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,
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.
Aphrodite, Incredibly *not* Yemaya!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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
“Never on Sunday”
Any take on Cupid and Psyche:
“Til We Have Faces”
“Honk If You Love Aphrodite”
Opera: Wagner’s Ring Cycle
The Matrix Series
The Lord of the Rings Series
“The Wolf and the Raven”
*Most of Diana L.Paxson’s books have Gods in them, typically Norse Gods…
“Mr. Gold” on “Once Upon a Time”
And countless other deities in countless other stories.
Best of luck in your practice.