A relationship with a God or Goddess is like any other. It takes time, energy, and attention.
We listen. We observe. We show up. We try to notice what they like. We ask for their stories. We pay attention to them. We find ways to honor them. When we invite them to a party, we don’t spend our time talking only to all the other guests, we make sure the deity in question know we have invited them especially.
We build a relationship. And if we keep building that relationship, the relationship is likely to last. We discover whether or not we are well suited to one another. We notice, several years in, that we may have begun to take them for granted, things may have drifted. Now, perhaps we’ve moved on to other things and the Goddess has become a friend we call every six months. That can be OK. But not if we only call that friend every six months to ask for something. We may need to cut our ties.
We may need to reinvest.
I’ve been doing that in the last few years with Holy Brigid. I dedicated to her around 30 years ago. We had an intense and mutually supportive relationship for many, many years. Then I needed to do some other work. I would check in with her periodically, but not often, and only honored her regularly when I made offerings in general to the small cohort that I work most closely with.
A few years ago, I realized it felt important to reinvest. So I began to make more offerings. I asked what sorts of things would help support our relationship, and started doing those. I went back to reading some of her stories and poetry about her. I hung her cross over my writing desk. She moved closer to my consciousness. I sent her thoughts and prayers more often. Some of the things I noticed years ago in our relationship returned.
Other things have changed. I have changed. I am no longer a devotee, for example, so my ways of relating to Brigid are different. It feels to me like our partnership is on more equal terms (though I don’t know what she does when she’s not with me. I’m sure her job description is more impressive than my own). I bring different things to the relationship now. Whereas at 25, I may have offered some raw talent for music and writing, and I may have brought a wide open heart to prayer, at 48 I bring years of steady practice both spiritually, in relationship, and in the arts. Both types of offerings are worthy. But the tenor of the offerings – the how of them – has changed.
We get to know them. Make a space for them. We look at how we conduct our other relationships – is that how we want to conduct a relationship with a God? If it isn’t, we may wish to work on that, too. Do we want to invite a Goddess to a dirty, ill used altar, or a bedroom piled with dust and old underwear? We can clean the altar. Change the sheets. Make a pleasant space. In relationship, sometimes things are hard and the housekeeping goes downhill. Friends and lovers understand. But if there is never an effort made to clean up our lives, they notice that as well.
The lives we have are an offering. The lives we create can be an even more fit offering.
Relationships are about both “as we are” and “as we are becoming.” When we honor ourselves, we honor our friends – and vice versa. When we honor ourselves and our friends, we honor the Gods.
Though when I wrote this post, I had forgotten it was Pagan Values Month, I quickly realized that honoring our Gods is certainly one value many Pagans hold.
Speaking of Pagans: I’ll be leaving for Pagan Spirit Gathering on Sunday and won’t be around to field comments next week. Have a great Solstice!