I Am a Deity Collector… Though Not Because I Desire It.

Too often, when we start traversing the various pagan and polytheistic hemispheres, we begin to see this turn of phrase in a very negative association. For example, when I asked about it on Tumblr earlier, Stag Kings Wife commented and mentioned that they did not like this particular phrasing. This is actually quite common. But, I’m an odd duck or the odd man out, so to speak. I actually prefer to use this phrase because it gets people to (A) read what the fuck I’m saying and (B) I enjoy trying to explain that not everything that is negatively associated is actually as all bad as people make it out to be.

Now, when I discuss deity collecting, I’m not talking of the rather, herm, youthful desire to work with ALL THE GODS. There does seem to be a very naïve desire to have many deities to work with or to worship at any given moment. As someone else remarked on a group I am a part of, they tend to associate this desire with a very Pokemon mentality. Now, I don’t know what this Poke-stuff is but I do know the phrase, “collect them all!” I sold the cards at Spencer’s along with the other card games, so I know that in that realm, you need to collect all the cards or the ball-thingamajigs and have everyone to show off to your friends. There is a very real atmosphere of this in polytheism, but I tend to associate this infatuation with youth and immaturity. What newbie doesn’t start out with stars in their eyes and the want for ALL THE GODS?

As someone who was a newbie once, this is pretty much how it feels.

As someone who was a newbie once, this is pretty much how it feels.

And just like the need and desire to have all the pretty things, have all the resin statues, and have altar porn that makes everyone jealous, this is a phase that people grow out of. Usually.

However, among the rank and file of the polytheist communities, there are people who do work with, worship, or form attachments with various deities. I am an example of this. I know a few others, besides Stag Kings Wife as shown above, who also have a sort of “open door policy” when it comes to communing with other deities. These people, like myself, collect deities. We aren’t doing this with the moon and stars in our eyes, approaching whomever we feel a tug from or just for the sake of it. We have these deities coming out of our ears, more often than not, because they show up at our doorstep, wet and asking to be let in. And most people cannot say no when they get a deity giving them a hang-dog look like that.

The thing is that I generally and honestly believe that these deities are knocking on the doors of polytheists with “listed numbers” for a reason. They know that we are very busy and active and working with other gods, so why not go on in and take a peek? And if they like what they see in us, then they may decide to head on over and start forming a relationship. As I said to Sard and Devo earlier, “Maybe they’re so tired of no followers that they crowd those of us with listed numbers.” And in same vein, as Sard said, “But yeah, some Gods (like Herishef) have such a small following, it’s depressing, and sometimes They’ll bug the shit out of people. They need us just as much as we need Them, ultimately.”

While I can’t quite say if that’s the case for all the gods in my arsenal, it would make sense as to why Bes and Ptah showed up to me; why Sard and Helms have started working with lesser known deities like Herishef and Wenut; and why there are a slowly but surely growing number of people who can qualify as “deity collectors.”

However, there is still very much the negative association to take into account here. I can’t really understand this mentality. It seems like an awful lot of monogamy in a realm that really doesn’t deserve it. As Devo said earlier while we were discussing it, “Sometimes, I think we modern polytheists have a bad habit of limiting the deities we will have in our lives. I mean, in JP and in AE, it was not uncommon to visit different shrines and pay tribute to all sorts of gods – not just your local deity of choice. And priests serviced more than just one god in daily rites. Yet many modern practitioners seem to think of a lot of our worship like monogamy. Where you only have the select few gods and nothing else – so to go elsewhere is like cheating or whoring yourself out. I think there are extremes in both directions, and very few really fit into the middle well.” It is quite possible that these very sentiments, perhaps at the darkest heart of people who rant against this sort of collecting, is the crux of the problem.

We come in from religions, more often than not, where there is just the single deity to consider. In Catholicism, there is a flavor of polytheism to the whole thing. In some other Christian sects, there is a sort of trinity. Both of those second examples could allots for at least coming into polytheism with the ability to pacify three deities and maybe even a few more. So perhaps this intense desire for the working with a limited number is just a holdover from Christianized values and belief systems. Perhaps, it stems from a lack of understanding what the ancient cultures we emulate were really like or what they were really about.

Then again, maybe the issue is just the simple fact that not as many people as I am alluding to have had gods knocking on their doors, hang-dog and sad-faced, waiting to be let the fuck in as you-all have work to do. Or if they have had them knocking, they’ve slammed the door, locked that bitch up tight, and salted the entrances as well. I am sure as hell guilty of that last bit. I do it with every deity that wants in outside of the household gods I worship. Every single one gets a door slam, a door locking, a severe talking to, eye rolls, whining, bitching, moaning, screaming, kicking, salting, etc before I finally give in and say, “Sure, okay.”

I do it that way because then, I kind of know that they’re around for a reason and it could be pretty important.

But beyond all that and how I go about this, why the hell is this thing so negative? Why can’t we develop relationships with gods outside of our comfort zone? Why can’t we be all open and honest? Why can’t we let our current list of gods put up a giant fucking neon sign over our heads that say, “THEY’RE LISTENING; COME ON DOWN”? Why can’t we let our numbers be listed? And again, I ask, why can’t we move outside of our comfort zones?

To limit ourselves is to limit our practices, methinks. And as more and more people enter polytheism, find the popular gods, go with the tried and true gods that everyone knows, those of us have been around for a while will start getting knocks from the lesser-knowns. We’ll start “deity collecting.” And we’ll be thought of as “speshul snowflakes” with a complex.

And while I do have a complex or six, I can tell you I am not a “speshul snowflake.”

I just happen to have a listed number.

Do you?

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41 thoughts on “I Am a Deity Collector… Though Not Because I Desire It.

  1. To add a tidbit about Herishef — in Antiquity, particularly during the New Kingdom Period and a bit into the Ptolemaic Period, Herishef had a HUGE cult. In Hwt-nen-nesu (Herakleopolis), He had a bull cult — not the way Apis and Montu had bull cults, but in that He had a bull sacrificed in His honor every day. That’s 365 bulls a year. On top of that, He was considered to be the embodiment of the Majesty that all Gods possess. He held a rather prestigious position that wasn’t wholly confined to a single nome, a single cult center. He had some reach. Not as much as, say, Osiris or Ra or Amun, but He had a decent “boarding house” reach.

    Now, His image, while immensely popular in Egyptian Revival art, is often (mis)used as a representation of Khnum, and people don’t know His name/worship Him anymore. Khnum gets most of the attention when it comes to AE Ram Gods. To over-humanize the God in an admittedly wonky appeal to pathos, imagine going from having an elaborate cult with a large following and daily bull sacrifices to not even having your name said anymore. Those are some sad apples.

  2. I’ll be perfectly honest, it scares me to have my number listed. I don’t know what to expect and I don’t know if I can handle a lot. Disappointing a few is a lot less intimidating than disappointing many, and I don’t yet trust my intuition and skills of discernment to make sure I’m not crazy or letting in a bad thing. I mean, I trust my current gods to keep me safe, but still, the whole issue of sock puppets is quite a deterrent.

    • Being scared is perfectly acceptable as a response and completely normal. And for the exact reasons that you mention: disappointing a few deities is a lot less scary than failing a whole flock. But, I probably disappoint my flock a lot and I haven’t been smoted or anything, so… you have me as an example of (A) what not to do XD and (B) that you can disappoint and not die from it.

      I think I’m crazy all the time. So, that’s normal, too.

          • lol I suppose that’s true! deities still scare me, even Anpu scares me a little ^^” It’s still something I’m getting used to, their presence and responding and such ya know? And I’m kinda worried that inviting Ganesha in has caught Kali Ma’s attention. Now there’s a scary goddess! I mean, in my dream She was playful and trying to give me (and multiple other women) confidence that She wasn’t going to destroy us, but I ran away out of fear. Curiously enough during that same stretch of dream Set was mentioned and later in the dream Zolfyer actually asked when he should join Set’s group. Kinda odd actually.

            • It’s normal to be scared and worried and uncertain. I’ve been doing this solidly for years now and I (A) still fuck up and (B) still get scared and worried and uncertain. So, in my opinion, having those emotions pretty much means that you’re doing it right. When you stop worrying, then that may be when you should actually start.

              Kali Ma is no scarier than Sekhmet. She’s in fact pretty fucking cool so I highly recommend getting to know her. Also, Ganesh is far scarier, in my opinion, than Kali. However, if they’re both coming on over, then there is a reason for it. Ganesha is the Opener of the Way, so to speak, in the Hindu pantheon. Kali Ma is just… she’s probably trying to give you confidence in being a woman and your sexuality and embodying all aspects of who you are…

              And that could be UPG about Kali talking or it could be her talking. I don’t know. I zoned a bit there, so.

              • lol yes I keep getting told that about the whole worrying I’m doing it wrong thing XD Of course, this now makes me think about deities going follower shopping and such ^^” Perhaps that’s why Anpu and Set have seemed so busy lately? Anpu certainly needs serious followers and not just the “omg a dog of death!” crowd. Set is a troll so He always wants to bug in on unsuspecting people lol

                I’m curious, why do you find Ganesha scarier than Kali? I mean, I can’t say I’ve gotten warm fuzzies from Him, but I think He’s feeling me out. I dunno yet, haven’t talked to Him enough to really get a handle on that. Kali doesn’t scare me any more than Set or Aset does (or Anpu). It’s just the same as knowing “I am dealing with a greater being who is known for kicking ass and being scary O.o awesome or frightening, not sure yet lmao”. Now that I think of it all the deities I deal with are like that XD umm, yay?

                • Here is my experience with Ganesha (PS Don’t do this): https://satsekhem.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/ganesha-my-hubris-and-the-lesson-therein-pbp/

                  After that experience, I realized that I was fucking around with something I had no business fucking around with. But Kali has approached me a time or twenty and we’ve managed to get along rather well. As opposed to my failed attempt with Ganesha. I think the reason I’m less worried about Kali is because of the relationship I have with Sekhmet.

                  • O.O well I can see why you’d be scared of Him then XD Well I guess I just have more reason to do research then huh? Especially on Kali Ma, I wonder about that little bit you blanked on lol I mean, I do still have issues with guilt and other yucky thoughts stuck in my head by well meaning adults in my life trying to keep me from premarital sex and a “potentially bad relationship”. Don’t really see myself enough in a healthy light as a woman or anything. To the internet! Maybe that’s why my research attempts for my Netjer have deadpanned? I just don’t even know what to look for anymore, but I shall not give up. Too bad I have a fine on my library card T-T not that the library is any use for AE, but for Kali and Ganesha it would be. Hmm, I have the beginnings of thoughts for things to search for. I’ll figure it out eventually, like when I die XD

                  • Oh, almost forgot. The reason Ganesha is around is because talking to Him was a suggestion. Seastruck was doing one of her oracle things and Hekate suggested talking to Him, so I did. Shine just so happens to be a lay worshiper of Ganesha and helped me out with a basic puja. He hasn’t turned me away yet so I dunno yet. Kali showed up on Her own O.o the dream was set in a strange school surrounded by fencing worthy of a prison but there were happy children and adults there. Leaving during the day was generally not allowed but adults could if they so chose. I remember going into a random hallway while heading out (Zolfyer was with me) and seeing some other women and Kali in there. I remember specifically saying to Zolfyer, “that’s Kali Ma, She’s a Hindu goddess. She’s cool but scary.”

                    Kali had this odd contraption with scorpion tails on it that shot water I think. She was talking to the other girls and women and one came in and asked about the tails. Kali just laughed and I somehow knew they weren’t dangerous and She chased the girl and squirted her with water. I said to the girl as she ran away that they weren’t real and that Kali wouldn’t sting her with poison. Kali then turned to me with a smile and chased me out and I ran too XD Zolfyer made a comment about not listening to myself but followed me out. Or something. Kali didn’t talk the entire time, except maybe She was the one saying the scorpion tails weren’t dangerous to the first girl, but I don’t remember.

  3. From what I’ve seen, the Pokemon-phenomenon seems to go along with pantheon-hopping, having deities from every culture imaginable.
    I think most Kemetics limit themselves to a far, far smaller number than the ancients did. And in Kemetic Orthodoxy, very few go outside their ‘lineup.’

    • I’ve noticed that about the Pokemon-phenomenon as well. I think, too, it really is a youthful thing. Not so much in age, per se, but in how long you’ve been doing the polytheism thing.

      And honestly, I don’t really understand why KO members don’t traverse new arenas.

      • For myself: because there is a LOT to figure out just with the gods (from the KO/soft-polytheist standpoint: four) I was divined. Ptah, Sokar, Wepwawet, Yinepu, Sekhmet, Hethert, and Bast. Even as a softer polytheist, They give me a lot to do and research. It’ll be a year since my RPD tomorrow and I still know next to nothing about Sokar, and my relationship with Him and Yinepu is still pretty stale.

        I speculate that a lot of shemsu develop small-scale relationships with other gods: first because of “state” holidays that do not necessarily correlate to one’s divined gods (particularly if you are part of the odd god squad), and secondly to get to know the divine family of one’s friends. The community focus of KO should foster that, at least among more involved members.

        • I know I have seen this happen. Also, in our case Khenne, remember that every holiday involves our shared Father, since He was first in the processions and nothing would happen without Him.

        • Sokar is hard for information, though. He’s not exactly a main deity, so I can see why you may not know so much. Legit, the most information I know from him is stuff I learned from watching SG1. So, probably not very accurate, but I know the god existed, at least? :)

  4. I’ve been thinking about this lately, actually. I have two primary gods that I admittedly limit myself to, yet this is only the case now because They are the only ones who’ve reached out to me specifically. I’d like to honor others–particularly Columbia of the US pantheon–but the fear of being looked upon as a “WORSHIP ALL THE GODS!!!”-type newbie polytheist is holding me back, honestly.

    • I will admit that a lot of the holding back I do is inherently due to my being a Leo… which is summed up, “NOT UNLESS I SAY, MOFOS.” But, there is also, in the back of my mind, fear that I will be ostracized because I do have so many more gods than “the norm.”

      I think we all have to come to terms with this individually, honestly, but I also think we should stop worrying about how other Kemetics view us. Considering how very ostracized I am in certain Kemetic circles (TROLLFACE), I don’t know why I let it hold me back personally. But I can understand and commiserate with you [and the others] who feel in similar straights.

      I think this is where we all have to realize that Kemeticism, at this stage, is very much a solitary practice outside of the major temples and that may mean that we get mistaken for Pokemon Polytheists. *shrug* Ah, well. I never liked doing the same thing as everyone else anyway. XD

  5. I appreciate this post. I honestly feel a lot more comfortable knowing there is support out there for those of us accidentally picking up divinities. I’m not ostracized by any means, but the perpetuation of the Pokemon analogy has made me uncomfortable and elect to push back relationships outside of my four (and Aset, since she showed up).

    • I’m glad I was able to write something that let you know you aren’t alone.

      I’ve been doing this a long time and honestly, there are days where the Pokemon analogy prevents me from saying something. And it’s utterly ridiculous, in my opinion. Gods want what or whom the gods want.

  6. I collect a lot of gods too, some i have sought out, and others just followed me home. I think we are blessed at this time to have access to about every text written on every deity and religion there ever was, even though who knows what their followers Really did with them. I am a witch, but my old pre-Christian European gods just do not have the deep metaphysics i get from Buddhism, or the energies of the Lwa, etc. I also think that gods currently worshiped by large groups of people, like Santeria in Brazil, increases the power of their egregores. But i do not mix the gods in rituals calling all of them, because some of them just do not get along. I hate that when witches in open circles call Everyone. Also i keep them on separate altars, and even on opposite sides of the room within the same pantheon because some of them just do not get along. They are ultimately all symbols manifest from within my subconscious, or maybe vestiges of past lives in their temples.

    • In Kemetic context, we really don’t have as much information as we could have regarding various deities. A lot of the less-known deities were usurped by the more well-known ones so we lose information in that regard. On top of that, a lot of information was lost over the centuries with the disintegration of papyri that could have told us so much about how those gods were seen, worshiped, etc. In the end, all we have are names – like Wenut – and very little to go on.

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  12. Many years ago, when discussing this with my friend Erynn, she said something which I have kept up my sleeve for any time this discussion came up. She said that the fact that some of us cultivate this level of god relationship can make us more open to spirit hearing in general. So sometimes those gods show up simply because we have ears with which to hear.
    As a tangent to that, a local friend of mine who’s a Freyja’s woman has said flat out she is not interested in any other pantheons.

    Me, I must have a listed number. But I also exercise the right to use caller ID.

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