coexist in one space without an explosion, certainly the Deities are able to do just as well, I’ve always reasoned…and though the former is increasingly rare in common experience these days, it’s far from impossible!) Yet, there is disbelief, skepticism, and intellectual masturbation a mile long opining on the rightness/wrongness of such a thing on its own more often than not, sometimes by people who are participating, sometimes by people who aren’t…and guess what? It’s never yet failed to go smoothly, at least in my experience.

    [That, of course, doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t at some future point, but since this spiritual technology is specifically Antinoan in derivation, and He’s always been the one running the show as far as all of that goes, it’s not yet gone awry, so it takes the human element out of the picture entirely in my experience, and the likelihood for errors as well!]

    But that general trend of “No! You can’t possibly be doing something I’d never do” either because “You’re not doing it as I/my tradition does” or “My tradition would never do that” really is ridiculous. People talk a great game about “tantra” all the time, and yet some things which are actually quite expectable within tantra are things that many people would never even consider doing…though that’s another thing entirely! 😉

  2. if They are Gods then how they relate to humans is up to Them. humans have the obligation to use their free will responsibly in response. If They are Gods then how They relate to other Gods is totally up to Them and really none of our business. being as we seem to not have learned to get along with each other yet we need to chill on all our childish opinions regarding the Gods, how they realate to individual people or anyone or anything else. the older I get and the more devotion I am allowed to share with the God the more I know I do not know much of anything. All I really know is that Love is the Law.

  3. I couldn’t decide which part of this great post I wanted to quote, but I’m going with this part: “If you don’t have deities in your life that you can build that sort of trust with, keep shopping around until you find deities you can actually work with.”

    This is HUGE. The more I learn to trust my patron Goddess, the less I bother with any ritual tech at all. I rely heavily on just my voice and my focus to connect with Her energy. It is the will and the FAITH that matters. Without trusting your patron deity or deities, you will never have a really meaningful communication with them. It won’t be communication that is useful and reliable, that helps you live a higher quality life. It’ll just be shit, that brings shit into your life.

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