A Note On Dedicating to a Deity
Deities are large, complex beings with agendas, motivations, personalities, needs, and wants. If you are thinking of dedicating yourself to one, ask yourself a few things first:
- Why am I dedicating to this deity? Is it just because the deity has expressed interest in me? Or is it because I think this deity is really cool?
- What will I get out of this dedication that I don’t have now?
- Will this dedication be public, or is it just for the deity and I?
- Is this dedication even necessary?
- What does this dedication mean to me?
- How does this dedication affect my relationships with other deities and spirits?
- And, perhaps the most important question of all: Have I asked this deity if I should dedicate myself to Him/Her/Them?
When I was getting ready to dedicate myself to Freya, I was very wary. I had seen several examples what I would consider to be unhealthy boundaries between a deity and His or Her devotees. I’m not a person prone to trusting others in general, and it had taken me a decade and a half to build a relationship with a deity that I felt I could be this intimate with. Essentially, I didn’t want to screw it up.
I talked to a wide variety of people who had the kind of deity relationship that I wanted, from laypeople with a private deity relationship to high-level, big name clergy, and I received a lot of advice. One friend who was a former law school student had actual contracts, fully detailed and footnoted. Others had no contract of any kind, verbal or written. The general consensus from the people I surveyed, however, was that creating a written (or at least clearly defined) contract is ideal.
I hemmed and hawed. I tried to somehow create a fully-footnoted contract that covered every possibility. As I was also offering to formally do transpossessory work for Freya, I wanted to make sure that was covered. (Even if you don’t dedicate to a deity, if you intend to let that deity possess your body, it’s good to have some clearly-defined agreements in place. See Diana Paxson’s Essential Guide to Possession, Depossession, and Divine Relationships for suggestions on how to go about doing this.) Eventually I realized that, for me, this relationship needed to be based on trust. If the trust and love wasn’t already there, no precise wording in any contract was going to make it happen. I knew I had the necessary connection and blessing from my deity, so I took a deep breath and jumped.
Here’s my version of a deity Dedication Contract. If you decide to dedicate to a deity, yours should be tailored specifically to your needs and the needs of your deity.
Freya, I offer you my dedication. I stand here as your child, as your intermediary between Vanaheim and Midgard, the realms of the living and the realms of the dead.
I ask you to guide my way here in this world. You, being a Goddess, know so much more than I ever can. From many years of working with you, I know that you love me more than I can begin to comprehend. I know that you make my life brighter by being in it. You give me gifts I would not have thought to ask for; you fulfill wishes I didn’t know I had. You help me love myself and see beauty in all things in the world. You help me grow, and you give me the strength, wisdom, and confidence to help others grow on their paths as well.
I know that the gifts you gave to me have been freely given. But I know that I owe you in return.
In return, I offer to be your agent here on earth. I will spread the word about your gifts and mysteries, and promote the Vanir and the Aesir and Heathenry as a whole where I can. With your help, I will strive to be an example of a loving, compassionate priestess with a positive, healthy God-relationship. I will be a living example that having a relationship with any of the Gods can be a gift beyond all imagining.
I know that being your priestess will not be easy. I know that your path is an unusual one and that I will face circumstances that I cannot now predict. I also know that being your priestess is to walk a path of service, and that in order to serve and help others I must first know and love myself. I will strive to do the necessary footwork to handle any and all challenges and learning experiences. I ask that you give me the option to handle these challenges in as much of a positive and relatively pain-free way as I can. I know that only by doing my side of things will I be able to reap the benefits of your hard work on my behalf, and thereby become a better priestess on your behalf.
I can only offer what I have to give. If I am struggling financially, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I will not be able to act as your emissary as often or as fully as either of us would like. I ask that you give me the opportunities to gain security and contentment in these areas so that I can do your work more fully and well.
As a Goddess of the Vanir, I know of your love for the physical pleasures of this world. I offer you use of my body in order to interact with nature, other living creatures, and all of the delights of this world. I trust that, as a goddess of personal boundaries and self-respect, while inhabiting my body in any way you will always respect whatever my physical and emotional needs are at any given time. I take joy in your visits, and I ask only that, when you leave, you leave enough of yourself in me so that I can sense you when I return and know that I am not alone.
Though I ask to dedicate myself to you, I know that I will also have other relationships with other entities. Know that of all my other relationships with all other non-human entities, my relationship with you will be primary. I consider myself your daughter and ask that you defend me from any other entities should the need arise.
I ask that, when all is said and done, and I am to go from this physical life, you take me with you to your Hall in Vanaheim that I might rest with all those who have gone before me.
I dedicate myself to you.
I’d like to end this post with an “….and they lived happily ever after!” type of ending. Unfortunately, I can’t. If we deal with Gods as they are–not as archetypes, not as symbols, but as actual Gods–then by default we don’t actually have any control over what they do or say. While the Gods may love us and want to be in relationships with us for various reasons, there are going to be times when they might break a vow, or a contract, or leave, or do something else that makes it appear as if contracts have been voided.
As with other humans, relationships grow and change as the participants grow and change. My experience when Freya did leave me, as heartbreaking as it was, has helped me grown enormously. It gave me a chance to grow stronger relationships with other deities and yet still love and trust Her. (That was part of the point.) If you get out of the way and get over yourself, much drama and pain can be averted. Just my two cents.