Communicating With Deity: All the Small Things

Communicating With Deity: All the Small Things February 23, 2016

In my brief experience as a Devotional Polytheist, the fabric of my communication with the Divine has been made up of experiences like this far more than it has been made up of full-blown UPG.  And while I’m unaware of any formal study of UPG among Neo-Pagans, I’m willing to bet that for most of us communication with Deity sounds a lot more like my fire’s “pop!” than it does Gus diZerega’s vivid first encounter with The Goddess.  This is a fact that I have to remind myself of constantly, as my new involvement in ADF and the Morrigan’s Call Retreat has me increasingly connecting with talented practitioners.

Sometimes I find myself feeling envious of my friends who have a much more “direct” connection to their Gods than I do with mine.  Some people have Loki living in their head and no thought is ever truly their own, while there are others who get a concrete response from Morrígan just by praying (you haven’t lived until you’ve heard the cawing of spectral crows visiting a 5 year old girl). But these experiences are not the norm, no matter how loath we may be to admit it to ourselves. As I told Ava, most of us Devotional Polytheists will just have to settle for that occasional thought out of nowhere, that serendipitous series of events that work toward a common goal, or the random scent of whatever spice that Brighid thinks your Pasta e Fagioli could really use.

It is incredibly important when starting out on a Devotional path to set realistic expectations for Divine communication. Failure to do so could result in the devotee going out of their mind with despair that they’re “not doing it right”, that they “lack the ability to do it right”, or even worse, that the Gods they’re reaching out to “just don’t really care” about them.

So what kinds of expectations should we set?  What would we call a “realistic” expectation for Divine communication?  Here are a few examples I’ve heard from Pagans over the years:

  • General Sense of Connectivity – Feelings of connection, communion, or spiritual fulfillment that come as the result of an activity.  Shawn, an earth-centered atheist, described to me how she feels this kind of connection when tending her garden:

…the feeling I get when working in my garden, particularly when prep’ing it in the early spring, I would think of as connection. I find that the activity helps me work through problems. There is something about the sense of being grounded and connected to the earth that feels like communing.

For those of us who work with particular Deities, this can also manifest when doing work that is sacred to or associated with Them.  Matt, a devotee of Goibniu, talks about connecting to Him through metalworking:

Sometimes metal work is almost a shamanistic endeavor for me… I can just be working on normal stuff and by the end of it I am out of breath and feeling that ritual high. The work is not strenuous, but the magic just seems to flow out of me when I am completely focused. I can feel Goibniu’s presence and energy as well. Also, looking for scrap and pieces to work with I am drawn to the parts I need or could use. Like a sixth sense. So that’s something.

  • “Pandora Jacking” – In Ava’s case, Deity’s preferred method of communication has been to “hijack” their Pandora playlist. Instead of their usual songs, Ava will instead get 40-60 minutes worth of music that follow along a similar theme:

There are times I won’t even catch it at first. It’s usually not until a few songs in when I’m realizing that there’s a theme. The first time it happened, it almost felt like there were two different beings talking to me. Sometimes it’s just a quick “Hey, we’re listening” thing as when a particular song comes up at the right time, sometimes it’s an entire playlist.

It’s always been a comforting thing. It’s nice to get feedback when I feel like I’m just screaming into the void.
  • Found Objects – Sometimes an object will just appear in your path, or you will feel moved to pick up or to buy something.  This can be a message as much as a charm or a tool.  Kaela, a Devotional Polytheist and Priestess of Loki describes a bracelet that came her way in a time of need:

There are points where I second-guess myself. I’m not sure if I’m experiencing a nudge from the gods or serendipity. But here’s a story about picking something up.

I almost didn’t go to Florida this year. The past few have been hard on me, and I struggled with money after a job layoff. At the same time, I have wanderlust and if I don’t travel I feel more down than usual. Needless to say, it had been a while since I’d been on a proper trip.

In the end, things worked out and I was able to go. I was still conflicted about the trip, as I worried that I had budgeted wrong and made a terrible mistake. Surrounded by friends, I still struggled with that depression at the start of the trip.

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