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Author Topic: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity  (Read 765 times)

Lykeios Lysios

"Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« on: April 20, 2018, 12:16:15 pm »
I must confess that I've always been a bit...confused by the tendency of pagans to say they "work" with a deity/deities. I always assumed that "working" with a deity related to working magic with the help of a God/Goddess, but I've seen pagans who do not practice magic use this expression.

What, exactly, does it mean to "work" with a deity? Is this a reference to prayer/reciprocity? Or something else?

What is the difference between "working" with a God and worshiping him/her?

Personally, I don't claim to "work" with the Gods as that, to me personally, would imply some kind of even-footing. However, I think others may be using the term in a way I am not familiar with and perhaps I am misunderstanding. What are your thoughts on this semantic difference?
"Man fears the darkness, and so he scrapes away at the edges of it with fire." - Rei Ayanami
"Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate." - Zhuangzi

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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2018, 12:27:29 pm »
Personally, I don't claim to "work" with the Gods as that, to me personally, would imply some kind of even-footing. However, I think others may be using the term in a way I am not familiar with and perhaps I am misunderstanding. What are your thoughts on this semantic difference?

I use it as a broader umbrella term that covers a wide range of other verbs, where any one of those may be a thing I do sometimes but is not the primary thing in the relationship all the time. So: I also pray, honour, worship, do devotional practices, ask for advice and help, work magic with, listen to, etc. and if I'm talking about one of those specific things, I'll say so, but if I'm talking about my overall relationship with M'Lady, I usually use 'working with'.

Personally, I like that 'working with' is a bit ambiguous about heirarchy.

I don't know about you, but in my professional life, I've worked with people who are several steps above me in the organisational heirarchy (at my current job, I am 3 org steps down from our CEO - it was two until six months ago - and talk to him directly once or twice a month on average). He has a very different job than I do, but I have specialised skills that he doesn't have.

Sometimes it's 'working for', but sometimes it's 'working with' as people who respect each other's skills or expertise in different areas.

I feel the same with M'Lady: we have different experiences and skills, but I can do things she can't do easily, and she has lots of knowledge and experience I don't have (and can't have, having a human-length lifespan and body.) So things get done better when we combine those, rather than a strong sense of working for.
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Lykeios Lysios

Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2018, 12:34:57 pm »
I use it as a broader umbrella term that covers a wide range of other verbs, where any one of those may be a thing I do sometimes but is not the primary thing in the relationship all the time. So: I also pray, honour, worship, do devotional practices, ask for advice and help, work magic with, listen to, etc. and if I'm talking about one of those specific things, I'll say so, but if I'm talking about my overall relationship with M'Lady, I usually use 'working with'.

Personally, I like that 'working with' is a bit ambiguous about heirarchy.

I don't know about you, but in my professional life, I've worked with people who are several steps above me in the organisational heirarchy (at my current job, I am 3 org steps down from our CEO - it was two until six months ago - and talk to him directly once or twice a month on average). He has a very different job than I do, but I have specialised skills that he doesn't have.

Sometimes it's 'working for', but sometimes it's 'working with' as people who respect each other's skills or expertise in different areas.

I feel the same with M'Lady: we have different experiences and skills, but I can do things she can't do easily, and she has lots of knowledge and experience I don't have (and can't have, having a human-length lifespan and body.) So things get done better when we combine those, rather than a strong sense of working for.
Ahh. Thank you! That makes a lot of sense.

I can understand that quite easily. I hadn't really thought about how ambiguous the term was in quite that way. Sure, I work with my "superiors" sometimes, so that jives well.

Thanks again! Very interesting.

Now I'm curious how other people look at it.
"Man fears the darkness, and so he scrapes away at the edges of it with fire." - Rei Ayanami
"Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate." - Zhuangzi

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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2018, 06:50:47 pm »
I don't know about you, but in my professional life, I've worked with people who are several steps above me in the organisational heirarchy (at my current job, I am 3 org steps down from our CEO - it was two until six months ago - and talk to him directly once or twice a month on average). He has a very different job than I do, but I have specialised skills that he doesn't have.

My interpretation is similar to this -- one of my deities has a domain that includes my job, so when I'm at work, it's with the understanding that the deity is present. This is also true for various other activities I do, such as crafting ... and house cleaning. I don't do magic much, but that would probably fall under this category too.

I also do things that would usually be called "worship," such as making offerings and praying. I think it's quite possible to work with a deity without worshiping them (say, if you're calling on them for a specific function) or to worship a deity without working with them.

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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2018, 08:22:52 pm »

I also do things that would usually be called "worship," such as making offerings and praying. I think it's quite possible to work with a deity without worshiping them (say, if you're calling on them for a specific function) or to worship a deity without working with them.

Interesting.  I tend to have really strongly negative connotations around the word "worship" (to me it means something implying blindness or madness, total slavery that only a truly evil being would ever even wish for in a follower), so it's odd that things I do quite willingly would be covered under that word for others.   I tend to use words more like "honor" or "venerate", and yes, the idea of working with/under a superior officer fits well with that also.

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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2018, 12:42:43 pm »
I must confess that I've always been a bit...confused by the tendency of pagans to say they "work" with a deity/deities. I always assumed that "working" with a deity related to working magic with the help of a God/Goddess, but I've seen pagans who do not practice magic use this expression.

What, exactly, does it mean to "work" with a deity? Is this a reference to prayer/reciprocity? Or something else?

What is the difference between "working" with a God and worshiping him/her?

Personally, I don't claim to "work" with the Gods as that, to me personally, would imply some kind of even-footing. However, I think others may be using the term in a way I am not familiar with and perhaps I am misunderstanding. What are your thoughts on this semantic difference?

I tend to use 'work with' more than worship, because, for me, worship implies a very unequal relationship, where I am only giving and in some ways 'not worthy' of the attention of the deity in question.

I don't feel that work with implies equality, I definitely work with people that are clearly my superior (either in station, like in a work situation, or in knowledge, like working with a great teacher) and also where I am in the superior position (working with my son or working as a mentor).  What work does imply, in my head at least, is building a relationship.  When I work with someone, we are both trying to achieve a similar goal and are finding ways to help each other.

When I work with deities, I am likewise building a relationship.  I don't see it as me just asking for stuff and expecting it to happen, nor am I just making offerings and professing my adoration.  I am doing some of that stuff, and I am open to the deities' influence in my life:  where they might be giving me a nudge or drawing my attention to things I should be doing or thinking about, blessings they might be sending my way..or challenges they have given me so that I can grow.  But it is very much a working relationship (like most interpersonal relationships)...I work to make it better, I work to understand more, and together we work towards goals (whether it is something I want or something that is in the deities sphere of influence)
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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2018, 06:05:38 pm »
I must confess that I've always been a bit...confused by the tendency of pagans to say they "work" with a deity/deities. I always assumed that "working" with a deity related to working magic with the help of a God/Goddess, but I've seen pagans who do not practice magic use this expression.

What, exactly, does it mean to "work" with a deity? Is this a reference to prayer/reciprocity? Or something else?

What is the difference between "working" with a God and worshiping him/her?

Personally, I don't claim to "work" with the Gods as that, to me personally, would imply some kind of even-footing. However, I think others may be using the term in a way I am not familiar with and perhaps I am misunderstanding. What are your thoughts on this semantic difference?

I think that the term worship is out of favour because it implies a submissive/servile relationship between deities and worshippers. At least for reconstructionists, there is some historical justification for this viewpoint, as many ancient polytheists (speaking in general terms of course), see their 'religion' as a relationship between the gods and their communities in which both have a responsibility to the other. For example, some Maya people will actually arrest their gods, put them on trial, and imprison them, if they feel that these divinities have failed them in some way. Which of course is very strange for someone coming from a European understanding of worship. Some Peruvian rituals to Pachamama are styled as a big party, where gods and servitors of the gods are invited to join in the festivities as participants. Furthermore, I think that a lot of modern polytheists come from a Christian background where humanities subordinate position is clear, if not always explicit, and new followers want to move away from that kind of thinking.

Personally, I don't mind the thinking behind the term. However, the phrase 'work with,' sounds too familiar to me. Especially as not all gods are that friendly, or particularly close to humans.

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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2018, 10:21:47 am »
Personally, I don't claim to "work" with the Gods as that, to me personally, would imply some kind of even-footing. However, I think others may be using the term in a way I am not familiar with and perhaps I am misunderstanding. What are your thoughts on this semantic difference?

I look at the way you do. "Working with" implies an equality with a deity that just isn't there (in my beliefs). In a way I am subservient to my God because I am a portion of Him. As a Hindu I subscribe to the vedantic philosophy/school of Viśiṣṭādvaita (Vishishtadvaita), a non-dual philosophy that says all diversity subsumes to a whole, that 'whole' being Brahman, which Vishnu/Krishna, Shiva, Devi, et. al. are manifestations of. The non-dualism is often analogized as waves and the ocean, heat and light of the sun. The ocean can exist without the waves, but not so the waves without the ocean. Somewhat differently in the analogy, the heat and light of the sun are properties of the sun, manifestations of it, but they cannot exist without the sun.

There are verses in the Bhagavad Gita where Sri Krishna says "I am the Self (the Universal Soul) that resides in all beings... By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them." This means all beings have their origin in Him, but He does not have His origin in them. For us in our beliefs, liberation (moksha) from the cycle of rebirth (samsara) can be achieved almost solely by devotion to and worship of God. Sri Krishna further says "Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend." That's not a demand, because God doesn't need anything, and one can still achieve moksha through different methods, but Sri Krishna is saying this is the quickest and surest way. This philosophy is not exclusive to Vaishnavas (devotees of Vishnu): devotees of Shiva (Shaivas) and of Devi/Goddess (Shaktas) have pretty much the same philosophies.

So that said, worship is what we do.  ;)
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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2018, 02:55:55 pm »
I must confess that I've always been a bit...confused by the tendency of pagans to say they "work" with a deity/deities. I always assumed that "working" with a deity related to working magic with the help of a God/Goddess, but I've seen pagans who do not practice magic use this expression.

What, exactly, does it mean to "work" with a deity? Is this a reference to prayer/reciprocity? Or something else?

What is the difference between "working" with a God and worshiping him/her?

Personally, I don't claim to "work" with the Gods as that, to me personally, would imply some kind of even-footing. However, I think others may be using the term in a way I am not familiar with and perhaps I am misunderstanding. What are your thoughts on this semantic difference?

Personally, I do enjoy the ambiguity of saying I "work with" certain deities versus saying I "worship" them. It implies a more complex relationship where there may be a more even footing. I see the deities as beings with capabilities that I cannot even comprehend, but I understand that for some reason they chose to interact with me. I cannot fathom a relationship with a deity or spirit that does not have some sense of respect passed between both parties.

Taking a submissive/service based stance in the relationship I have with my deities is not a position I am capable of holding. This is what I feel is implied when I see somebody say they "worship" x, y, z deities, etc. I've noticed that a lot of pagans/polytheists tend to stick with the phrase "working with" because they tend to do many different things that involve their deities that may not fall under the idea of worshipping. For instance; spell work, astral work, shadow work (I do this), etc.

With my deities: I value their influence on my life, and I seek their guidance and assistance with obstacles, and in return, I give them parts of me in a metaphysical sense. It's difficult for me to describe how things work and have developed as time has moved on.
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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2018, 02:54:39 am »
With my deities: I value their influence on my life, and I seek their guidance and assistance with obstacles, and in return, I give them parts of me in a metaphysical sense. It's difficult for me to describe how things work and have developed as time has moved on.

With me, I honor Anubis when I work at the home everyday, because I do his work.  But at the same time, I work with Anubis, I let him guide my hands, I feel his strength and steadiness washing over my hands, keeping them steady and true.  I listen to what advice he has to offer, which tends to be if I ask. 
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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2018, 01:39:17 pm »
What, exactly, does it mean to "work" with a deity? Is this a reference to prayer/reciprocity? Or something else?

What is the difference between "working" with a God and worshiping him/her?

Well, as a Hindu, I use the term "work" when I am trying to accomplish something with the aid of a deity. It's a long term relationship with a specific outcome in mind. I use the term worship to refer to acts of devotion and prayer, formal or informal, that are focused on the deity and my relationship to them.

Of course, not all Hindus use these terms the same way as me, nor do all pagans. 
"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

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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2018, 10:20:29 pm »
With me, I honor Anubis when I work at the home everyday, because I do his work.  But at the same time, I work with Anubis, I let him guide my hands, I feel his strength and steadiness washing over my hands, keeping them steady and true.  I listen to what advice he has to offer, which tends to be if I ask.

Y’know. Thats something I need to take a hard look at with me and my deities. A lot of what my deities considered as doing their work revolved around shadow work and self governance. Now that I’ve progressed to a certain point its almost like I need to really re-evaluate what exactly “doing their work” is going to look like in the future.

Or if certain relationships have come to a comfortable end.

Edit: spelling/grammar
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 10:22:09 pm by baduhmtisss »
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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2018, 10:56:25 pm »
Y’know. Thats something I need to take a hard look at with me and my deities. A lot of what my deities considered as doing their work revolved around shadow work and self governance. Now that I’ve progressed to a certain point its almost like I need to really re-evaluate what exactly “doing their work” is going to look like in the future.

Or if certain relationships have come to a comfortable end.

Edit: spelling/grammar

And that's okay!  As your practice evolves, so to should your understanding of your practice.  It's a little give and take, learn and grow situation.
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Lykeios Lysios

Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2018, 08:06:51 pm »
I think that the term worship is out of favour because it implies a submissive/servile relationship between deities and worshippers. At least for reconstructionists, there is some historical justification for this viewpoint, as many ancient polytheists (speaking in general terms of course), see their 'religion' as a relationship between the gods and their communities in which both have a responsibility to the other. For example, some Maya people will actually arrest their gods, put them on trial, and imprison them, if they feel that these divinities have failed them in some way. Which of course is very strange for someone coming from a European understanding of worship. Some Peruvian rituals to Pachamama are styled as a big party, where gods and servitors of the gods are invited to join in the festivities as participants. Furthermore, I think that a lot of modern polytheists come from a Christian background where humanities subordinate position is clear, if not always explicit, and new followers want to move away from that kind of thinking.

Personally, I don't mind the thinking behind the term. However, the phrase 'work with,' sounds too familiar to me. Especially as not all gods are that friendly, or particularly close to humans.

Very interesting!

I guess I never really caught the connotation of "worship" as meaning "servile/subservient." I always took it more to mean "honor" or "pay respect." I can see where people get that impression, though, and can certainly understand shying away from the term.

I certainly party with Dionysos, but I wouldn't really say I "work with" him. It makes more sense to me now that you guys are clarifying a little though. And I totally get the idea that we work with people at a higher rank than us in the work place.

Very interesting points you guys, thanks!

I often wonder if my practice and belief is still a little colored down by the Christian ideas I grew up with, so it's possible the "worship" attitude is a hold-over from that.
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"Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate." - Zhuangzi

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Re: "Working" with deity vs. worshipping deity
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2018, 08:05:21 am »
I must confess that I've always been a bit...confused by the tendency of pagans to say they "work" with a deity/deities. I always assumed that "working" with a deity related to working magic with the help of a God/Goddess, but I've seen pagans who do not practice magic use this expression.

What, exactly, does it mean to "work" with a deity? Is this a reference to prayer/reciprocity? Or something else?

What is the difference between "working" with a God and worshiping him/her?

Personally, I don't claim to "work" with the Gods as that, to me personally, would imply some kind of even-footing. However, I think others may be using the term in a way I am not familiar with and perhaps I am misunderstanding. What are your thoughts on this semantic difference?

I worship my God(s).  I worship myself.   That is the more accurate way of phrasing my relationship with the divine.

“Working with”, however accurate that phrase may be at times implies ideas I find to be unrealistic and to be honest... amusing.  Lol.  I mean, I can clearly see that all humans are not equal, so when people imply some measure of equality between themselves and their gods it’s just, I don’t know.  Not my perspective.  But I guess it also depends on how they perceive and experience their gods in the first place.

That, and it feels like when people tell me they “work with” their gods doing this and that, it is like they are trying too hard to convince me of the legitimacy of their own faith-based beliefs, or their exaggerated productiveness of their less-than-impressive achievements and perceived “results” of their alleged “magickal operations”. 

I know how it sounds but I am not mocking these things.  I have my own relationships going on that others might cast into the realm of delusion.  But as I tend to do I’m keeping it real and telling it as it is. 

That said, the word “worship” (in my spiritual-religious practices) can mean many things but is primarily used to convey those thoughts and behaviors that occur when when one acts upon a deep spiritual/religious connection to a god/goddess/demon/angel/etc... like, in a way that in that moment strengthens the connection between one’s self and one’s God(s), or some aspect(s) of one’s own human Nature that the said god/goddess/demon/angel embodies or encourages.

So, those are my thoughts on this subject.

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