Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Staying the Path Part 1: Deities



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.

9 comments:

  1. Yeah, I just started commenting and ended up writing a damn blog post in here. I'm gonna blog about this because it spoke to me majorly after my recent experience with The God and how it affected me questioning my Pagan path. Bottom line is .... I am now and will always be a Pagan. What I've learned is that in neglecting The Masculine and exclusively focusing on The Feminine my Spiritual life was entirely out of balance. When The God came to me it made me question myself because of my internal distrust of the Patriarchy but he is teaching me that to walk the Pagan path, we have to hold the hand of The Goddess AND The God.

    I love this girl. You always make me think.

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    1. I'm looking forward to reading it! I love seeing ideas sparking thoughts that spark more ideas. Sort of makes this whole sharing thing even more meaningful than just getting it out there.

      The distrust of Patriarchy? I totally feel you there; there aren't many more expedient ways to make me nauseated than to read most mainstream Patriarchal views on women, our bodies and our supposed roles in life. *gag* If there's one thing I've learned in my years of working with Hermes, Lugh, The Horned God ... they don't view us as opinion-less, sandwich making baby factories. They challenge us as much as the Goddesses do and sometimes even more so. They don't expect mindless, unquestioning worship but they expect you to do the work, to complete the tasks they set out for us (which, in my experiences have always been beneficial to me). They respect us as spiritual beings, are mindful of us as souls and if you're really lucky (as you have been) they'll rock your goddess world.

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  2. Although I connect deeply with a Pagan path, I have never felt called to work with a God or Goddess. I love reading about them, seeing altars dedicated to them, and I love the mythos behind it all, it just never resonated with me. I've noticed in my years spent diving into Paganism I've let a lot of ceremony fall to the side. The ceremony and ritual of it all drew me in initially, so I was always somewhat disappointed with myself for not creating beautiful altars with figures for all of these Gods and Goddesses who were just at my fingertips waiting to be utilized. I've learned slowly, that my "work" with them happens subtly. Watering my flowers, meditating on my patio in the mornings, rescuing wayward animals, etc. This is a great discussion and I'll be interested to see everyone's response. Your altars are always gorgeous and I love learning more about the Pantheons through other's experiences so thank you for sharing! The thing I appreciate most about this path is that it allows people to move and grow within it. It changes as we do. I find that so very comforting in a spiritual path and I'm sure most would agree. Thanks again for opening the discussion!

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  3. Hey Danni,

    This post gave me a lot to think on. Since I've been on the Pagan path, I've found that three Goddesses have sought me out and they have been guiding me and teaching me. When I first began Athena was constantly giving me clues and signs. I had to do a lot of reading and discovering. The owls and doves were very visible in my little neighborhood and would sit in the tree beside our family room and call at night.
    But because Athena is a maiden I wasn't sure she was calling to me. I'm in my late 50's a mother and a grandmother, long past the maiden stage of life.
    I have since been shown that Athena was there for me when I needed to stand up ,speak my mind and take action. She was my backbone when I needed her.
    I have discovered a snake skin in my back garden and was awaken by a pack of wild dogs running through a field behind my house last Fall. I also had a small frog come and live for a while in the window well of my basement studio. It would jump against the screen and get my attention. And all the while I had been asking for some sign from Hecate. I was thinking she being a crone Goddess would be a great teacher while I begin my Crone years. I just didn't know enough at the time to be able to recognize the her signs. I keep studying.
    The Goddesses are there waiting to engage with us, we just have to learn how to use our "witchy" eyes and tune into our Pagan intuition to see them.
    This year I have been introduced to the third Goddess, who helps me and teaches me, Hera. I'm studying P. Monaghan's book, The Goddess Path and one of the Goddesses she introduces is Hera. I had never had to high of an opinion of Hera. I always pictured her as one of those girls in High School who had a boyfriend who cheated on her and instead of getting angry at the boyfriend she gets angry at all the girls. But since I was doing the chapter on Hera I decided to have an open mind as I began to study. With a lot of research, reading and studying I've come to have a new appreciation and understanding of her and who she really is and how she's been vilified. She too called to me by placing a young roadrunner bird ,a member of the Cuckoo family , one of her favorite birds, in my path while I was visiting out west. I now see her signs quite often.
    My three Ladies have come to me often this year and have helped me deal with some health issues.
    Wow this turned into a long comment, I hope it answered some of your questions. I think I'm going to have to blog on this subject myself!

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  4. Great post, I'm a daughter of Hekate though she and I have a waxing and waning relationship that typically coincides with the dark/light parts of the year. Not all my deity/aspect worship is constant. There's always reverence but not always active communication. Hekate is still my gatekeeper, though, and I ask her to always keep her eyeballs on my thresholds. Can't wait to read more :-)

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  5. Hey lady! ^-^

    I love this post... but I love lots of yours, as they always make me think & look deeper inside myself than I usually do. ^-^

    I don't ever see myself stepping away from a Pagan path of some sort. Like you, I know my path will grow & change. I'll leave certain things behind and bring in new things that fit with me better.

    When I first started my path, I loathed the thought of any sort of male deity at all. Through the past few years, though, I have come to realize the beauty in the balance of all things. There are many women who chose to down play or cut out entirely a connection to male deity, and I can understand where they're coming from. But I've also learned that that particular path isn't quite right for me. I healed my spirit, wrapped only in the Mother's arms, but now I learn to trust masculine energy & deity once again.

    I was missing something, and was kind of surprised when I realized I was missing my connection to the god, that I wasn't complete with just the goddess. It was an interesting revelation, to say the least. ^-^

    I don't currently work with any goddesses or gods on a regular basis. Hestia & Bast are the two most common guests in my home, but I haven't yet found any particular deity that calls to me or pokes or prods me to take things deeper. This could also be because I'm not paying very close attention, however, and your post has added to my own desire to make more time for my spiritual life (which has been lacking, as of late.)

    Thank you again for making me think. I'm looking forward to any follow up posts that you may do to this one. ^-^

    XOXO

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  6. Much like Wicketsmom I haven't felt called to work with a particular god/goddess. I enjoy learning about different traditions, but they do not resonate with me in such a way that I see myself communing with a particular deity. My pagan path feels more tuned into the seasons, daily spiritual tasks and mindfulness. I am currently reading Pagan Spirituality and working through the book and have found it helpful for walking the pagan path as a solo.

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  7. Saraswati called me about 9 years ago and there was no mistaking The Call. That said, when I Work I don't use Deity. I work with what is local to where I am at the time. I live in the Bahamas, so I work with the Sea (and things from it), Sand/Shore, Sun, & Zephyr (as the local prevailing winds are called). I waffle between seeing The Divine as an external source running through All that takes different forms for different people or seeing The Divine as an internal source that takes the form we subconsciously need it to. Of course, I'm open to all variations and thoughts and traditions other than my own, but all I can do is try to find something that works for me and doesn't hurt others in the process. That desire to not harm does not extend to denying my "Pagan/Witch" status just to make others comfortable, though. Like so many others, I am intensely distrustful and resentful of Patriarchy. In my morning devotions during Yoga I acknowledge the spirits of each cardinal direction and then Great Spirit as a nod to my Native American heritage. Blessed Be, Danni. Thank you for opening this up for discussion. It's so refreshing to see so many different ideas, but a shared respect for each other's rights to believe what we believe and walk the path we want to walk.

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  8. I've been a bit all over the place over the years. So much so that my path, if drawn out, would look like on odd squiggle with some vague notion of a direction. I tried 'picking' deities myself. Pele was one of them, and one that is very close to me thanks to my mother's family(Hawai'ian through and through). While I studied the myths and legends, I never felt that deep connection even though She was there. This happened quite a few different time with other deities, until recently. Odin has become the one I've been working with and talking to rather often. He called to me YEARS ago. About 14 years to be exact. It was only recently that things fell into place and He is the one I turn to.

    But like I said, my path is winding. I've stayed on it going on 16 years of learning and exploring. It's been tough for me since I don't really have many people to chat with about the subject but its an experience I would never give up. Why? Its made me what I am today!

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