A while back, things started to get hinky for me. These days, things are hinky more often than not, but sometimes, I pay closer attention than most. I will admit that I’ve been paying closer attention to dreams, signs, and the like. I’ve been trying to read omens in whatever aspect I could possibly find and not just the usual things. I’ve been looking at flocks of birds – and saw something of note. I’ve been looking at the shape of a cloud as it floats on by – and didn’t see a damn thing. I have been paying closer attention to the music on the radio – and sometimes get an interesting hit. In other moments, I’ve been using my Tumblr dash like a sort of mini oracle, eyeballing the amount of hairs I find in the drain in the morning, and just generally attempting to figure out where the line should be drawn between “this is a sign” and “this is a bunch of bullshit.” Dreams, though, are usually the harbingers for me. Once I start dreaming about something, I know I need to pay closer attention. So, of course, the hinky stuff started after a dream.
I dreamed about a very well noted god in the Hellenic pantheon. I’ll give anyone who I haven’t discussed this with a big clue: he likes wine. Yeah, that’s the guy. I decided to write off the dream. As a polytheist, I may not dream about gods – whether they be mine or belong to other people I know – often, but I had a glass of wine sit out all night and it was probably just a subconscious thing. Wine: dude likes wine. Okey-dokey. It was no big deal, at first. But then I dreamed again, that night, about going to his polytheistic followers who I happen to know of via Tumblr. And one of them responded as the guy himself. He wore the face of this follower whom I’ve known for some time and just laughed at me as I dream-sobbed my way onto his shoulder. When I woke up, I figured this was probably less like subconscious wine smelling and more like something I needed to pay attention to.
Besides, I’ve had dreams about those gods before and not just because I’ve worked with one once. I’ve dreamed about this particular deity a handful of times in the last year. I’ve always written it off. I’m not a Hellenic and I’m not interested. If I wanted to jump off the all Kemetic god revue I’ve been on for the last five years, I would have taken up the anassa eneri on her recommendation that I reach out to a certain handmaiden who likes pomegranates. Or, I wouldn’t have had such a really hard time connecting with a certain other female deity who gets talked about in relation to sex and love. Or, I would have politely listened to that wise Hellenic one when she showed up at work one day instead of telling her to get the hell out of my way. Or, you know, I would have been paying closer attention to a certain tap-dancing wing-footed jokester who farted around my house for months upon months. I like my box, my Kemetic box with a dash of lwa thrown in, and I want to keep it that way. So, whenever I’ve felt those Hellenics popping up, I’ve written them off. But for some reason, this time, I didn’t immediately just shut that door.
I thought about it.
I read every entry and every comment the Hellenics I know had on the guy in question. I thought about what they had to say about him. And I thought about what his entrance into my life could possibly mean. While I sat around and thought about it, I began to notice insane oddities. There was really no other word for it – he was trolling me. He would appear in conversations that had nothing to do with that guy. He would appear more obviously on my dash. Sure, I follow some of his people, but it seemed like it was getting hotter, heavier, and far more wine-soaked than usual on my dash. And then, a slew of devotees began to show up in my Tumblr recommendations. That was about the time that I began looking serious into this and then, I just stopped. I looked at what I was reading and was both intrigued and horrified. It didn’t matter what the specific reason he was coming around in my life for – although I have some ideas – but I definitely couldn’t go through with it. We have similar netjeru in the pantheon I’m connected with and you know what? I’m really pleased with my narrow-minded deity collecting. It is one thing to collect a herd of deities within a pantheon I’m comfortable within and quite another to broach outside of my safety zone.
It’s dawned on me that my experience is probably pretty miraculous to some people. There are a lot of people out there, however, who recommend that we say no and on a regular basis. Hell, I recommend saying no to the gods with whom you already have developed relationships with. It could get boring if you give in all the time! And I also recommend saying no to gods that you don’t have established relationships with. Just because they are gods doesn’t mean that we should automatically kowtow to their wants and desires. If we aren’t ready or aren’t willing to take on the task, then saying yes is going to end up making both parties miserable. The god in question will be angry and upset with you for failing and you will be angry and upset with yourself for the same reason. The point, as I’ve been talking about often enough, is the intent that we put behind whatever the hell we end up doing for the gods is the most important part. And if we just give in because we don’t think we have a way out, then they’re going to sense that. And things may not end up going so well for everyone involved so it’s always just a good idea to say, “No,” if you need to.
Let me reiterate this for those who may stumble on this blog and think that I’m an overly assertive asshat: what I did was not miraculous. I didn’t just do it because I wasn’t ready, but because I wasn’t willing to give whatever the hell he wanted me to give. Sure, I have my own personal thoughts on what all that shtick is about and his followers told me it wasn’t just what my personal holdups thought it was. I get that. Gods are multifaceted and varied, no matter what the mythologies may tend to tell us about them. But, it wasn’t for me. I don’t really care what-all he could have given me. If I can’t get what he has to offer from the netjeru in my life, or with any future additions to the always ready for more (I guess) deity collecting that I do, then I don’t think it really is necessary or needed or even remotely something I need to pay attention to.
But for those who stumble on this blog and may think, “Wow, that’s ballsy; you just asked and he left?” Let me just say that it wasn’t as simple as all that. When it comes to spirits, whether they be gods, lwa, or anything in between, nothing is clear-cut and simple.
1. No names.
Names are pretty important stuff in ancient Egypt. We don’t really pay as close attention in Kemeticism, I think, but names are still pretty damn important. By saying a being’s name, you are giving it power. Not specifically over you, but in general. If you didn’t want to give a being power, in any way, you would do your best to forget the name or you would destroy it. In the case of the gods, epithets or nicknames were often used to refer to them instead of using their names. (I forget the specific reason behind this, but I believe it was more about ritual and piety than anything else.) In any case, you say the name, you give the power; you don’t say the name, you don’t give it any more power.
In the case of gods, if you don’t bother utilizing the name in question, then you’re not providing them with anything that they can use to gain a foothold in your territory. Just because they show up once or twice in a dream doesn’t necessarily equate to them being a part of your life or becoming a part of your personal pantheon. It just means they came knocking with a smattering of possibilities before you. Whether or not you open the door is entirely up to you, of course, but if you aren’t really sure that you want to do that, then I strongly recommend referring to them – if you decide to do so at all – in nicknames. I don’t even recommend using the popular epithets that you can find on websites but nicknames you create yourself. They may not necessary associate themselves with the nickname. In my case, I chose “wine guy” or “big D.” It was alluding just enough to give devotees of his an idea as to who I was talking about, but not really enough to let him do much more than some basic trolling.
After years of being trolled, I can handle some little things.
2. Say “fuck off” a lot.
Trolling varies from deity to deity… and it can get pretty weird. Sometimes, it’s little minor things that can easily be explained away. And sometimes, it’s less likely explainable and more likely weird as hell. In either case, it should pretty much be expected that trolling will occur when a god is interested. If a god is really interested in having your attention, then they’re going to throw some shit at you so that you get the memo. Sometimes, I think that they believe we aren’t as bright as we all believe. But in all honesty, I think it has more to do with a basic belief that no god would ever be interested in us and whatever other self-esteem related deity issues we may bring to the table. Anyway.
Whatever the trolling may be is entirely up to them, but of course, it should be expected. And of course, with each new case of trolling, make sure that there is a frighteningly large eye roll at the end of it all. Make sure it is as exasperated and as irritated as you can possibly convey because, honestly, there’s nothing like consistency with these things. If you aren’t consistent in your reactions, they may believe that you aren’t really serious when you tell them no. And you have to make it very, very clear that you are not interested in what they have to offer. So, think of all the idiotic comments you’ve ever read online that have made you roll your eyes and make it ten times more theatrical when you pull on your “for fuck’s sake, are you pathetically trolling me again” eye roll.
My personal fave is “fuck off” and that is usually enough. Occasionally after being trolled that is precisely my response, although occasionally I’ll switch it up with a melodramatic eye roll. After the wisdom lady showed up with owl feathers for two solid days, I told her to fuck off. After the last time the winged-foot irritant came by, I told him to fuck off. It may sound pretty rude, but sometimes that’s all that will break through their single-minded focus when it comes to new followers. They’re more interested, in my eyes, in gaining more than they are in paying attention to what some of that more may actually prefer in the situation. So, sometimes, it means that you have to pull on your big kid underwear and tell them to go take a hike, roll your eyes like you’ve never seen something so pathetic, and tell them to “fuck off” when the simple stuff isn’t enough. And remember: above all, consistency.
3. No research.
This almost goes hand-in-hand with the no name thing, but I think it bears repeating. If you don’t do any research, then you don’t know anything about the deity in question and you’re likely to follow your first gut instinct. I didn’t pay attention to this rule. As someone who has followed this rule to the letter, unless I’ve been ordered to otherwise by my netjeru, I can attest that by looking into the deity, you’re kind of calling more attention to yourself. I think this is why the trolling got a little heavier between the wine guy and myself before I finally told him to go away. I did a little bit of research and I read everything the people who were helping me said about it. If I hadn’t bothered, I would have fallen under the rule of consistency I just outlined above. But, I didn’t so the trolling got kind of heavy for a while.
In either case, if your first instinct is to tell a deity that you aren’t interested, then there is a reason for that. And you shouldn’t second-guess yourself by giving in to the urge to learn more. If you give in to the urge to learn more, you may end up getting sucked further in and you may end up regretting it later. In either case, if you don’t know anything but your own preconceived notions about the gods, then you aren’t really going to make a good devotee. As I’m very fond of saying, the gods have layers. I know that the wine dude is more than just what I think he is – a wine-soaked frat boy’s wet dream, literally in some cases – or what I pretend him to be. (None of you get in a huff now. I know my preconceived notions are wrong.) I keep those preconceived notions because I know that the gods who they apply to don’t like them. And that’s another layer of protection and another way to get them to get out when I want them to. If I don’t know anything but the lies I tell myself, then why are they going to bother with me?
4. Ignore them.
Sometimes your basic trolling isn’t enough. Like I said above, I sometimes think they get really, really intent on the idea of having another devotee and they forget that we have free will. Whatever the case may be, sometimes trolling isn’t enough. And they’ll start assaulting you in other ways. I don’t mean that literally, although I know that’s also a possibility. If a deity is just interested in you in a simple devotee kind of way, then assaults will end up in more like the dreams and more heavy portents kind of way as opposed to anything else. (And you know, if it gets out of hand, Duskenpath needs to be your go-to here because she’ll kick ass righteous and/or teach you how to kick ass righteous.) Instead of discussing whatever ends up happening, then you need to ignore it. You need to pretend that it isn’t happening.
As Tumblr user, Draelogor happily told me, “I was told ‘inaction is action’ and it right about blew my mind. Dunno if it helps, but I’ve personally gotten a God (as well as countless entities) to back off by ignoring them and their efforts, and taking no action towards acknowledging or validating them and their efforts, or their influence over me and my life choices and actions. As disrespectful as that may have seemed to some, I had my own reasons at the times it happened, and inaction seemed to work quite well.” And that’s really very honest and good advice. If you ignore something long enough, stick your head in the sand, it’s going to go away. If you ignore the mosquito buzzing in your ear, it will go away, no matter how obnoxious it may get before the end.
Since I didn’t follow my “no research” rule about the wine dude, I ended up getting dreams and odd Tarot readings for the few days before I asked him to leave. Since I made a post about his trolling, I got still more. I was giving him more to feed off so that he could climb inside. In a tizzy, I turned to Sekhmet for advice and she just kind of looked at me and said, “You do what you want to do here. It’s not my choice.” And that’s kind of when I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to be paying any attention whatsoever to what was going on around me. So, I ignored all the telltale cups cards I was getting and just went, “Huh,” instead of ranting. I ignored the dreams of curly headed people trying to talk to me and went about my business. Ignoring a god isn’t necessarily easy but it helps.
5. Tell them to leave.
I honestly believe that the gods have short attention spans. I’ve likened them to children a few times before and I stick by that. When it comes to shiny, new things, they are definitely very much like kids. If you ignore them enough, they tend to ignore you right the hell back. And when you realize that they are ignoring you back, that’s the time to pounce. As I showed in the link when I asked him to leave, he didn’t necessarily go quietly. He had his parting shots, but I didn’t bite. The carrot of information he was tantalizing me with wasn’t enough, to me. I wasn’t willing to wager whatever it was he wanted to get whatever he thought he could leverage over me enough to say yes. I’ve become a bit of cynic when it comes to the gods, lately, but I knew that whatever he had to offer, I could find the answers elsewhere.
The thing is that I had to admit that I may not find out whatever leverage he was dangling before me. And you know what? That’s okay. If I don’t know about it, then it can’t really hurt me. And if I’m supposed to know about it, either the netjeru I have now will tell me, in their own way, or they will point me in the proper direction. Cynic or not, I don’t necessarily believe that he was lying, per se, with whatever he had to offer me. I honestly believe he did have a thing or 70 to teach my pigheaded, stubborn ass. But suffice to say, not knowing is okay for me. I have a lot on my plate, as it is, and I don’t need anything else muddying the waters.
Now, obviously, these aren’t the only ways to go ahead and say no to a new god coming into your life. There are many different ways to go about it and each are going to be as individual as the devotee in question. Whatever it is, I have to advocate highly and fully that you are consistent in each approach. If you truly are not interested, don’t waver. No matter what the god in question may be offering you in payment for your devotion, it may not necessarily be worth it. Many long-term polytheists and pagans will tell you that this shit is hard. And sometimes, it means that you have to metaphorically rip off your skin to be the devotee that the god wants you to be. Sometimes, that’s a good thing and sometimes, it’s not. In either case, if your initial gut is saying to tell them to get the fuck out of, then tell them to get the fuck out.
- The Nuances of Non-Physical Relationships by Devo.
- A Good Horse by Devo.
- Victim Shaming, YOUR Consent, and Spirit-Walking by Duskenpath.
- Consent for Spirit-Walkers by Duskenpath.
- Setting Boundaries With Your Deity by A Changing Altar.
- How It All Began by Rock of Eye.
- KRT: Gods and You by various KRT Bloggers.
- Mr. Sympathy by Volsung.
- Relationships with Deities by Laurus Drakan
- Reasons for Not Wanting To Work with Gods by Crooked Crown