Different Paths, like different occupations, have unique dictionaries all their own. Some of the most confusing terms come from the more unusual paths, and the one I follow has some of the most confusing language I have ever encountered. (And I love words.) So, to help get through it all, here’s a glossary of terms you might see me use on the blog, or see in some of the comments made by others on a similar path. I’ve included examples where I can to help put the terms in context.
(Not alphabetical, although the editor in me is screaming for it. Terms most applicable to this blog come first, with others coming later.)
God-slave: A person who is required to work for a Deity or Deities, with penalties for disobedience. There is much variation in the requirements, tasks, and duties of any particular god-slave. For instance, I am required to always wear a collar (albeit a subtle one) showing that I am Owned by and in service to Cernunnos. Others might wear a collar only when doing their Owner’s Work.
Ordeal: Raven K‘s explanation is the best I have seen so far: Ordeal “uses pain, fear, suffering, and discomfort for the purposes of achieving altered states, coming out of them, creating energy for magical work, cleansing, breaking down internal barriers, and offerings to the Spirits.” In the words of Anya Kless, a “kink” Ordeal “uses many of the techniques, tools, and structures of BDSM play for the purpose of spiritual work.” Both of my Ordeals have borrowed BDSM tools and techniques, and so technically fall under “kink” Ordeal.
I have seen Ordeal used to help move a person from one phase of life to another; as a catalyst for healing, bringing forth buried emotions so they can be addressed rather than avoided; to set a person on their Path; and, in my case, breaking down the wall between me and myself in order to fully serve and love my Deity. The Lakota Sun Dance is a common example of Ordeal, one that is still practiced (and wildly misunderstood) today.
The Path of Ordeal – whether brief or life-long – is not for everyone. For a fantastic overview, please read Anya Kless’s “So You Want An Ordeal?” And for the record, both of my Ordeals were performed by Del, and I would recommend him any day.
Consensual Non-Consent: A term used in the BDSM world to describe a relationship in which one partner willingly relinquishes consent to the other (typically a Master-slave relationship). It applies to God-slave relationships as well, in that a slave often consents to give up their power of consent to Deity. If Deity requires that they do something, the slave must do so, although there may be some room to negotiate. I have limited ability to negotiate, and must provide a compelling reason for not doing what is Asked. Other god-slaves may have no ability to negotiate at all.
Work/Job: Assignments, tasks, or duties given to a devotee, slave, or other servant of a Deity or spirit. Not to be confused with the “work” I do at my day “job,” and typically differentiated as “Work” or “Job.”
God-speaker: Someone who speaks with the Voice or Words of Deities, or passes messages from Deity as needed. This can be with or without possession. The ‘Speaker may or may not have control over how the message is conveyed, depending on any number of variables.
Ground crew: A person who may not hear Deity or feel spirits, but they help keep rooted or bring to earth a Work, spirit worker, shaman, etc. after the energy is raised and the ritual done.
God-phone: A phrase referencing two-way communication between Deity and human, similar to two people talking on a telephone. I have a god-phone with all of my Deities. (It is not as desirable as it might sound; there are days I am thankful for it and days I wish my “phone” would stop ringing for just a few minutes, please.)
Spirit worker: One who works with the spirit world, including the deceased, land spirits, Deities, and other beings not considered part of the “mundane” world. That Work can come in many forms, not all of it friendly in nature.
Geas (pl. geasa): Borrowed from Irish Gaelic, a word meaning a sacred obligation. This could be a covenant or agreement between a mortal and their Deity. My geas, for example, is that I must be open and honest about my Path, sometimes to an uncomfortable degree and especially if I am asked. I am not allowed to negotiate out of this obligation.
God-spouse: Borrowing again from Anya Kless, a god-spouse is “someone who has a long-term/lifetime intimate relationship with a deity that seems to somehow mirror human marriage (although there can be striking and important differences).” Spouses sometimes have requirements from their Divine Spouse(s), but the relationship and expectations are typically different from that of a slave.
God-employee: Someone who does Work for spirits or Deity. Unlike a slave, an employee is not considered obligated to do the Work given.
Horse/Horsing: A term sourced from African Diasporic faiths. To “horse” is to undergo possession by a deity or spirit. The person carrying the spirit or deity is the “horse.” It is not always expected, agreed to, or welcomed. During my Ordeal, my Ordeal Master (Del) was horsed by Cernunnos my Master.
God-radio: A phrase referencing one-way communication between Deity and human; the messages/words come from Deity in spurts, like a radio, and are gone before They can be answered.
Signal clarity: Just like on a regular phone or radio, a person’s god-phone or -radio is subject to interference. Sometimes this is caused by the person’s level of experience, their energy level, their focus, or their willingness to listen. (When I am tired, distracted, or being stubborn, I have a harder time Hearing.) Some might say interference can come from astrological events, the season, the strength of the Deity or spirit doing the talking, or T/their energy level (because even Deities get tired sometimes – at least mine does, especially during His dying time).
Unverified/Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis (UPG): Spiritual beliefs obtained via direct experience or communication rather than from existing mythology, archeology, or lore. UPG is a controversial topic within community circles; some accept it, some accept it to limited extent, and others don’t accept it at all.
Peer Corroborated Personal Gnosis (PCPG), Substantiated Personal Gnosis (SPG), Verified Personal Gnosis (VPG): UPG shared independently by multiple practitioners. This is not UPG shared between practitioners, but similar experiences or messages received independently of each other.
See something that could be refined or updated? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org! (Comments to this page will be read and deleted.)