Adding New Gods

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus wonders about how new gods are added to polytheist pantheons.

Something that will often happen, particularly with reconstructionist-based practitioners, is that further research into a particular deity and their connections leads to “new-to-me” or various other re-discovered deities that are then taken into one’s personal pantheon. Or, suddenly, a deity emerges in one’s experiences that one hadn’t paid attention to previously, or gets one’s attention in some fashion or other; whether they are readily identified or if it takes some study to figure out who they are, such encounters often occur that expand one’s personal network of divine relationships.  . . .

What about the less-frequent (but nonetheless possible) reality of totally new deities, though? How does one deal with this issue when it arises? I have yet to see any modern Pagan or polytheist treatment of this matter, nor any conventional training and education on when and why it can occur, nor how to handle it when it does. And, while it might not be that frequent of an occurrence, I suspect that we are going to see a lot more of it in the near future as our community expands and the world continues to change.

He goes on to discuss how today’s Pagans might deal with the emergence of new gods, including an ancient oracular practice

The blog made me think, for example, of how the Santa Muerte cult has grown, moving even beyond people with roots in Mexico. The image has been around a long time—go into any folklore museum in New Mexico, for instance, and you will see the similar Doña Sebastiana in her cart, a relic of the old lay brotherhood of the Penitentes. Does that make La Santa Muerte a “new” goddess, or just an upgraded one?

7 thoughts on “Adding New Gods

  1. Pitch313

    I think that the encounter with new and newly born deities tends to fall into the personal and/or coven secret domain. Maybe because such deities are often associated with levity. Or are found to be difficult to work with. Or establish private relationships with small numbers of (dispersed) adherents. Or because many find it challenging to take them seriously as deities (compared to those met in voluminous lore).

    Where among the cat deities, for instance, do we put Ceiling Cat and Basement Cat? Or, as I sometimes wonder, Which deities do some of us sometimes see in celebrities? Or UFOs? Or the landscapes where we reside?

    FWIW, I don’t think that we Pagans need to fret much over the ins and outs or rights and wrongs of new deities. Mostly, we gotta get used to them.

  2. Creating / discovering new deities is a part of Traditional Witchcraft as Chumbley articulated it. AO Spare dealt with new deities, and Chaos Magick inherited something of that. Granted, these are not “hard polythisms,” but I am not sure that a hard approach necessarily has room for new deities — depends on how you define/intuit a divine cosmology I guess…

  3. Henry

    “Does that make La Santa Muerte a “new” goddess, or just an upgraded one?”
    I’d say She is one who has expanded her influence. I’m reminded of the egyptian prince, who resting by a dune during a hunt, had the vision of the sphinx with the deal of “uncovering it” and that god will make him pharaoh.
    In the craft I was first instructed in, I was taught that many of the god names reflected a title or an office, not a distinct personality as it were. This same concept was also a teaching of the sanatana dharma which I also was instructed in. A good example of this can be found in the Visnu Purana.
    Simply put, the ‘offices’ stay the same, the ‘personalities’ change over time. This is a similar idea to the ‘change of aeons’ found in Crowely’s ideas and even earlier in the some of the Gnostic sects.
    Depending on how exclusive or inclusive of the term ‘gods’ is, this is also apparent in Budhism, as well as the canonisation process in the catholic church.
    That it seems to be a novel idea among Modern Pagans says alot about a rigidity of theology, despite claims to the contrary.

  4. Laura

    The new deities that stick around seem to be the ones that sneak up on you — they’re only considered concepts at first, but then people give more and more energy and love to them until they become entities of their own. Ceiling Cat and Basement Cat are cute examples; but there’s also Columbia (remember the Hail Columbia campaign?) or Liberty or Justice, both of whom have widely recognized statues and personalities.

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