There have been times when I read other pagan’s blogs and I’m struck by a thought or sequence of thoughts, simply because they resonate so much inside me.
This is the genesis of this article.
A friend of mine (known on LiveJournal as VanirPriestess) had posted an article of her relationship with her Deity, Frey. In there she said that it was a common misconception that He made her do things. This is a common theme that I’ve seen among many who have extremely close relationships with their deities. The perception is that those of us who are so close (either married to Them, oathsworn to Them, adopted by Them, being Their avatars and so on) to our Gods have no right to say “no” to our deities.
This is simply not true.
I’m going to try to codify something into words that really defies explanation. A relationship on this level with ANY Astral being, be it a Deity, a Dragon, a Thoughtform or anything else, is exceedingly hard to relate easily. It is something you have to live with to fully understand it. Just like I can describe what it is to Love someone, but until you actually wind up loving someone yourself, you won’t understand all the sentiments to the core of your being.
Thus, it is with this relationship.
Let me emphasize this a bit; this kind of relationship with a Deity actually is a relationship. It is like having them live with you in your house 24/7, They eat at your table, They drink milk out of the container, They watch TV with you and more. To be oathed to someone in this level is exactly that, it means that this being is with you all the time.
Now, think about this for a little while. You have your siblings, your parents, your lover and your children. They are with you all the time. They can and do go off on their own, but their time impinges on your time. What you do affects those that live with you. Their actions affect you as well, if only by being in the same space, using shared resources.
That is what one of these relationships with the Deities is like.
The Gods ask for our attention. Quite a number don’t demand our worship or material sacrifices to Them. But our love, our attention, our listening to Them, our talking about Them to others, that increases the “honored by” base for the Gods that is the bedrock of every deity’s power. The more people honoring Them, thinking about Them, calling upon Them for help in various tasks through life, adds to the amount of energy that a God has.
Energy and magickal power on the Astral plane is the sole medium of currency. Without it, you cannot have what you need to live, you cannot pay others for their help, you cannot negotiate or bribe problems away. It is a direct barter system. I am given this energy by those who honor me, I use that energy to pay for things I need.
So being in a relationship with a Deity of this nature is very intimate. Just thinking of Them, just wondering what They are doing, just doodling on your notepad Their name or Their aspect is enough to give them energy. So this kind of activity is encouraged. The more you do, the more attention you pay to the Gods, the more energy you give Them and the more They have. A simple quid-pro-quo.
But when you invite your Deity of choice into your life permanently, things really shift around. It won’t be enough to simply have a picture of Them hanging above your Altar, there will be whole rituals and rites to Them you must do.
This is what it ultimately means to be a Priest or Priestess of a specific Deity. You essentially say to that Deity “Here I am, raw clay that You found. Make me into what I can be to best honor You.” Be care filled before you ask for that. They will take you literally, and remake you, your life, your mind, your soul and psyche into a tool to serve Them and Their interests.
However, you still have your Free Will.
That is the one thing that a Deity can NEVER take from you. It is the one thing that no one else, really, can take from you. As long as you choose to retain your free will, your right to decide is your own.
A Deity can say to you “Go here and do that.” You DO have the option of saying “no” to Them. Even when you are oathsworn to the Deity of your choice to do everything They say, you still retain the right to refuse Them, to argue with Them, to reject what They say.
This, naturally, causes a lot of grief and problems for those who choose to do that.
Just as in any relationship, you can say “no” you need to understand there will be consequences for that refusal. They may be consequences you don’t mind paying, or they could be consequences that you would do anything not to have to pay. But there is always an effect to your cause. Your refusal to do something may mean that They decide that you are forsworn and all bonds and oaths are broken. Then They will leave you.
But the Gods can never “make” you do anything. They can encourage, They can cajole, They can promise rewards, They can threaten punishments. They can do all the things that we do to get someone to do something we want them to. Most often because we love Them, we simply do what They need us to do.
Look back into every story of a human interacting with a Deity of any kind. You will note that at some point, the God demands something, and it was the free choice of the human that really dictates the next set of actions and consequences. At that point there is a whole array of things that could have been done, from capitulation to adoration, that would have changed the outcome radically.
So, no, a Deity cannot “make” you do something. They can make the consequences of NOT doing it so horrible that you would rather die, they can make it a “lesser of several evils” or they can make it the price for a reward they promise you. There will ALWAYS be a consequence or reward for your actions.
Now, think about living with a sibling all the time. You may love them, you may feed them, but there will come a point when you blow up at them and yell. This is a normal part of any relationship with another person. Guess what? You will do the same thing with your Gods too.
Any relationship, be it with a dog, a human or a God, is about compromise. They want something from you, you want something from them in return. You both have to figure out what you want and how to get it. Most often, this means communication with the other person.
Yes, you will talk to your Gods. Not pray to them, for that is like writing a letter to Santa Claus. You write it and send it off with absolutely no expectation of a response. It is you asking for something, but not expecting to get it. Prayer is a one-way street from you to your Deity.
I’ve said before, when you talk to the Gods it is a communication, not a “gimmie”, and meditation is when you listen to Them. You will be doing both. You HAVE to listen to the Gods to understand what they want, and what they are offering you to get it. Sending that letter off to your God is fine, then you have to take time to look for a response from Them. This is the only way communication works.
Guess what? When you do that 99% of the time, you will understand what you need to do, you will understand what you have to offer and what will be happening to you in the process. And you will have the opportunity to say “stop” or “no”.
Being Chosen of the Gods is not a contract of slavery. They don’t buy you, and they CERTAINLY don’t control your actions. They ask for and expect certain signs of love and devotion to Them, and in return They give you gifts that will make your life better. Substitute a Lover for a God, and you have a romance. Substitute a parent and you have Mother’s/Father’s Day.
So when you see someone talk about their “contract with God” understand what that means. It is an intimate relationship where every part of their life will be effected by their deity. They will have personality changes, they will sever friendships and create new ones, they will make up for old hurts and more. It is always at their choice, in cooperation with their Deity, and with the goal of helping them to be a better Servant of their God.
If you just recognizing those as part of the Islamic ideal, congratulations for paying attention.
Yes, becoming a servant of your individual Deities seems to be the ultimate goal. This does not mean that you give up yourself. This does not mean that you have no more free will. This simply means that you are the best tool that your Deity could use to relate to the people around you, and to other Gods as well. It is you reflecting your God in this plane to illuminate Them to this world.
That is the goal.
That is why Deities ask for your trust, your worship and your sacrifice. You trust that They will do what is best for you as well as for Themselves. They ask your worship because that is synonymous with love, devotion and your honoring them in all ways. They ask for your sacrifice because you will be putting all that is you up on the Altar of Their Regard, and They will be changing that in such a way that you will be a good representative. And you always have the option of saying “no”. It is your life after all, not the Gods’. You are the one who has to live it. If that life becomes too hard for you, then you can stop the process.
Make no mistake, it is a long, hard, and painful. You won’t always understand why something is being changed. Understand that the Gods have a much longer view of ramifications than we have. They know a goal They are working for centuries from now, and it’s hard for us to understand, seeing is a gift given to only a few. There will be times when a specific change makes no sense, or a relationship you treasure is cut from your life by the Gods. Nearly always in hindsight you can see the reason for that change. I’ve heard repeatedly from practitioners who were going through changes that they couldn’t understand change X, but many years later, I’ve seen them come back to that change and understand with clarity just why it happened.
That takes trust and dedication and many years of faith. That’s why you have the relationship with your God(s) that you do. It isn’t always easy, or fun, it isn’t all “tra la la skipping through the forest”. Often it is some of the most painful work you will do in your life. I promise you, you will be better for it afterward.
Please consider all of this when you choose to dedicate yourself to a specific God, to Initiate yourself into the Mysteries, or to be accepted as the “Beloved of” whomever. All this can be yours.
But as K said to J in “Men In Black” when asked if it was worth it, “Oh, yes. If you’re strong enough.”