From the books we read to the social media sites we partake in that talk a lot about the Deities we honor, a great many of us still find ourselves short of the information we seek in how to deepen our understanding and relationships with them. So many publications, both on and off line, talk about honoring or feeling really connected to a particular deity, but not so much about the process of getting there or even developing or sustaining a good, working relationship with them.
With information accessible at our fingertips, it’s become quite easy to Google information about a God or Goddess and even look up spells. A search through a six inch thick grimoire covered in dust from its hiding place beneath the floor boards for the perfect spell is no longer necessary. Today, one can simply type in their search and truly, like magic the information you are searching for appears. But be forewarned about using this method. Using the Gods as a means to an end is not only frowned upon by more experienced Pagans, but the Gods don’t like it so much either. Some people think that they can use the Gods like the same electronic devises they use to research them; just plug it in and in a moment, instant gratification for your needs.
That isn’t the way it works. And if this has been your method, you might be wondering why some spells have worked out well for you while others haven’t or while some have even blown up in your face. Just like your personal relationships with people, you should treat your relationship with your deities. Your wife wouldn’t appreciate if you only spoke to her when you needed something from her, nor would the husband appreciate being lavished with attention weeks or even months after being ignored only to find that your affections came with a request for something. The same is true of the Gods….and believe me, ask any Pagan or Witch and they will tell you, the last beings on the planet you want to tick off, disrespect or slight is a God or Goddess. They are good about returning the favor to you in spades.
The first thing you should know is that any time you consider asking a Deity to lend their energy to what you’re doing or wanting – whether that’s a ritual, a spell, another act of magick, a prayer, or anything else, it’s wise to have a solid idea of who you’re asking, and why. Take some time to do your homework and cross reference everything you find on the web…. need I say “Bonure!”? Find the deity you’d like to get to know better, and study his or her history, how ancient peoples worshiped them, what types of offerings appease them, gather ideas on erecting an altar to them and so on.
Secondly, keep in mind that your relationship with a Deity is just that—a relationship, and just like any other relationship you have had in your life, it takes time to build. Just as your relationships with your friends probably aren’t all exactly the same, your relationships with deities may not be all exactly the same. Like anyone else, each deity has his or her own personality, likes and dislikes.
It’s important to note that not all relationships with a Deity will last for years or your lifetime. We have all had friendships or a relationship that’s important to us, but only at one point in our life, –which reminds me much of that saying that everyone enters our lives for a reason, sometimes the same thing happens with a deity. Someone looking to build a romantic relationship may spend a lot of time with one of the many Goddesses associated with Love, but then thank them and back off as they find the relationship they wanted, and build a new life together. It’s important to always thank the Deity who came to your aid, but we will get to that in a moment.
Spending time with your chosen Deity is important, and an integral part of developing that relationship I talked about earlier. How you choose to do this is entirely up to you. I begin each day with going to my altar, lighting the candles and incense, making an offering, quiet meditation for a few moments and a prayer for the day. My evenings typically end with prayer as well, or perhaps a tarot card spread, scrying session or meditation to hear what they may want to share with me.
I must tell you though, that when you are answered by a God or Goddess, the answer may be subtle or it may be profound and darn near close to earth shaking even. For me, it is usually the latter because they know that my mind usually has no less than one hundred or more things running through it during the course of any given day and usually at all times, and that there is no way in Hades I am going to hear a whisper. So for me, more often than not, I have a “Holy Odin!” reaction when they have answered, because it is profound and in my face…..but that is OK, because I wouldn’t have it any other way, and they know that. Don’t expect this same revelation, however. Each of us are different, and as you build and develop the relationship with your Deities, they too will soon learn how to make their answers and wisdom known to you.
Offerings appropriate to your chosen Deity are also important. It is somewhat like dangling the proverbial carrot. You want their attention and good graces, do you not? You want to develop a relationship of mutual respect, and common trust, correct? You want to build a good working relationship with them, right? Keep in mind that offerings to them should be made regularly, and not simply because you are in need of their help. If you approach the matter with the mentality of, “I’m offering you this stuff so you’ll grant my wish” , you are certainly in for either a rude awakening or certain disappointment. Instead, the relationship you are working toward developing with your Deity should be approached in a manner such as, “I honor you and respect you, so I’m giving you this offering to show you how much I appreciate your intervention in my life on my behalf.” The question of what to offer is simple. It goes back to what I said earlier about researching and studying the God or Goddess you have chosen to work with. Doing this will not only give you extensive information as to what appeases them, but also into who they are. You wouldn’t offer flowers to a war God, would you? After you have done your research, sit quietly and meditate on what your chosen deity represents. In general, bread, milk and wine are nearly always appropriate for any deity, especially if you have found yourself on a search for difficult to obtain items appropriate for offering, but particularly Gods that govern home and hearth.
It is also a good idea to be humble and show your gratitude each time your deity has blessed you with the granting if your desires. We are often stuck wondering what we might do to show them our thanks and continue a mutually prosperous relationship with them. So many of us search the world over for the answer, as if there is a single Holy Grail, when in truth, the answer is quite simple: be in service of them.
In the ancient world, Priesthood was a call to service and a coveted honor. I’m not saying that you should run out and become ordained, quite the contrary. Those within the Priesthood were called to duty by the Deity in which they served, and were responsible for maintaining the rhythm of society through worship and festival, nurturing the culture’s connection with the Gods. It was very different from ministry, which is about serving the people, the ‘congregation’ who has called the minister to serve it. In many ways ministry is far more difficult, in that it requires training to do it well, while serving a Deity only requires the touch of the Deity, and truly, the Deity will guide your way. It may be something as simple as planting flowers or shrubs in a local park, volunteering your time to feed the hungry or starting a small Pagan discussion or networking group. If it is a war God you worship, you may craft medal amulets or necklaces. Some have found their calling to be writing to educate others and share their knowledge as well as the knowledge of the deity in which they serve. Some perform free spiritual readings, or give of their energy and time to help the disabled, study and apply alternative medicine so that they may heal others, fight for a cause or create something beautiful so that the rest of the world may marvel. But how do we get to the point of where we discover what service of ours it is to our deity that we must perform? Sometimes, it will come in the form of inspiration or in the sudden urge to accomplish something you may not otherwise have given consideration. Like me, it may come to you in a dream, or maybe even a vision. However it may come to you, it is important that you allow yourself to be open to receive the message. Regular meditation can help with this greatly. By slowing your breath, you are also slowing your heart beat as well as your mind, releasing all of the unwanted mental “Gunk” we retain and allowing ourselves some clear space to receive messages from the divine.
While anyone can perform a sacrifice, make an offering, or rattle off a chant, the true servant of a certain Deity will have inherited a vast body of knowledge over time and over the course of having built a solid foundation with Them, about how to worship the Deity appropriately, how the Deity operates, and acquire a deep experience in this through long practice. You will know what the Deity likes and how to call upon Her, and in turn He or She will bestow blessings upon you.
Just as in ancient times, contemporary Pagan religious or spiritual activity is structured around worship, whether that worship simply be the worship of the earth or the worship of the Greek God Zeus. The Gods Themselves constitute the structure, the very foundation upon which our religion, practices and culture are formed. The Gods are the bones of the Pagan body. Treat them with honor and respect, and they in turn will nourish you with the things you need and even desire.