Hi, anon. I think you are coming at this from a very narrow-pointed frame of reference, which is not something one should have in relation to much of anything. I mean, you can make broad, sweeping generalizations about pretty much anything and be wrong about it. For an example, people will stupidly say, “girls aren’t gamers,” which is not true at all since, as of 2012, 47% of all gamers were women. But broad sweeping generalizations in religion is really, really bad because religions vary across cultures, across personal interpretations, and across every manner of boundary one can think of. So, it’s pretty obvious from your ask that you don’t really have much experience with looking outside of your tiny, little box.
Let me educate you.
In many religions, it is very acceptable to make requests to the gods. I’ve done some quick research regarding a couple of different religious traditions to help explain things to you.
In Shinto, as duskenpath pointed out to me, “it’s thought if you petition and the kami grants your wish, you continue to patronize the shrine in thanks, and it’s a win-win situation for everybody, like Shinto has a very healthy view of exchanges and petitions.” Continuing with this viewpoint, I did a quick Google search for information about Shinto beliefs and petitions. As found here: “specific prayers or petitions to kami aimed at obtaining particular this-worldly benefits.” While I am not the person to turn to for information on Shinto, these two quotes tend to lead one to believe that petitioning the kami is something quite often found in Shinto and that, if asked, many of those who practice Shinto would, maybe not laugh in your face, but at least tell you that your point-of-view is wholly out of sync with their religious reality.
In Hinduism, as found here: “Devotees of the Hindu devas and devis may petition and perform rituals for a number of life situations including money drawing, restoring wealth and prestige, reconciling lovers, finding a suitable marriage partner, blessing a home, family, or new child, bringing luck, providing strong protection, facilitating success in one’s chosen professional field, and providing wisdom and insight.” So again, in the culture of Hinduism, making requests of the gods for various things, whether from something large and intense like propitiating the rain god during monsoon season to requesting protection, financial stability, and the blessing of a home.
Much of hoodoo is entirely about making petitions to beings that can grant people want they desire most in life. Prayers and petition requests are submitted in an effort to achieve whatever it is the petitioner is seeking: a new job, fucked up shit to happen to an enemy, a home blessing, success in court, etc. As found here: “Prayer is a manner of verbally addressing petitions and praise to God, to spiritual beings, to helper-spirits, to saints, or to Spirit, however we conceive of such. Prayers are directed toward the divine, and are deep expressions of reverence, intent, or supplication for specific purposes, generally on behalf of our clients.”
But let’s take this a step further: I did cursory searches on other polytheistic branches, specifically Hellenic and Asatru. According to the Raven Kindred, “…because the blot must be poured in honor or petition of a God or Goddess on their holiday or some other important occasion. For example, a father tending his sick child might pour a blot to Eir the Goddess of healing.” Oh, hey, look. That dude would make a petition by pouring a blot. And according to Neokoroi: “Prayer was an important element of religion then and now. We offer prayers to pay homage to the gods, show that we remember them, and make petitions and vows to them.” Hm. Again, someone would make petitions, requests, etc to their gods when looking to achieve something…
I think my point is clear: across numerous religious traditions, whether they be of a pagan nature or otherwise (since, if I recall correctly, neither Hindus nor Shinto practitioners consider themselves pagan unless they fall under the pagan umbrella due to other reasons), petitions are quite common.
Here’s the thing, though, none of these traditions that I’ve just told you about are mine.
I’m a Kemetic (with some other flavors across the board) but mostly just Kemetic. It is based on my historically informed Kemetic practice that I have offered these petitions on a monthly basis (and because Sekhmet said it was time). In ancient Egypt, the laity didn’t have access to the gods unless they went through a priesthood. So, in essence, I’m recreating that. This is something that I don’t think you really understand about these services. This is my job. This is what I got after months of going through some really fucking heinous initiation bullshit. I’m taking the time to intercede on behalf of people who may or may not work with Sekhmet to get shitty situations movement, to get blockages broke the fuck open, to heal themselves after rough situation, and to see that they get what it is they’re requesting.
Another thing is that I’m using the art of heka in all of my petitions. Heka is utilizing words, activating them specifically, to see the wants and requests through. I’m not just going to Sekhmet and saying, “Hey, so-and-so is looking for this. Can you do that thing?” And leaving things like that. I’m using activated words in an effort to better attain the goals and desires people are reaching out to me for assistance, and Sekhmet’s assistance, with.
But let’s look at what you think will happen if someone submits a petition through me: “It could cause somebody a lot of hell, a lot of money, and a lot of problems.” Yeah, I suppose in some instances, if you aren’t actually doing any legwork for your request, then it could cause you a lot of hell. I mean, if anyone is looking for a magical wand/magical cure to fix whatever problems they may be facing, then it doesn’t really matter what they request. Why are the gods/spirits/saints/etc. going to bother giving anything to anyone who isn’t actually interested in doing a damn thing to see an end to whatever their situation is? They’re not. And will they fuck things up? Maybe, if they want to teach a lesson, if they want to cause some general mayhem. But you can’t just assume that is always going to be the case. Why? Because nobody knows.
But here’s the thing that people may not be aware of. Since I am the one who is submitting the petition to a deity, on their behalf, I am the one who is going to get the brunt of the “shit end of the stick.” I don’t ask for anything in return for these requests. I sacrifice my time, my money, my energy, and one Saturday a month/early Sunday morning a month to make sure this goes smoothly. It takes me hours to write the petition requests. It takes me a few hours to find what I feel are the appropriate offerings for whatever petition requests have come my way. And then for the rest of the day, I’m cleaning and generally building up my energy reserves to meet up with Sekhmet to submit the requests that night. And then I’m taking more time and energy the next day to write it up for everyone to read.
Again: Will petition requests always be answered? No, because as I said if someone is just looking to my work and what I do on behalf of Sekhmet, at her request, as a magical cure, then they’re not going to get anything out of it. They’re going to waste their time and my time by putting in the request. You can’t just sit at home and say, “I made a request to Sekhmet to get me a job,” and not fill out applications or go to interviews or do the legwork. You can’t just sit at home and say, “I made a request to Sekhmet to help me with my anxiety,” and not do whatever you feel is necessary to get a better handle on whatever it is that is causing that anxiety, whether that assistance be medication, support groups, breathing techniques, therapy, or whatever you can throw at it. Etc. Etc. Et al.
The point in all of this rambling anon – I’m really sorry that you seem to think that people will only get shit on by the gods when they make a request. I’m sorry that whatever you were raised with or whatever experiences you have had are apparently of the shitty variety. I feel that. I feel like I’ve been put through some very serious bullshit lately, but I have hope, which is something you evidently do not. I have hope that by putting this stuff out there and interceding on behalf of others that I am doing something worthwhile, maybe even noble, for my community – my immediate community and the underlying pagan and polytheist community.
TL;DR Your belief that petitions are wrong is very narrow-minded and very, very wrong. Your thoughts on what can happen when people ask things of the gods is incredibly sad. You obviously didn’t take the time to find out what I was doing or why I was doing it and quite possibly just want to rile me up. You failed. If you’re uncomfortable with what I’m doing, block me. If you’re uncomfortable with petitions in general, I’m sorry but don’t come into somebody else’s religious path and attempt to tell them they’re wrong. That’s a dick thing to do and honestly, this community needs a lot less dickhead and a lot more people willing to assist others in any way they possibly can even reaching out to the gods, if necessary.