Slacker Gods

05 May

It is said that a lot of Kemeticism is based on reciprocity. For those of you who don’t know what reciprocity is, it’s commonly defined as “the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organization to another.” Or in other words, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. I have worded this before in other posts as “we help keep the NTRW full and focused by giving offerings, and in return, they help keep our existence running smoothly”. We help the gods by fulfilling ma’at so that they can survive, and in return, they help make our lives a bit easier (in whatever fashion that that might entail).

Reciprocity is a really interesting concept, and it’s one of my favorite parts of Kemeticism. I love that it’s less about humans prostrating before gods (though you can do that if that’s your thing, no judgement from me), and more about gods and humans working together to make existence better for everyone.

However, there seems to be a missing part of the discussion about reciprocity: what happens when it seems like the gods aren’t fulfilling their end of the bargain? What happens when a devotee and a god have an agreement about “you do X, and I’ll do Y in return” and the god doesn’t come through? What happens when it feels like the gods are slacking off?

Not too long ago, this very discussion was sparked over on Tumblr. It started with a Kemetic devotee reflecting on their current relationship with the gods, and how they felt that the gods weren’t pulling their weight. I know at least a few Kemetics have been wondering and pondering the same things as of late (though many of us hadn’t been public about this), and I know I at least was excited to engage in this conversation. I feel that this is an important thing to discuss, as it’s come up for at least a few of us, and usually if a few of us are experiencing it, there are many others feeling the same way– they’re just not talking about it.

Unfortunately our discussion was cut short when a bunch of non-Kemetics jumped in and started to derail the conversation with mentions of hubris (something Kemeticism doesn’t have) and a side-note of “how dare you.” The conversation came to a premature close because no one felt safe enough to continue it anymore.

This is frustrating because I think this is an important conversation to have regardless of whether it makes a few people uncomfortable. As it turns out, I had made a mention of my own problem with Set falling through on his promises to me back in 2014 (something I had forgotten I even mentioned until I happened upon the post a week or so ago), but I didn’t really go in-depth about what devotees could or should do in such situations. Given that the response over on Tumblr from fellow Kemetics was relatively positive before things went to hell, I really want to open the discussion over here on WP where I have more control over comments and responses so that those who were interested in discussing this further might be able to do so in a safer space.

The Meat and Potatoes of Reciprocity: Offerings and Blessings

Now blessings is probably not quite the right word for this, but I’m going to use blessings for this post to mean “stuff that the gods give to a devotee”. This stuff could be protection, a new shiny job, a trinket, a windfall of money, etc. Basically anything that the god might give a devotee in return for their devotion and/or offerings. And I’ll be using offerings to mean anything that a devotee does for a god– whether it be food offerings, spirit work or work in the Unseen, community rites or rituals, offerings of time or devotion, art, jewelry, etc.

In many ways, reciprocity is based off of a trade of like for like. I give you offerings of your liking, and in return you give me something that I need or want. Usually, the exchange of offerings and blessings is relatively equal in nature, and sometimes the exchange is done organically because each party wishes to bestow gifts upon the other, and other times it’s officially contracted or predetermined through an oath, promise or something similar. To cite my own experience as an example, Set and I had decided that I would do work for him in the Duat for a period of time, and once that period of time was up, he would assist me with my finances and job situation, as they are not ideal. For those who are curious about what happened, I had fulfilled my term of work in the Duat, only to find out that Set had tried to fulfill his end of the bargain, but couldn’t seem to wrangle up whatever was needed to fulfill his end of our deal.

Based off of what I had seen on Tumblr during this fiasco, I’m fairly certain that many people in other traditions might feel that humans have no basis to request or demand that a god do something for them. The historical precedence for it in Kemeticism aside, if a person feels like standing up to a god and saying “you should be doing more for me because of all that I’ve done for you”, that’s their prerogative and issue, not mine or yours. When many Kemetics tried to explain to people how it was part of a NTR’s job to help the humans that offer to them, it seems that many people shrugged off the notion and continued to be offended despite the fact that there are books that say the exact same thing we were saying. For example:

The magician is speaking on behalf of humanity; reminding heaven tat if people are not regularly cured and protected that they will lose faith in the gods and cease to make offerings, maintain the temples, and respect sacred animals. The magician is only demanding the enforcement of a kind of divine contract. If the gods do not help mankind, the whole divine order will collapse.” (pg 73-75)

It doesn’t benefit the gods to ignore their devotees’ needs. It doesn’t benefit the gods to only take and never give. So that begs to ask, why do the gods seem to be falling short for so many devotees?

The Logistics of Blessings:

I think in order to answer that, we have to look at some of the logistics of what it takes to fulfill blessings and requests on the gods’ end. Obviously, I am not a god and I don’t pretend to know all of the aspects of what goes into fulfilling blessings, but I have talked with Set about this several times and watched quite a bit of politicking in the Duat that has given me a big heaping pile of UPG on the subject. So you can take this for whatever it’s worth.

I would hope that most everyone gets that blessings aren’t always easy to fulfill. Our gods aren’t all-powerful, and they have their limitations just like we do. On top of that, the human world isn’t exactly fair in how it doles things out, and I think that can play a role in how easy it is for a blessing to be made manifest. It seems that back in AE, the most common requests for the gods were probably things like “make sure the harvest is good” or “please cure this illness” or “get this person out of my life (or in my life)” or things like that. I feel that in some ways, the jobs were simpler and easier, especially for societies that weren’t run off of currency. In the modern era, I don’t need a good harvest, I need a job that pays well, or I need money to suddenly appear out of nowhere because a big bill came up, etc. Sure, you still have some of the same stuff from yesteryear–cure this illness, hurt or help that person, etc. But unlike back in the day, nearly everything needs to have money in order for it to happen. And for most of us, money doesn’t just come from nowhere. Most of us don’t work in companies that can suddenly give raises, or work for employers that are going to magically give you a bonus just because.

So I think one of the first big hurdles with blessings is that the gods are experiencing a learning curve on how to get blessing to their devotees. While I think the inherent nature of a lot of what devotees ask for is the same, the methods needed to obtain those blessings is not. And this isn’t even getting into the issues of societal limitations that the god has to attempt to work around in order to manifest what is needed. Something that could have been relatively simple once upon a time is likely a lot harder in our current society.

Another factor is the recent influx of devotees. Speaking purely for the NTRW, there have been quite a few Kemetics that have joined the ranks in the past few years, and it’s possible that the NTRW are short-staffed and unable to handle the workload. Pending on what sorts of offerings are coming in, that may dictate how many blessings get addressed or handled (since offerings are supposed to be related to the resources the NTRW have to work with). Not to mention that there are discrepancies between gods (UPG warning) as to who should be given what. Similar to how many managers have to deal with a budget and approval process involving upper management, sometimes I feel like the NTRW have to run some of their stuff through other higher-ranking gods for approval, and things don’t always work out how they want or expect. And if a god is trying to handle requests from multiple devotees at once, it’s possible that things can bottle-neck or get put on hold while the god works through everyone’s needs. In a lot of popular media showing this sort of thing, usually the god has a bunch of helpers to ensure that things run smoothly, but who knows what kind of assistance the NTRW are getting.

And of course, the offerings coming in from devotees certainly aren’t to the same scale as in antiquity. Who knows what sort of effect that has on the gods’ ability to manifest in the physical, or make things happen in the physical. It’s equally possible that the gods are having a hard time handling the difference between what was and what currently is. I imagine it’s a learning curve for everyone- humans and gods alike.

These are obviously not the only considerations, but they are worth noting. I think in order for the conversation about gods fulfilling blessings to be balanced, we need to be considerate of what the gods might be having to deal with as well.

Opening up the dialogue: What exactly is everyone owed?

So given that Kemeticism is largely based on reciprocity, and it’s apparent that there is a disconnect between what the gods are receiving vs. what they’re giving, that begs us to ask–

  • What should a devotee expect to receive when they engage in devotional acts for a god (if anything)?
  • What should a god expect from their devotees, especially given that most of us don’t have the resources to be priests or give on the same level as a temple would have in antiquity?
  • What should be the proper protocol for when a god doesn’t do the work they promised they’d do? If a human were unable to fulfill a contract, you know that all hell would probably break loose because “how dare a human break an oath or promise”, and yet when a god does the same, apparently humans are supposed to just deal with it?
  • If a deity can’t keep their contracts in order, should a devotee even bother to do dealings with the god in the first place? What is reasonable in terms of failing to uphold a promise (whether for gods or devotees)? How far is too far?
  • Most importantly– how do we handle these situations when they happen, because they are happening.

I don’t think that we’ll all agree on the answers to these questions, but I think they’re worth discussing. I know that a lot of people feel uncomfortable saying that they think their gods aren’t pulling their weight, or that the gods owe humans anything at all. However, for devotees who have gone above and beyond for their gods, or who wrote out contracts with them only to have them fall through would probably disagree with you. I know that when this was discussed on Tumblr, I saw a lot of the same old rhetoric of “if the gods aren’t giving you blessings, then you must not be doing something right.” But I honestly don’t think that’s the case, and it’s not an answer I’m really willing to accept.

They say that it rains on the just and the wicked alike, and it’s important to remember that perceived blessings don’t always equate to doing things right, in the same way that a lack of blessings doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong. We often say that our gods aren’t omniscient or all-powerful, and we have to keep this in mind when it comes to blessings and contracts as well. There are many factors that go into why someone may or may not receive something, and we shouldn’t assume that the quantity of blessings necessarily relates to the devotee’s “inherent” worth.

Now while I don’t expect my answers to be the same as everyone else reading this, I did want to give my two cents regarding how I think handling these kinds of situations could be handled. That way, if someone in a similar situation happens across this post, they have some ideas they can work with.

Some Thoughts:

First off is that I don’t think devotees should go into relationships with the gods purely on the basis of getting blessings out of it. I still think that the best way to start out is simply because you want to get to know them, or because it has a place within your religious practice, etc. I know that I personally didn’t get involved with Set or Osiris because I expected them to bestow lots of blessings on me (and for a long time, I refused to ask them for assistance with anything). I think that going into a relationship with a god with the end goal of getting free stuff is likely going to set you up for heartache and frustration (because my experience with the gods has shown me that they’re pretty bad at fulfilling basic needs of devotees, or in other words, they’re unreliable).

That being said, I do think that the gods should be doing more for those who are in true need of assistance, and for those who are actively doing a lot for their deity. Further, if a god has been under contract to give the devotee something, and they fall through, I think that the devotee is within their rights to be upset about that. Alternatively, if a god says they will fulfill a need, but only does so in the barest sense, I think there is room for some discussion about whether they’ve really done their best to help their devotee. And the bargaining power that the devotee has is probably going to depend upon how much work they’ve put in to their end of things, too. If you were slow to finish the work, or were sloppy in your execution of the work, you’re probably not going to have as much leverage in your negotiating.

To go back to my own situation with Set, when he couldn’t fulfill his end of the contract, we both agreed that I would be allowed to drop the additional work he had asked of me until he could uphold his end of the deal. With each month or attempt that has failed, I have been allowed to withdraw and do less because what I asked of him was crucial to my ability to be able to continue doing the work that he’s been wanting. We also agreed that if I wanted to do more for him, I could, but that that was on me.

If you find yourself in a situation where a god isn’t following through on contract, I think you’re within your ability to null the contract and withhold work or offerings until the god follows through. If your god skimps on their follow through, I would advise sitting down and talking with the deity about your concerns with what they’ve provided, and seeing if you can reach some sort of agreement. Or, learn to write a better contract that doesn’t allow them to skimp on you.

For situations where you’re not under contract, I still believe that it’s in the god’s best interest to take care of you, especially if you are doing good, consistent work. In those cases, I think it’s worth talking with your gods, and being firm in your needs. I would treat it a lot like a conference with your boss, honestly. Have reasons why you feel you deserve whatever you’re asking for. Show how what you’re asking for is important, and how it will ultimately help and benefit the gods as well (I call this “help me help you”). Of course, the god can still say no. And if they do, it’s up to each individual to figure out how they want to handle that situation. It’s not unheard of to flat out threaten the NTRW if they don’t give you what you feel you need, and you could go that route if you wanted. You could also withhold offerings or services if you wanted to as well. Like with any threat to a god, don’t promise or threaten with what you can’t achieve.

As stated above, there is no one right or wrong answer to any of these issues, and how you handle the situation is going to depend on what you’re comfortable with and what you’re prepared to deal with. Some people may not think its in the human’s right to make demands or even requests, and that’s fine so long as you’re not dictating that others can’t attempt to make demands if that’s what they want to do. If negotiating falls apart, there are lots of other options for you to consider ranging from very passive to very aggressive and everything in between. Even though this conversation is likely going to make some people uncomfortable, or even down right angry, I think it’s worth considering how to handle these situations, because as I stated above, they are happening whether we want to acknowledge it or not.

Have you ever felt like a god was slacking in their role? Have you ever felt like the gods weren’t taking care of you despite the work you’re putting in? How do you feel about the concept of gods not taking care of their devotees? How would you go about things if you ever found yourself in such a situation?


Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Kemeticism


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13 responses to “Slacker Gods

  1. onlyfragments

    May 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    I wonder if part of the issue (a small part, probably) has to do with which NTRW someone is working with. For example, Bast is the only NTRW I am a full-time devotee of, but when I need to pray for the soul of a canine I go to Anpu, not Her. That’s not Her lane. And when I get a good parking spot, I thank Wepwawet, not Bast. Likewise, I think sometimes we ask certain gods (of any pantheon) for something that just isn’t part of their realm. They might still try to help, but “fall flat” in our eyes because they don’t have the same power over something outside their job description.

    I think we also forget that just because we want something, or even NEED something, it might not be in the “cards” for us. I honestly don’t think if I had been a devotee of Bast when my father died that my giving Her a fantastic, earth-shattering offering would have saved his life. Just because a god doesn’t help us get a job when we’re hungry and jobless doesn’t a) mean they don’t care, or b) they didn’t try. Sometimes we’re supposed to go through this rough spot to grow and change… And sometimes bad things happen to good people, even if those people are the most loyal devotees on earth. But facing that reality is pretty hard for just about anyone, and a lot of folks turn to religion to escape that very concept. I can understand being angry at your gods for not stopping something that causes you pain – but maybe that pain is part of our journey.

    • DevoTTR

      May 5, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      This may be rambly… sorry D:

      Those are fair points. I’ve written on and experienced first hand the wonderful “joy” of being forced to sit in a bad situation so that I can accomplish something larger. It’s loads of “fun” haha (I believe I wrote about it in my “Beauty of Pain” post… I think). I also understand that gods do have limits. I had asked a god once why they had let one of their devotees die, and he looked at me like I was part asshole part stupid, and told me that he had no control over the decisions that person made that landed them in the position they were in. It made a lot of sense, though it hurt to hear. I sadly think the gods have a lot more limitations than people think they do. It’s something I’ve been trying to hint at for a long time, but I don’t think a lot of people like me mentioning that. But I honestly think the gods are… sorta useless at making things happen in this plane. Maybe once upon a time they were more capable, but so far I’m not sold on their ability to get anything done over here. I should have probably been a little clearer in my post in listing some of these options, or delineating more about what I was referring to in regards to the specifics of the situations that seem to have brought this discussion about.

      This post is more aimed at those who have done the work, but feel unsupported (as opposed to some people who might think they deserve a big shiny, but haven’t done much work to earn said shiny). And also for those who have had their gods say “I will be doing this thing for you”, and then the god doesn’t. I think these situations are slightly different than the ones listed above. However, even within the parameters you’ve listed, I think the gods could probably work on finding better ways to tell their devotees “hey, not right now. you gotta deal for a while” or even “I can’t do that for you, how about you check out XYZ god and see if they can help, it’s more up their alley”. Or even just “sorry fam, that’s not happening”

      There have been a few devotees I’ve talked to who feel slighted by their gods, and when they ask them about it, the gods give them a lecture on how they need to suck it up and do more. And I feel like those kinds of conversations aren’t really helping, you know? Esp. given that most of the devotees ended up feeling slighted and undervalued by the god in question (which really doesn’t help anyone. it’s like going to your boss and saying “I’ve worked hard, can I please get a raise” and your boss tells you you suck and need to work harder- odds are, that employee is going to do the exact opposite, because that’s how brains often work). Sometimes I feel like maybe the gods need to work on their approach, and work on being more upfront and honest with what they’re capable of doing, what the devotee can/should expect, etc. That way everyone is on the same page… and maybe it’d help to prevent situations like what we’re seeing now.

  2. veggiewolf

    May 5, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Fluid Morality and commented:
    Things worth thinking about. Seriously.

  3. Loki's Little Hippie Witch

    May 5, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I cannot tell you how many times I’ve cut off offerings because I’ve felt left out in the cold. Whether I felt that way because I was actually put on Their back burner or I only perceived I was remains to be seen. But still… it’s very frustrating when you’re blood-oathed to certain Gods, trust Them completely, then find yourself out in the cold when you really need help. I don’t understand why They promise one thing and then sometimes the opposite happens. In fact, I had a huge blowout a few weeks ago. They were in the “doghouse” big time for promising things that then went horribly wrong. But was it Their shortcomings or did I screw up interpreting Their original message? Hmm…

    • DevoTTR

      May 8, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      That’s always the hardest part. Figuring out why there is the disconnect btwn promises and follow through. And then figuring out if the discernment is accurate, and all of that fun stuff. It’s definitely trialing some days…

      • Loki's Little Hippie Witch

        May 9, 2016 at 5:00 am

        And it doesn’t help that my first reaction is to get all pissed off and rant at Them. Only after I stop and think for a bit does it finally occur to me what may be happening. Reminds me a lot of dealing with my six year-old. She gets upset and pitches a fit because she can’t understand something, which is pretty much what I do to Them. And They sit there, patiently wait for me to get it all out of my system, like I do with my daughter. :p

  4. helmsinepu

    May 5, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Well said.
    “Time scale” might be another factor. And heck, WE can’t figure out the stupid arbitrary hiring process, and this is our world and our era.

    • DevoTTR

      May 8, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      I do think that time scale does play a factor, too. What is probably fast for them is likely too slow for us XDD ANd also agreed on the whole figuring out our world and era. I sometimes wonder if we need to create a chincy slide show for the gods so that they can catch up on everything they’ve missed.

  5. druidsass

    May 7, 2016 at 2:00 am

    This is a really interesting conversation to me, because ADF Druidry is also based on reciprocity, and I think that’s one of the reasons it suits me. (So yeah, not Kemetic, but hopefully not derailing, and certainly not going to accuse you of hubris or tell you what your piety should look like.)

    Before I came to ADF, I’d had some bad experiences with deities that take far more than they give. Sometimes, as discussed here, I felt that was because they couldn’t deliver, and well, that is what it is. You can either move on, or if you have enough reserves to want to continue in the hope of strengthening them to the point where they can do more, you can do that, but you need to watch out that they don’t inadvertently drain you. But sometimes I also felt that the deity had plenty of power, but just didn’t care what they broke in their efforts to carry out their agenda. I think there’s a tendency in polytheist communities to glamourise that kind of behaviour, and I’ve been guilty of that in the past, but now I consider it straight-up abusive, and I won’t stay around for it. My experience has been that deities that evolved during or after their local transition to monotheist dominance are particularly prone to this kind of thing, so perhaps it’s a stress reaction and they really do need to do some shadow work, but (a) I don’t have to martyr myself while I wait for them to realise that and (b) not all of them responded that way – some just got more fierce in their defence of those under their protection, so guess which ones I’d rather give my energy to.

    Fortunately, there are also deities and spirits out there that do deliver, and I have solid relationships with some of those across two different pantheons. Now, I don’t even start bargaining with a deity or spirit for anything specific until I feel we have a good working relationship established through other means. When I do bargain, I’m really careful about what I promise, and if the bargain is going to involve me doing something that involves a serious drain of my resources, I won’t deliver the whole thing up front. I’ll make an initial, smaller offering as a token of goodwill and do the rest once the deity has done their part.

    It’s possibly also worth mentioning that when we talk about reciprocity in ADF Druidry, we don’t necessarily mean an equal exchange. We adhere to an old Indo-European understanding in which the more senior partner in an exchange was expected to give more, in proportion to their greater resources and power. Between deities and humans, the sources talk about the deities returning a hundredfold what their worshippers give. I guess it’s an open question in our current situation whether all deities automatically have a hundredfold the resources their worshippers have, but at least in the pantheons I’m involved with, they seem to like to think so and try to act accordingly. That helps to build trust on the human side that there is at least an honest desire to resurrect and uphold the ancient bargains, and hence the cosmic order (rta or xarthus, in our parlance). Certainly if the humans are getting drained to the point where their ability to function is being impaired rather than enhanced by the interaction, I’d consider that something has gone wrong and that xarthus is not in fact being restored or maintained as both sides should intend.

    • DevoTTR

      May 8, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      It seems that a lot of your experiences more or less line up with my own, which is kinda cool given that we come from different backgrounds/pantheons/religions.

      For my own situation, I think Set wanted to, but was blocked by someone from above. I’m too much of a sap to completely walk away, so I decided to hang around and help out while I wait for him to get the resources that he needs. I guess part of me is like “well I’m in this far, might as well keep going” and I’m a sucker for helping people (and gods). So yeah………. I haven’t really found a lot of entities that deliver on much, I guess I need to branch out a bit more XDDD

      I agree that there seems to be a trend of glamourizing certain behaviours that the gods are known for doing, and I’m honestly not very down with it. It’s one thing if an individual decides that it’s okay for them, and that that is what they want to put up with. But I don’t think it’s fair to chastise others for taking care of themselves, and telling gods to GTFO if they are crossing lines. I’m hopeful that in time, more people will become more comfortable with the idea to say now. However, I think it would also possibly be a wake up call for the gods. I feel like there is probably a learning curve on all sides.

      I like the idea of doing a sort of deposit with the entity before finishing the contract work. That’s something I use in the waking world, and to a lesser extent over there as well. It’s something I’ll likely be using a lot more often moving forward. I guess its one of those once bitten twice shy.

      Your reciprocity sounds nice, honestly. Esp given that the gods usually have a lot more to give than us humans do. I’m not sure if the NTRW have those kinds of resources anymore… teh Duat is in pretty bad shape, imo. But I don’t really have a way to quantify or verify how much the NTRW do have in terms of resources. That being said, a large number of Kemetics definitely seem to be hitting brick walls to the point that their ability to consistently practice and offer is becoming impaired. I personally think that’s a problem, and that the NTRW need to address it. But it seems that a lot of people also think that I’m acting high and mighty for thinking that, and that as a human, I should be thankful for even having the opportunity to work with the gods at all.

      Its honestly very interesting to see the wide array of responses this topic has gotten, and how emotional people can get (and also how quickly) over the notion or suggestion. It’s been… an experience 🙂

      • druidsass

        May 9, 2016 at 6:42 am

        A learning curve on both sides is probably right. To make an analogy, I know that many Asian teachers of martial arts, yoga or other traditional arts have found that if they choose to reach out to Western students, they have more success if they adapt their traditional teaching styles for cultural differences. The cultural difference between the 21st-century UK or US and pre-Christian *Pritania or Kemet is surely just as great. Some are going to be quicker to adapt than others.

  6. G. B. Marian

    May 7, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    As a non-Kemetic, first let me say that I’m deeply sorry that this discussion deteriorated so badly on Tumblr. I don’t read Tumblr, so I haven’t seen what happened for myself; but it always bothers me when I hear about things like this happening, so I’d like to give my deepest sympathies to all the Kemetics on Tumblr who were shamed or otherwise made to feel bad about themselves for “daring” to consider these questions.

    I don’t like the idea I’ve seen from some polytheists that “All polytheism is devotional” and that we always need to “put the Gods first.” Polytheism simply means that one believes in many Gods; that in and of itself says nothing about how one interacts with said Gods. I have a very devotional relationship with Seth, for example; I love Him regardless of whether He helps me with everything I ask or not. But I do not regard every Deity with that same level of reverence, and I’m not interested in doing so. There are also many other people I’ve met (both Kemetic and non-Kemetic) who relate with Seth as more of a “business partner” or perhaps just a casual acquaintance, and I can see nothing wrong with that. Human beings do not all relate with each other in the exact same way; I have very different relationships with my family members than I do with the people I know at work, so why should it be any different with how different people relate to different Gods? The real hubris here, in my opinion, lies in thinking that one’s own way of relating with a Deity is the “one right way” and that everyone else should relate with Them the exact same way, too.

    That being said, I’m not sure how I feel about “threatening” Deities per se – though I realize there is precedent for that practice in Egyptian literature – but I do believe that humans have a right to stand up for themselves and break off relationships with Divinities whom they feel are being unresponsive (or perhaps even abusive) to them. If that were not the case, then those of us who were raised Christian and who lost interest in Yahweh or Jesus for one reason or another would be total hypocrites. I would agree that if a person treats a Deity like a genie and loses interest when their wishes aren’t being granted on demand, they are committing hubris. But if the person puts a lot of work into getting to know that Deity and interacting with Them respectfully (either as a priest, layperson or ally of some kind), and if the Deity does nothing for them in return (or only does awful things), that person has a fundamental right to stop working with that Deity and explore other options.

    I’m not sure I agree with your theological speculations here (though I don’t necessarily disagree with them, either), but I would say this to the people who were shaming your fellow Kemetics on Tumblr: What if a God demands that you kill some innocent person to appease Them? Would you blindly do it and become a monster? Or would you have the backbone to say no and tell Them to take a hike? And if that seems like an extreme example, something that could never happen, well world mythology and today’s news networks both verify that it happens all the time. Sure, we can say that those people are nuts and that they aren’t really in touch with any Gods; they’re just crazy. But how do we know that for sure? And if it happens to us, what would we do? Personally, I’d say no – even if it were Seth Himself asking – and if that makes me guilty of hubris, then screw it. “Putting the Gods first” can certainly be a good thing to do in some situations, but not always.

    Anyway, I’m not sure if this has all been on topic or not (I tried!), but I really like this post and I hope this discussion continues in a positive light.

    • DevoTTR

      May 8, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      “Human beings do not all relate with each other in the exact same way; I have very different relationships with my family members than I do with the people I know at work, so why should it be any different with how different people relate to different Gods?” so much this. I’ve been saying this for years, but many people seem to think that you can only have one kind of “correct” relationship with a deity. It’s very frustrating to me, esp since my relationship with S and O is very multifaceted (ranging from business partner to friends to something more than friends… it runs the gamut, pending the context and situation). The funny part about hubris is that, much like ma’at, there seems to be conflicting ideas about what actually constitutes as hubris. I’ve seen the definition given out by Ed Butler, and it seems to be very different than what most Hellenics are utilizing.

      In regards to threatening, I’m personally not big on threatening (the most I’ve threatened is “If you can’t follow through, I will stop doing as much for you”, which isn’t a huge threat, imo), but I respect other people’s choice to do so if that’s the route they want to take. I don’t think it should be taken lightly, but I think it should be listed as an option, esp since there is a historical precedence there. But yeah, like you, it’s not something I’m huge into either. I try to work out situations through other means, first. And save honest to goodness threats for when I’ve exhausted my other options.

      I think that your questions at the end do raise a valid point. You are correct in that it’s more extreme, but I also think that’s the point. If someone is going to make generalized statements about what you can never ever do (such as tell a god no, or stand up for yourself), then they had better be prepared to defend that stance under extreme circumstances as well. Esp since, as you said, there is a historical precedence for being tested like that.

      And no worries, I think your feedback was on topic and relevant :> THanks for taking the time to comment!


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