I read a long time ago, someplace on the Internet, that someone said when he honored the pre Islamic Gods They always spoke in Arabic to him. Every single time. He advised to everyone to expect the same and to understand Arabic if they wanted to stablish a communication with the pre Islamic pantheon, which, as I see it, is more about respect and preventing cultural appropriation than anything else. Reading, writing and honoring that pantheon, I discovered They are energies who I want to acknowledge and work with, energies I feel comfortable and that I like, but the Gods haven’t always spoken to me in Arabic.
The language of your blood
My grandparents left their country at a young age before finding a home in the Western World, which makes me a third generation immigrant. They didn’t have the opportunity to go to school and always struggled with writing and reading, even more in a country and language different to their own. Growing in these conditions isn’t good if you want to learn the language you carry in your blood.
When someone speaks in Arabic, like an informal, simple conversation or a comment, I can understand most of what they say, but basic things, like colors and numbers, even the name of the Arabic letters, are a mystery to me. Not until recently I had a desire to learn, despite having no one around to teach me, not even someone from the community who could teach me the basics, so I just got started with a certain green, polyglot owl. I’m sure you know which I’m speaking about.
However, reading and writing are the hardest part as I learn. Speaking is easy, I’ve been surrounded by it since I was born and was the first language I spoke as I grew up, but imagine learning an alphabet with letters that change depending on their position and sometimes don’t even appear in as such in word, but as signs. It has been an uphill, slow road, and I’ve stopped due to frustration and because my conditions sometimes don’t let me keep practicing, but I’m far from giving up.
Not always in Arabic
Why am I telling these? Because when I’ve gotten messages from the Gods and the Ancestors, it wasn’t always in Arabic. Although I pray, speak and ask for their help using what I know, I feel they understand that barrier I’m trying to take down. Sometimes their response is in Arabic, and sometimes it is not. The latter is more common when I connect with the ancestors who are lower in the family tree, like my grandparent and one of my great-grandparents.
I have felt their support, their love, their acceptance and known they are here with me, that they have heard me when I needed them, sometimes clearer than others, and I’m sure the older ones, like my great-great-grandparents or those whose name I have yet to know, will most likely talk to me if I speak in Arabic and only in Arabic, but I never got silence or indifference form their part because of language.
This also happens with the Gods, although not as much. They are tolerant, and I’ve found Al-Uzaa, Allat and Manat, the three daughters of Allah, especially the third, Manat, to be very permissive on the matter as long as there’s an honest effort on learning, but They always prefer that I speak to them in Arabic. I’ve even felt as if I’m being watched when I don’t practice enough; not a good feeling, but it’s not rage, but rather a sign of Them telling me I can do it better than that.
Start with one word
As I said before, if anyone wants to establish a relationship with any pre Islamic deity and/or Arabic Ancestors, having a good understanding of the language helps. It’s a sign of respect, of how serious you take them, how serious you take their history and the fact the first Muslims tried to erase these Gods from history, it’s a good, very good start and puts you on the right track, but it’s not mandatory.
If it’s hard, almost impossible for you to learn, start with one word. One that you know the meaning of and can pronounce with ease as correctly as you can, since the same word is pronounced differently in different Arabic countries. For a while, I started with salam, peace, and I slowly created my own prayers, own devotions, and changed them when either the Gods or the Ancestors wanted me to.
Every relationship needs to be balanced. Each part has to put some effort on it, some interest, in order for it to grow and evolve. As long as I do the best I can, I learn in the range of my possibilities and stay honest in my approach, I know I won’t be ignored or abandoned. Perhaps the pre Islamic Pantheon know They have to be more open and patient with us the descendants of immigrants, I think They know the world has changed and They are changing Their approach accordingly, but it’s also our responsibility to show them if we really want to build a bridge and stablish a relationship with Them or if we’re just curious.