Worshipping and Working for: what do you mean?
Every morning I always offer my last good gulp of tea to Gaia. When we lived in another city and had a garbage disposal that was dedicated to Hecate as was our compost pile. First thing up, one of us check Hestia’s lamp, fills it if needed, and light it for the day. These are my (our) acts of worship.
Coyvere says ‘we all serve a deity whether we know it or not’.
Working for a deity, to use an old gaming term, is being a Champion of a god, someone who goes out and does things for a Deity. You know, slay the monster eating the villagers, save the holy people, etc. This should not be confused with proselytizing, being a missionary, teaching, ‘saving someone’, or spreading the gospel. These are all acts of spreading a religion, they are not acts of service to a deity. All the deities I work for do not demand that I go out and spread their word as gospel. They only ask that I spread my word as my truth so others may someday find their own path.
Worship is defined as:
-the act of showing respect and love for a god, especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god: the act of worshipping a god.
– excessive admiration of someone (or deity)
An older Greek definition of the word is:
– I go down on my knees to, do obeisance to, worship.
– Further breaking down the word ‘proskuneo’: to do reverence to, gods, ‘towards’, and kyneo, to kiss.
This is not worship for me. One of my biases, or one of my blind spots, is that I have always held a distaste or distrust of authority figures, more so if one is a leader in an organized religion. I often question what makes someone more holy or more capable of speaking to the gods than myself. After all, am I not already connected to my Higher Self, my Atman (to use a yoga term)?
– the spiritual life principle of the universe, especially when regarded as inherent in the real self of the individual.
– a person’s soul.
There is some benefit to being part of a religion that offers a standard set of rituals, a path to follow and books to show you the way. There is a downside to worship – to be a worshipper you need only focus on your faith. Most worship services play to faith – to just believing in what you are told, not to question and not to use yourself to grow but that you need a middleman to connect or speak to god. Now, I’m not downplaying faith – faith is a powerful resource, but faith lets you ride upon itself. With faith you can believe everything happens for a reason, that god has planned out your life and is playing you like a piece on a giant game board. Faith lets you know you have a destiny. And for some of us there is a comfort in thinking that you are just a pawn on a game board. Others balk at the idea of being a puppet on a god/goddess’s strings, every act being controlled by the thread of their destiny. These people are the ones who see the danger to blind worship. How it never lets your god/goddess change or evolve and it is fact that everything must grow. Everything to include you, your gods themselves need to be free to evolve, grow, and change .
Faith, trust, belief, and worship all get jumbled together in a mixed-up word soup, all meaning something different to each person yet they have been hijacked by the Judeo-Christian religions to mean blind, unquestioning acceptance. It is accepted as part of our culture that should someone do something wrong no matter how small they will be punished. Tell a lie to your parents = suffer in a pit of lava for eternity. Kill everyone in a small village = suffer in a pit of lava for eternity. This is where faith, trust, belief, and worship become muddled when we start on a pagan or magickal path.
Let’s first look at this myth – you must suffer in order to achieve.
You must suffer in order to achieve, we must suffer to find salvation, we must suffer to have someone love us, and we must suffer to have our deities love us. This is all part of the Puritan myth prevalent in our culture. This is not true.
The gods do not want us to suffer.
They want us to find our true self and to evolve towards this true self. I was reading the Bhagavad Gita as part of my yoga training and I was so confused at first when I read the story. Why would Krishna encourage Arjuna to kill the family that raised him? That would be one of the greatest evils of all times. Krishna does point out that his family had been doing some pretty crappy things and were planning to kill him, but then Krishna goes on to explain that there is no true death for the soul, that we are/will be reincarnated. That we must work to find connection with our higher self (atman), the soul seed within all of us that resides with deity, lifetime after lifetime. Each of us has a specific higher self, a healer, teacher, trickster, or in Arjuna’s case, a warrior. To deny this soul seed its true self is what keeps us being reborn lifetime after lifetime. It was more distasteful for Krishna to have Arjuna ignore his warrior true self than to do what was necessary and kill the family that had raised him. Krishna saw Arjuna’s act as one to rest the balance to the lands. Arjuna whose atman was that of a warrior/ruler was the best man for the job and in the process would stay true to his atman.
Okay, so that might not be the best example. Try this one:
If I forget oil for Hestia’s lamp for a few days, weeks, or months, she isn’t going to punish me, she won’t stop talking to me or offering her blessing or guidance for our house. She might nudge (can’t really call it a nag) as a reminder to pick up oil when I have the money for it, but she will not punish me. If I forgot to give Gaia the last sip of my cup of tea she will not make earthquakes shake my house, nor will she make the land my family resides upon barren and inhospitable. I don’t have a garbage disposal or compost pile at my new home, and Hekate hasn’t turned me into a pig nor has she stopped talking to me or answering my questions.
Because I have found my version of worshipping these goddesses and in doing so I have been working with and for them to find a better connection with my soul seed, atman, and higher self, whatever it is you wish to call your connection to the Divine.
This is how I see worship – it is a confusing mix of belief, trust, and of faith in this relationship that I have with the deities. When I started writing this post I thought there was a distinct line between worshipping a deity and working for a deity. After the discussion and writing of this post I am coming to realize that there is no difference – that line has disappeared for me.
Am I still going to struggle with the idea of faith, belief, and trust in a deity? Yes. But I know that I have the freedom, removing the fear of punishment, that I’m doing the best I can in this lifetime to learn from my gods/goddesses. I think it’s harder to learn to have faith, trust, and belief in myself. Perhaps that is the key.