This is one of the most intimate topics in witchcraft. The choice of deity or even whether or not to use deities in your craft is immensely personal. Some witches feel called to certain deities. Others choose to practice their craft without a touch of the divine. I even met a witch who viewed deities as living forms of ideas and concepts. I am hoping that I can shed some light on the role of deities in witchcraft.
Witchcraft: A Religion or A Practice?
Once of the major questions you need to ask yourself about whether or not to have deities in your craft is whether or not your craft is an extension of your religion or not. Witchcraft is the use of and manipulation of the energy around us towards a specific outcome. This is the practice of witchcraft.
There are a number of nature based and re-constructionist religions that dovetail with witchcraft. The most famous of these is Wicca (Interested in learning more about Wicca? Check out this book by Scott Cunningham*). There are eclectic practitioners like me, and combine a number of the above traditions. Some eclectics view witchcraft as a part of their religion. Some do not. I happened to be part of the former.
What is a Deity?
The dictionary gives us a couple different definitions for the word deity, but they all converge on the concept of the divine. Often the divine takes the form of a God or Goddess. Some religions have only one God, others have many Gods and Goddesses with different roles in the pantheon.
I suppose the witch who saw deities as living forms of ideas and concepts was not too far off. They just forgot the most important part of deities-they have a will and agenda of their own.
If you have a relationship with a deity, there can be a number of advantages. Deities often take an interest in the well-being and life of their worshipers. Not to the extent that ancestors do, but unless they feel that you need to learn a lesson, they generally don’t like seeing you suffer. This is an added boost to any working to change something in your life that they rule over.
Working with deities can be like working with spirits-they want and need to have a relationship with you. It can be hard to form a relationship with some and others will let you know that they will be forming a relationship with you. Once you form a relationship with a deity, it is not something that you can just turn off. They will expect you to keep up your end of the relationship. If you don’t, you open yourself up to them withdrawing whatever aid they have provided.
I personally enjoy the relationship that I have with my deities. To a certain extent, they are a lot like powerful friends that I can lean on when I need it. In return, I give them offerings of food, time, or just conversation. All deities have distinct personalities and some play well with others. Some want their own unique shrines. Others collect shiny objects like a magpie. Learning all of this helps to build a relationship.
Keep in mind, that relationships run both ways just like with people. Some deities will not be interested in you no matter how interested you are in them. That’s okay. Others will be interested in you so much that they will directly intervene in your life if they feel that you need to learn something.
You need to pay attention to your intuition and any signs you receive when working with deities to determine if they wish to work with you and how.