Thoughts on Mixing Deities

Thoughts on Mixing Deities

Author:   Ignacio Ceja   

I grew up reading mythology. Greek, Roman, Aztec, Egyptian, it didn’t matter where it came from. Nearly every afternoon could find me in the school library. The head librarian came to the practice of setting books out just for me.

When I became Pagan, and the choice of deity was mine to make, I assumed I’d pick a pantheon and go with it. The idea seemed simple enough. I had background lore in several pantheons; all I had to do was make a choice. This proved easier said than done. I was a solitary, with no Pagan friends with whom to discuss this. Even having friends, I realize in retrospect, would have only further complicated my choice. The affinity I felt for various figures and Gods was too strong for me to be content with a single pantheon. There was also my all to critical Gemini nature, which lead, and leads, me to boredom quickly. I imagined it must be easier for someone who is brought up, brought into, or finds his/her way into a coven or practice where the choice of deity is already made. There was also the fact that I didn’t feel comfortable with all the Gods of any particular pantheon. I wasn’t ready then to accept every aspect of myself. I certainly couldn’t accept every aspect of a pantheon. I know that if I had been a whole person, it wouldn’t have mattered. But what teenager is a whole person? I’ve never known one. I also didn’t want to be devoted to only one deity, I’d had enough of that already.

It seemed pretty obvious to me that if I liked specific deities, I should honor them, despite their origins. Initially I felt guilty about this. A part of what I felt stemmed from not having a personal touchstone to what I was reaching for. I am not Egyptian, for instance, so although I can relate to Egyptian Gods, I feel no personal connection. The same could be said of just about any pantheon. The only one I had a personal link to was Aztec. My biggest drawback with relation to this pantheon was my lack of ability to relate. The first thing I thought of when I considered Aztec mythology was human sacrifice. Hearts offered up to Huitzilopochtli, the Sun and War God. I simply couldn’t relate to a culture and a time period where and when such a practice would have been necessary. So I dismissed the feelings of guilt. After all, I’d left organized guilt behind me; it would be harmful to dredge it up and attach it to my new beliefs.

In mixing Gods from different pantheons, I suppose the first order of business is, “Will these Gods get along and play nicely together?” There are legends of Gods within a particular pantheon who don’t get along. In Santeria, Yemaya tricked Oya into swapping the cemetary, which was Yemaya’s, for the oceans. The resulting bitterness between these two Goddesses is so strong that they will not socialize, and cannot be honored together1 . Mt Olympus is filled to overflowing with stories of Gods with grudges against one another because of a love affair here, a stolen treasure there. Take a trip down to Egypt and look at the intense competition between Set and Horus for the throne after the fall of Osiris. That particular conflict involves more than just these two Gods. I’ve never read about inter-pantheonic rivalries, where the Gods of one culture have grievences with the Gods of another, say Norse vs. Egyptian. Each culture seems to have quasi-isolated beliefs in regard to “their” deities. I’ve never seen anything about the Gods of different cultures interacting, except on TV’s Hercules and Xena, Warrior Princess.

In my early years, I just worked with God and Goddess using the terms “Lord” and “Lady”. As time passed and I learned new concepts, I honored new deities. After a while, I began to want my own personal approach to deity. To establish this, I turned to my family heritage. My mother is a German woman, half German actually, and since she raised me, I felt my strongest family connection through her. I began reading about the Norse Gods. It took a while before I felt anything personal though. It must be something about actually having to do the work involved, so I took a year to work with them. Ritual took on a whole new feel after that. Having a personal link to the deities I was reaching out to allowed me to feel like I belonged, like I was a child of the powers I was addressing. This experience had been lacking, noticeably, up to that time. It was the first time since I was a child that I actually felt fulfilled by an act of faith. To say that this really worked for me would be an understatement, so I did the same with my father’s Mexican heritage. In doing so, I came to know Guadalupe. This proved to be a much more difficult task, because there is a strong bias in the information that is available. Although one could argue that every face is her “true” face, I found that I had to sift through both church and historical myth to find her most “complete” face.

I found that Guadalupe is the current incarnation of Tonanzin, an Aztec mother Goddess. I use the term “current” lightly, as Guadalupe made her first recorded appearance in the mid 1500s. She appeared to a young Indian named Juan Diego, and asked him to carry a message to the local priests. She wanted a temple built to her on Tepayac Hill. Juan Diego did as she asked, but the priests didn’t believe him. Tepayac Hill was a site sacred to Tonanzin. The priests avoided it. Besides, why would the Mother of God reveal herself to a common person when they were always listening for her will? Twice more, Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, and twice more he carried out her wishes. The last time, however, she caused roses to grow from the desert floor. If he carried her roses to the local priests, they would believe him. Juan Diego gathered Guadalupe’s roses into his blanket and set off. Again, the priests didn’t believe him, but when he showed them the roses, they all saw that his blanket had been imprinted with the image of Guadalupe. The temple was built, and the blanket was kept there as a sacred object. It can still be seen there today. Although I still have more research to do on Guadalupe, I’ve kept a shrine to her in my room for the last four years.

I began reading about various Afro-Carribean faiths a year before I went to Mississippi to study weather. The ones I spent the most time with were Voudo, Santeria and Condomble. My only link to these faiths is my Hispanic heritage. Santeria has flourished in Latin America, and although it is recognized for its African roots, Santeria and the Yoruba faith practiced in Nigeria are marked in their differences. I’m not saying that Santeria belongs to Latin America. I don’t believe that any faith belongs to any particular group; however, I do believe that Santeria has become ingrained in the background of Latin American culture.

While I was in weather school, I made two altars. One I erected to Chango and Oya, and the second to Yemaya. Chango and Oya each rule fire. Oya, additionally, has charge of the winds. Yemaya rules the oceans. As heating, moisture and air are all necessary for weather, these three Gods were ideally suited to assist me in my course of learning.2

I have three main altars in my room now. My Goddess altar has a shrine to Guadalupe, surrounded by Goddess images from various cultures. My God altar has a statue of Pan, with a few different Green Man/Horned God images. The third altar is to my ancestors, as the dead hold a special place in my beliefs. I have created my own pantheon. They are my personally selected support group of deities and spirits. I worship a Greek God and a Meso-American Goddess. Can mixing deities work? I suppose it’s a very personal thing. As I feel that I’m doing just fine, I’m inclined to a resounding “Yes.” You know the saying, “You can’t pick you family, but you can pick your friends.” I’m happy to say that you can also pick your Gods.

Blessed Be.

1Oya and Yemaya are both important Orishas in the Yoruba pantheon. Both will be honored in a practitioner’s home, but their sacred objects are kept separate.

2The bitterness referred to above is the reason why I created separate altars. I also honored them on different days.

Ignatious Fireweaver

Calendar of the Moon for June 22

22 Duir/Skirophorion

Day of Thunder

Color: Grey and black
Element: Air
Altar: Upon cloth of black patterned with grey clouds and yellow lightning place nine yellow candles, a chalice of rainwater, and if possible, a Tesla coil or other static lightning lamp.
Offerings: Go out into the rain during the next storm, and stand unprotected in it.
Daily Meal: Cold food. Only rainwater to drink.

Day of Thunder Invocation

(Call and response, repeating:)

Dark powers of Air, we honor you!
Lords of the storm cloud, we honor you!
Dancers of the lightning bolt, we honor you!
Roar of the summer skies, we call you!
Zeus of the eagle’s eye,
Shango, leaper in the fire,
Oya, Lady of the Wild Winds,
Thor, Lord of the Hammer,
We acknowledge your power
And we give you our respect!
But rather than merely fear you
We ask for your protection,
For the Thunder can be your friend
If you know how to ask!
So we ask this, Gods of Thunder,
Summer storm that rolls across the land,
Protect us from your fury!
Protect us from your wrath!
Protect us from your destruction!
Protect us from your floods!
Protect us from your wrenching winds!
Protect us from the heat of your lightning!
Protect us from your eroding rain!
Protect us from your pelting hail!
Have mercy on us, Gods of Thunder!

(During the last nine lines, one candle is extinguished on each line. As the room falls into darkness, the snuffer of candles flings the rainwater into the libation well. All cry out, “Protect us!” and flee the room.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

The Orishas

The Orishas

by Efun Moyiwa

 

The orishas are the emissaries of Olodumare or God almighty. They rule over the forces of nature and the endeavors of humanity. They recognize themselves and are recognized through the different numbers and colors that are their marks, and each has their own favorite foods and other things that they like to receive as offerings and gifts. In this way, we make our offerings in the manner they are accustomed to, in the way they have always received them, so that they will recognize our offerings and come to our aid.

The orishas are often best understood by observing the forces of nature they rule over. For instance, you can learn much about Oshún and her children by watching the rivers and streams she rules over and observing that though she always heads toward her sister Yemayá (the Sea) she does so on her own circuitous route. Also observehow the babbling brook and the flash flood reflect her changeable moods. As you observe the orishas at work in the world and in your own lives, you will gain a better understanding of them and their ways. Yes, they are complex, but no more so than any other living being such as you or I. We are also blessed from time to time in the religion with the opportunity to meet the orishas face to face during a bembé where one or more of their priests will be mounted.

Elegba

Elegba (also referred to as Eleggua or Elegguá) is the owner of the roads and doors in this world. He is the repository of ashé, the spiritual energy that makes up the universe. The colors red and black or white and black are his and codify his contradictory nature. In particular, Elegba stands at the crossroads of the human and the divine, as he is the childlike messenger between the two worlds. In this role, it is not surprising that he has a very close relationship with the orisha of divination, Orunmila. Nothing can be done in either world without his permission. Elegba is always propitiated and always called first before any other orisha as he opens the door between the worlds and opens our roads in life. He recognizes himself and is recognized by the numbers 3 and 21.

Ogún

Ogún is the god of iron, war and labor. He is the owner of all technology, and because this technology shares in his nature, it is almost always used first for war. As Elegba opens the roads, it is Ogún that clears the roads with his machete. He is recognized in the numbers 7 and the colors green and black.

Oshosi

Oshosi is the third member of the group known as the Guerreros or Warriors and is received along with Elegba, Ogún and Osun in order to protect Guerreros initiates and to open and clear their roads. Oshosi is the hunter and the scout of the orishas and assumes the role of translator for Obatalá, with whom he has a very close relationship. His colors are blue and yellow.

Obatalá

Obatalá is the kindly father of all the orishas and all humanity. He is also the owner of all heads and the mind. Though it was Olorun who created the universe, it is Obatalá who is the creator of the world and humanity. Obatalá is the source of all that is pure, wise, peaceful and compassionate. He has a warrior side, though, through which he enforces justice in the world. His color is white, which is often accented with red, purple and other colors to represent different possible paths. White is most appropriate for Obatalá as it contains all the colors of the rainbow yet is above them. Obatalá is also the only orisha that has both male and female paths.

Oyá

Oyá is the ruler of the winds, the whirlwind and the gates of the cemetery. Her number is nine, which recalls her title of Yansa, or “Mother of Nine,” in which she rules over the egun or dead. She is also known for the colors of maroon, flowery patterns and nine different colors. She is a fierce warrior who rides to war with Shangó (sharing lightning and fire with him) and was once the wife of Ogún.

Oshún

Oshún rules over the sweet waters of the world, the brooks, streams and rivers, embodying love, fertility. She also is the one we most often approach to aid us in money matters. She is the youngest of the female orishas but retains the title of Iyalode or great queen. She heals with her sweet waters and with honey, which she also owns. She is the femme fatale of the orishas and once saved the world by luring Ogún out of the forests using her feminine wiles. And, in her path or manifestation of Ibú Ikolé, she saved the world from drought by flying up to heaven (turning into a vulture in the process). Ikolé means Messenger of the House (of Olodumare). For this reason, all who are to be initiated as priests, no matter what orisha rules their head, must go to the river and give account of what they are about to do. She recognizes herself in the colors yellow and gold, and her number is five. Peacocks and vultures are hers, and we use them often to represent her.

Yemayá

Yemayá lives and rules over the seas and lakes. She also rules over maternity in our lives as she is the Mother of All. Her name, a shortened version of Yeyé Omo Eja, means “Mother Whose Children are the Fish” to reflect the fact that her children are uncountable. All life started in the sea; the amniotic fluid inside the mother’s womb is a form of sea where the embryo must transform and evolve through the form of a fish before becoming a human baby. In this way, Yemayá displays herself as truly the mother of all. She, the root of all the paths or manifestations, Olokun is the source of all riches, which she freely gives to her little sister Oshún. She dresses herself in seven skirts of blue and white, and like the seas and profound lakes she is deep and unknowable. In her path of Okutti, she is the queen of witches, carrying within her deep and dark secrets. Her number is seven for the seven seas; her colors are blue and white; and she is most often represented by the fish who are her children.

Shangó

Perhaps the most “popular” of the orishas, Shangó rules over lightning, thunder, fire, the drums and dance. He is a warrior orisha with quick wits and quick temper and is the epitome of virility. Shangó took the form of the fourth Alafin (supreme king) of Oyó on Earth for a time. He is married to Obba but has relations with Oyá and Oshún. He is an extremely hot-blooded and strong-willed orisha who loves all the pleasures of the world: dance, drumming, women, song and eating. He is “ocanani” with Elegba, meaning they are of one heart. When one sees the quickness with which lightning makes short work of a tree or sees a fire rage through an area, one has witnessed the temper of Shangó in action. Though he traded the Table of Ifá to Orunmila in exchange for the gift of dance, his children have an innate ability for divination. To acknowledge the greatness of this king, all in the religion raise up on the toes of our feet (or rise out our chairs if we are sitting) at the mention of his name. His colors are red and white, and he recognizes himself in the numbers four and six. He is most often represented by a double-headed ax.

Orunmila

Orunmila is the orisha of wisdom and divination. He was the only orisha allowed to witness the creation of the universe by Olorun and bears witness to our destinies in the making as well. This is the source of his title of Eleri Ipin or “Witness to Destiny in its Creation.” His priests, the babalawos or “Fathers of the Secrets,” must devote themselves entirely to the practice of divination and the accompanying arts. Through the Table of Ifá, his priests unfold the secrets of the universe and the secrets of the unfolding of our lives. His colors are green and yellow, which reflect Orunmila’s relationship with Osayín (the secrets of the plant world) and with Oshún, who is his apeteví, with whom he has an extremely close relationship. Orunmila is wisdom and Oshún is knowledge, for wisdom without knowledge is useless, and one who has knowledge without wisdom is merely a danger to themselves and others.

Today Is: Woden’s Day

Today Is: Woden’s Day

Energy: Male Ruler: Mercury – Rules healings, the mind – Use for magick involving mental issues, learning, higher education, addictions, communications, travel, young people, messages, perception, self-expression, artists, poets, and writers  

  • Today’s Magickal Influences: Conjurations, Predictions, Knowledge, Writing, Eloquence

  • Today’s Goddesses: Aset [Isis], Demeter, Ceres, Spider Woman, Bona Dea, Oya, Devi-Kali, Hella, Rhiannon, Coatlique, Maman Brigette, Sekhmet, Het Heret [Hathor]

  • Incense:   Cinnamon, Cinquefoil

  • Perfumes: Sweetpea, Lavender, Mastic, Frankincense, Cloves

  • Color of The Day:  Yellow, Gray, Violet

  • Colors for Tomorrow: Purple, Indigo, Blue

  • Lucky Sign: Wednesday Is The Lucky Day For Gemini  And Virgo 

  • Candle: Purple Violet