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Author Topic: How many deities is too many?  (Read 1565 times)

Thariel93

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How many deities is too many?
« on: January 18, 2018, 04:18:44 pm »
When it comes to being dedicated to deities, how many is too many? I'm dedicated to one and kinda dedicated to another (long story), and was thinking of dedicating myself to a third I've been working with for a while now. But then a fourth popped up and I'm worried that I don't really have the time for them all lol. Is there a rule or guideline about this? I mean, I enjoy the benefits that come with dedication, but I don't want to commit if I can't follow through. What's your personal practice regarding this?

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2018, 05:17:37 pm »
When it comes to being dedicated to deities, how many is too many? I'm dedicated to one and kinda dedicated to another (long story), and was thinking of dedicating myself to a third I've been working with for a while now. But then a fourth popped up and I'm worried that I don't really have the time for them all lol. Is there a rule or guideline about this? I mean, I enjoy the benefits that come with dedication, but I don't want to commit if I can't follow through. What's your personal practice regarding this?

No rules, unless you're in a tradition or path that has them.

Here's a guideline: how do you do with close relationships with multiple people? If you're the kind of person who is good balancing multiple close interactions (whether that's romantic or friendship - people you see and talk to a lot, etc.) then more deities is probably not so much of a challenge for you as someone who only has one or two really close relationships and other ones with more distance/space.

The other thing to think about is thing specific to the deities you're considering.

1) Do all of them want the same level of commitment? Are you okay with that?

Quite often, deities actually don't - so it can be less of a problem fitting things together than you'd think. Not every deity may want regular scheduled stuff. Or some of them may want stuff that's related to what you were going to be doing anyway. Or it's not uncommon for some deities to be sort of 'introducers to other deities in the pantheon' and active with you for a bit, and then backing off - different kind of relationship than a long-term ongoing thing.

Plenty of people have one or two deities they work with very regularly, and others they work with less frequently. Seasonally, or for specific kinds of things that that deity focuses on, but that aren't a daily driving force in their lives, or "This deity is specifically related to my professional life, so I do a small shrine thing and occasional bits, but mostly I go to work and do a good job, and consult with this deity about specific things spaced out in time"

(These are, incidentally, all things that different cultures have pretty good historical evidence for, too.) 

2) Do they want specific things that might compete for the same time/resources/etc.?

For example, if every deity wants specific ritual stuff on the same particular day, or even within a couple of days each other, that's a way more complex logistical problem than deities who are not that specific or whose stuff is a lot more spread out or flexible.

3) Do they want things that are mutually exclusive?

Some deities have very specific things you're supposed to do or avoid. If those clash with things other deities think you should be doing or avoiding, that's going to be a problem. Or you run out of hours in the day. And some deities do have longstanding dislikes of each other (sometimes very complicated ones) where working closely with both is perhaps not a great choice.
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TransporterMalfunction

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2018, 06:41:29 pm »
When it comes to being dedicated to deities, how many is too many?

I have nothing constructive to add, but this post made me realize I have more deities than friends.   ;D
Remember how long you’ve been putting this off, how many extensions the gods gave you, and you didn’t use them. At some point you have to recognize what world it is that you belong to; what power rules it and from what source you spring; that there is a limit to the time assigned to you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book II

Thariel93

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2018, 12:20:37 pm »
No rules, unless you're in a tradition or path that has them.

Here's a guideline: how do you do with close relationships with multiple people? If you're the kind of person who is good balancing multiple close interactions (whether that's romantic or friendship - people you see and talk to a lot, etc.) then more deities is probably not so much of a challenge for you as someone who only has one or two really close relationships and other ones with more distance/space.

1) Do all of them want the same level of commitment? Are you okay with that?

2) Do they want specific things that might compete for the same time/resources/etc.?

3) Do they want things that are mutually exclusive?


Thanks for the reply, it's been very helpful. When it comes to deity three, I've asked a few times if they wanted me to dedicate. They said no that it wasn't necessary, but as I kept asking they said I can but I have to be devoted only to them and break up with all my other deities. So I said I can't do that as I'm loyal, which is probably why they didn't want me to dedicate in the first place knowing I couldn't be exclusive.

I consulted my oracle cards for confirmation and it was basically saying the same thing, that it's not right to dedicate, this deity is an all or nothing deity, but is happy to help anyway without being dedicated. So I feel content about that, and have decided not to pursue it. The relationship definitely won't be as deep as I wanted because of it, but maybe in time I will find what I'm looking for elsewhere.

Thariel93

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2018, 12:21:28 pm »
I have nothing constructive to add, but this post made me realize I have more deities than friends.   ;D

Same really ;D

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2018, 03:13:44 pm »
When it comes to being dedicated to deities, how many is too many? I'm dedicated to one and kinda dedicated to another (long story), and was thinking of dedicating myself to a third I've been working with for a while now. But then a fourth popped up and I'm worried that I don't really have the time for them all lol. Is there a rule or guideline about this? I mean, I enjoy the benefits that come with dedication, but I don't want to commit if I can't follow through. What's your personal practice regarding this?

I have a question that looks like it hasn't been asked yet: what exactly do you mean by dedication?

Working with a bunch of deities is one thing. For me, though, dedication myself to that many would be prohibitive. Of course, to a large extent that's because my primary Powers ask quite a lot of me. It can be different for others. As has been said above, there are no actual rules about this.
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Jainarayan

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2018, 10:23:44 am »
When it comes to being dedicated to deities, how many is too many?... Is there a rule or guideline about this?

When it gets confusing, and/or conflicting, and/or unwieldy.

Quote
What's your personal practice regarding this?

I pray to many Hindu gods at some time or another, either in temple worship or on my own. The temple I go to is South Indian style, and incorporates many of the deities from South India, as well as forms from the North. Besides that, Hindu temples are few and far between in this area. The ones there are try to accommodate a wide range of beliefs. In my shrine I have representations of upwards of 20 gods and goddesses. The deities I have enshrined are those whom I feel some sort of closeness or affinity for. However, it is a shrine to Hinduism and God in his/her many forms, not necessarily that I use it for rituals for all those deities. We tend to think of God as only One who takes many forms, depending on the needs and views of the devotee. But there is one main deity I perform puja (personal worship for) at the shrine, Krishna.

śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

Darkhawk

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2018, 11:48:04 am »
When it comes to being dedicated to deities, how many is too many?

I'm going to repeat Eastling's "What do you mean by 'dedicated'?" and add to it:

Too many for what?

It's just plain not possible to ask how much is too much without knowing what's being built.  Too much wood for a nice fireplace fire could still be not enough to build a house.  Purposes matter.  Systems matter.

And, of course, within a system you get all kinds of different calculations.  There are something like three thousand surviving names of gods from ancient Egypt.  (Many of these will be titles and aspects of other gods, but still, three thousand names.)  A thoroughly-oriented Egyptian-pantheonic pagan might have particularly close interactions primarily with some selection of these, but, in theory, could call upon any of them.  The line of the Craft I'm training in has some number of gods equal to two, four, eight, ten, sixteen, seventeen, I could probably make an argument for eighty-nine, and it is often stated that the answer is "all of them".

And then of course there's the personal pantheon thing, where someone has a systematic set of powers that have a particular internal structure, and sometimes that carries with it an implicit and necessary set of powers which may not even be the ones that are personally relevant but are essential to a complete system.

It's just... more complicated than can be addressed without some sense of specifics.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

EnderDragonFire

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2018, 07:01:29 pm »
Is there a rule or guideline about this? I mean, I enjoy the benefits that come with dedication, but I don't want to commit if I can't follow through. What's your personal practice regarding this?

I guess that depends on the tradition? My own religion allows me to dedicate myself to as many Gods/Godesses as I wish, although generally you pick one main diety to work with, your Ishta-Devata. Some other traditions may be more or less strict about these sort of things.

I typically work with 3 main dieties, with 13 others I occasionally work with for specific purposes:

Vishnu*, Kali, and Ganesh primarily, as well as Shiva, Indra, Agni, Manasa, Tara, Saravati, Laksmi, Durga, Parvati, Dhumavati, Chinnamasta, Surya, and Soma, in that basic order. 

*(Including his Avatars Krishna, Rama, Mohini, and Narasimha).
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

EnderDragonFire

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2018, 07:08:33 pm »
I guess that depends on the tradition? My own religion allows me to dedicate myself to as many Gods/Godesses as I wish, although generally you pick one main diety to work with, your Ishta-Devata. Some other traditions may be more or less strict about these sort of things.

I typically work with 3 main dieties, with 13 others I occasionally work with for specific purposes:

Vishnu*, Kali, and Ganesh primarily, as well as Shiva, Indra, Agni, Manasa, Tara, Saravati, Laksmi, Durga, Parvati, Dhumavati, Chinnamasta, Surya, and Soma, in that basic order. 

*(Including his Avatars Krishna, Rama, Mohini, and Narasimha).

I should say, that's just the ones I would say I'm "devoted" too. I have, and may yet again, work with others. Hanuman, for example, or the Buddha (as an avatar of Vishnu), Kamadeva, Ganga Devi, and others.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

Castus

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2018, 08:00:16 pm »
When it comes to being dedicated to deities, how many is too many? I'm dedicated to one and kinda dedicated to another (long story), and was thinking of dedicating myself to a third I've been working with for a while now. But then a fourth popped up and I'm worried that I don't really have the time for them all lol. Is there a rule or guideline about this? I mean, I enjoy the benefits that come with dedication, but I don't want to commit if I can't follow through. What's your personal practice regarding this?
One. My patron deity tends toward jealousy.

Redfaery

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2018, 08:58:31 pm »
One. My patron deity tends toward jealousy.
Oddly enough this is my basic answer as well? Saraswati Devi is not particularly known for jealousy in Indian and Tibetan lore as far as I know, but Benzaiten-sama or Benten as she is called in Japan can get kind of intense about things.

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EnderDragonFire

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2018, 09:51:47 pm »
Oddly enough this is my basic answer as well? Saraswati Devi is not particularly known for jealousy in Indian and Tibetan lore as far as I know, but Benzaiten-sama or Benten as she is called in Japan can get kind of intense about things.

Yeah, quite the opposite in Hinduism. She is usually worshiped with other Goddesses or with her husband, Brahma. I mean, I don't know how she feels about being worshiped alongside non-Hindu gods, it's not an issue that really comes up often in Hinduism...
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

Redfaery

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2018, 10:05:40 pm »
Yeah, quite the opposite in Hinduism. She is usually worshiped with other Goddesses or with her husband, Brahma. I mean, I don't know how she feels about being worshiped alongside non-Hindu gods, it's not an issue that really comes up often in Hinduism...
I think this is an issue of the differences in lore between Hinduism and Buddhism. I distinctly remember reading that in Buddhist folklore she is said to not get along with Lakshmi, though this may simply be meant as a metaphor regarding the tension between earthly/mundane goals and spiritual ones.

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Re: How many deities is too many?
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2018, 12:18:17 am »
how many is too many?

I dunno. If they can't all dance on the head of a pin together, there might be an issue. Or not.
Superman is uncircumcised. Change my mind.

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