Mixing and Matching Deities?
One source of debate in the pagan community is whether people should mix and match Gods.
Some feel that this is disrespectful to the Gods invoked.
My personal view is that the most important thing is to have a strong relationship and respect for whatever God it is that you are working with. Even if you invoke two Gods from the same pantheon, it is still highly disrespectful if you’re just treating them like errand boys for the sake of some spell you want to complete, as if they are nothing but ingredients called for in a recipe.
So the first most important thing is respect.
Secondly, it’s import to let the Gods come to you. Sometimes people will get approached by Gods from different pantheons. In my own meditations I have had different Gods appear to me, such as Brigid, Odin, and Krishna. All from different pantheons.
My own opinion is that the pagan traditions from different parts of the world shouldn’t be treated the same way that people have come to treat monotheistic religions. Before monotheistic religions like Christianity and Islam became the dominant religions in the globe, spiritual practice was more organic. People simply worshiped the Gods that were revered among their local area and folk.
But sometimes different populations migrated and merged. And so you even had mixing and matching of Gods in the ancient world. When more Gauls started living in the Roman Empire, and serving in the Roman Army, you had Roman soldiers praying to the Gallic Goddess of horses, Epona.
And during the reign of Augustus Caesar, worship of Near-Eastern Goddesses like Isis became so popular that the Emperor himself couldn’t even stop it. Augustus was known to call the worship of the Near-Eastern Gods pornographic. This is probably because of his antagonistic relations with Antony in Egypt at the time. However, the later emperor Caligula embraced the religion. Temples to Isis were permitted and Isiac festivals became a part of the public and civil calendar. (The Original Trinity Brought To You By Egypt).
So if people in the ancient world mixed and matched, I don’t see why it should be an issue today. Many people treat pagan-traditions from a certain part of the world as a complete package. The thinking is, “Well if the Norse only worshiped the Norse Gods, then there is some prohibition on me working with any other type of deities.” We must remember that people probably only worshiped a select group of deities because these were the deities revered in their area and by their ancestors. And also to counter this point, there is a lot of evidence that the Norse Gods themselves are actually a mixture of two different groups that merged together. (The original Scandinavians and the Germanic peoples who migrated to their lands). Some people say this is why the Norse Gods are referred to by multiple names, and why you have the Vanir and the Aesir (two different groups of Gods).
Then there is the Folkish argument that people should only work with the Gods in their bloodline. If this type of thinking is true, then what about a mixed person? Even many people in America who simply think of themselves as “white” have ancestors from a large number of different European countries. When I did one of those Ancestry.com DNA tests, I found out that I had ancestors from (going from largest percentage to least) Ireland, France, Germany, Britain, Scandinavia, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Iran. So if we’re using the Folkish argument, that actually encourages mixing and matching Gods among lots of folk.
In today’s world we are very diverse. We have access to the internet. We have access to many different types of thinking. So it is probably even more likely that polytheists may end up working with Gods of different traditions. Is that a bad thing? Personally, I don’t think so. Just be respectful and thoughtful in your approach.
Interesting! Though I knew of Freya I didn’t know she’s a Vanir and Odin or Wotan a (Germanic) Asir! I only knew the Asir, or Asen as they are called in German.
March 24, 2017 at 11:40 am
We probably cannot know in advance–and make strict rules about–which deities or entities a practitioner will encounter. Or when. Or for what reasons. Experience over years may provide a practitioner with an assemblage of deities and entities that come from a diverse set of traditions and cultures and practical events.
May 10, 2017 at 10:49 am
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