Dating Divinity

Dating Divinity

Let’s say that you’re not God-Bothered, or at least you’re not God-Bothered by a particular deity you’d like to get to know. Generally the “I became a devotee of_____” stories start with epiphanies of a God that the devotee discovers had been there *All Along*. This was the case, when I was sorted out as an Oshun and remembered being stung by a bee in the head in a pumpkin when I was 5. Oshun is associated with pumpkins, the number 5, and honeybees and is “my head” in the vernacular of the system,

https://thelureofbeauty.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/inner-child/

There was also the time I tried to celebrate Yemaya with a seaweed bath, but since the seaweed was from Cyprus, I got Aphrodite instead.

Yemaya!

Image

Aphrodite, Incredibly *not* Yemaya!

20140202-142823.jpg

So how do you court a Divinity that you’re unfamiliar with? Who isn’t a part of your actual paradigm?

Slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully. With an open heart and mind.

I am not a Hindu, and I am working through Sally Kempton’s “Shakti Meditations” with the Goddesses that I feel drawn to. Since the 3 Goddesses I am drawn to that are profiled in it are emanations of Lakshmi, I decided to start with Lakshmi, Herself.

I’m Courting Lakshmi

Gather your information.

Having read the book, and reread and took notes on the Lakshmi chapter, I decided to chant the Lakshmi mantra for 41 days in a row. This is the typical Hindu commitment. Since She doesn’t approve of alcohol, I decided not to drink for all 41 of those days, though this is not required. I did research on Lakshmi worship. I practiced the mantra with various recordings found on youtube, and I downloaded a Lakshmi meditation I found useful. I set up a small shrine, and procured some “Lakshmi” incense from India. I already had a mala, and I remembered that She disapproves of meat offerings and wants sweet things.

Know your limitations.

Ghee, a customary offering of Indian Divinities was $23 dollars at my local health food store, and it wasn’t very big. Therefore, I decided that that was too dear a price to pay for an offering to a deity that I didn’t yet have a relationship with. In the future there might be Ghee, but not now.

I may give Clarifying my own butter, a try.

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/03/how-to-clarify-butter-recipe/

I am also not well-versed or prepared to draw pretty things on the ground with ground up materials. While this is customary, I just don’t feel prepared to try it just yet.

Image

Decor.in.net

Sorry, Lakshmi, but no. Not yet.

What *not to do*

Being well versed in various circle castings, but- *completely unaware of and unprepared for*the creation of a Hindu Sacred Space , I do not attempt to call Her into a Norse, African, Wiccan type sacred space. She’s none of those things, She’s Hindu. I do a generic cleansing of the area, because she likes things clean. You want your new friends to be comfortable.

Don’t pretend to know more than you do.

Don’t assume that because she is very much like Oshun that you can just say “Lakshmi” where you’d usually say “Oshun”.

Don’t call Powers you’re actually frightened of. I’m not generally afraid of powers, I expect Them to act decently, even if they are mad, challenging, and despondent. I’ve called Lucifer, Odin, Hades, and my Ancestors. All have reasons to be angry and negative, and all were complete gentlemen/gentlewomen. No harm came to me from interacting with them. I love them all.

That said, if you are exceedingly nervous or afraid, perhaps now is not the time to approach that specific deity.

Don’t be afraid to say “No.” A power might be testing you, might not have a lot of devotees, and may “Want All the Shinies Now!” If you call Odin and He asks for Mead, you can say “I don’t have any, would you like__________.” If he says “Send your sister to the store to get me some.” You can respond, “I am uncomfortable asking her to do that, if we create a relationship, I will get you mead in the future.”

Trust me, he is cocky enough to do so.

What to do.

Be up front about your nervousness, insecurities, and doubts. Let the Power know that anything you get wrong is due to lack of knowledge. If you’re serious, you can ask for access to resources, teachers, and gnosis that will help you get things right.

I burn incense, say a short prayer asking for forgiveness if I offend or get things wrong. I explain that I am learning here, and am unfamiliar with the ways of Her people, but I’m interested in getting to know Her. Then I make my appropriate* offerings, light the candle, listen to the meditation and chant.

Do what you intuit as correct. If a Power from an apple-free land wants an apple, and you feel it in the marrow of your bones, They really want the apple. Your guidebook may say, “Under no circumstances offer deity X an apple.” That tends to be the author’s opinion. What the deity wants trumps the author’s opinion.

*Appropriate offerings are what you have, can afford, are willing to give, and are sensed or known-to be acceptable to the Deity.

Follow through.

I made a commitment to chant to Lakshmi and remain sober for 41 days. Lakshmi has promised me nothing. If by day 23 I feel like “This isn’t working, Lakshmi isn’t as useful as I thought she’d be, and I’m bored…I like Lalita better…” Tough.

Perhaps the reason that Hindu’s chant the mantras for 41 days in a row, is because that is how long it takes to work on you. That is the idea behind mantras, the vibrations of the words work on the practitioner, so that they become aware of Lakshmi in the world. Lakshmi is *Present*, and the practitioner doesn’t notice before the mantras, which are like a key to the energy.

But even if there is no boon, if Lakshmi isn’t the deity for me, wants no part of me, my dates, my honey, my chanting (which I don’t believe is true) and there is no epiphany? Tough. What kind of practitioner would I be if I just said, “Screw it, booze and Bjork! No chanting tonight!”?

Not a very good one.

Keep your commitments. If Lakshmi never became a part of my life, perhaps it would be easier down the line to connect with another of Her emanations, which I am interested in. Effort. Make some.

Moving Forward

So let’s say that Deity X and you are connecting, you’ve had a few good dates, and They’ve done you a few favors.

“Now I buy the pricey statue, change my name, make a dedication, and brew my own mead?”

Not.So.Fast.

Only you will know when it’s time to do those things, but in the first year or two, perhaps you can learn about your Deity. You can make collages from images that speak to you of Them. Pinterest, Photo Shop, Cut and Paste are all your friends. Watch films/read books in which similar powers show up, and see how you respond to characters based on your Power.(See a small list below). Make a playlist of songs that remind you of your deity. For some Powers, this is simple, African Powers have loads of music available, because music is an integral part of African practices.

Find others who worship/work with Your power (or if you can’t a similar one) and rub elbows. Even if it’s just virtual, a part of Priest/ess-hood is generally to help a fellow practitioner out. Ask respectful, responsible questions, be friendly, read blogs, devotionals, and generally absorb what you can. This is a great help in sorting out what you discover and what’s being done today for your Power.

Now, having developed a working relationship with a power, let’s say, Odin, for Wisdom, and you decide to go back to Grad school, now might be a good time to buy that statue if you can.

Don’t Neglect/Underestimate the Deity You’re Closest to

Sticking with Odin, God of Wisdom, Persuasive Speech, and the like, let’s say I want/need a loan.

Well, Odin isn’t so much a cash money Deity, *but he is one of wisdom*, so while you may also decide to ask Freyr, Freyja, and Tyr…you should also ask Odin.

“What would be the wisest choice of loan options, Allfather?”

“What should I write on this line of my application?”

“Do you see this purchase, as a wise one?”

All terribly useful questions about the subject at hand, and if you are His, he most likely cares for your well-being and will answer appropriately.

Music, Films, and Such

Aphrodite-

Films:

“Never on Sunday”

“Dangerous Beauty”

Any take on Cupid and Psyche:

Books:

“Til We Have Faces”

“Honk If You Love Aphrodite”

Odin

Opera: Wagner’s Ring Cycle

Films:

The Matrix Series

The Lord of the Rings Series

Books:

“American Gods”

“The Wolf and the Raven”

*Most of Diana L.Paxson’s books have Gods in them, typically Norse Gods…

Lookie here:http://www.diana-paxson.com/

Loki

Books:

“American Gods”

TV:

“Mr. Gold” on “Once Upon a Time”

And countless other deities in countless other stories.

Best of luck in your practice.

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About tanisharose

Priestess of Love and Beauty, Witch of the East, Tarot and Rune Reader, Spirit Worker
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Dating Divinity

  1. bennybargas says:

    This is a great post! The best advice I’ve seen on starting a new relationship with a spirit or god!

  2. bennybargas says:

    Reblogged this on The Jackal's Den and commented:
    An excellent post with great advice on how to start a new relationship with a spirit or divinity.

  3. David Kole says:

    I’m wondering if you are aware that the Orishas like Oshun and Yemoja are not gods, but *are* divine spirits in living religious traditions of Orisha worship (Candomble, Ifa, Lucumi, Arara, Trinidadian Orisha Tradition) that have millions of adherents around the world who do not consider themselves to be Pagan. They have their own religions in which they are and have been worshiped and served for a very long time as divinities, but they’re not Gods to those of us who are initiated to them in the same way that most Pagans see Gods. They are divine spirits accountable to and directed by Olodumare (God) to engage in certain tasks as a part of creation and the natural world.

    I really do like the technique you suggest for people getting to know deities, but I guess I need to make a point that the Orishas belong to another religious system that isn’t Pagan and which has been subjected to a lot of cultural appropriation and misrepresentation over the years. I really don’t mean to come across as if I am ragging on you at all, its just frustrating to see people co-opting the Orishas as if they don’t already have living religions of their own in which they are served and worshiped and that have been around for aeons longer than the neopagan revival.

    • tanishal says:

      I am aware, and I definitely grasp where you’re coming from. I’d argue, however, that Pagans *are* approaching these Spirits, and as you see, I use “Powers’ and not just Gods, and everyone I run into at the Botanica isn’t initiated or on the path to initiation.
      As a lover of the Orisha, who has left her House, and someone who sees Orisha being called in a multitude of non-ADT circles, I think we have to open some kind of communication between the two? It is going to happen, regardless, Pagans and women’s circles, and people working to heal the waters of the world are going to offer Oshun honey, and bracelets of brass, and candlelight. They just are.
      I’m not saying it’s right, and I’m not saying it’s wrong. I think it’s up to the Orisha to decide whether to show up and accept an offering.
      I do thank you for relating that important point, though. Orisha certainly come from their own living traditions, and those traditions have their own rituals, cosmos, and beliefs.

      • David Kole says:

        Anyone can pay homage to the Orishas; whether or not the Orishas accept those offerings and homage is, indeed, another story as you’ve pointed out. There are thousands of people who love the Orishas and leave offerings at roadside shrines to them throughout the places to which the religion has spread in the Diaspora and many of them are not necessarily Priests or even involved in the Orisha religions except for those moments where they take something to a roadside shrine. The challenge arises when they start to make claims of being possessed by them or speaking with them when their heads haven’t been properly prepared through the necessary ceremonies and rituals to do that and when they claim to be initiating other people into the mysteries of the Orishas.

        It’s a slippery slope. I’ve been in both worlds; as a Gardnerian since 1999 and having been initiated as an Olorisha in 2005. There’s a different way of looking at the universe, as you’ve pointed out, between the Orisha traditions and many of the Pagan/Wiccan practices out there. Just because someone outside Lucumi or Candomble or Ifa feels they are calling the Orishas doesn’t necessarily mean that is what is going to show up to the party.

        If we’re headed, as you feel we are, towards a place and time where the Orishas are going to more commonly pop up in the adoration of the Pagan community how can we keep communication lines open enough that Pagans begin to truly listen to and understand the concerns of the people in Afro-Diasporic religions when it comes to the loss of their culture, their Spirits and their traditions into the general Pagan community? Many Lucumi, for example, become grievously hurt and offended at the idea they should be associated with the Pagan community; some of us who had a dual heritage in both don’t necessarily have the same hang up or concerns, but we acknowledge why they might feel that way.

        There are so many complexities to this situation, not the least of which are the issues around social justice and cultural appropriation that are occurring out there a lot lately with many indigenous traditions from a wide range of places.

        I would be interested in, at some point, your insight in how we navigate all the hot button areas of concern as the Pagan community continues to reach out for new Gods and Spirits that weren’t necessarily a part of the NeoPagan revival of the last 50 years. Please feel free to stay in touch and please don’t think I am jumping on you. As I mentioned, I thought the way you approached people getting to know deities was very pleasant and refreshing. I was just caught off guard at seeing Orishas in the mix. 🙂

  4. tanishal says:

    I’ve been pondering this for a long, long time. I’m not really certain how this will play out, as you’re aware, people that practice ADT (Afro Diasporic Traditions) can be intensely secretive. I’ve also met some who believe that if you don’t have an African background, the Orisha are not for you.

    To which I answer “Susan Wenger”.
    So I haven’t seen a lot of interaction between the overarching Pagans and ADT practitioners. Out side of a few sources, Pantheacon, for instance, and Luisah Teish’s public classes in Oakland, I haven’t noticed a ton of “Get to know the Orisha” public classes, where a lay-person could get information and guidance.

    There are books of course, but those don’t offer experience.
    There will always be people that stick Oshun in a ritual because she’s seen as “The Black Venus” no matter what we do. There will be (are?) Dianic’s who think it will be cool to attract more colored women to their circles with Yemaya on the esbat calendar…

    And if practitioners of ADT’s want that done respectfully, maybe we should reach out? Maybe our websites should have a section for practices lay-people can practice that are respectful and informative. Bloggers can host an orisha a month, patakis, and a small service?

    It seems backwards, somehow to rail against these things, and not offer anyone a reasonable way to do it differently (shrugs).

    Keep in mind, that I was in an Umbanda tradition, I *was* initiated to Oshun, and after I left, I learned through books, classes, and blogs that I wasn’t taught a lot. I wasn’t taught an ancestor service, I wasn’t taught how to greet my Ori in the morning, or how to do divination. Touchstones of all ADT practices.

    I recently had a Pagan tell me that Oshun was the same as Hekate and Diana, and I gently informed her that the people who serve her do not see it that way. We see her as an Orisha, who is not the same as the other Orisha, and who is an expression of Olodumare.
    And no, she didn’t know who Olodumare is…

    Our Gods are powerful, and have been continuously worshipped in some form for ages. They’re enigmatic and wonderful. Who wouldn’t want to get to know them? Who wouldn’t want their help? Chango is fascinating, Oshun is attraction personified, Yemaya is complete acceptance. They are enchanting, and I can imagine all kinds of people being drawn to them.

    This is a conundrum, wrapped in an enigma, and topped with sprinkles.
    I’m glad for the discussion, and grateful for your interest.

    Best,
    Tanisha

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