(Warning: This post will jump around and probably be incoherent by the end.)
I know I said I might post some new writing, I’m working on the writing right now because gremlins seem to have deleted the work I started. Fortunately, I didn’t really like what I had written, so it’s turned out for the best.
There’s this conversation I always see, usually in Paganism(s) 101 type discussions. The conversation goes something like this:
Newbie: Hello, I am a member of [tradition] but [deity from another pantheon] has tapped me on the shoulder. Can you give me some suggestions as to how to honour them?
Friendly Neighbourhood Pagan: Well, you can offer them X, Y, Z, and here is a traditional way to honour them, but don’t honour them with [other culture’s] rites, honour them in the [deity’s home culture’s] way.
I’m sure you’ve seen this before. Some of you have probably given that exact advice, and, to be honest, it’s not bad advice.
But I must confess, I actually find it kind of funny that so many are so insistent that EVERYTHING MUST BE KEPT IN THEIR OWN SEPARATE NICHES. This is basically how I eat my dinner, actually, I can’t STAND it when food gets mixed in with other food.
The thing is (as I mentioned in my earlier posts) this isn’t really how things have worked historically. Let’s go back to the Romans, because the Romans are (in)famous for four things: conquering most of the known world, adopting foreign deities, and bread and circuses, okay, so those last two are kind of one thing. So you have Rome
bribing trying to get foreign deities to come over to their side in exchange for sacrifices and a shiny new temple. The important thing to note, however, is that (with some exceptions) the Romans (and other cultures) didn’t wholesale adopt the cult of the deity they were adopting, they honoured them with their own rites, in a way that they were accustomed to doing (and which, presumably, made the deities happy enough that they decided to stay).
Now, I suppose you could argue that said deities were (or became) distinct and separate entities in their own right (see, for instance, Aset vs. Isis) and we could go on and on talking about the point where Ares became Mars or the point at which Mars existed on His own and other messy head things that I don’t want to get into, because philosophy is not my thing. And, yes, I do understand that a deity might like to experience something close to what they’re “used to” the way I like it when someone’s able to speak English to me when I head to Quebec, especially since I don’t speak French.
The key difference between me and a deity, though (to continue the analogy) is that deities have had enough time to master every language on Earth.
But you know what? None of this hand-wringing really matters, because there’s a simple test you can do to determine if what you’re doing is okay or not.
Do your deities seem happy with what you’re doing?
If yes, then you’re good.
If, on the other hand, they’re all like HELLS NO! or “Can we do something else?” You might want to reevaluate some things.
That’s what matters. Everyone else can go fuck off. Your relationship with your deities is between you and your deities. If you are, say, Wiccan, and your deities are content being honoured in that context, all the people complaining about “Wiccatru” and the like can complain until the cows come home.
“WTF Gef, are you saying that it doesn’t matter if I try to keep things separate?” Okay, seriously, what did I just write? Do your deities like having separate spaces? Have they asked you to set up separate altars/shrines, and the like? Do you feel as if that would be doing right by your deities?
Well then, it’s between you and your deities.
And, yes, I know, everyone complains about solitary Wiccans doing the “plug and play” thing, but you know what? If some deity, somewhere, wasn’t very happy about it, you wouldn’t have successful solitary Wiccans, or soft polytheists, or any kind of Pagan or polytheist who isn’t a hard, culturally-specific polytheist. And, I mean, if Freyja and Freyr want to dance skyclad and widdershins in a circle with a bunch of Wiccans one night, who the fuck are you to tell them they can’t do it?
Do you REALLY want to piss off naked Freyja and Freyr?
I didn’t think so.
(You’re welcome for the mental image, BTW.)
And the moral of the story is: when deities are happy, everything is okay (unless they are happy with complete chaos, in which case it might not be fun for you).