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Where Are Your Gods Now - Worship Through the Ages

While we consider this topic - Where are the gods now? Let's also reflect on the messages we have from the past related to those gods and what we plan to do with that information going forward.


Let's start with the Greek Magical Papyri. There are two things to consider about this set of texts. First and most importantly, we're dealing with a translation of words from a different time. To understand how important this is, I'd like to reference a chat I had with a friend last night. We were talking about chips. In the US, chips are potato chips processed in factories, stored in a bag, and sold at gas stations or sandwich shops. For my friend, chips in the US are crisps in the UK. This is a modern language. Not a difference of years or even thousands of years, this is today.


The next thing to consider is that the Greek Magical Papyri is a collection of fragments of texts that have been compiled in a single book(s). The Greek Magical Papyri (PGM) is a collection of magical spells, rituals, and formulae written in ancient Greek on papyrus sheets. Dating primarily from the 2nd century BCE to the 5th century CE, the PGM represents a diverse compilation of magical knowledge and practices spanning several centuries of the Greco-Roman world. The origins of the PGM are rooted in the syncretic nature of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, where diverse mystical traditions and religious influences converged. In comparison, this is akin to looking up a recipe for making bread from antiquity, and you only have three of the thirty steps involved in the process.


The authorship of the PGM is varied, with no single identifiable author. Instead, it is believed to be a compilation of contributions from different practitioners, scholars, and mystery cults of the time. The texts include invocations, spells, prayers, and instructions for various magical purposes, such as divination, protection, healing, and interactions with divine entities. To continue our analogy, we are now looking at several recipes written by different people from different periods.





The PGM reflects the syncretism of the time, merging elements from Egyptian, Greek, Jewish, and other mystical traditions into a comprehensive magical compendium.

In essence, the Greek Magical Papyri served as a manual for practitioners to navigate the intricate world of magic, offering them a diverse array of techniques to engage with the divine and influence the unseen forces believed to shape their lives. The PGM did not tell us how we should interact with our deity or define who/what those deities were.

In the diverse landscape of spirituality, practitioners often find themselves at the crossroads of personal gnosis and historical reference. These two pillars, while distinct, contribute significantly to the rich tapestry of pagan traditions. This article aims to explore the nuances of personal gnosis and historical reference, examining their characteristics, sources, and how practitioners often navigate between them.


Defined by its personal and subjective nature, personal gnosis forms the bedrock of individual spiritual experiences. Unlike relying on historical texts or external authorities, personal gnosis emerges from direct encounters, intuitive insights, and inner revelations. It thrives on the flexibility of interpretation, adapting to each practitioner's unique journey and understanding.



Contrastingly, historical reference involves a scholarly and evidence-based approach to pagan practices. The use of established texts, archaeological findings, and historical records allows practitioners to reconstruct and understand ancient rituals and beliefs. This approach relies on primary and secondary sources, aiming for objectivity by scrutinizing historical contexts and cultural traditions.


In personal gnosis, the individual's experiences serve as the primary source of authority. Practitioners draw insights from their encounters with deities, spirits, or supernatural entities. On the other hand, historical reference leans on external sources, with authority derived from ancient texts, inscriptions, academic research, and cultural traditions.

While personal gnosis emphasizes subjectivity, flexibility, and the authority of individual experiences, historical reference leans towards objectivity, adherence to established traditions, and authority grounded in historical evidence. Despite these differences, many practitioners find a harmonious integration of both approaches. This integration allows for a dynamic and informed pagan practice, blending the personal with the historical for a more comprehensive spiritual journey.


In the ever-evolving world of spirituality, the interplay between personal gnosis and historical reference adds depth and diversity to practices. Navigating this spectrum requires a delicate balance, and practitioners find empowerment in weaving together their personal experiences with the wisdom gleaned from historical insights. The synthesis of personal and historical elements creates a vibrant and meaningful tapestry for modern pagan practitioners.


So where are your gods now, and further, are they even the same gods that are referenced in texts such as the Greek Magical Papyri? Another point to consider is while we're putting a great deal of weight and attention into some of these writings, we should also consider what if this doesn't have the weight it's been assigned but instead is the equivalent of someone writing on a bathroom wall.


What do you think? Do you believe the Gods live in these ancient texts and we should take them literally, or do you believe that we should focus more on the personal gnosis? Where are your gods now? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Remember, stay present and mindful.

Rev. Renee Sosanna Olson

Torchbearer & Keybearer to the CoH

Founder of the Sanctuary of Hecate Brimo.

Originaly Posted on By Her Fires - 1/28/2024

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

What works for me is to inform myself, do research and start with a sort of "just theory". While I do that, I feel connection to words, sentences, etc. Those words from the past have layers of power to me, because of the ones before me that have spoken them. That weight, while I feel it, I add that to my "practical" work. I want to taken the ones before me with me, and add my personal touch, so indeed, both.


Edit: I still want to do a PGM course, one that is affordable, so if anyone can recommend one, I'm here!

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Edio
Edio
Feb 26
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Nice work as usual, Renee. Thank you.


The historical texts have certainly helped to ground me in my little devotional practices. Even in translation, Her historical stories remind me that I'm not just making stuff up, and my personal understanding and practice (and those which others have shared along this journey) makes this a living process.

I find Her names and attributes especially helpful in this. But those Epithets are so varied and have changed over time, and in different places, so ultimately I feel we have to take responsibility to listen for her and to choose which parts of Her story speak to us and which parts I can embrace to serve my practice. She's always changed/ humans understandi…


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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Both, I would say, both. Like you described it "This integration allows for a dynamic and informed pagan practice, blending the personal with the historical for a more comprehensive spiritual journey." I do believe that the gods are still the same and at the same time they have changed, like everything does.

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Sylvan R.
Sylvan R.
Feb 20
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I really like that you touched on personal gnosis I don't see (in my opinion) enough people talking about what exactly personal gnosis is. I like my worship with a nice mix of both, especially with Hekate because the relationship feels very personal and I feel my own personal gnosis speaks to that.

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