I’ve already discussed this extensively here and here, but since this blog has gained a few new readers since those were written, I thought it might be good to revisit this subject in a brief and more concise manner. That being said, we here in the LV-426 Tradition consider the spectrum of God-and-human relationships to basically fall into six broad categories, which are listed here in descending order of a person’s claimed proximity to one or more Gods.
Saints: The “God-and-ancestor” relationship; when you’re dead and you’re ostensibly with a Deity in His or Her spiritual realm (e.g., Imhotep; Moses; Muhammad; Gandhi; Gerald Gardner; etc.)
Priests: The more devout of the “God-and-worshiper” relationships; when you have a devotional relationship with a Deity and you demonstrate your faith in Them every single day (e.g.; Hindus who practice daily puja; Muslims who pray five times a day; etc.)*
Laity: The less devout of the “God-and-worshiper” relationships; when you have a devotional relationship with a Deity, but you only demonstrate your faith in Them occasionally (e.g., at church on Sunday mornings; on certain holidays; when you really need to; etc.)
Allies: The “Partners-in-crime” relationship; when you don’t worship a Deity in any devotional sense, but you tap into Their energies for strictly magical purposes (e.g.; Ceremonial Magicians; Thelemites; LaVeyan Satanists; most New Agers; etc.)
Friends: The “God-and-acquaintance” relationship; when you have experienced a Deity but currently have no relationship with Them of any kind (e.g., a Pagan who is formerly Christian, but who still respects Jesus; a Christian who experiences a Pagan God and who doesn’t just dismiss Them as a “demon”; etc.)
Prodigies: The “Horse-and-rider” relationship; when you have an uncanny knack for channeling a Deity without even believing in Them or knowing that you’re doing it (e.g., Jim Morrison as a prodigy of Dionysus; Marilyn Monroe as a prodigy of Aphrodite; etc.)
Please keep in mind that these categories are not meant to be seen as a vertical hierarchy, but are a horizontal series of relationships that are more or less equal in worth. (The Gods don’t necessarily care about priests “more” than laity, allies, friends or prodigies.) Please also note that any single person can fall into more than one of these categories at the same time, and that they can also switch back and forth between them. These categories are neither static nor mutually exclusive.
For example, I’m a priest of Seth-Typhon, a layperson of Ishtar, and a friend of Anubis, Isis, and Osiris. (I could also be a prodigy of one or more Deities I don’t know about, since part of being a prodigy means you don’t know you are one.) There was a time when I was only a prodigy of Seth, and even after I started believing in Him, we were just allies at first. There was also a time when I was “just friends” with Seth and served Ishtar as a priest instead (i.e., from 1999 to 2001). So there’s quite a lot of mobility between these categories, and just because you have one kind of relationship with one particular Deity doesn’t mean it will always stay that way.
Finally, there are numerous shades of grey that can exist within each of these categories. For example, laity can include people who only demonstrate their faith once a week as well as those who demonstrate it just once a year. Allies can include people who believe all Deities are just archetypes as well as those who think They’re real somehow (and who just don’t worship Them). Priests can include people who regard their Deities as parental figures and those who regard Them as significant others (i.e., Gods’ spouses or “godspouses”).
There is at least one other kind of God-and-human relationship that I should mention, but it doesn’t really count as a type of “companionship”:
Enemies: The “anti-God” relationship; when you are devoted to keeping a Deity out of your life or even opposing Their worship by other people (e.g., monotheists who consider other people’s Gods to be “demons” that need to be “cast out,” etc.)
As a final note, our model for understanding the nuances of God-and-human companionship is not set in stone and will be improved upon as needed. There may very well be other kinds of theistic relationships that we’ve never seen or even considered before, so we are therefore open to any suggestions others might have in relation to how this model can be improved.
A visual representation of our model
* In LV-426, we differentiate between “priests” and “ministers.” Priests are defined solely in terms of what they do for their Gods and not what they do for other people; they don’t have to lead a congregation or officiate public rituals for anyone (unless their Gods want them to). Ministers, on the other hand, may or may not believe in any Gods but are still authorized to officiate things like legal wedding ceremonies. We believe you can be a priest and a minister at the same time (and many people are), but it’s like being a writer and an editor at the same time; the two roles are still very different.