I was up until 4am cleaning up after a glorious round of sacrifices and rites last night, in a space prepared with delightful intent and set in an assembly of serpents and shrines. It was fucking beautiful. It was also fucking messy. Go figure, as these two in my experience generally go hand in hand. (Great ritual, like great sex, should always involve clean-up and the potential for lasting stains or scars.)
But anyway, there’s some grade-A bullshit going on and I want to fucking put a cigar out in its eye:
Canaanite polytheist rockstar, Temple priest and badass Qadishtu extraordinair Tess Dawson wrote a bitchin’ primer on “What to do if the gods/spirits are calling, and you don’t know who They are”. This is a great resource for people who are new to polytheism and deity experience/communion or equally so for people who are experiencing contact or communion with gods from outside of their primary tradition. (Because that shit happens. It happens today, and it happened in the ancient world. So shut the fuck up, naysayers.) Kemetics get picked up by Celtic war goddesses and Gauls get smashed about by Odin and sometimes Canaanites get courted by the Thracian Elite. Also, nobody amongst us as born with an instruction guide in hand for “how to respond to a fucking god that comes knocking”, so this primer is generally a useful and awesome and necessary sort of thing. It isn’t the only thing, or the whole story, but it is a good piece.
Except that apparently some fucks didn’t think so.
And those dudes? They should shut the fuck up.
In this piece, newcomers to the mystic polytheistic engagement platform of asskickery and so forth are encouraged to make respectful offerings to the god/spirit that is knocking, and some basic guidelines for said offerings are offered up:
Find something to represent the deity in question: picture from the internet, a symbol, a rock, a book, a cup, a doll, whatever. Set the image up on a table. Pour wine, vodka, good fruit juice, olive oil, milk, beer, kefir, perfume, or another fine beverage or liquid in a bowl or cup before the image. (Unless the deity in question has a history of wanting something like kool-aid or soda pop, you may want to avoid these.) If you’ve not been able to find out what liquid would be appropriate, go with your gut feeling. Bow down, prostrate yourself before the deity’s image, and pray. If you’re in this situation, the best prayer you can make is the one that is honest—there’s no formula here, no magic words, no formulaic incantation.Do not consume the liquid that you pour for the deity. Wait a cycle of a full day and night, then pour the liquid into the earth outside. Yes. Pour it into the earth. It is not “wasteful”–it was given to a deity and the deity consumed the essence of the liquid. By pouring it out, you are completing the process of sending it on to the deity. By drinking it instead, you may have interrupted this process (again, it can depend on context).(Emphasis mine.)
- This is not suggesting that you reject guidelines in an established tradition, if that tradition is applicable to this deity, or if this deity is coming through the parameters of that tradition. For example, I may be approached by an Egyptian god, but that god may be coming at me through a Thraco-Egyptian traditional lens, rather than a strictly Kemetic one. That happens. It is historically documented, it is a legitimate thing, and it is on me to navigate figuring out if it is strict Kemetic rites being asked for, or a Thraco-Egyptian fusion. But if I don’t HAVE ANY IDEA AT ALL who the god is, or from what tradition/pantheon/system they derive, I’m going to go down to basics. These basics.
- This is not suggesting that you are not allowed to also drink nice beverages (kefir, wine, whiskey, jello-shots-off-a-sexy-partner, or whatever the fuck). This is indicating that if you are being contacted by a god, show that god hospitality in the best way that you can, and this is a pretty good way to begin if you don’t have an established practice or Temple structure from another arena, etc. You can also drink wine or kefir or whiskey or jello-shots-off-a-sexy-partner to your heart’s (or other organ’s) content. But…
- Do not consume the offerings that were apportioned to the deity in question, unless you have sure knowledge that doing so is a part of that deity’s expected protocols, as in the case of certain Kemetic offertory rites, etc. Again, this is primarily a set of guidelines written for somebody without that knowledge. Follow along people…
- This is not suggesting that you have to pour out all of the alcohol ever and that you can’t have any for yourself (unless of course that comes through as an actual legitimate prohibition and taboo for you, in which case, well, navigate that shit, kiddo.) Example: if a god comes knocking and I don’t know who they are (this happens quite a bit) and I am drinking some top-shelf Scotch (this happens quite a bit) I will feel out if this god “seems” like the type to prefer that. This may be an intuition, it may be a guess, it may be a fucking shot in the dark, or it may be a thing that I get a solid “yes” from when I probe silently at it. If it is Scotch that’s wanted, I fucking pour that shit. Into a bowl, or a glass, or straight onto the fucking ground. Or I spray it. Sometimes at an image denoting that spirit or god, sometimes at a bowl or a rock or a tree which seems and feels appropriate in the morning. Sometimes I just fucking upend the bottle, or throw that shit at a rock, and give it all away: it differs case by case. But when in doubt and in solid absence of other information or knowledge, pour a goddamn drink like a good little host, and then shut the fuck up and see if it was well received. This process is called “learning”. I know, I know, totally foreign idea these days, but seriously kids, I’m pretty sure it is still a thing. (Do we need a Polytheist Sesame Street program to encourage learning…?)
- If you have an existing tradition or practice (Thracian, Haitian, Croatian Polytheism, whatever the fuck), and you’re pretty sure that this unknown and nameless god who is coming forward is either from that tradition or appearing through that tradition’s lens or parameters, via pantheonic syncretisms or whatever the fuck, then this guideline process probably isn’t relevant to your immediate experience. So shut the fuck up, sit down, and recognize that there is a fucking continuum of learning, engagement, and experience at play. Not everything is about you. Put your mouth (or tippity-tappity finger bones) to more useful endeavors and let those who need to hear this to learn, fucking do so. You’re like that asshat in the classroom who already got the lesson before everyone else, and instead of finding some other way to stay entertained or focused (e.g. reading ahead, doing your own work, drawing pictures of really hot sex on your desk, skipping out and smoking in the bathroom or stealing cars from the parking lot), has decided to verbally assault the instructor and therefore belittle those who are still learning and not up to your point. Seriously. You look like idiots.
- If you have an existing tradition or practice and a god from outside o that tradition or practice shows up, and they don’t seem to be showing up through the lens of your tradition, this is a really fucking important set of guidelines to understand, because gods hold existing polytheists/devotees/priests/spirit-workers to higher standards than bloody fucking n00bz. So for fuck’s sake, don’t be an arrogant shit. It won’t end well for you.
And now, I’m off to drink some Irish coffee and pour some all the fuck over the place for my gods. Next up: a rant about consecrated items and leaving them for the fucking gods or spirits that they’re consecrated to.
Disclaimer: I don’t actually know, or care to know, any of the people who were being dicks. I’m uncaffeinated and I’m tired and I’m using this situation to express some key points. So, if you’re one of those dicks, or feel that you’re not a dick and somehow are getting generalized into this and feel assaulted or some shit, sorry. I’m a dick. I’m not actually trying to single anyone out (hence no names, no links, no references to what I am critiquing), but rather use this circumstance as a springboard to make some fucking points. Because we’ve all seen this shit come up: we’ve all seen the posturing, the shit-throwing, the fuck-stirring, and the “well in MY tradition…” bullshittery. That’s all fine. These differences are fucking great and yeah, let’s elucidate the fuck out of them and hold hands or swing fists or fuck like drunk schoolgirls in a pumpkin patch, but let’s *not* grandstand against a really good introductory process for new people or those without resources.