What is Deity?
Definition of the word Deity in the dictionary is:
a god or goddess.
divine character or nature, especially that of the Supreme Being; divinity.
the estate or rank of a god
a person or thing revered as a god or goddess
the Deity, God; Supreme Being.
Within the pagan world everyone will probably have a slightly different idea of deity, some think of it as Gods and Goddesses, some think of it as one Source and every other definition in between, it is somewhat a personal thing. And everyone will visualise the Gods and Goddesses in a very personal way. As humans we seem to like to visualise them in human form.
Some might see ‘traditional’ deity – Gods and Goddess of various Pantheons such as Athena, Woden, Aphrodite etc. or they may see deity as spirits in all things, spirit of the forest, spirit of the sea etc. Some may work with deity as energies such as Jack in the Green and the Moon Mother.
Everything has energy, every living thing has an essence. And deity connects them all, bringing everything together. The Earth itself is a living thing she is female energy and she is called by many names – Earth Goddess, Mother Earth, Gaia – she is the Maiden, the Mother, the Crone she is all aspects, she is all seasons. Everything on our planet lies within Mother Earth but all things are also separate.
Then we have the balance, we have the male energy, the Horned God, the Green Man he is nature, he is the forest. He lives, he grows, he dies, and he is reborn again. He is the consort to the Goddess.
You will find your way as you grow on your own path, you may work with all sorts of deities, spirits and energies along the way until you become comfortable with what deity means for you, it will be an interesting journey.
Then we have all the pantheons with all the deities within. Gods and Goddesses of love, war, healing, the sea, the sky, animals, the list goes on.
A Pantheon is a group of deities from the same culture. So, deities from ancient Greece would all be collected under the title Greek Pantheon, all the deities from ancient Norse mythology would be within the Norse Pantheon and so on.
Think of a beautifully cut diamond, each facet is an individual, but it makes up part of a whole. So, think of each Goddess or God as a facet, a part of the whole.
For me I like to think of the beginning being one energy, one spirit, one entity. It is female, it is male, it is neither, it is both. And then mankind arrived and each individual culture began to honour the spirit of the sun, the land, the moon and all other things that it needed to survive. Gradually each culture, each county developed a faith and belief in the divine. I like to think it is the same divine across the globe, just interpreted in different ways to suit each culture.
The deity in each country are depicted with the outward characteristics and clothing of that particular culture. But you will find similarities in each religion and in each pantheon across the glove.
Working with them
You don’t have to know all the deities in detail, you don’t have to work with all the deities, the choice is yours but what I would encourage is exploration. Research, read about, meditate on and investigate all the deities and see what works for you. Personally, I have always worked with Celtic or ancient British deities, but occasionally a deity from outside will present itself and I work with them. It always happens for a reason and it is usually very productive and always interesting, so don’t limit yourself.
If a deity calls to you, do your homework. Read their stories and myths, learn about their culture and their landscape. What foods, music or art comes from their country? How were they honoured originally? Are they associated with any sabbats or seasons? What symbols or associations do they have? By finding out all about them you can learn how to interact with them.
You don’t have to work with one pantheon only, some people choose to do so specifically because of their own culture, some because it just happens that way. But as I said before, you don’t have to limit yourself to one pantheon at all.
Working with deity is so immensely rewarding. We can call upon them to lend energy to our rituals, to our healing work, to spell work, we can ask them for guidance and assistance, for clarity, for comfort, to boost our confidence and to just be with us. But bear in mind when you ask for assistance it might not be exactly what you expected.
Each deity is an individual and they all have their own very specific characters and personalities. You might have gotten yourself into a mess and ask a particular Goddess for some help and guidance, hoping for her to be kind and considerate, what you might get is a bit of butt kicking if she thinks that’s what you deserve.
I would also add a caution here, I don’t want to scare anyone but just want to mention, please be polite, please be considerate, don’t summon deity as if they were servants, they are higher beings and they can cause you a whole lot of trouble if you don’t show respect. And if you have called upon them to help with something don’t forget to thank them. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, water some plants, feed the birds, put out an offering in the garden (something biodegradable) or if you have an altar set up pop something on that as an offering, a crystal perhaps.
How you decide upon what deity or pantheon even to work with is up to you, you can do some research and see what resonates with you. You can also do meditations to meet deity. Sometimes deity will find you, you might see the same name popping up when you read things, or on the TV or just into your head. Be open to what or who comes your way.
I don’t see it as worshipping deity, that feels like the wrong word. For me it is about asking them to walk beside me, to lend their energy to whatever I am doing or just being there for me. It is more of a relationship than any kind of worship. You need to get to know them just as you would a new friend.
What can you do to work with and honour them? Trust your intuition and listen, they may have plans or certain requests for you. But generally, you can:
Work a ritual in their honour
Celebrate them on sabbats
Meditate with them
Work a creative project for them
Make offerings to them
Support a cause in their name
Pray to them
Light a candle to honour them
Talk to them
At some point along your journey and it might happen quickly, it might take years you may find a Patron God and/or Goddess. And for some it may never happen, trust that whatever happens it is right for you. It might be that a deity makes themselves known to you, or you might read about one and feel an instant bond, a real connection to your core. This deity will become very closely linked with you and work side by side with you, usually for your life time. But don’t panic if it doesn’t happen at first, it took me nine years before I found mine or should I say she found me.
Be open, listen, watch and learn.
To watch my recent talk about Working with Deity, click the link below
Originally posted on Beneath the Moon, Patheos Pagan - 27.10.20