If you work with a specific Goddess and your relationship includes a lesser known aspect of their influence, that say, some academic disagrees with, good for you.
Someone once told me that Hekate was a “dark Goddess” and “the Crone” who was only good for certain things. Yet every time I worked with her it was a very fair, youthful, loving, bright experience. This was a bit before the internet became so populated and full of information. I was conflicted because this “authority” was like, “That’s not Hekate. I don’t know why you would call her a Goddess of Love.”
Well.. the epithets Erôtotokeia, “bearer of love,” and Philoskylax “Lover of Dogs” now come to mind, both of which were relevant to me at the time; and these can now be referenced, thanks to a few great authors I will link in the comments. I can say, there she is, with LOVE.
Yet I don’t need an academic to tell me who a God is or isn’t. Culturally that deity may have been something to someone somewhere, but it is also possible to directly relate to a spirit and discover, lo and behold, they are someone else as well.
Like people, Spirits and Deities has many dimensions.
For me, when I see some probably well meaning academic popping off and correcting someone about the nature of a Goddess, God, or magick I remember this. We live in a rather strange and interesting time of lots of information available to all of us. It is also a time of people trying to tell other people how to do something, what to think, or sometimes what’s “safe” and what’s not. While it is often well intended, this isn’t always helpful. It reminds me of my first sudden meeting with Hekate, alone with myself, when the torch bearing woman appeared between two warriors, and Her body became so large it encompassed the Earth, the Sea, and the Sky, and She said, “I am EVERY Goddess”.
At the time I didn’t know who she was, but certain that this was true in my very vivid, heart-pounding experience. She was everything, she was certainly ‘every Goddess…” and if she is EVERY Goddess than she can certainly be both a Dark Goddess, and Love Goddess, and Healer, and Matron, and Patron, and Guide, and more. Yet someone felt the need to “correct me”, who Hekate was; but in the end, I was right about the relationship I formed, and the way she appeared to me. It wasn’t just true because it turns out there’s an epithets associating her with love, but because this is the way I knew Her, and the magick that formed our bond. Even if there were not Epithets, no cultural history, this would still be true. For she came with torches, and she brought love, and this is how she said she was to me.
And she was, and she is, love, and so much more.
Hekate is who she is with you, and so is any other Goddess. It’s possible to be a Goddess of Love, and, War. If you are heartfully and earnestly connecting, but have doubt, and you need verification, you can research, read old stories, but remember Deity is not a statue. It is not static. While someone may have compiled a great volume, or be particularly emphatic about the nature of a deity, it is through the lens of their experience, biases, cultural norms, and issues. Regardless of how right they would like to be, they probably have a very different take than someone a few thousand years ago would. And their descriptions most probably have been different because we are not there, with their view, in their time, under the currents and tides of life at the time, and missing all the vital experiential information of the moment when it was written then. With a few exceptions we simply cannot know the mind of anyone thousands of years ago, we can make educated guesses. As soon as we apply that knowledge to now, it is different.
These “deities are only” and “cannot be” statements also lack the nuance, and respect that humanizes our relationship with a Spirit or Deity, who may have chosen their own path and gone the way that they like, to make the connections they choose, despite historical context. We don’t own the Gods… We are in relationship with them, and if we’re lucky, it becomes reciprocal. I sometimes imagine what may or may not have occurred if when I was at the Sea, and this great moment happened, and I had carried this restricted context of the Goddess, had I said, “Well you’re not Hekate she is only a crone, and dark. You’re not dark.”
Imagine telling any person they aren’t who they are? The audacity!
Gods grow and change. I can think of a few authors who have elegantly described this process of divinity, travel and growth with both personal shares, and historic context. Approach with reverence, respect, curiosity, and questions, but also an open heart if you are trying to have a true spiritual, magickal, experience and wish to have communion. She, he, they these Gods and Spirits may be different than you expected.
Make your circles, build your shrines, go with heart and preparedness, open the doors, call out and work with the best [for you] who comes. Respect who shows up, and if it is right for you, build a relationship. Read books, do rituals, and associate yourself with their spheres of influence. Ask questions, be willing to hear, sometimes transgress, because magick is ever a transgressive act of love, daring, will, and knowledge, teasing out our alchemy of soul, causing us to change.
*Image of Hekate is from my Altar, the Plaque created by Jeff Cullen.
The Many Epithets of Heakte, by Mat Auryn https://www.patheos.com/…/2017/07/19/many-epithets-hekate/
Hekate And Relationships: From Ancient Companions to Modern Uses, by Dr. Cyndi Brannen https://keepingherkeys.com/blog/f/hekate-and-relationships-from-ancient-companions-to-modern-uses