A Beginner's Guide to Working with Deities
So, you want to talk to the gods! From one eclectic witch to another, I’ve collected some suggestions on finding a deity, or as I call them, godform, that is a good fit for you. This general strategy has worked exceedingly well for me and my posse, and I hope it works well for you too.
1. Narrow in on your goals
When looking for a deity to work with, it's good to know what you want out of the relationship. If your pressing desire is to find true love, then a love godform like Aphrodite or Eros might be your match. If you’re focused on bringing in the dough, you might want to look into Jupiter or Freya. Get specific about your goal because that will help with the next step. You might also want to make a list of secondary magicks you might want to do, because godforms often come with a variety of skills. And once you’ve created a relationship with a godform, you can continue that relationship after the initial need is met through other work as well.
Primary goal Increase the income bracket of my overall client base
Secondary areas of interest General Abundance, Shamanism, Shadow Work
2. Look to your Ancestry
I have found generally that I am more connected to godforms from the cultures of my heritage and that is always a really good, safe first bet to start looking around. You come from somewhere, that somewhere probably has an ancient pantheon of some sort. Research it. If you feel really disconnected to it or you don't know your ancestry, take a look around for local groups that may be practicing in the cultural system you’re interested in. Most people LOVE talking about their ish. Ask a member out for coffee. Pick their brain. Tell them why you’re interested.
What you do in your own sacred space is your own business, but if you choose to adopt another culture's constructs, please be especially conscientious that these are sensitive times and being well researched not only lends a certain amount of credibility to your personal practice, but is also a sign of respect to the system and culture you may be borrowing from. Scroll down for a note on cultural appropriation.*
3. Study their style
You’ve selected a system or systems that interest(s) you. If it’s polytheistic, you’ll have more options. You’ll want to research the godform you want to work with pretty heavily, as each individual godform tends to have differing styles of delivery depending on their predominant mythology.
Jupiter, the Roman godform, while primarily a godform that rules, well… rules... Jupiter is also known for bring about prosperity, and tends to bring financial prosperity in a landfall. Jupiter is probably one of the safest deities to work with, but I usually advise people to work closely on their impulse control if they chose to work with him. If someone is still at the beginning stages of learning how to manage their money and very influenced by emotional shopping, they’ll want to approach Jupiter with care, as he tends to magnify that as well as all the good stuff. Think, “more is more.”
Just as an aside, Jason Miller has a great book on Financial Sorcery that goes into great detail on working with Jupiter for financial gain, and he does a fantastic job of making sure the student deals with any unhealthy financial programming that may be hindering their management of it by also utilizing Jupiter’s other strategy-minded characteristics. And when you approach Jupiter in that way, the results can be incredible.
Freya (or Frigg, if you’re on the side of the historical fence that believes they are one and the same), while primarily a sex and magic godform, also knows a thing or two about war and prosperity. Working with her, though, you probably won’t suddenly discover an inheritance, but you can expect to have stellar luck trading services for moolah. I lovingly refer to her, sometimes, as the patron saint of contractors. Be prepared to work. A lot. And you can see that just observing her mythology. My favorite example: Freya slept with a bunch of dwarves in trade for a gold necklace. You get yours, girl. I will say, as an aside, she might throw in a dope pad for little to no extra effort. There’s something very Venus/Taurus about her.
Though I won’t go too far into it in this post, the type of spirit construct you work with can also indicate the style in which you reach your goals. Angels can sometimes feel harsh to work with. They don’t joke around and are of the “rip the bandaid off” mindset. While they are very effective, what they put you through to deal with issues is often slightly unpleasant, albeit entirely necessary. But you can kind of be undefined in your goals without any truly negative results, as they are charged by the God to have your best interest in mind.
Demons, on the other hand, are usually much more willing to “do things your way,” but it’s not always the healthiest option unless you are very specific about what you want and how you want it, and I have seen a fair share of practitioners use these constructs with great success and huge disasters. So, who or whatever you pick will need to be catered to your goals, your characteristics, your style, and even the urgency of the situation.
4. Create a sacred space
Not all systems use altars in the now-standardized modern-western manner: A statue, some incense, bunch of crystals, etc. You will have to decide for yourself whether or not this relationship will require much getup. One way or the other, though, you will probably want to make a sacred space where you will regularly commune with your new bestie. This is purely to help with trance (or gnostic state), as you can really do ritual anywhere. But when you identify a specific spot to work in, every time you go to that spot, your brain will automatically recognize that you are about to go into a meditative state and it will occur a little bit faster each time.
5. Find, buy, or make an evocation tool
Aside from your sacred space, you might want to invest in or find an iconic object to use for evocation, which I’ll go into in a future post concerning the actual ingredients of a successful ritual. If you want to learn about evocation (and invocation) right this very second, though, I also suggest the book "Hands on Chaos Magic" by Andrieh Vitimus as one of the best books I have ever read on the fundamentals of practical magic.
Many cultures support the practice of using icons or idols but you’ll want to figure out how closely you want to stick to that system. Different systems may require different additions. I, myself, tend to lean towards the bare-bones vegetable stock style of Chaos Magic and then add on the case-by-case ingredients typical of shamanism, though some of our other writers have more traditional (and super gorgeous) sacred spaces. We made a pinterest board of inspiration, check it out!
6. Invite them on a first date
If the deity doesn't want to work with you, for the most part, it’ll be evident in that nothing happens. I.e. They won't text you later. But I would say that’s actually pretty rare. If you’ve really gone through all the effort of learning about the culture the godform exists in and researching them, they will know and usually that’s enough to at least garner a positive meeting. Think of it this way, it’s like when you tune into a conversation as soon as you hear someone say your name and you kind of want to join in because you're clearly the topic of interest. Your new friend wants to hear all the awesome things you’re saying about them. BTW, this is part of why there’s often so much preamble when invoking or evoking spirits. You want them to show up? Say some awesome shit about them.
Once you've evoked your deity, you will know when they have arrived. The air will get hot and thick, or maybe it will suddenly feel cool and tingly (different godforms feel differently). Generally, there is a sense that the air around you is pregnant with energy, whatever that energy is like. When that happens, you know they’ve showed up to the party. The more sensitive you become, with practice, you may even have auditory and visual phenomena to accompany their arrival. But for now, just pay attention to the air. This is the point at which you’ll want to tell the godform that you are super stoked to work with them and then ask them to show you some time that week in a very clear way that they want to work with you too. Then, leave it at that. When you get the message, it will also be obvious.
7. To offer or not to offer
At some point you may feel called to make offerings to your godform. Many systems differ on how and when to do this, if at all. As an eclectic witch, I will generally wait until I've made a connection to the godform as they will give me an idea of what they may want. Generally speaking, it has been my experience that incense and attention is all you really need to give a godform for a good start to a relationship, and then anything else on top of that is unique to whatever they tell you surrounding the goal you have. Pay attention to your dreams and your intuition to tell you what that might be, but don't stress about it.
8. Challenge yourself
No, seriously. Create a little challenge to evoke the godform every day for two weeks to a month, or whatever your schedule allows. It doesn’t have to be a long evocation. I do this and in some cases can get the ritual down to about 15-20 minutes with pretty high efficacy. The point is that you want to get comfortable communicating with this new godform and also get to know how this godform communicates back. You’ll get really good at sensing energy shifts very quickly when you challenge yourself this way. It is probably the single best way I have every experienced to get big results and make lasting friendships with spirits. BEST FRIENDS FOREVER.
9. It doesn't need to be perfect or complicated
You don't need everything to be perfect to start working with godforms. Perfectionism is probably the most common challenge for folks who start delving into the mystical arts. It is NOT your enemy, but it will make things slower for you. So if this is a challenge for you like it is for me and so many others, let me give you a suggestion that has worked for me. My daily practice is only about 10 minutes. I don't cast a circle or call quarters or banish every day, because I've come to realize that for me, I don't really need to (plus, I think people tend to over-banish. Check out David Salisbury's book A Mystic Guide to Cleansing & Clearing for a really well defined explanation).
But I do light some incense, ground with my favorite app (Chakra Tuner - so simple, so good) and then spend a couple minutes just expressing gratitude for the godform I'm working with or the awesome things happening in my life. I save all the pomp and circumstance for big full moon/new moon magic, at which point I really let my perfectionism have a moment in the spotlight. This way, I respect and recognize my desire for things to go perfectly without letting it rule my life.
*A Quick Note on Cultural Appropriation
Here at CityWitches, we believe that all forms and systems of spirituality are fair game for personal practice and experimentation. HOWEVER, and this is a big however, it is important both for the effectiveness of your relationship with the godform of choice, but also as a show of respect to that deity, to the culture that deity comes from, and to the serious practitioners of that system to experiment respectfully. Spend some time researching and reaching out to practitioners in the religion or tradition you are borrowing from. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you just start calling yourself a priest or priestess of a system you have not been initiated into. It’s bad form at the very least.
Play. Enjoy. Experiment. But also Respect. Understand. Contextualize.
DO NOT rely on reddit. We don’t condone being a human sock puppet - without any empathy for the histories, experiences, and emotions of our fellow homo sapiens - and we hope you're on the same page.