Bribing and Threatening the Gods: Can you do it? If you can, how so? And is it somehow ‘blasphemous’ or ‘immoral’ to do so?
The first question that comes to mind is “With what?” What do you have to offer that’s good enough to make a god change their mind? What can you do that’s bad enough? And either way, would they be willing to encourage such behavior even if they were tempted? Would you not just continue to offer bribes and threats in an effort to manipulate them against their better judgement?
From a historical perspective, threats and bribes can be found multiple times in the coffin texts, and probably in other places too. (Despite my many claims of not being scholarly, I did get a copy of Faulkner’s Coffin Texts. I haven’t properly studied the entire thing yet because it’s huuuge.) If they did it in ancient times, is it ok for you to do it now? Was it really ok for them to do it back then? Frankly, those passages always make me wince.
I think of the Netjeru as family, not every Kemetic does, but I do. Sometimes bribes and threats are part of family life, I do admit, but not on the level that the Texts talk about. Come to think of it, bribery works pretty well with family. My mother bribes me with dinner out for doing yardwork. My daughter has made a deal to get money for her online game. Those are friendly bribes. Threats happen too, but they tend to be mild, like no ice cream until you eat your vegetables. These threats and bribes have a basis in an already established and stable relationship. My mother would not bribe me to do something against my better judgement. I would not threaten actual serious harm to my daughter. We know that there are things that simply would not be done.
Given those examples, it appears that the morality of the question has a lot to do with degree, and with the status of the relationship that already exists. If a random stranger offered to take me to dinner for working in their yard, I would turn them down and wonder what they were thinking. Context is important. Do you only speak to the gods when you want something? Or do you have an established relationship where you just enjoy their company even when everything is fine? Do you offer to do things with no strings attached? You have to build up a bank of good will before you can start making withdrawals.
…or you can run your relationship like a credit card, always securing and paying off debt. If you do that, then they’ll probably think of you with about as much fondness as your credit card company does. I’ve heard a few pagans say that the gods are not friends. If that’s their attitude, then they’re probably right.
A familial relationship is, or should be, based on love. All negotiations are built within and constrained by that principle. Ultimately the give and take is centered around what is best for the family as a whole, not what is best for each individual separately. The game is not about “I win,” or “you win,” it’s about “we win.”
I guess what it comes down to it that yes, you could try threats or bribery, but be aware of what effect it may have on the relationship. Do you have a relationship? What kind of relationship? What kind do you want it to be? The old saying “To have a friend, you have to be a friend,” applies to deities too.