Personal Gnosis Is The New Black

Verified or not, I believe personal gnosis is where it’s at.  I’m aware this might spark some dry wood, but I have to speak up in favor of personal experience with the gods over the traditional say-so.

Photo courtesy of Pxhere, CC0.

There’s a debate in the pagan community about unverified personal gnosis, or personal interactions with the gods that don’t follow the traditions.  Some people believe the claims, while others prefer a traditional interpretation of the deity.

Here’s an example of personal gnosis: Aphrodite appears to me as a curvy yet toned woman, but to my friend, she’s well-rounded, full of wide hips, big thighs, a beautiful, pillowy belly, and a voluptuous bosom.  This understanding my friend has is rich with personal insight for her.  If you have a similar story, I think we should let people have their beliefs instead of telling them they’re wrong.

My most profound experiences have been with personal gnosis from the gods.  Here are a few reasons why I think personal gnosis, verified or not, is the key to your bliss.

1. Some Long-Dead Person Wrote The Old Stories

All of the stories from long ago about deities are filtered through the consciousness of someone who had his/her own personal gnosis. Why is his/hers more honored than mine?  In some non-writing cultures, the story was passed on, sometimes for several generations, before it was written down.

2. They were written a long time ago

Okay, let’s say that a deity’s legends arose from a culture and not just one person.  Here’s the problem with that.  With most pagan religions, the stories are several centuries old.  The legends came from a much different time, before even the Industrial Revolution.

That time is probably (just guessing here!) not as liberal concerning women’s rights, gay rights, general equality, and the topic of say, slavery.  Those old stories, however sacred, may have flaws due to the oppressive culture, and you don’t have to accept them.  They may be more indicative of the social norms at that time than they are relevant to today.

3.  Who’s To Say What The Gods Want Different Things For Different People?

This is how I see Aphrodite, which isn’t how others see her. CC0.

My friend who sees Aphrodite with curves for days is empowered by that image.  Even though I see Aphrodite differently, who am I and several other people to take that image away from her?  Maybe it’s her path to experience this vision and live in this manner.

What I’m trying to say is that deities don’t have to be the same deity for me and my friend.  Here’s why I think that — I’m not the same person at work as I am at home or with my friends. Not by a long shot!  Perhaps we could extend a little flexibility to the gods to make their own choices about how they present themselves, what they want people to do, and how they want to interact with people.

4. The Gods Can Change

One day, as I was putting on makeup before work, I received a message from Zeus.  I couldn’t believe he spoke to me.  I’m a goddess-worshipper, a femme spirit to the nth degree, and I’ve never worked with him before.  Needless to say, I was shocked.

I’d thought about him only once over the past year, and that was when the plan of the Greek Gods book came up.  I’d planned on foisting his chapter off on my writing partner. That is, until he spoke.

He told me that he was sorry for all the harm he’d inflicted on others.  It was around the #MeToo movement.  I couldn’t help but wonder if he was called out by a few deities and semi-deities.

He asked me in a polite, earnest manner to write the chapter about him and include his regrets and his heartfelt sentiment.  “It was a different time,” he said.  “I was a different god.”

Photo courtesy of Pxhere, CC0.

I realize this is unverified personal gnosis, because it does not agree with the horrific legends of his ‘conquests,’ but this is exactly the type of wild truth we need to heal modern society’s wounds.

Who is to say the gods can’t evolve like we do, year after year?  Maybe they change from time to time to reflect what we humans need.  Maybe they need new legends, and maybe we’re the people who can provide them.

5. If It Empowers You, Awesome

Some of the best pagan minds of our times are pro-UPG. John Beckett, Dver, and the writer of Baring the Aegis all seem to accept UPG, as long as it’s ethical.

Hating on people with personal gnosis is fear-based.  When it comes down to it, if it doesn’t hurt anyone and you’re not trying to make others join in, you’re probably okay.  We don’t need the pagan police for UPG experiences.

That being said, it doesn’t hurt tell people how you received that information.  For example, “I had a dream that …” or “I’ve always felt that…”  This is helpful for all references to deities, not just personal gnosis.

I hope your personal gnosis is rich and helpful, and I personally hope that you share your experiences, verified or not.  I get chills whenever I hear/read about some stories of personal gnosis.  It’s as if the deity is right there with us.  When we share our truths and vulnerabilities, we can become more empowered by them and can empower more people.  It’s a blessing that the gods are so active in our lives, and I, for one, am ever so grateful.

I’ll be sharing my personal gnosis/experience with Hela soon.  Check back in to catch the amazing story.

*

If your personal gnosis hasn’t happened yet, hang tight.  Do the work, make the offerings, be kind, and have rituals.  Speak with your deities and ask them for insights.  If all else fails, seek outside help from a pagan/witch

~ Starlight Witch ~

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About Astrea
Astrea is a polytheistic pagan witch, fire dancer, new ager, and writer of fiction. Check out her social media accounts to see all her blog posts and extra special witchy / artsy / personal content. You can read more about the author here.
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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Pagan
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • People spend a lot of time writing and talking about how the gods have agency, and yet when someone suggests that they might have changed some folks get really bent out of shape. Of course the gods can change. Sometimes we have tangible proof of that, I have to assume that Pan is responsible for the poetry that was written in his name during the 19th Century. That poetry forever altered the public perception of him and I have to assume that he wanted it done and that it reflects a different side of him.

    And in the ancient world there were often several versions of the same deity. The gods changed slightly from place to place and even temple to temple.

  • Unlabeled_Unlimited

    Our entire Universe, and EVERYTHING in it, is in a state of birth, growth, decay, death, recreation, birth.
    Name ONE thing that has not evolved, or devolved, and became something else.
    Einstein told us energy is never destroyed, it just changes forms.
    Many, many, traditions have the, “as above, so below, as within, so without” belief.
    To think the inhabitants of the other dimensions/planes do not follow the same pattern (change, evolution, I do believe they transcend decay, but who knows), is human hubris at its best.
    And any good teacher or salesman will tell you that changing to fit your audience makes more sales and more open ears.
    If I could shapeshift in order to make others feel comfortable and connect with me I would.
    Why wouldn’t those with the ability use it?
    And we haven’t even touched on the many stories of Gods/Goddesses actually changing shape to approach us.
    Why would now be any different? Seems to me that many of them DID change in their ancient stories.
    This article was fabulous. And it really started my wheels turning, thank you.
    ps, for the pagan this shocks me. The Abrahamics are the ones that set the claims of never changing, static and stuck. The Greek, Roman and Egyptians stories are full of the gods appearing differently to different people. Also of them changing, adapting, and regretting.
    To think they changed between then and now, but now became static amuses me. Thanks again

    • Maria Noah

      Oh my! I hear you on that P.S. line there. I recently asked such a Friend of mine to show me their true form. It did not compute in the human visual cortex AT ALL. So I ended up with a visual mashup of all the qualities I know that person best for. It was terrifying/amazing/hideous/beautiful/overwhelming all at once. I guess that is what the word AWESOME actually means. I have no question at all in my mind that UPG is NECESSARY. Each human has different neurology that requires unique jiggering to communicate with clearly. I’m weird, though. They never stay static. No living being does. Hmm. My foolish mind says the only constant in the multiverses is change. Thank you for your comment. I learned from it.

  • Maria Noah

    I really appreciate this article. I have never met a deity level person who doesn’t have the core personality the old stories show, but who hasn’t in some way or other ‘grown up,’ so to speak. I mean it’s been at minimum tens of thousands of human years. That’s quite long enough learn some things. For anybody. I feel almost like the fact it’s easier to ‘hear’ or ‘experience’ UPG now has something to do with the Veil issues that Mr, Beckett discusses on his blog periodically.

    • Astrea Taylor

      That’s a great way to put it — the core of the old, but the grown up aspects as well. Yes, you may be right about the veil. It certainly has been easier these past few years. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. * blessings *

  • nikkidarlin

    I love this. Aside from the implied notion that voluptuous women can’t be fit and strong, ample bosom and all it’s sheer lunacy to think Homer and Hesiod, et al were depicting objective realities.

    • Astrea Taylor

      Oops! You’re absolutely right. That wasn’t what I was trying to imply at all. I edited the article to make it more clear. Thank you so much for your comment.

      • nikkidarlin

        I totally didn’t think it was intentional! It’s such a positive post!!

  • Secret Blue

    Seconded on this re; Aphrodite in particular.

    In my experience, totally UPG, please do not subscribe Eternal Truth to these statements.

    She has gotten way, way nicer since the stories were written about her so long ago. She still puts the love whammy on people, don’t get me wrong, but now it’s much more from a place of “but you would be so good together” than “your life needs some serious messing up”. She still isn’t super used to hearing people say “no” to her, especially when it’s prefaced by “I love you and respect you but”. She’s super kind about it, especially when you are saying no for a good reason and are willing to discuss the matter but I get the impression it doesn’t happen super often..

    I’ve got other UPG type observations like that, but on a high level I’ll just say that she’s way more than the Hercules version and is actually pretty awesome.

  • One, or well there are a few, sayings I hear/read a lot is that our (pagan) godds are alive. Something that happens to all living things is growth and change. An entity that is over 2k years old has to grow or change some or it no longer lives. Even the giant red woods change as they grow, they are still very much a red wood, but those roots have to support the canopy. So why people have a problem accepting godds that they claim are alive cannot change is beyond me.

  • Gavin Mitchell

    Super provocative and insightful! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece as it helped me to rethink some of the experiences I have had that I deemed “wrong” too quickly just because it didn’t line up with what I knew of that particular deity. Sometimes you need to take things at face value.

  • Anne Hatzakis

    I have no problem with Personal Gnosis — as long as it is IDENTIFIED as such. This way, we let people know that other people may differ in their understanding AND that it may differ from the “pure, traditional, most authentic to ancient sources” view. Much of what I see in the Hellenic blogosphere on Hestia is due to Personal Gnosis simply BECAUSE there are almost no “Ancient” sources, but try telling some reconstructionists that “Charity is demanded by our religion” without 2 long passages from Homer….

  • Both you and your friend apparently (because I don’t know all the details) see Aphrodite as a goddess of love and beauty.

    You merely anthropomorphize her differently. No problem.

    Now if your friend saw Her as an ugly Goddess, who one fosters evil war and battle, being cruel – I would suggest to your friend that maybe she met a different Goddess. Or maybe your friend was a Trojan in a former life.

  • Patrick Fitzpatrick

    Fantastic article! I couldn’t agree more and I love the points and recent P.G. you’ve described here.

  • LIsa Bland

    I absolutely love what you wrote here. Not that you needed defending but another article. got me wound up so I wrote a response 🙂
    When considering the body of lore that we are reading, we need to think critically about it, as critical thinking should inform and build our foundation of magickal practice. Where does lore about the gods come from?
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/living-the-liminal-modern-witchcraft-musings/how-upg-becomes-vpg-a-response/138291623583721/

    • Astrea

      Thank you so much! I agree with you. Thinking critically can help us make sure that the interpretation isn’t from a culturally limited viewpoint. It also can liven up our experiences. 🙂 blessed day!

  • Conor Warren

    I want to seek clarity here. Above, you seem to suggest that Zeus apologized for rape to you and your intuition told you that some other deities maybe slapped him around and got him to apologize because of the mortal #MeToo movement. I seek to clarify if you are meaning that Zeus actually committed these acts of rape and sexual assault or if you are suggesting he was apologizing for the mythographic depictions of him committing sexual assault. Both? Neither?

  • Mari Powers

    I never saw Aphrodite at all, or at least not as a woman. In my personal experience she came on a full moon spinning behind gold, dark blue and misty storm clouds. I heard her, felt her send images and energy, and the end of my experience I heard her say, “I am Aphrodite”, and she laughed. There is more, yet some of us know her energy and gender, yet get no specific visualization at all – except perhaps some classical ones.