Throughout my six years of blogging, I’ve received a lot of questions about Paganism and Pagan deities. Many of these questions stem from misconceptions about the Gods and Their worship.
To be clear: I don’t blame people for having misconceptions. Pagan religions are not widely discussed or well-known. Most people don’t really know what they’re getting into, only that they’re interested. To make it easier on everyone, I want to clear up some of the most common misconceptions I see throughout the community.
DISCLAIMER: The headlines are the misconceptions. The body text explains why these are incorrect. I want to make this explicitly clear for anyone who is skimming this article.
1. You Must Receive a Sign to Start Working with Deities
This is, by far, the most common misconception throughout the Pagan community. It’s such a common idea that I wrote a whole post about signs, and it’s my most popular page by far.
A lot of people read about worshipers receiving “signs”: the deity’s name keeps popping up, they receive a moving dream, a song keeps playing on the radio, etc. Many people view signs as a deity “choosing” them in a glamorous, esoteric way. Personally, I think it’s more accurate to say that signs are the universe’s way of getting you to consider something.
You do not need a sign to work with a Pagan deity. Although people love writing about signs, not many experience them (or realize that they’re experiencing them). Most Pagans I know reached out to a deity because they were interested in a relationship with Them. You don’t need a tangible reason.
On top of that, many people don’t realize when they’re receiving signs. I initially reached out to Hades because I felt drawn to Him. At the time, I didn’t notice that He kept popping up in my literature, on my social media, in my classes…there were signs, but I wasn’t noticing them.
Signs don’t make you a better or worse worshiper. People who receive signs (or believe that they do) are not more valuable than those who don't. Your Pagan path depends on what you do, not what you see/hear/notice before it even starts.
2. You Have to Be Similar to a Deity
Many people think that they have to work with deities who share some similarity with them. For example, if you’re an artsy person, you might assume that you should work with Brigid, Apollo, or Thoth. But for many people, that’s not how Paganism works.
You do not need to work with a “similar” deity. In fact, I find that many people feel drawn to unexpected deities. I often receive messages such as, “Why do I feel pulled to Hades? I’m not interested in death work and have no major deaths in my life.”
In reality, deities are so much more than They appear to be. Hades is the Lord of the Death, but He also governs finances, seasonal changes, justice, shadow work, and the earth. But most people wouldn’t know this unless they researched Hades and His worship.
So if you feel drawn to a deity and don’t know why, start researching. You might uncover something that will change your perspective.
3. There Are Good and Bad Beginner Deities
This myth deserves an entire post just so I can rant about how much I hate this trend. I’ve seen too many bloggers and authors claim that certain deities are good/bad for beginners. Many people have messaged me, worried about Hades being a “bad beginner deity.”
Who decides which deity is good for beginners? What are the parameters? Is there one person in the entire Pagan community who has worked with every deity in every pantheon, in-depth, to develop a list?
All of these “beginner” lists are subjective. Everybody has a different relationship with the Gods. I, personally, would say that Hades is a fantastic beginner deity because He was to me. Does that mean that He’ll be great for you? Nobody knows. We’re not omniscient. That’s why there is no such thing as a “beginner deity.”
Do not let other authors dictate who you work with. If you feel drawn to a deity, reach out. Only you can determine your Pagan path.
4. Pagan Deities Act like They Do in Myths
You can thank Christian culture and vapid history lessons for this assumption. Many people assume that Pagan myths are (and were) treated like the Bible. If you work with Zeus, you’re working with a deity who bangs every woman in existence, right?
Wrong. Historically, many believed that the myths were not real. Myths were treated as entertainment, stories that explain a natural phenomenon or moral standpoint relevant to the times. The deities who were worshiped in, say, ancient Greece, were not the same deities you see depicted myths.
In ancient worship, Zeus was viewed as a God of justice, morality, order–the deity who makes sure that everything is running smoothly. Similarly, Hera wasn’t viewed as just a jealous Goddess. She protected women, mothers, children, childbirth, and the home.
If you’re interested in Paganism, research how the deities were actually worshiped. Dive into honorifics, rituals, holidays, and cults. Do not rely on the mythos; those will not give you accurate information.
5. You Must Have a Matron/Patron or Be a Devotee
Many Wiccan authors promote the idea of a matron and patron. These are the “main” God and Goddess in a person’s Pagan worship. Similarly, many modern-day worshipers are devotees, meaning that they devote most of their time to a specific deity (or two, or three).
Can you have a matron/patron? Sure. Can you be a devotee? If you want to. But you do not need to. In fact, I recommend that you hold off these labels during early worship.
Matrons, patrons, and devotions are big commitments. People take on these labels because they feel a special closeness to a God/Goddess. But how do you know which deity you feel close to? You won’t until you work with Them for a while.
Don’t feel too eager to devote or adopt labels. Slow down, have fun with it, and learn about yourself and your Gods.
6. You Can Only Work with One Pantheon
A pantheon is a group of Gods in a specific religion/culture, such as the Greek pantheon, Egyptian, etc. You do not have to choose one pantheon. In fact, most Pagans I know work with deities from multiple pantheons.
Whenever I receive questions about pantheons, it’s usually from people who work with one pantheon/deity (let’s say Osiris) and want to branch out to another (let’s say Lugh). They want to know if it’s disrespectful to their current deity to reach out to another.
Usually, there isn’t a problem. But if you want to make sure, contact your current deity. Use divination, prayer, offerings–see what They say. If you don’t feel anything wrong, then you’re probably in the clear.
7. Certain Deities Hate Each Other
I hear these misconceptions so often. “I’ve heard that Horus and Set hate each other. Can I not work with both of Them?” “I’ve heard that Hades hates almost every other deity. Is He a jealous God?”
This is another case where people rely too much on mythology for information about the Gods. Historically, Gods were worshiped together. Although many people worked with one or two deities more often, most worshiped the entire pantheon as a whole. If deities were spiteful or jealous, then this wouldn’t have been possible.
Don’t assume how the Gods will act before They do. Contact Them, listen to Them, and worship in good faith.
8. You Must Have Some Niche Psychic Ability to Communicate with the Gods
I’ve seen many social media users claim to “hear” their deities, dream of Them, see Them, etc. And many others have seen these posts, too. These posts make many Pagans think, “That’s never happened to me–am I doing something wrong?
Some people have used the terms clairsentience, clairaudience, and–as much as I hate this term–”godphone.” It implies that people need some niche psychic ability to communicate with the Gods.
You don’t need any special ability to talk to the Gods. Hell, you don’t even need to be a witch or interested in magic. The only requirements are respect for the Gods and interest in the path.
Ignore people who claim to “hear” or “see” their deities all the time. While these abilities are possible, they rarely happen on a daily basis. And most people who say things like “I heard [God/Goddess] say ___” are just rephrasing their own beliefs.
Most people communicate with the Gods through prayer, divination, meditation, and listening to nature. During your path, you will learn how to hear and see your Gods, in your own way.
9. There Is a “Proper” Way to Pray
Many Pagans use historical prayers or poems in their worship. This has lead some people to believe that they need to speak to the Gods in a “proper” way, or you need professionally-written, rhyming prayers.
There is no “right way” to speak to the Gods. Many people just speak normally. Some people even have nicknames for their deities or inside jokes. If you struggle with Pagan prayer, here’s a post for just this topic.
10. If You Don’t Worship Consistently, the Gods Will Hate You
I’ve heard so many people worry about their Gods “hating” them for skipping a holiday, taking a break, or having a difficult time. And it always makes me so sad.
First off, breaks in spiritual practice are normal. Sometimes, life gets in the way. Health scares, financial troubles, school, familial obligations–-all can interrupt your worship for a period of time. Anyone who says that their worship is constant is lying.
Given that these breaks are normal, I highly doubt a deity would hate you for taking one. Would They be upset with you for skipping a ritual you said you’d fulfill? Maybe. I can’t speak for Them. Personally, I’ve received nothing more than a stern talking to for this. They might be annoyed, but hate? That’s a strong word.
It’s easy to forget that the Gods are omniscient. They understand what you went through, probably better than you do. When worshipers have a difficult time, the Gods are here to help, not scold.
Try not to let your personal views get in the way. In my experience, whenever I thought “so-and-so will hate me,” it’s because I’m being hard on myself. It rarely has to do with the deity in question.
When in doubt, honesty is the best course of action. Were you struggling? Were you doubting (which is also normal)? Do you feel guilty? Are you having a hard time returning to worship? Talking to the Gods will not only relieve your emotions, but it could also grant you some clarity.
The Gods are generally kinder and more understanding than some people give Them credit for. Never assume what the Gods will think without consulting Them yourself.
There are many other topics that I didn’t cover here, such as initiation, cultural appropriation, and historical accuracy. If you would like a sequel to this post, leave a comment below.