If you're a new Wiccan or Pagan, you may be wondering -- how do I find the "right" gods and goddesses for me? There are so many cultures and pantheons out there, so how do you choose which ones to work with? It gets confusing and overwhelming, and in an age where the world is both very big and very small it's easy to be uncertain as to how to go about bringing gods and goddesses into your life. In this article, we'll help you identify common issues and problems you might want to address, and then give you some advice that hopefully will help you negotiate them in your own lives.
First, here are some considerations and issues people normally run into when they're new.
- Cultural appropriation--is it ethical to want to work with a pantheon that is not part of your culture? Will you offend those of a particular culture by wanting to work with their gods and goddesses?
- Do you choose a god or goddess, or do you wait for them to choose you? Is it presumptuous to "claim" a god or goddess as your own, and if so, how do you know if one wants to work with you?
- Do you have to stick with one culture or pantheon, or can you work with many at the same time?
- What is the proper way to work with the gods and goddesses?
- What happens if I decide I don't want to work with a certain god or goddess anymore?
Here's some advice we have to deal with these situations:
- If you're going to work with the pantheon of a culture that is not your own, do your homework. In order to be respectful, you want to take the time to learn about the culture, the gods and goddesses, and demonstrate a level of dedication and seriousness. Also, be sensitive in sharing anything publicly, and in asking for help. Some people might appreciate your interest, and others might be offended. Some people who believe in reincarnation will argue that just because you were not born into a culture in this life does not mean that you weren't native to it in a previous life, and therefore you're as entitled to it as anyone else.
- Working with a god or goddess is just like developing any kind of relationship. You don't just declare that someone is your friend, do you? No--you interact with them first and then you both decide what you want out of the relationship and whether it's working for you. Generally, we don't think that any god or goddess will be offended by your interest, but don't be presumptuous. Ask if they're willing to work with you. If you prefer, you can journal or pay attention to your dreams, and see if any god or goddess approaches you. In that case, you still want to make sure that you want to work with them!
- Many people are drawn to one pantheon at different times, or at the same time. It's okay to work with gods and goddesses of different cultures, but you want to make sure that you're giving each their proper attention. You also want to take care that you're not doing any working with multiple gods and goddesses that don't get along or haven't consented to work together. A lot of people, as do we, avoid this by keeping the pantheons separate based on areas of focus. For example, you might work with Egyptian deities for your daily devotions, another for meditation and journeying, and another for ancestor work.
- You should probably work with different gods and goddesses in different ways. It's worth investing time in learning about their cultures and what kind of offerings or attention they like. It's also worth trying different things and seeing what works best, or asking the god or goddess directly what they prefer. It might take you quite a while to figure out what works best, but that's ok.
- Like friendships, relationships with gods and goddesses can run their course. It's okay if you no longer want to work with one, but you don't want to leave a god and goddess hanging! Make sure you thank the god or goddess for all their help, and maybe even create a special closing ceremony to memorialize your work with them. Recognize too, that their are cycles to life, and deities view "endings" differently than we do. You're not necessarily saying "goodbye."