Hello, beautiful creatures. Previously on Outside the Charmed Circle, I wrote about the necessity of establishing firm boundaries with gods, and discussed some of the challenges of actually doing so. After all, there may well be occasions when gods will tap you on the shoulder or ring your doorbell and, for whatever reason, you simply aren’t willing to answer the call and give them what they want. Maybe you’re a pacifist who doesn’t want to be a devotee of the goddess of battle. Maybe you don’t have the space in your monogamous, married life to serve the goddess of lust and sexuality in the fashion she requires. Maybe you just don’t like the god of mischief. The point is, you’re not interested, and you’ve said no.
The possible outcomes of that “no” can vary widely, though, depending on a number of factors: who you are, who the god is, what the nature of the interaction is, how they ask, how you respond, and so on. It is, however, possible to group these outcomes—benevolent, malevolent, or simply apathetic—into five general categories. I’ve listed these categories below, in order of increasing consternation, along with some suggestions on how to respond to them.
Exactly what it says on the tin. A god rings your doorbell and and asks you for something or offers you something—a relationship, a boon, power, glory, whatever. You decline… politely, one hopes. They go on about their merry way, leaving you to return to making dinner and binge-watching something on Netflix. (Have you seen Stranger Things yet? If not, I highly recommend it.)
Suggestions: Nothing! Proceed as normal. Enjoy your life. (And seriously, check out Stranger Things if you haven’t already.)
A god rings your doorbell and offers you something. You say, “No, thank you,” and they respond with, “Well, how about I sweeten the deal?” What now?
Suggestions: Well, consider the situation: a being of power is offering to negotiate with you. How you respond will vary, depending on a number of factors. Is your refusal a “soft no” or a “hard pass?” Are they a being with whom you would be willing to have a business relationship? Do you feel they’re trustworthy? Are they offering you something meaningful or valuable? Also, consider the question of why this deity wishes to be in relationship with you. What are they looking to get from this negotiation? Consulting your preferred oracle or divinatory system is an excellent idea at this point. I also recommend researching the god who’s negotiating with you, either through reading or, if you can, by conversing with devotees of that god, who may be able to help you interpret and understand what’s going on.
They ring the doorbell, you decline politely, and they go away. They turn up again, every couple of weeks or months, just to see if your “no” is still a “no.” As with “Negotiating” above, this is a pretty clear indicator that the god in question is interested in you, specifically. Where it starts to differ is that, rather than an immediate “let’s make a deal,” the god has stepped back a bit and given you some space, tapping you on the shoulder periodically to remind you that they’re still around.
Suggestions: Some of the questions above also pertain here: why are they focused on you, what are they asking of you, and what are they offering you? Just like negotiation, oracular queries are a good idea, as is consulting with one of their devotees. Moreover—and I phrase this as delicately as I know how—I recommend doing doing some internal work to sound out if you’re more open to the contact than you may have initially thought. This is in no way intended to justify unwanted contact, but to point out that gods can respond to our subconscious and unconscious desires and impulses as readily as to those we feel and express consciously. It’s entirely possible to want things we know aren’t good for us, or to have desires which conflict with one another. A call we’re refusing on the conscious level may be appealing to something we’re feeling, but of which we aren’t fully conscious. (Note: This concept refers to interactions between humans and gods, not between humans and other humans. If you’re thinking of conflating the two, don’t. Anyone attempting to use this concept to justify non-consensual actions on the human level is a grade-A asshole and potential abuser.)
NaggingThey called, you declined, and now they just. Wont. Stop. Bugging. You. They’re constantly just there, tapping you on the shoulder, popping up in your rituals, dropping little hints of synchronicity that they’d really like to have a relationship of some kind with you.
This is where things start to cross the line from “persistent” to “predatory.” It can seem similar to “Nudging” as described above, but where nudging is more of a periodic check-in, nagging is a near-constant phenomenon reminiscent of a child requesting a cookie or, worse, a dudebro sending you unsolicited pictures of his junk and demanding to know why you’ve friend-zoned him. While there are some instances in which this behavior is actually a desperate attempt to get a message across to you (“No, seriously, don’t get involved with that coven! They’re more toxic than a marriage counselor wearing a MAGA hat!”), it’s far more common that this behavior is a malicious entity trying to get your attention. As I said up above, not everything that calls itself a god actually is one… and even if it is, not all gods are nice. There are beings, divine or otherwise, who simply enjoy messing with people, and there are beings which thrive on our attention… and, consequently, our energy.
Suggestions: The aforementioned methods of oracular investigation and diligent research can help verify whether or not this being is who it says it is. If it’s masquerading, there are a whole host of methods of ridding oneself of unwanted contact, ranging from an increasingly firm “no” to a very firm “no” backed by magical (or divine) efforts. Many traditions of praxis employ banishing rituals, self-purifications, and summoning of allies to underscore the Very Firm No. If your best efforts suggest this being is who they say they are, a firm “no” followed by some overt negotiation can be a useful strategy. Sit down with them and ask what they want and why—what it would take to mollify them, essentially—that you’re willing to give. This can be a sticky negotiation, and I encourage anyone pursuing this course to do so with outside assistance, both human and otherwise.
Hoo, boy. This is the nightmare scenario… figuratively and literally. They called, you declined, and they responded by getting nasty with you. You’re having synchronicities and weird happenings all over the place, but they’re inconvenient, even unpleasant. Devices and machines go on the fritz or just die outright. Weather patterns turn ugly, but only in your general vicinity. Your personal relationships take sharp left turns into miscommunication, and you become mysteriously ill or accident-prone. You’re having nightmares, and they all seem to point in the same direction: someone is displeased with you for not responding to them the way they want you to. They’ve chosen you, and they’re not willing to take “no” for an answer.
So, I’m going to say something here that’s sure to be unpopular in some circles: this scenario is really, really uncommon. Not unheard-of, mind you; I know a few people I legitimately believe to have been touched, god-haunted, or god-bothered… and by “a few,” I mean they could all fit in in my car for a road trip. I’ve also known a number of folks who’ve claimed to be god-bothered, but whose experiences consisted of what I’d consider some mild coincidental unluckiness and a strong desire to feel wanted or claimed by something larger than themselves. That’s a legitimate desire, but I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest it’s not the same thing as being genuinely hounded by a superhuman alien intelligence.
Suggestions: So, as before, my first suggestion is to verify that this is a god, and not a malicious spirit of some kind. If it’s an imposter, the Very Firm No with Optional Banishing and Ass-Kicking is my personal go-to. If it’s not, things get a hell of a lot more complicated.
Whatever you choose to do, though, don’t do it alone. What I suggest at this point is reaching out to your community. Talk with people close to you, let them know what’s going on, and let them know that you’ll need more support than usual. Touch base with any spiritual allies you have, and ask them for their assistance and advice. On a mundane level, remember to take care of yourself physically and emotionally, and do what you need to do to bolster your mental health.
If a god is leaning on you, they tend to have a reason for it. Ascertaining that reason is key to resolving the situation is an amicable way. Sitting down and engaging with the deity in question as mentioned above may be your best option, if you have the resources to do so. If you choose this route, I strongly suggest reaching out to devotees of this god to ask for their insight and advice… and their intercession, if it comes to that.
Until next time, dear ones, take care of yourselves. ♥