So what do we actually mean when we say ‘Deity’? One argument might go that ‘Deity’ is nothing more than archetypal imagery fleshed out with colourful mythologies. On the other hand the idea that ‘Deities’ are actual real, separate and distinct supernatural entities is also quite popular.
It's often struck me that the pantheons of deities might originally have been some
very early, intuitive and organic form of 'personal development system', with each
deity starting out as a primitive amalgamation of some basic concepts and gossip.
And then as future generations were inspired by, and sought to emulate
these deity-figures they would recreate and then add to the reality
of this deity-figure -
and then their stories would become part of the mythology of the deity.
Each person becomes a chapter in the story of Deity
(or a thread in the great tapestry of the universe)
and in this way the deity becomes a kind of 'accumulation' or 'storage' of concepts
of being. I suspect that our ability as a species to access this 'store of power'
represented by deity-figures was on the decline long before the pantheons
fell out of favour 1,500 years ago.
Maybe the 'Age of Mythic Heroes' was the last time such people walked on the Earth
in any numbers?
Anyway, for the moment I’d like to propose the following as being a useful way of looking at the issue.
Here we see ‘Deity’ existing as a continuity, stretching across the forms and events of the Universe and finally impinging briefly upon consciousness. We see that in our perceptions of ‘Deity’ we rely totally upon our Deep Mind resources to ‘translate’ this incoming information into something we can relate to and understand, but also that ‘Deity’ exists within our own minds as well. If we were to say that the idea of ‘Self’ was no more than a convenient illusion holding together a disparate jumble of behaviours and thoughts, then perhaps ‘Deity’ is also a similar illusion – a way of conceptualising the ‘infinite, unknowable and unspeakable’ in a more accessible form.
As to the question of which Deities might be appropriate to work with, I have found it helpful to be guided by the ‘principles of enlightened living’ that schools of philosophy such as Buddhism encourage. Generally they tend to encompass attributes like generosity, compassion, life-affirming enthusiasm, morality, patience, mindfulness and wisdom.
This is not to say that the Deities must represent only these principles - it might be entirely appropriate to work with some Deities that also have a more ‘edgy’ nature - but that your ‘Primary Focus’ in working with any Deity must be upon how they (and you) might manifest these qualities in the world.
Beyond that you can only be guided by your own personal impressions of each Deity and pantheon. You are creating your own personal doorway to the stars, your own uniquely crafted gateway linking Heaven and Earth, and there will be some details of this construction that will rely heavily upon insights drawn from your own feelings and intuitions.
Well there are four key reasons: authority, life purpose, quintessence and context.
It’s sometimes said that there are 3 main keys to change: Authority, Emotional Intensity and Repetition. With practice and persistence ‘emotional intensity’ can be cultivated, and of course persistence brings ‘repetition’. Working with Deity allows you access to a powerful source of ‘authority’ over your own personal Universe; Deities are often portrayed as personifications of Universal powers of change – they are the ultimate authority figure.
Additionally, they also ‘out-rank’ any historical authorities, empowering you to remove any limiting life-scripts you might have picked up. Let’s face it: if Mr Jones the Chemistry teacher told you that ‘you’re not worth the time,’ yet Zeus The Mighty says that you are worth the time, who are you going to believe? On many occasions ‘Authority’ just means someone whose opinion is accepted, often without question. For children just about any adult can be an authority figure whereas for adults we might have Doctors, priests, scientists or, it seems, anyone in a white lab coat holding a clipboard.
It is also entirely possible that ‘deeper’ work with Deity might generate its own ‘Emotional Intensity’, depending on how you personally decide to approach it.
Next we need to briefly consider ‘Neurological Levels’, which is an ‘NLP’ model for understanding how learning and change ripple through different parts of the self. This isn’t really the place to go into a deep discussion about either NLP or this model, but suffice to say that there are six ‘levels’: Environment, Behaviour, Capability, Beliefs / Values, Identity and Spirituality. The levels represent people and places around you, the things you do and say, your skills, your sense of what is important and what is possible, your sense of ‘who you are’, and what your grand ‘life purpose’ is all about.
Generally speaking, whilst the six levels are all inter-related, changes made to the ‘lower’ levels (e.g. Environment) are easy to accomplish but will have a minimal impact on the upper levels or the system as a whole. On the other hand: changes made to the ‘upper’ levels, (e.g. Identity or Spirituality) whilst being more difficult to actually attain, will have far greater repercussions across the entire system of self. Let’s say that one lunch-time you decide to get something to eat from ‘Salads R Us’ instead of your usual visit to ‘McFastFries’. That’s a change in Environment – pretty easy to do but unlikely to generate any world-shaking epiphany. If, however, you wake up one morning and inexplicably realise ‘Hey, I’m a vegetarian’ (an Identity-level change) then that change will propagate downwards, manifesting as changes in beliefs, values, behaviours and environment.
Working with ‘Deity’ lends itself extremely well to creating changes on the level of ‘Spirituality’, the highest Neurological Level, the affects of which will echo downwards with increasingly profound results on every level of the self. Ask Saint Paul about ‘the Road to Damascus’ for the full details on that one.
The third reason to work with Deity in self-change revolves around the potential to perceive Deity as a ‘pure and spiritualized’ personification of Universal (and personal) qualities. The actual concept of Deity can be seen as an ideal, an image of ‘Quintessence’ (literally ‘fifth element’) - the perfected manifestation of some process, pattern or form.
Now whilst many pantheons have gone through their own ‘Celestial Soap Opera’ phase, which has tended to draw attention away from this ‘spiritualized’ aspect, it’s really just a question of looking beyond the amateur dramatics.
The fourth benefit of working with Deity is the overall ‘context’ - the way of understanding the world - that comes with it. It involves immersing yourself in a paradigm that gives us permission to access our own ability to make changes in our lives - in which even grand-scale changes, which might seem ‘preposterous’ or fantastical to people running their lives with mundane models of thought, are made possible.
It allows you to take all the beliefs you’ve accumulated through your life about what you can or can’t achieve and put them under a bit of stress to see just how ‘real’ they actually are. Sure many of these beliefs you’ll find to still be useful, in that they give an accurate idea about some kind of life boundary that you need to recognise and work around, but I suspect you’ll find that some of these beliefs seem to be completely false, acting only to deny you access to personal riches and happiness that are just waiting for you to reach out and claim them, if only you believed it to be possible.
In summary: if I were to try to encapsulate ‘why work with Deity’ in one sentence it would probably be that ‘things are in a bit of a mess, and we need all the help we can get.’
So, next time we're putting together a new 'Self-Image', let’s build some pictures of ourselves radiating the wisdom of Tehuti, the mindfulness of Anpu and the joyful assertiveness of Heru.
And now imagine what could happen when the Inner Mind looks at those pictures when deciding what behaviours and thoughts to bring into the world.
Ultimately we might hope to reach a stage where the wisdom and power of the Deities is generated spontaneously by our Inner Genius and given shape by feelings, thoughts and actions - where we can automatically and effortlessly allow the free flowing expression of their Divinity to enter into the world.