Hey hey everybody. So,question above, what brought you to your gods?
I came to Hekate because I wanted to be one of those mystical, witchy types and I thought by worshiping Her I could obtain that. I came to Hermes because I wanted to start worshiping more gods and He was the other god I was interested in. ( I think I officially decided as I was reading Guardian of the Road, that book out by the Bibiliotheca Alexandrina.) Dionysos I started worshiping because of my own pain, stupid high school unrequited love type stuff, and I thought maybe He would liberate me. While these reasons aren't necessarily good ones I'm simply being honest. Hopefully as I improve myself and get to know Them better my reasons will be out of love.
Hey man, everyone's relationship with Them is different, and develops different ways over the years, so as long as you're respectful I wouldn't worry about it. That said, I don't know how to answer this question in detail without going into a meandering mess, but I'll summarize by saying I had some pretty crazy experiences with a group of friends, especially one individual who was able to horse Them in a really clear way, and after the initial contact of several deities through him, I ended up developing a relationship with several of Them over time through ritual, divination, and at the time through magical practice, although that's less a part now than it used to be. It's a lot less intense and direct in many ways than it used to be(at least for the moment), and I am sure that's mostly a product of me being distracted and working all the time and not being able to work as deeply or consistently as I had time for once(and I suspect that working with magic and those types of energies and skills strengthened my ability to sense Them as well). But They're still around, and during times when I am able to spend more time for a while, I get more back.
Scenario One: A young woman is walking home late one night in the wild and woody hills of Arkansas and takes a shortcut. She comes upon a blazing campfire with a crowd of rowdy, intoxicated people dancing and singing unfamiliar songs. One of the men catches her eye...he is beautiful, and mysterious, and full of danger. His eyes are honeyed wine and his hair is a tumble of dark curls. They never speak a word, but there, besides the campfire, while the revelers sing, they make passionate love. Afterwards, she returns home, and some time later she learns she is pregnant. She goes on to birth a line of daughters, and from them, grand daughters.
Scenario Two: A young woman is walking home from work late one night and, rather than going straight home, she is lured by the sounds of a party going on in the woods. She joins in, shares their liquor and, though she doesn't know any of them, gets carried away and nine months later finds herself pregnant by a stranger. She keeps the baby anyways, and has several more with a man she marries later.
Both of these scenarios are true. Both of them are my grandmother. Both things can be true, I think, without diminishing the truth of the other. It is true when I say that I am the descendant of alcoholics, and it is true when I say I am a descendant of Dionysus.
Because of my family's past, and because I saw things growing up I couldn't explain, I've always felt close to the gods, especially the Greek pantheon. They were comfortable. They were familiar. They were dangerous and mysterious. They were family, and their stories felt like my stories. As I grew older, I began to research mysticism more, and decided to explore if modern oracles existed, as they did in the past. Maybe I was searching for someone to give a voice to what I felt was trying to reach out to me...a feminine half to the masculine portion of my devotions.
One oracle was mad, and consigned herself to the flames. Before she burned, she pointed the way to another, and he gave me a sign.
I've been trailing after Hecate ever since, a curious maenad that hasn't yet learned to stop fearing the dead and the shadows.
Maybe that's why we're drawn to some gods, and they to us. Not because we're the same, but because we're different, and we have things the other one needs to be whole.
Last Edit: May 9, 2014 19:27:00 GMT -8 by Haloveir
"Devotional work is not for good feels, it's to make yourself useful to the gods."
I heard this tonight on Wyrd Ways Radio as the hosts were talking about reasons why people worshiped the deities and about the hunger for validation from others. It made me think of some people I've seen that seem to worship certain gods because they think it will make them seem impressive, or the only time they want to do ritual is when others are watching them. From time to time, I think we're all guilty of this. Polytheists are spread out so far from one another in some cases that it can be tempting to hover over the keyboard, confining your practice to trying to impress other people online or boasting about how you were able to summon a spirit. Being pagan, being a polytheist, can quickly turn into an online pissing match for some. It becomes less about the gods, and more about your pride and ego.
I think from time to time it's good to reexamine what we're looking for and hoping to come from working with the gods. What brought you to your gods, and what keeps you with them?
I think I hesitated in replying to this because I didn't really know what the answer was. It's many things, and it's complicated, but I'll try to make sense of it.
I've always loved ancient Egypt, so it became a natural choice as a religion when, after getting bored of Chrstianity, I was looking for something else. I can't remember why I chose Isis, or if She chose me, but She was the first. I looked to Djehuty because I was a writer, and to Bast, because I liked cats. But then Ganesha turned up, and then eventually Sobek, and it all just went on from there. Bast and I never really gelled, though; She and Her cat netjeri patrol the house, and keep it safe. It's business, nothing more.
Sobek definitely chose me. What brought me to Him? I don't know. I've always loved crocodiles, and I feel He made Himself known to me one day at the zoo, but I didn't realise that until many months later, because apparently I am dense, and I didn't understand it until He thwacked me about it.
Heru and Wepwawet came into my life because of my parent divination, back when I was Kemetic Orthodox.
Hestia turned up when we built our new fireplace/hearth in the lounge room. I hadn't had a hearth goddess before, but She turned up, moved right in, and so yes. It was like She was waiting for the right home for Her.
Hekate came to be via Sobek, because there were things only She could teach me. She then brought me to Artemis, because reasons. IDK. Hermes came because of Hekate, too, because of meditations and rites I was doing that involved Him.
Saraswati came to me in a dream.
Wesir I didn't really do much with until I sat through the six hour night vigil for the Mysteries of Wesir for the first time. It was such a moving experience, and that was when I began to bring Him into my practices.
I feel like I am grossly oversimplifying this, but I think that's better than a 5000 word confusing mess of a reply, so. I'll leave this here for now, and maybe go think on it some more.
Post by moonwolf23 on Jun 28, 2014 11:48:08 GMT -8
I think speculating on why others go to the Gods or requiring that others do your own way is a slippery slope.
Devotional work is for me good feels. I wouldn't do it, if it were not for love. If others want to do it out of duty that is on them, but for me, this is a personal relationship. Assuming that the good feels is due to validation is insulting and really not anyone's business.
Post by spookymuffin on Jul 3, 2014 9:20:02 GMT -8
Saying that "good feels" are an irrelevant part of the devotional experience or that positive emotions have no role in this practice is drawing a line around devotional practice that simply doesn't exist. (Not saying that you're saying this Haloveir, just commenting on the quote you included.) If a devotional practice is, at its essence, the expression of the love we feel for the gods how can we possibly separate that love from the complex of "good feels" that builds and supports the loving emotion? One's devotional practice is a highly complex emotional experience that includes good feels such as satisfaction, peace, serenity, loyalty, creativity, affection, companionship, love, etc. etc. These aren't the only things we feel in practice but I have difficulty imagining a healthy and thriving devotional practice that survives in the long term without some degree of positive emotional experience.
Yes, duty can be a major part of the devotional experience for some (and is not the satisfaction that comes from fulfilling one's duty a "good feel"?). There might, however, be some difference in the worship experience between the person who prays because they are told that is the right thing to do and the experience of the person who prays because they feel close to the gods when they do so. That said, the prayer experience is different for every single individual so making a distinction between the different flavors of the emotional religious experience may be fairly unimportant.
I believe that devotional practice is fundamentally rooted in the personal desire to increase, magnify, and intensify the experience of communion. The restless dissatisfaction with the past or current state of one's degree of religious communion is a major driving force for devotional practitioners. This dissatisfaction is likely not assuaged by the fulfillment of duty though that is likely to be a significant part of it. (After all, many devotional traditions come from a religious context that prioritizes the execution of one's inherent duty.) The desire to intensify the experience of communion and the desire to execute one's duty in the proper manner are not exclusive; they often go hand in hand. Keeping them exclusive from one another leads to irresponsible activity on the part of devotees and empty gestures on the part of duty-motivated worshipers. Neither of these outcomes are good things.
As the the other questions: I still don't know exactly what brought me to the gods I worship now. I've tried writing down coherent narratives but that never feels entirely satisfying. It's more like they just emerged as my life unfolded at different stages and once they did, they jumped up and demanded attention. My first experience with Kali at 16 was an intense visionary encounter that absolutely changed me and I was a serious Kali devotee for several years (or as serious as I was able to be at the time; I was driven by overwhelming love and not by a great deal of rational discrimination). I took up with Loki in my early 20's once again motivated by overwhelming love. I'm still with Him more than a decade later and there's still just a heaping heap o' luv but also a lot of sorrow and disappointment and depression and loss. I returned to my Kali worship a few years ago and fairly recently transitioned that to include Sri Lalita.
What keeps me here? Love, I suppose. A deeper and more complex and involving kind of affection than I have ever felt for any human being but that includes lots of human-level love and passion (and other, less positive emotions that distinguish the human emotional landscape). A form of duty, as well. As relationships grow a network of obligations form around them and the kind of relationship I have with Loki at least does have certain duties connected with it. And honestly, I stick around because I am terribly, horribly, incurably curious about what happens next. I wanna know how this wacky love story ends and I can't learn that unless I keep at it.
Spookymuffin, lots of what you said is *very* much how I feel. Connection and love are the main starting points, and the meat-and-potatoes of my practice, and I think very often the best parts of others' practices, going by what they often say. HOWEVER, as one might know from having been in romantic relationships, or pursuing a high level of skill in any particular discipline, or even working with a mentor or a therapist, being in a healthy, loving relationship with any particular One or thing is not happy and awesome and elating all the time. Sometimes you have to go to events with your S.O. when you're mad at them and make nice with family members you don't like. Sometimes(frequently) I don't want to practice vocal warmups, exercises, and working on the most difficult parts of my voice, but if I'm going to continue making progress, I have to get over it and do it anyways. Sometimes your therapist or mentor may ask you hard questions, or encourage you to take risks that you are not into, at all. Sometimes, even when you love your Gods, you've stayed up too late working on homework or work of other kinds, had a bad day at a job you hate, and really just want to get into bed immediately because you have to wake up at 6am the next morning. Or something bad happens, and you are angry with Them because of it, so you decide to give Them the cold shoulder, or even subconsciously give yourself excuses. Or They ask you to do something that absolutely terrifies you. But you do that enough, and keep skipping prayer and other opportunities to engage, your relationship with Them can dwindle to the point where you have to backtrack progress, or you've misplaced some of your capacity for hearing Them due to lack of regular practice, or worse, They become upset with your frequent dismissal of Them.
Any sort of pursuit/discipline, I think, comes from a place of love, trust, and relationship(in my experience!), but sometimes you just aren't feeling it at the moment. That's the time when you pull yourself to the altar and do it anyway, even if it is briefer than usual, or not as enthusiastic as you wish it could be. You gotta slog through fallow periods to come out on the other end.
That said, I think starting with and emphasizing "duty" over "relationship", and not putting a context as to why it matters, and instead saying, "You owe it to Them because They're the Gods," is completely unhelpful and off-putting, does a disservice to the reality of how devotional relationships work for many people, and is almost exactly the same as saying "You should do it because that's how it is." I know for a fact that there are people who would completely disagree with me, and I welcome their comments to continue a lively and interesting conversation!
Last Edit: Jul 3, 2014 16:35:53 GMT -8 by marybeth
What first brought me to the gods was curiosity from the vast amount of mythology I read as a child.
As for specific deities, I was actually never going to associate myself with Hekate (because of the image she had gotten in Wiccan worship, I didn't really know much else at the time besides the stereotypical bits). One day at a shop, I was extremely drawn to a small statue of her, and as much as I didn't want to get it, it was almost a compulsion. Some time later, maybe even a few years later, I prayed to her when needing to find a job, and as I got into my bed, I heard an eerie singing outside of my home. There was no one near, and it definitely wasn't wildlife, and I definitely don't have enough Irish blood in my family to warrant a banshee connected to us, and I realized it was a sign from her (I did find a job too).
Some time after that, in an experience with a teacher of mine, we walked through a guided meditation to the underworld. Now, there was supposed to be no actual crossing over, it was more of a meditative exercise, but the figure who lead me always flickered between Hekate and Persephone. Then, at a spot where it was specifically vague and was set up for a possible experience of crossing over, I was basically grabbed by my collar by the figure, who now flickered between three faces (I've since figured out who the 3rd face was, although it's taken a very long time, and turns out it's Styx, which is both awesome and terrifying) and basically claimed me, through both devotional practice and my path in witchcraft. They said no matter where I ended up, I'd come back to them. It was scary as hell, an entirely different flavor of journeying that I was used to, and I was stunned for a long time after that.
Since then, I've had one other really physical experience with Hekate that I've told, definitely worth mentioning, and definitely reminds me to keep secure in my mind that this is the right path. I was walking down the road near my apartment, and stopped when a black dog, a Rot, was about to trot and cross the road when a car was coming. I told it to stay, with a stern voice, and it stopped. When the car passed, I motioned for it to come over out of the median and back up to the buildings, and it did so. The whole exchange lasted maybe 10 seconds. About 5 or so minutes later, I look up (I walk with headphones and often get lost in my thoughts) and see a car spinning out. I scampered up the hill, and by the time it corrected and got off the side of the hill, it was where I had been. Had I been about 10 seconds further, I would have been hit. The next day, I saw the same dog outside my apartment, under the maple tree where I leave my offerings. 3 or so days later, I saw it being walked by it's owner, and back where it belonged. That was an experience for me, and a test I suppose. I guess I passed, because if I hadn't, I'd have gotten smashed and possibly not survived.
For me, I'm still really discovering my path. I've had so many twists and turns the past few years in my life, and things are still pretty rocky. But I know at least spiritually who will be large pillars in my life, and that's comforting. It's also a bit intimidating, because I know that my struggles now are basically life stalls that I'm letting get in my way. I know the goddesses are waiting for me to be more involved in worship and working with them and, since they are goddesses and all, time really doesn't matter. They care because they've taken an interest in me, and knowing that is pretty awesome, especially when sometimes life really gets in my way.
I know that's kind of rambling, but I'm getting tired, it's 1am here haha.
No, not rambling, and I think it's really awesome(in both the "really cool" sense and in the "full-of-awe" sense). Thank you for sharing. Hekate and magical practice are making a return in my life and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it, and also letting life things get in the way of practicing regularly, so I understand that feeling. I am starting to wonder as I write this if doing offerings and rituals on a more regular basis and putting myself more often and more formally "in Their presence" wouldn't help me with my sense of direction.
It most likely would. Just making yourself available, so to speak, and bringing yourself to them will definitely help.
A bit of a side note: I once had a mentor tell me that we often call the gods and spirits to us, when we often need to be calling ourselves to them. I think this is very applicable when you are first establishing a relationship with a spirit and especially a deity. I just thought that was cool and it popped into my head haha