A while back I posted a few posts about deity and service
The first one is here.
The second one is here.
The third one is here.
As I woke this morning I thought back to a situation where I could have potentially dedicated myself to a deity. I'm glad I didn't, because the truth is I'd make a horrible dedicant to a deity. I'm very casual about my relationships with any deity. I put the occasional offering out, but when it comes down to it, for me any relationship I have with a deity is ultimately not about service to the deity or its various fellow worshippers or the tasks it wants me to do. For me it's about the bargain. It's what can I do for you that will get you to do something for me. Or it's about forging a relationship of mutual benefit and friendship.
The role of priest or priestess isn't a role that fits me. While I can respect that people are called to that role, I couldn't ever see myself serving a deity in that way. Likewise I find the concept of being a god-slave unworkable for myself. I recognize that it might fulfill the needs someone else has to be in that role, but for me, it could never work and there's a fairly simple reason for that.
I'm blasphemous. I'd always question and challenge the god. When I was a Christian, long ago, I was always dissatisfied with the idea that I had to submit to some nebulous force that had all the answers and was willing to let people suffer in order to prove themselves to it. The comic Preacher, to me, represents the most accurate depiction of the Christian god, a cruel tyrant who seeks to force others to love him because he is fundamentally unable to deal with his own sense of fear and loneliness...so he creates a permanent co-dependent relationship with humanity, in order to get them to love him, while also tormenting them. I could never understand why a god would want unquestioning obedience and so if I couldn't give that to the Christian god, why would I give it to another god?
The posts I wrote above reflect that as well as my own beliefs about the gods. I agree with the Buddhist conception of deities, which is that they are ultimately enslaved and attached to their own power and consequently can't operate outside of what they represent. They becomes filters and doorways to access deep concepts, but in doing that they are also can't evolve or become anything else...unless of course they have interaction with human beings. By being served by humans they get access to experiences they might not otherwise have. For example, Invoke a god and what you do is provide a gatway to yourself, access to your energy and experiences. Of course you get access to that deity's energy as well and that can be useful for some people, but there's always a price. I've seen that price paid and the effect it's had on the people paying it, and I'm not sure the price is worth any power received.
I prefer bargaining to service, because service is ultimately submission. There is no guarantee you will get anything for your service, but with a bargain there are set conditions. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm a friend to a deity or demon...some people have argued that they prefer to create relationships with such beings that are friendly, but there's a question they don't ask, which is whether or not the deity/demon even comprehends the concept of friendship, or if it does, have they considered that the deity/demon might have an entirely different concept of friendship than what you have? They might think of you as a cat or a dog for instance.
So I go with bargaining. If I want something and I find I can't accomplish it through my own resources I find a being who can accomplish it, and we talk. What does it want in return for accomplishing something specific for me? In Purson's case, he wants a dedication to him in my next book on space/tiem magic and his sigil on the cover of my solo occult books. Fair enough, I can do that. I'm happy to give him credit where credit is due.
In the last nine months I've been working with Babalon. In fact, the situation I was reflecting on today was a possible dedication to her. Working with her has been challenging. She definitely demands a lot when you work with her. Last October when she made it very apparent that I would be working with her for a year in my element of love balancing work, she told me it would get harder before it got easier and it did get harder before it got easier. Even now as this working is descending into the final three months there are definite challenges she has for me. I wouldn't have it any other way. She told me she'd be my guide for the year long love working, that she'd help me get balanced about love. And she is. At one point I did dedicate myself to her, but in a moment of clarity I realized I hadn't dedicated myself to her, for her sake or my own, but someone else's, and she agreed that such a dedication wasn't something that she wanted. She is still with me for the next three months, perhaps even beyond, guiding me in my journey about love...and her price for it is not service to her or tasks to be done, but rather simply to know that I will continue doing the work for the course of this year and beyond to keep myself balanced in love and to really understand how to manifest love for myself and to others. I can live with that...and it occurs to me that a deity with that understanding of me is a deity I can respect because that deity isn't necessarily out to have my service, but does want some kind of understanding to exist.
In fact, my experience with babalon shows me that experiences with deities are subjective and end up occurring at exactly the level that is needed for a person. While one person may very well need to be a god-slave to a god, another person may just need a guide for a year. And yes it does boil down to need. I think a very important question any person needs to ask about serving a deity is: What need within myself does this service fulfill? There is always a need being fulfilled. Certainly working with babalon is fulfilling some deep needs within myself...needs that are becoming balanced. Could I have fulfilled those needs without working with her? Perhaps, but I believe it would've taken a very long time, whereas working with Babalon brought the situation into detailed focus. And so perhaps those people that seem to pay a price in my eyes, aren't really paying that price. They serve the deity in the way they do, and yet they get a need fulfilled, a need which they may or may not be conscious of, but yet if that need went unfulfilled...I think it comes down to an essential issue of identity, which is how much a person's needs define the interactions and experiences a person has, and who/what those experiences occur with.
I watch Lupa and her growing relationship with the spirits. We are definitely going on some different spiritual paths. Yet I also see that her spirit work is definitely fulfilling needs within her. It's helping her refine her path, serve other people, etc., but it's also meeting some needs within her. She seems more balanced to me as a result of doing the spirit work she's doing.
As for service...I think my own service is not to a particular deity or whatever concept it represents. My service ultimately goes to the communities I am part of, the people I interact with, the choice to help someone find his/her potential and realize it. That is my service...not to any one being or belief, but rather to the realization that we are all connected and so if we can help each other grow and realize the effect we have on this planet, on the other life forms on this planet, and on each other, we can choose to make that effect be beneficial instead of detrimental.