Welcome to the latest in our on-going column, ev0king the Question. Here, we invite regular ev0ke contributors and guests to share their thoughts on a particular question. Sometimes, it will be silly. Sometimes, it will be serious. Sometimes, a little bit of both.
Below, find this month’s question, and answers from Pagans and polytheists from a variety of backgrounds and traditions. Do you have thoughts of your own? If so, please feel free to share them below.
The Question: Hekate is the most popular Deity associated with witchcraft, but there are other Deities of magic. Who is your favorite, or which Deities would you like to see receive more devotion?
Rebecca Buchanan is a regular contributor to ev0ke, and is the editor and founder of Eternal Haunted Summer.
In addition to Hekate, I would argue that the Egyptian Isis and the Norse Odin are also quite popular as Deities of magic; in the case of Isis, there is a strong overlap with healing and motherhood, while Odin’s association with magic overlaps with his role as a God of divination.
I don’t think either needs me to send devotees in their direction.
That said, I can think of three Deities who do deserve more attention: the Charites. These Greek Goddesses, known in the English-speaking world as the Graces, oversee beauty, charm, wit, goodwill, and good conversation. These are subtle magics that strengthen relationships and the bonds between individuals, families, communities, and nations. This is the magic of words and wisdom, of cheer and comradeship, of healthy debate and mediation.
We need more of this magic in the world.
Ashley Nicole Hunter is a founder and editor of ev0ke.
While Hekate is the mistress of magic in general, I think all the deities get in on it, and the sort of magic you’re working may call for the aid of different gods. Not because gods are like an ingredient in a cake recipe, but because like people, each has their particular area of expertise that they just excel at (and let me say now that I think no matter the magic you’re working, you should try to build a relationship with a god before you call on them, just like I would get to know my neighbor before I show up at his door looking for someone to fix my lawnmower).
But I would love to see more job-related or communications-based magic that petitions Hermes. More magic about letting go of anxieties and flexing your creative muscles that calls out to Dionysos. Much, much more necromantic work that seeks the aid and support of Persephone.
Irisanya Moon (she/they) is an author, witch, and initiate in the Reclaiming tradition. She has written books and blogs on magick, resilience, and dancing with grief. Irisanya cultivates spaces of self-care/devotion, divine relationship (whatever that means to you), and community service as part of their heart magick, activism, and devotion to the godds. She is devoted to Aphrodite, Iris, Hecate, and the Norns.
I’ve always been fascinated by deities. I never thought I ‘had’ to work with one, but I was drawn to that sort of relationship from the start of my witchcraft. I wasn’t happy enough with the idea of a general goddess or god figure. I was interested in someone who was nameable and knowable.
From my first meditation where I met someone who was very Gaia-like to embodied experiences of Cerridwen and Ereshkegal, I’ve danced with deity and wanted more. I currently work most often with Aphrodite, Hecate, and the Norns. But there’s another who is part of my divine family: Iris.
I could say that Iris was the reason I got into Reclaiming after that first fateful California Witchcamp.
On an afternoon in December, I was preparing to sign up for my first Reclaiming core class: Elements of Magick. I had a registration form in front of me and I had to fill it out and mail it back to the teachers. There were questions about my practice, my interest, and my experience level. I was nervous and excited, but also confused. I didn’t know these people. I didn’t know who was going to be in that class. I didn’t know if this was the right thing to do, even though all signs had pointed me in this direction. It was too easy or too straightforward. I’m not sure what the feeling was anymore, but it was a question. Do I do this or not?
I looked out my window and in front of the mountains I saw a brilliant rainbow. And not one of those faint ones that pop up every now and then during the rainy season in California. It was so bright. So colorful that it was difficult to believe it was even real. I stared at it for a long time, just taking in the beauty before I did the thing that set me off on a journey.
I opened Google and typed in ‘rainbow goddess.’ Iris emerged. A Greek goddess, a messenger, and one who travels a rainbow between sky and sea. She was described as a servant and an iridescent being. The webpage I read also described her as graceful, with golden wings.
That moment unfolded as a holy moment. I remember reading the description and knowing this was the sign. I suddenly remembered all the times rainbows appeared during pivotal points of my life (and still do). And to make a very long story short: I started to work with her and eventually incorporated her name into my own.
Since then, I’ve written a book on her, “Pagan Portals: Iris – Goddess of the Rainbow and Messenger of the Godds,” because no one had written much about her. I have worked with her in rituals and I have done possessory work with her and a rainbow mask.
I wish more people worked with Iris. She is not only a messenger for Zeus and Hera and many more, but she also reminds me of the power of service. She has a strong role in a number of stories, helping to carry important messages during the Trojan War, during the despair of Demeter, etc. Iris becomes a trusted go-between with her ability to carry messages from the godds to humans. And she is a psychopomp, the one who is able to travel between all the worlds, including the underworld. Part of her power is to arrive in a form that makes the most sense to the person who is intended to hear the message so they listen.
Iris also takes a pitcher and collects water from the River Styx, or from the drops from rocks around the river. This magickal nectar is used during times of sacred oaths, where the godds would drink this water after making solemn promises. To go back on a promise would not be wise.
But what I think Iris brings to the world today is not just colors and travels and messages, she also reminds us of the power of service — both for self and community. While, like many godds, it’s easy to promote a snapshot of their magick, Iris is complex and offers us insight into being in service. I like to think of her as being a reminder to also serve ourselves when we serve our communities, maybe making sacred promises to tend to the parts of us that need tending. For in the act of tending ourselves, we can tend our communities.
Maybe it’s because I am a part of an activist tradition that I see Iris as a helper for the many burnt-out protestors, the many frustrated and overworked humans in the world. She indeed has entered into a life of service, aided by her wings and her traveling abilities, but my experience with her has also taught me about how I can support my own magickal agreements and vows.
Iris is someone to check out and drop into knowing. There aren’t a lot of words or sources (though I know of one book…), so she is someone to slowly get to know through careful attention and intention. In that practice, you can hear the messages meant for you.
(And you might realize she was sending you messages all along.)