Do you respect the gods of your religion — your pantheon? Do you respect the gods (pantheon) of other religions?
I think that most Pagans would answer yes to both of those questions. (At least, I would hope that they would!)
Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive, but when I see people using the names of the Pagan deities for their pets, or characters in a novel, it gets under my skin. My gods and goddesses are just as real to me as their god is to them, and I just have to wonder how they would feel if I named my cat Yahweh, or made Jehovah the name of a character in a novel.
And don’t think I’m not tempted: I regularly vent to friends and say that I’m going to use those names for characters in a novel.
But I know I won’t.
They may not be names of any of the deities that I personally follow, but they are the names of a deity. And if I want others to come to respect my path and my deities, then I have to respect theirs as well. (Law of return, folks: it’s not just for magic anymore.)
And yet, I don’t want to just let it slide, either. People won’t learn about our path, our deities, unless we educate them, unless we have the courage to say, “Hey, Apollo is as alive and real to me as Jesus is to you. Would you like it if I named my cat Jesus?”
Sure, some are going sneer and dismiss you as a flake, but maybe, just maybe, some will stop and think and realize that it is not okay to denigrate the gods of other religions. (By “other religions” I mean Pagan religions: I’m relatively certain that none of them would use Allah for the name their pet.)
So why do they think that it is all right to profane* Pagan deities by using their names in such a way?
Part of it is because schools are still teaching classes on mythology in such a way that people don’t even realize that this was their religion, let alone that it still is a religion.
And there is still a belief among many of those who follow the “mainstream” religions that there is only one true right way – a belief, thankfully, that is not shared by any of the Pagans that I have met. We realize that there is no one true right way: just because a path doesn’t work for you doesn’t meant that it isn’t the right one for someone else.
Someday, maybe, all deities will be treated with equal respect. Until then all we can do is try to educate those around us.
And respect them.
1: to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt
2: to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use