Our most recent 3PaaC episode involved discussing what working with the gods looks like for each of us. How do we make a connection to or with the gods? Must we have a personal relationship with the gods or is working with them in public ritual enough? These are questions we’ve asked ourselves about working with or devotion to the gods for several years now. Our listeners indicate they have asked these questions of themselves as well.
Over the last few years, my feelings about working with the gods, or worship of them, have been “sticky”.
I’ve written about this struggle in Religious Not Spiritual, Spiritual Not Religious. For me, the crux of the matter comes down to the issue of sovereignty, a concept which was never encouraged in my former religion (although there may be those who disagree). In my experience, devotion in Christianity has been defined as submission of personal identity and will to that of the deity served.
Submission of will. Sacrifice of self.
Therefore, the willingness to devote myself to the worship of other deities has been a struggle. Many others who come to witchcraft, Wicca, or some other form of Paganism have told me they feel the same. In fact, Car has mentioned he’s not sure he will ever be able to have a personal devotional practice as a Druid.
Restoring capacity and willingness for devotional practice has been hard for me. But I can say, the journey to where I am now has been rewarding, allowing me to stretch as a Witch and spiritual being. And in recent months, devotion to the goddesses with whom I work has taught me how to retain personal power and will through small acts of devotion.
I do not have to lose myself in relationship to deity. Space for devotion taught me that lesson.
For a long time, I worked with a couple of goddesses when I had a magickal need. Yes. We have altars set up around our home for the Earth Mother and plant allies, the public altar where I have a statue of Brighid and an ancestors altar. But I never made a habit of going to deity unless I needed extra oomph for a spell. However, I did begin attending Full Moon and other rituals at Artes and Craft.
Attending public rituals allowed me to observe devotional/worship practice without pressure of participation or feeling as if I had to sacrifice myself to be there other than my time and attention. Then one day, I got hold of a book called The House Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. In the book, she recommends setting up a “hearth” altar. A place to represent the center of the home. This idea appealed to me as the keeper and manager of our home.
Building an altar on my kitchen window ledge became a satisfying activity but something was missing. My heritage is German, Norwegian, Danish, and English. Frigga is a deity to whom I’ve been drawn for many years. So, when I found a little statue of her at Artes and Craft, I bought it to add to my altar.
I’d been lighting a candle in the window every morning as a pleasing asthetic. It didn’t take much effort to begin saying “Hail Frigga. I honor you” as I put flame to wick. Over weeks and months, it became a habitual act of devotion even though I never approached Frigga for any other reason. Now, I feel connected to her and this morning practice has become deeply meaningful. I’ve added a special candle to the main altar so I can now devote myself to Brighid in a similar fashion.
The point is to provide mindful space and opportunity for connection.
Simple acts of devotion, such as lighting a candle, can go a long way to building connection with deity. For me, a morning chanting practice of Hekate’s name and epithets has brought me to a powerful level of devotion to her. There are many ways to build a connection to the gods and goddesses with whom we work. Meditation, walks in nature. Cooking or artistic endeavors. The possibilities are determined by one’s own interests or imagination.
For myself, restoring devotion to my path has also assisted me as a solitary practitioner. Being the person who determines the course of my path and practice has it’s benefits. I enjoy being a Solitary Witch. However, there are times when I am just not “feeling” it. Living in the mundane world is just that. Mundane. And it does have an effect on our spiritual barometer from time to time.
In a new book by Arin Murphy-Hiscock, which I’m reading to review for the blog, she mentions how solitaries can become bored in their path or practice. She is absolutely right! When you have no other magickal or Pagan group with whom you have obligations for attendance or with whom you can share ideas, it is easy to get in a rut. Establishing a devotional practice (daily, weekly, or whatever), can go a long way toward keeping one engaged or inspired. And let’s take guilt out of the equation when we do get bored, busy, or are not feeling the devotional vibe for a few days, shall we? That’s old baggage best done away with from former religious experience.
Devotional practice is a personal choice, not a spiritual obligation.
Personal worship of a god or goddess is not mandatory to be an effective Witch. In my understanding, a person can thrive as a Wiccan, Heathen, Druid, or Pagan by attending to social responsibilities, such as attending rituals within a group, grove, kindred or coven, and enjoy a fulfilling spiritual path or magickal practice.
Whether or not devotional practice, or worship of the gods, is a thing in your life is your business. For me, devotional practice has filled a need in my spiritual life which had gone dormant, waiting for a fresh perspective to awaken it. I’m glad to have let go of certain issues, so I may enjoy devotion to my goddesses in ritual, spellcraft, or other activities.
There really is no right or wrong answer here. In the end, all that matters is doing what feels right to you.