A little while ago, Aine over at The Deepest Well was thinking about the great amount of people walking a pagan path and wondering how many stay on it for the long haul and if it isn't just a passing phase for a good number of people.
This led me to think about my own path, the way I walk it and how long I've been on it. The thing about this sort of spiritual journey is, unlike most organized religions I've come to know, it's changeable and transitional. It will grow and change as you learn more and grow and change yourself.
In the past, I've written a little about my beginnings on this path; about finding the Olympians in a book when I was maybe 7 or 8 and how their stories moved something in my soul. Before I would drift off to sleep at night I would say a prayer to each of them - beginning and ending with Hestia though I knew not why - to simply say hello, thank you, or to ask for guidance on something. Sometimes I would call on one individually just to talk about something that was bothering me or that I didn't understand. As a child, you don't over think these sorts of things, you just talk to your gods like other kids talk to theirs. While I respected each and every one of them, it was Artemis who claimed me as her own. But there was often also a bit of a mischievous laugh and a wink from an adorable curly haired god who I would hide beneath the sheets in the middle of the night with and talk of fun, adventure and dreams.
But, as is often the case, as we grow and we change, so too do our spiritual needs. And as those change, so to will our relationships with deity. Some will end; they might be painful or hurtful, they might fade away in such a way that you feel just fine. Others will change and grow, they will deepen and more will be asked of you. You will be challenged and you will learn. New ones will begin as your direction, leaning and pathwork changes.
Different gods came into my life, from other Pantheons. And though I did (and still do) hold the Greek Pantheon in my heart as my own, I could not deny the calling of others. Each has had something to teach me; be it a story, a habit, a skill or an important off shoot from my path. And while some have stayed with me for years others have only stayed with me for as long as it took to heed their teachings. Some of the relationships have transitioned, the best example being my relationship with Artemis. As I grew and married, I could no longer be one of her chosen. We knew it was going to happen and we were at peace with it when it did. And while she may no longer be the Goddess who has claimed me (that space is currently vacant), she still speaks to me in her aspect of Huntress and Wild Woman and it is she that I petitioned to watch over my sister in childbirth and to keep watch over my niece as she grows. Some, like the one I have with Hermes, have weathered the storms of my life, deepening and changing as I have grown.
Yet there are others still, whose signs have been clear as the sky on a cool Winter night, yet I have only recently realized that they've been calling to me. Not too long ago, I wrote about death and the dying becoming a part of my path and someone who I'd never spoken to previously brought up working with Hecate. I shrugged it off, chalking it up to someone just giving me the 'go-to' goddess of witches, if you will. I'd never felt any pull or inclination to work with her before and I don't tend to just petition whichever god/dess seems like a good fit for something. I forgot all about the comment and became ridiculously enamored of skeleton keys; snatching them up whenever I saw one that felt like it needed to come live with me. I've seen numerous snakes this summer and heard owls constantly. Still, I didn't put the pieces together, I chalk a lot of it up to mundane matters sucking up all of my time. Even after I wrote about the black wolf and the torch bearer and she came up several more times I still didn't get it. It wasn't until a few nights ago, while sleeping, that it finally dawned on me; Hecate is calling to me.
And so, she will be joining my household Deities for however long she deigns to work with me. For my part, I will be reading and researching all that I can on her, her mysteries and mythos and am open to suggestions.
As this has gotten a bit long, I will save my thoughts on rituals, magic and staying my path in a secondary post.
How has your relationship with the spirits, deities, ancestors, etc. changed throughout your journey on this path? How did you find them? Did they call to you and did you, unlike myself, hear them sooner rather than later?
What are your thoughts on staying the pagan path?
P.S. Some have asked over the years if I view the Gods as individual entities or different facets of the two all encompassing entities. I'm a polytheist, so I see them as more or less individuals, although I will say that some of the Gods and Goddesses you find across different cultures and Pantheons are very possibly the same ones bearing different names. For my part, I tend to worship and work with quite a few, though Earth, Sky and Sea are the biggest three (as they are the life givers) along with my Patrons (well, Patron right now.)I work with and am inspired by others, I have love and awe for them but they haven't claimed me. If that makes sense.