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One of the main themes that come up with people who are interested in starting devotional work to Deities is the theme of signs: How to recognize the signs, how to know if the divine is involved or if it could be a coincidence, how to be sure, etc. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.
It is normal when we first connect with Deities or entities that we receive signals from them: These can be signals with messages, signs to pay attention to Them, calls to priesthood, warnings or alerts for certain situations, requests, etc. There are several reasons why we may be receiving signs at times even before we start actively dealing with entities or Deities. However, at the beginning, it is quite difficult to be able to distinguish what is really a sign and what is just… a coincidence. Or a normal life event. As we evolve our practice and establish our workings/devotional relationship with the Deities, we will start to develop the ability to interpret things around us and all will become much easier, however, in the beginning it can be complicated.
What can we do in those situations where there is doubt?
The first step when we think we’ve received a signal is to stop and analyze. Is the signal something that can happen very easily in our location? For example, let’s imagine that our neighbor has dogs, and, at night, we hear dogs howling. Is it a sign? Probably not. It will probably just be the neighbor’s dogs. Now in a situation where we don’t have dogs around and we know that no neighbors have dogs, and we clearly hear dogs howling? Then it could be a sign.
One of the pieces of advice I give is “If you hear hooves, think of horses and not zebras”. In other words, if something happens, think about the mundane response first and then the magical one, because the mundane is much more likely to happen. It is necessary to sort the possible signs to understand if it could be something from our day-to-day and common or if it is something related to a sign. Someone who lives by the sea will not think that a gull’s feather is a sign but someone who lives on a mountain, miles away from the sea, probably will! This is what we need to make the distinction so as to help us interpret the signs, analyze the possibilities and probabilities of such an event happening where we are, or in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. A useful tool in this process is Jason Miller’s “Post Gnosis Checklist”. I strongly recommend taking a look at this list, because I believe it will help in this process!
But what about when we analyze everything and, even so, we are in doubt because it is a very recurrent situation (more than usual) or because it is unlikely but leaves doubts? In that case, don’t be afraid to connect with the Deities. In Paganism, and even in Witchcraft, Deities are not completely unreachable distant figures in the sky. The Deities are within our reach to establish communication between both parts, so in a situation where you think you have received a sign but, even so, you have doubts whether it really is a sign or not, talk to the Deity (or, if unaware of which Deity it could be, speak in a broader sense, aimed at the divinity that may be sending you a message) and ask to send something clearer. Example:
“[Name of Divinity] I ask that, if You really are sending me a sign, send me, within 3 days, signs in the form of [something specific].“
“If any Deity is trying to contact me via signs, I ask them to send, within 3 days, signs in the form of [something specific]“
In this last scenario, one of the specific signs you might ask for is the identity of the Deity through, for example, someone who is not involved in Witchcraft or Paganism and who is unlikely to speak to you about pagan Deities.
Do not be afraid to ask the Deities to be clearer or more obvious, the Deities are neither evil nor vindictive nor will they revolt or “punish you” for asking for clearer signs, rather the fact that you are wanting to clarify this communication between you and Them only shows an interest and care on your part, instead of blindly believing everything that happens around you.
Finally, don’t be afraid that you can’t interpret signals. There are signs that are going to happen that you are not going to notice, only to months later realize that it was a sign and that you could have seen it earlier and that is OK. It is fine, not all signals are to be noticed or understood and it is natural not to be able to understand or decode certain signals. As it is normal just the opposite, not having any difficulty in communicating with the Deities.
Above all, remember that the relationship between the practitioner/devotee and the Deities is a personal and unique one. The way you work with a certain Deity will not be the same as another practitioner works, even though the Deity may be the same. There will be commonalities, of course, mainly in terms of the form of work and offerings and correspondence, but the personal interaction with the Divinity will be different, just as a friendship with someone is different. If you have two friends who are friends with each other, the relationship between them and you and between them will always be different because they are individual and different people. In the case of Deities, it is exactly the same way. Do not be afraid to explore the dynamic with the Deity you identify with or work with.