Why Do You Even Have Deities? A Rant.

I hear this a lot, I’ve talked about it before in other posts, but there’s this idea among certain groups that (to put it bluntly) deities don’t care about you. I don’t mean “care” as in “every deity loves every single person” because I don’t think that’s true, I’m talking about the attitude that “unless you are an Important Person (like a king or whatnot” deities don’t care about you, they’re too busy doing important deity things, like maintaining order in the cosmos. Go to your ancestors or land spirits if you want help, otherwise you’re S.O.L.”

And I just have to wonder what’s the point of laying out offerings and doing rituals and whatnot, what’s the point of even having deities in the first place? After all, if my ancestors and my land spirits give me all I could ever want, why would I waste time praying to deities who just don’t care? After all, they don’t care, right? So it really makes no difference if I do something for them at Midsummer (or whenever). They don’t care, too busy maintaining cosmic order, etc. etc. I mean, it just doesn’t make sense.

What really bugs me about people who pull the “you’re not important enough” card always mock those who (sometimes without any exposure to the myths in question) claim to talk to these deities, because it’s clearly unpossible. They can’t accept the fact that a deity (who they, as hard polytheists, presumably believe in) could ever have their own agenda, or could ever *gasp* change with the times! No, no, deities are static entities, they don’t change, ever. To quote the show Touched by an Angel (which I used to watch a lot when I was younger) “Why is it when you talk to God you’re praying, but when God talks to you you’re crazy?” (substitute the name of your favourite deity).

I also have to wonder why the heck we have a deity who is specifically called a “god of the common folk” if he doesn’t talk to the common folk he’s supposed to be representing. It seems very counter-intuitive to me. “Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be watching these farmers, but kings have more money.” All this despite evidence that regular people did pray to deities and get something out of it. Maybe deities have selective hearing? Or maybe this is what happens when we take as Gospel sources that (at best) represent a fraction of the ways people actually practiced, written by outsiders to that religion centuries after the time that those people were actually practicing.

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5 thoughts on “Why Do You Even Have Deities? A Rant.

  1. Yesssss. . . and yes.

    It seems like an awful lot of the Recon-based paths have this attitude. A backlash against touchy-feely Nuagey stuff, perhaps? Or the loosers stylings of some eclectic Wiccans? Whatever the case, what it comes down to is deities probably don’t care as little as some people fear/think.

    Who’s to say deities don’t listen to us when we talk to them? And that they never talk back?

    Again, in Recon-based paths, there is often a tendency to look at the gods through lore and lore alone. The lore is super-important, of course, but so is the looser, woo-y UPG-type stuff.

    On occasion, I’ll get told that the Netjeru don’t care about me or other “unimportant” mortals (though oddly I tend not to get this from other Kemetics). If that’s the case, I would like to know which Akhu or Netjeri have been posing as Bast for the past two years. 😉

  2. Hmmm… isn’t this sort of static, lore-centered behaviour the reason many of us ran from mainstream faiths to begin with? The fact that they couldn’t keep up with the times?

  3. Part of the scoffing, I believe, comes from this idea that the gods aren’t talking to the RIGHT people, i.e. good lore-abiding citizens like themselves instead of mystics, freaks, and other people of whom the speaker doesn’t approve.

    And part of it, I think, is secret hurt and disappointment that the gods, whom they have tried to faithfully emulate and placate by Doing Things Right, sometimes for years, aren’t talking to them but to random people who maybe have never even heard of The Lore ™, much less read it. I imagine that must sting, and I’m not being snarky when I say that :/

    1. My understanding is that “good lore-abiding citizens” usually don’t believe that the gods can talk to them, so why would any of them complain when they don’t? But I can see where you’re coming from, because it says to them “why bother trying to Do Things Right if they’re just going to talk to someone who doesn’t care about Doing Things Right?” and that’s when I think someone really needs to evaluate why they are doing what they’re doing, because clearly, you don’t need to be a hardcore reconstructionist keep a deity happy. Bur, of course, since religious experiences are very personal, most people just prefer to pretend like the people who are “Doing It Wrong” are delusional.

      I actually find it kind of funny in a sad way, because people picking on mystics isn’t anything new. “Those mystics are all crazy and irreverent and not being proper, productive members of society.” say a whole bunch of societies.

  4. Thank you SO much for saying this. I’ve been trying to find a way to express the same ideas for a long time now. I’m not the hugest fan of people telling me that my God doesn’t have time for me, because i’m pretty sure he does. He isn’t called “God of the common man” for nothing!

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