Deitykin Part 3: Best Practices

Having a known deity as a kintype is like being otherkin on hard mode. You will need a thick skin and a set of flame proof armor. Whatever right people mistakenly feel they have to make fun of otherkin goes double for us. I haven’t actually had too much trouble, but that may be because I don’t take offense at things that set other people off. I’m also very careful about how I present myself. If diplomacy is not within your domain, you might want to keep your kintype to yourself, especially outside of otherkin communities. If you are a copinglinker who hopes this type will bring you respect and prestige, let me tell you that will backfire horribly.

My first bit of advice here is to avoid this mess if you can. Be your own devil’s advocate. Try your best to disprove your identification as a known deity. This may sound scary, but honestly if it’s a real kintype, it won’t go away no matter what you do. Ignore it, deny it, argue against it, call it something else, and it will still be there at the back of your mind waiting for the right moment to ambush you again. My denial phase lasted for several years, but the idea still intruded despite my best efforts to push it aside. Finally Ra had enough of my screwing around and decided to get my attention in a rather painful manner. So, maybe you don’t need to go quite as overboard with your questioning phase as I did. Just make sure that your evidence pile would need a forklift, not a garden trowel, to move. When you’re young, you might feel that a month’s worth of questioning is a long time. At my age, a year is barely scratching the surface. You have a whole lifetime ahead of you. Don’t be in such a rush.

If you drop the name and the fancy title, who are you, really? That kind of question applies to all otherkin. It applies to everyone. That question really can take years of study. Every person has their own unique energy, their own philosophy, their own set of things that they are drawn toward or repulsed from. What are your priorities? Where do you find beauty? What kinds of things nourish your soul? What kinds of environments feel most comfortable to you? Make sure that you examine these questions from the inside out, not from the outside in. Be honest about your real answers, not the answers you think you should have. Check in with this over time and see what changes and what doesn’t. Make up new questions. Also, keep this questioning to yourself. The temptation to change your answers increases when you think someone else is watching. Keep in mind that life circumstances or a mental illness like depression can mask or change some of these around. This is why a long term assessment is necessary. Include what you were like when you were younger. Include what you hope to be in the future. Look for the common themes and patterns that come back over and over.

In short, the kintype should fit. Don’t change yourself to fit the kintype. Don’t change the kintype to fit you. If it almost but doesn’t quite fit, look into other types that are similar. There are thousands of deities, spirits, and other celestial beings that have existed through the ages, and yet I keep seeing the same few represented in deitykin over and over. This could be because they are shards or aspects of the same deity, or it could be that the deitykin went with a more common type that they knew about rather than a more obscure type that would have fit them better. Broaden your search. Look into aspects and older deities that have been integrated into the newer ones. I’ve seen at least four or five Anubiskin, but haven’t seen a single Wepwawetkin yet. I’m a Heru, but I also could have been a Khonsu, or a Montu, or a Sokar. In fact there might be a little Montu mixed in with my Heru, or that might have been due to my more wild teenage years. Synchretisms and “squishy polytheism” add a whole new dimension to trying to identify deities. I’m lucky I didn’t have to go through that part of it. Sekhmet told me who I was, and I eventually ran out of reasons to argue with her.

I recommend doing the inner research before doing the outer research. You need to have a pretty good grasp of who you are on the inside before you start looking outside. Write down anything that seems relevant or important. Keep a journal. In fact you might NOT want to research your pantheon or culture while you’re working through this stage. The reason for that is you don’t want to create a false bias. You don’t want to subconsciously change yourself to fit the kintype in question. Find out who YOU are before you worry about who THEY are. This way also has the added benefit of offering a bit of confirmation if something that was true for you shows up in the lore that you hadn’t read yet. My friends sometimes referred to these confirmations as bricks, as in “brick to the face.” I’ve had a few of those happen myself. They’re pretty shocking when they appear.

Of course, don’t spend so long on the inner research that you never make it to the outer research. Outer research is also extremely important. This part is not just about verifying or rejecting a kintype. If you still find the kintype is accurate, outer research becomes a continuation of your inner research. In this part you should learn everything you can about the deity in question, about their associated culture and their family relationships.

If the deity in question comes from a closed culture, research might be difficult. As I said in the first post in this series, identification in itself is not offensive. The offensive part lies in what you do. Do not insert yourself into any closed culture! They owe you nothing, not even a Hello. Do not try to set yourself up as any kind of an expert on a closed culture deity. It’s still a good idea to learn about the history and the struggles of the associated group, and help out if you are able to do so respectfully. Also keep in mind that information that you find on closed cultures may be inaccurate, because they don’t tell their secrets to just anyone, and many people spread false information about these groups. The information you’ve based your identification on may be contaminated by the biases and assumptions of opposing cultures. If you had any fantasies about joining a closed culture and becoming a respected member of it, throw those out the window. I’m sorry, but this is the world you have found yourself in. Also, double down on that devil’s advocacy here. This would be a horrible one to end up with.

If the deity in question is part of an open culture, think about joining the associated communities. I learned a lot by going through the Kemetic Orthodoxy’s beginner class and by hanging out on the forums. Whether or not you decide to reveal your identity is a personal choice.  Sometimes it is better to keep it to yourself. Some groups are tolerant, and some are not. Some individuals are tolerant, and some are not. Try to get a feel for that before you open your mouth. Many times their tolerance also depends on how you present yourself. Remember, you are there to learn. These people have often spent years studying the subject at hand. They have invested time, emotion, energy, and funds into maintaining their practices. Stay respectful.

Try to get some of the books on the community’s reading list. They can lead you to some good information. Look up sources. Avoid questionable authors, like Budge. Pop culture can be a fun addition to your research, but Marvel, Riordan and Gaiman should not be the central focus of your identity. Keep in mind that the myths can have many variations and even opposing versions. Personally, I look at mythology more along the lines of equations that describe how a deity’s energy might play out in certain situations rather than accurate historical narratives.

Do some research on other areas as well. What is divinity? What is a god? Are they super powered beings, personified forces of nature, conjured thought forms, or something completely different? What is mythology? What philosophies drove the associated cultures to honor the attributes represented by their gods? The answers to these questions are not as clear cut as high school world history would have you believe, if high school world history mentions them at all! The hard versus soft polytheism debate is just the tip of the iceberg here.

As I mentioned earlier, at some point, the outer research becomes a continuation of the inner research. Once you’ve got a grasp of the basics, what do you do with that knowledge? You’re still in a human body, living a human life. What are you going to do with that life? How do you express your divinity in the day to day? You should have some idea of what your areas of interest are by now. Those might influence your chosen profession or hobbies. And what about your divine family? How do you keep in touch with them while you’re here? Probably in a way that’s not so different from the polytheists that you’ve met. Honor your inner deity, not with offerings and worship, but by acting in ways that would make them, you, proud.

 

Related Posts:

Shards

Deitykin Part 1: No Offense

Deitykin Part 2: Gods Behaving Badly

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Deitykin Part 2: Gods Behaving Badly

In this section I primarily refer to spiritual deitykin rather than psychological deitykin. This is because it seems less likely that someone who attributes their kintype to psychological factors would walk into pagan and polytheist communities and cause trouble. 

 

In Part One of this series, I explained how the existence of deitykin is not offensive in itself. Offense is not about who you are. It’s about what you do. Unfortunately, there have been many instances where deitykin have acted improperly, causing offense to pagan and polytheist communities. In some cases, I believe this is a deliberate effort by internet trolls to stir up trouble, who aren’t deitykin at all. In other cases, it may have been caused by a failure to understand why certain statements and attitudes cause offense. Hopefully I can cover that second one here so that there will be fewer of these incidents.

Personally, I tend to spend more time among the polytheist and kemetic communities on Tumblr than I do in the divinekin community. I’m not sure divinekin can be said to have a community beyond a few scattered mutuals that follow each other. Maybe this is part of the problem. The elders don’t stick around long enough to offer guidance to the newcomers. If the newcomers believe that divinity equals already knowing everything they need to know, then the problem doubles. The result is that every few weeks or so, we end up with a deitykin wandering into polytheist spaces and trying to set themselves up as some kind of authority. That never ends well. As a member of both communities, I then feel the need to try to clean up the mess so that the polytheists don’t start hating all divinekin because of the misguided actions of a few.

Respect, authority, and trust must be earned, not assumed. I don’t care who the deitykin was in a past life. They’re human now so they must play by human rules. A deitykin is not inherently better than anyone else, and that’s a good thing! It’s important to be able to enter relationships on equal terms. Allowing exceptions to this leaves the door open for all kinds of cultish behavior and abuse. Any deitykin who makes a habit of dominating their friends and partners will fail to develop the skills needed to maintain healthy long term relationships.

Besides, it’s fairly common for otherkin to have a case of past life amnesia. I often suspect that those who claim otherwise are creatively filling in the gaps. With deities who have many aspects, and with mythology that includes many conflicting versions, that gets even more complicated. Memory is highly fallible, even within this human lifetime. Interrogators must be very careful; otherwise it’s just too easy to “help” a witness manufacture false memories. (This is something that any otherkin who relies heavily on past life memories must be cautious of. Memories alone are not confirmation.) That means that those polytheists probably do know more about the deity in question than a deitykin who hasn’t done their research. (All of this is assuming the ID is even accurate.) Claiming to know more than the people who have spent years studying the subject is foolish.

The spirit of this post boils down to having respect for the modern followers of the gods. Frankly, any deity that has a problem with that isn’t worthy of worship. It’s a free market these days. People can take their belief elsewhere, or nowhere at all. If smiting unbelievers were a regular occurrence, there wouldn’t be so many atheists around. Any deitykin who objects to that line of reasoning probably has a few life lessons to learn while they’re here.

Respecting ancient followers of the gods is also important. In our Western civilization, which has been under the influence of monotheism for a very long time, public schools, and people in general, often look down upon polytheistic civilizations of the past. They often say things like, “People only believed in the gods because they didn’t know how science worked. ” We have plenty of evidence that the ancients were quite skilled at astronomy despite the lack of large telescopes. I doubt that there were many among them who literally believed that a giant dung beetle pushed the sun across the sky. Those that did were probably the same sort of people who believe the world was literally created in six days now. Human nature, and human intelligence, hasn’t changed that drastically in the last five thousand years. The main difference between then and now is that our shared library of knowledge has grown tremendously over the centuries. The gullible ancient pagan trope needs to die, especially since much of it is based on propaganda that sought to rationalize the colonization of other “primitive” cultures.

Turning the concept of respect into an action takes a little more thought. One of the basics here is: Don’t take things that don’t belong to you. Polytheists spend years developing relationships with their deities. When they pray or make offerings, they are not offering to a human incarnate they’ve just met. They are continuing their ongoing relationship with a celestial aspect of that deity. These relationships are often based on reciprocity, give and take. The deity is expected to hold up their end of the deal, and if the deity doesn’t provide for the follower’s needs, the follower might look elsewhere. How is a human incarnate going to answer prayers? Your Higher Self might be a deity, but it is the Higher Self that is answering, not your human self. Polytheists pray to the deity, not to the deitykin. Yes, there is a difference between the two. Simply by being human, your priorities change. Your access to both the power and the knowledge of the deity are greatly limited. Your memories, such as they are, are fallible.

Finally, probably the biggest offense comes from inserting yourself into a relationship that you had no part in building. The relationships built between followers and their deities are highly personal and often develop over a period of years. These relationships can be as close as those between a parent and child. Think about it, if some stranger showed up at your door claiming to be your mother, you’d not only doubt their story, chances are you’d be very upset about it. In that situation, it would be quite reasonable to demand proof. Deitykin have no proof to show. Those clues that lead a deitykin to accept their identity can be taken as evidence, but never as proof. We can’t prove that the gods exist at all! Even if someone goes around working miracles, that wouldn’t count as proof either. I’ve seen David Copperfield live on stage. Magic isn’t proof, even if you had any to show. Even if a demigod did show up working real miracles, they could still lie about who they are.

In the end, absolutely no one is required to believe a deitykin’s claims. Having respect for a deitykin’s identity is not the same thing as believing that they literally are a deity. This runs along the same lines of respecting someone’s right to have an opinion without sharing that opinion. In pagan and polytheist communities this kind of respect happens all the time, though maybe not as often as it should. Different people view the gods in different ways. These different views can and should coexist peacefully side by side. The key to this respect is in not interfering with another’s spiritual practices.

(Now that you’ve seen what not to do, it’s time to look at some positive ways to express and understand your divine kintype. Stay tuned for part three of this series “Deitykin Part 3: Best Practices.”)

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Deitykin Part 1: No Offense

Deitykin Part 1: No Offense

For those who are new to the subject, otherkin are people who identify as nonhuman either psychologically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally. A kintype is the species that the otherkin identifies as. Kintypes are not consciously chosen but emerge involuntarily as an integral, innate part of that person’s identity. Some otherkin believe this is rooted in past lives and reincarnation, while others believe it is a quirk of neurology. There are many different theories and explanations for what might cause it. The phenomenon can and does arise spontaneously outside of online communities. In fact I knew I was “probably not human in a past life” long before I got access to the internet.  

Deitykin, godkin, and divinekin are a subset of otherkin whose kintypes relate to divine entities.

 

It is offensive to “kin with” a known deity!

I’m not sure if that’s a direct quote that I’ve seen, but it pretty neatly sums up the objections to deitykin that I’ve come across on Tumblr, and it probably does a decent job of reflecting those objections found elsewhere too. So, I’m going to dig into this one in detail. There are other objections and problems as well, and I’ll try to get to some of those later. Whether you’re curious about what deitykin are, or if you are deitykin looking for a way to navigate this challenging kintype, I hope this series can help clear up a few things.

I know that language changes over time, however, using the phrase “kin with” in that context shows a marked misunderstanding of what it means to be otherkin. The statement above presumes that a deliberate action is being made. It presumes that someone chose to identify as a deity. This is not how being otherkin works. Being otherkin is not a conscious decision. Awakening is a moment of realization, not an act of becoming. To sum up, “kin” is not a verb. Using it as such encourages misunderstandings about the nature of otherkin.

The closest acceptable substitute for “kin” in that sentence would be “identify.” So the sentence would read, “It is offensive to identify with a known deity.” That’s not the same sentence at all now, is it? Identifying with a deity is something that happens all the time. After all, the myths are designed to be relatable. Deities in myths often have the same kinds of dilemmas and relationships that humans have. Mythology brings the divine down to earth where people can understand, interact, and yes, even identify with it.

This brings us to the most important word distinction that the otherkin community has to offer. “Identify with” is not the same as “identify as.” You can have a lot of similarities to a thing without being that thing. For example, I find myself identifying with The Doctor from Dr. Who, but I do not identify as The Doctor. The show brings up a lot of interesting themes, and the actors are phenomenal at their work. But at no point do I believe that I was born on Gallifrey in any incarnation. I’m sure there are Doctor fictionkin out there. They would “identify as” not “identify with” The Doctor. (Fictionkin are a whole different subject, which I won’t go into, both because it is a huge subject to tackle, and because I’m not fictionkin myself.)

The distinction between “with” and “as” seems pretty straight forward on the surface, but it is one of the most hotly debated concepts in the otherkin community. The reason being that people become emotionally invested in their identities. There is a big difference between really liking and admiring dragons, wishing you were a dragon, and mentally, spiritually or emotionally being a dragon. Ultimately only the person involved can determine whether they identify “with” or “as,” because the rest of us can’t read minds. Identifying “with” something does not make you otherkin.  That would fall more under the domain of hearttypes and fursonas. Copinglinks are identifications that were chosen for therapeutic reasons, and are also not otherkin, because once again, otherkin do not choose their kintypes.

This identification does not extend into the physical. Otherkin know that they are physically human. The identification is more a matter of personal belief and experience than a literal delusion. Mentally ill otherkin certainly do exist, but being otherkin in itself is not a mental illness any more than holding religious beliefs would be.

Back to the original statement. After changing “with” to “as,” we now have “It is offensive to identify as a known deity.” This is where the fun begins.  There are two different arguments to make here. I will go into the shorter one first.

According to that statement, since otherkin do not choose their kintype, they are being offensive by merely existing. (How many other groups can you think of that cause offense merely by existing? I can think of several.) Being otherkin is not a deliberate action, as I explained earlier. Therefore, the deitykin in question hasn’t actually done anything. While it is possible to be offended by the mere existence of something, it is not very charitable. When we’re talking about something as deep as an identity, it is unreasonable to ask someone to change just because it makes certain people uncomfortable.

Offense is not about who you are. It’s about what you do.  If the deitykin in question does something unreasonable, then taking offense is fully justified. I will talk about these unreasonable actions in a later post. They certainly do exist and need to be addressed.

Secondly, by not designating who is offended, the statement above implies that the offense caused is universal in nature, as if there are no belief systems anywhere that allow for humans who identify as deities. That is simply not true.

The first example that comes to mind is that giant elephant in the room, Jesus. How many times have I heard people ponder the question of, “If Jesus came back today, would he be welcomed?” I’m guessing the answer is probably no. It’s ok if an incarnation of God walked the earth in the distant past, but in modern times? That kind of thing simply doesn’t happen! Jesus is actually a really bad example of this because deitykin don’t work miracles, or at least none that I’ve seen proven. However it’s important to bring him up because many of the pagans and polytheists in the community, who are also the most likely to take offense at the thought of a deity walking around in human skin, have been influenced by Christianity in one way or another. One of those influences being that of putting the divine up on a pedestal so high that no human can touch it. Not all cultures view divinity from that perspective.

In Nepal there is a tradition of living child goddesses. It’s not exactly the same because the living goddesses are chosen, not self-proclaimed. Also their divinity depends on an indwelling spirit of a goddess which resides with the girl temporarily rather than an innate quality that remains for their entire lives. The tradition also has many rules about what these living goddesses can and cannot do. The concept of divinity in the flesh is handled very carefully. However, it does dispute the idea that identifying as a deity is innately and universally offensive.

In ancient Egypt, every Pharaoh was thought to be a living Heru, or Horus. He, occasionally she, was the living embodiment of Heru on earth. This was accomplished through the kingly ka, which, while something one was born with, becomes activated at coronation. Pharaohs also commonly claimed to be the sons of various kingly deities like Amun and Ra. But this sort of identification was not the sole domain of kings. In Kemetic magical practice, it was not at all unusual for the magician to proclaim him or herself as a deity, sometimes several different ones in the same verse! There are many examples of this in the Coffin Texts where the speaker might be the deceased or sometimes a priest officiating on behalf of the deceased. Borrowing the mantle of a god to achieve a desired goal was not only not offensive, it appeared to be common practice to place yourself in the sandals of a deity!

When it comes to pantheism, everything and everyone is already part of the divine. From that point of view, deitykin would be no more, and also no less, divine than anyone else. From a New Age perspective, everyone has a Higher Self. The deitykin just happens to know one of the names that their higher self has been called.

What a person finds offensive is a very personal thing. I’m not here to tell people that they’re not allowed to take offense at the existence of deitykin because that would not be very effective. I’m just opening up other areas of thought here so that the subject can be examined more objectively than just picking it up as a knee jerk reaction.

(Stay tuned for “Deitykin Part 2: Gods Behaving Badly” to read about the other side of the coin.) 

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Deitykin Part 2: Gods Behaving Badly