Forming Devotional Relationships with Deities
In a recent conversation on my Celtic Polytheist Discord server, WitchSpiral PNW, one of our members asked for some advice about forming a relationship with a deity. This is a wonderful question. Here are a few preliminary ideas to get you started:
Begin by reading some of the lore / stories about the deity you are trying to get to know. Some people like to read everything in sight, but I think it’s valuable to start with a few of the stories.
Work those stories. Think about them, and their associations. Notice who else is involved, and what happens. Consider the layers of meaning. Now, do some quiet meditative time when you won’t be interrupted, and imagine the story unfolding. Enter the tale, and walk around inside it as an observer. What can you learn from this vantage point?
Establish a simple devotional practice. If the tales give you specific cues, try to bring your offerings in line with those cues. For example, Brighid might appreciate an altar with a candle dedicated to her, and engraved with her name, or anointed with an oil in her honor. She might like the presence of a tool of some craft you practice, whether it’s woodworking, working with plants (a garden trowel?), or a wooden spoon from your cooking or baking. Make her some delicious food, and serve it on a small plate, or pour a simple offering into a glass on your altar. Sing to her, or hum a tune. Recite a poem that is about her, and even better if it’s one you wrote yourself in her honor. It doesn’t have to be professional quality. If you play an instrument, play a bit of music for her, even if it isn’t perfectly performance-ready.
Listen. It’s easy to overlook this practice when making offerings and doing things. Be still, go into a meditative (or better yet, a trance) state, and listen quietly. Do this often.
Be reliable. Think of what you want and expect in a new relationship with a friend. Show her hospitality, and follow through. It’s better to make a weekly time, or a weekly offering, and be consistent about it, than to be very sporadic. Show that you are reliable, are interested, are listening, and will continue to do so.
Another practice that I use is both simple and profound: Select a scarf that you associate with the deity. Choose a color and texture that feels right. Wear this scarf when you are making your offerings, and when you are interacting with the deity. This becomes a small ritual on its own over time, and builds up a potent charge.
I hope you are all well and enjoying the arrival of fall.