As a teacher of Witchcraft I hope to make at least a small impact on my students. Yet if I am allowed only one thing for my students to take with them let it be the value of research before meeting the Gods. If I can impart, nay, drill into my students the absolute need that before calling in deity we must first get to know them, I will feel I have done my work.
Meeting the Gods and developing a relationship is paramount to successful rituals and workings. Getting to know and understand our Gods is showing them we respect and honor them. Without honoring those we call upon by taking the time to research, learn about, and meet them, we are taking risks. Risks that 1) they won’t answer; 2) they do answer with as little care for the ritual outcome as you gave to meeting them; and 3) they decide to give you a lesson in humility by wreaking havoc during and after the working.
Simply put, not meeting the Gods before you work with them is much like calling or texting a total stranger to invite them to Thanksgiving dinner. While they may decide to join you, the conversation will be awkward. Your values may not be compatible. They may have their own ideas as to what you should be serving for dinner, making a fuss to get what they want. Perhaps they invite a couple of unruly friends to come with them. These “friends” decide that your dining room furniture needs a makeover, aka, thorough destruction. Dinner is ruined and that stranger tells all his friends that you have no respect for them as an individual. Good luck in ever having guests for Thanksgiving again.
Meeting the Gods -What to Research
I remember one of the absolute worst rituals I ever attended. We originally were told that this ritual was for XYZ and we were calling in ABC goddess. Great! I spent time researching, meditating and introducing myself to this new goddess. I arrive at the ritual site and, low and behold, they’ve decided to do something different. We are handed a ritual script with the names of 3 Gods/Goddesses I had no prior knowledge of. When I asked for the pronunciation of their names – not one of the facilitators knew the answer. I asked for information about them – no one knew. They proceeded with the ritual, which promptly tanked. Geez. Wonder why.
Whenever working with a new deity research and knowledge is key. At the very least you should learn and know the following about the Gods you work with:
- How to pronounce their name: It’s annoying for us when someone mispronounces our names. Imagine what Deity feels when you lack the courtesy to find out how to pronounce theirs. Ask around, use Google translator or better yet, ask the Gods themselves. Then stick to that pronunciation in ALL your workings.
- Their origin: Where does this new deity come from? What are their origin stories. Are there myths, poems, artwork depicting them? Read all you can about them. There is a vast wealth of information on the internet about nearly every God/Goddess that you can research for free (or very little).
- Their individual attributes and why they are needed for this ritual: If you are doing a ritual for peace, don’t call in Mars. Need help finding focus and peace? Loki may not be what you are looking for. Learn, research and talk to the Gods you want to work with. Take the time to make certain they are compatible with both you and your working.
Navigating the Gods During Public Rituals and Cons
The majority of Witches and Pagans eventually attend public events, conventions (Cons), and festivals where large public rituals may be held. This is where meeting the Gods beforehand can get a bit tricky. Cons are usually easier to navigate. Their schedule of classes/rituals are often posted or mailed in advance of the event. The descriptions of these rituals commonly include the names of any deity being called or at the very list the “flavor” of the ritual. A Dionysion ritual would, obviously, include a call to Dionysus. If you attend a Voodoo event you could first acquaint yourself with their Loa. Even if you only have the evening before or the morning of the event to research – do it. Five minutes of learning and introducing yourself to Papa Legba is more respectful than going in cold.
Attending public rituals and festivals are a fabulous way to meet like minded people. But is does make it difficult to meet the Gods in advance. Fortunately, if the facilitator of the ritual has any previous experience they may impart some information about the ritual before you begin. A brief discussion about what the ritual is designed to do, deity being called upon, and what you can expect is helpful. This information then allows for a moment or two of contemplation or discussion about the Gods in order to familiarize yourself with them.
In addition, many of these rituals may “call” using umbrella titles such as “Lord and Lady” or simply “God and Goddess” instead of a specific deity in order to be all-inclusive of different paths. It keeps the reverence and respect in place during the working allowing the energy to flow freely, unimpeded by those unfamiliar with the Gods being invoked.
Putting Your Research to Use – Establishing a Relationship
Now that you’ve researched and learned about the Gods/Goddesses you wish to work with, it’s time to put that information to use in establishing a relationship with them. For me, as a Witch, the fact that I don’t require a mediator, only myself, to talk with and know my Gods is liberating. And quite frankly one of the reasons I became a Witch in the first place.
Begin your quest by meditating on what you’ve discovered about your chosen deity. Bring yourself into a meditative state then focus on that God’s attributes, what you know (or think you know) of how they appear. Then call out to them (using the correct pronunciation of their name), introduce yourself, and asking them to meet with you. I repeat, ask. We want to get off on a good foot here.
When you feel their presence, ask if they have any other information for you about themselves. You may see images, get a feeling about something they may like, etc. Then, and this is all important, ask if they wish to work with you. Be patient, be reverent, and above all be honest about what you are going to need from them. And then wait for the response. Yes, sometimes the response is “no”, or “not at this time.” If this is your response you can ask why. It just might not be the right time or ritual for them or perhaps you need to get to know them better first. If it is yes, then you are ready to move forward with your work.
Showing our Gods the respect they deserve is our duty as a Priest/Priestess of the Old Ways, of Magick and Witchcraft. By researching, learning, and meeting our Gods we are demonstrating that respect. The next time you begin to write a ritual or spell, remember to do the work. meet your Gods and establish a relationship. The rewards you reap, be they spiritual, personal, or magickal, are worth your time and effort.