Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The God Faucet

I often come across questions which sound something like this, “Do you know which god is good for bringing love into my life?” Or, “Which goddess was it who sees to abundance?” Or, “I need better self esteem. Should I call on X-god or Y-goddess?” Sometimes folks will even flip through an “encyclopedia” of deities to find a deity who sees to certain attributes. Often I will answer these questions as best I can...but reluctantly.

I cringe and hurt when I see the deities get treated like mix and match morsels that fit or don’t fit into someone’s spirituality trail mix. It’s not about us. Picking and choosing deities in accordance to what you need to bring into your life is a reversal of priorities. The act, this mentality, robs the deities of their individuality and splendor. It puts us at the center of importance when we are not.

I see the questions as backwards. It’s wrongheaded. Just think about it. It’s worse than going through an address book filled with friends and loved ones and asking, “Now, I need help in my garden. Which one was it who is great at pulling weeds?” Even one’s closest friends who love and adore a person are going to get tired of demands to do heavy lifting and dirty work. The gods aren't your personal friends, and they certainly aren't friends who will put up with these indignities. I’ve covered this to some extent in The Gods Are Not Your Personal Biatches.

The gods are not bellboys upon whom we dump our emotional and spiritual baggage.

I write this pithy post because I realized when I posted about the god Choranu over at the blog on Witches and Pagans magazine,  I realized later that many of the folks there who read the post will not honor him as a god, but will hassle him when his “attributes” happen to fit into a spell for their own reasons. He would be “dieu du jour.”

The thought made me cringe. Here he is, a powerful god of protection, of purification, and of purification from khats’a—misdeeds, which include misdeeds in ritual and in ritual sincerity—and he would be “used” instead of honored. And likely he could be demanded into an inappropriate situation.

He would just be boiled down into another archetype. Just another human “thoughtform,” or a poetic metaphor. Using a god of purification of ritual misdeed as a god during a ritual which is sure to incur misdeed is just asking for trouble. Yes, you read that right. He’s a deity who clears misdeed, and some ignorant fool just might call on him to participate in misdeed. I don’t want to be anywhere near that blighter should that happen. As Anomalous Thracian has said, these are deities of consequence.  That khats’a, that misdeed, will continue to follow a person until the person addresses the issue and does the appropriate deeds to cleanse and atone. Beware of Choronu's snake because it can come back to bite.

This is the core issue is a matter of used instead of used by, of serve me instead of serve you. It’s a matter of we are theirs, they are not ours. It’s a matter of mistaking that the deities are natural forces which can be turned on and off like a faucet dispensing goodness when you want it, how you want it, and in the amount that you want it. When one puts the deities first, one realizes that we are the faucet through which their goodness flows into the world, or at least one of the many ways their goodness flows.

It’s ok to ask the deities for help when needed, but one must realize that they aren’t an impersonal on-demand system. We have to handle our own problems first then ask for aid. And sometimes asking for aid doesn’t mean asking the deities to fix it for us or to protect us completely from the bad that happens; instead, it often means asking them to aid us in finding the strength, wisdom, and resources within ourselves to handle the matter competently and gracefully.

Sometimes it means that we don’t receive the acts and answers we expected or wanted. Sometimes it means we have to hear the word “no.” Sometimes it means that we can’t always get what we want, but we always get what we need.

It’s a matter of piety and priorities, of respect and responsibilities: the gods are awe-some and awe-ful, and we should treat them accordingly.

Today is
11 [Gapnu], Shanatu 85

It's been 11 days since the previous chudthu (new moon), and is the 11th day of the lunar month. It has been 85 years since the rediscovery of the Canaanite city-state of Ugarit. Our next holiday begins on the evening before summer solstice--the evening of June 20th, in just a couple of days. The holiday is called 'Ashuru Zabri (Festival of Pruning) or 'Ashuru Qazhu (the Summer Festival). 

Image Notes
Photo of a faucet in Częstochowa, Poland taken by Przykuta. Used under GNU-Creative Commons License.


  1. To avoid this issue is why I, personally, believe that Gods should only be worshipped within their cultural contexts. So, you should choose a paradigm that speaks to you, and then only worship within it. It's not an idea I try to force on others, mind you, but it is one that I stick to personally.

    Long ago now, I felt myself coming to an understanding that the universe was not home or part of a single omnipotent deity, but to a set of deities. I came to understand that the universe is polytheistic, and I explored what that meant and found myself strongly relating to the Hellenic goddess Athena, and then I dove in to that paradigm, the Hellenic paradigm, and though I read up on and sometimes even study other religions and mythoi, I worship only in that paradigm, and so I feel that I manage this tendency toward trail-mix religiosity.

    Like you, I presume, I also try to feel their influences on me and my life rather than using them like pieces of a puzzle.

    1. You raise some good points, Hector. I would say that if your deities come primarily from one pantheon, then that is the cultural paradigm in which to go. However, I also see two parts to religious expression: a formal part, and an informal part. If I believe that another deity calls to me, then I place an image of them in my informal shrine and try to make informal offerings that will be pleasing (and non-offensive) to all involved. The Canaanites often included deities in their formal veneration which came from other pantheons including the Hurrian, Egyptian, and Assyrian pantheons. So, some mixing is inevitable and not entirely undesirable, but care should be taken.