Celeste Horrocks on Unsplash
Working with or devoting ourselves to Deities is something that many people are either afraid to begin or are not sure about the first steps to take. And that’s what I want to help you with today. The beginnings of devotional worship to a Deity can be a little frightening for someone who is new to the practice of Witchcraft or Paganism, since we’re basically including in our daily practice an external presence over which we have no control and with which we are establishing a functional relationship. Including a Deity in our practice, especially from a polytheistic point of view, implies a whole new kind of effort and research about that Deity, their mythology, their history, the culture from which they originate, correspondences, practices, epithets, among other points that are key to a stable and balanced practice with said Deity. And due to this, personally, I don’t usually recommend that people “dive head first” into Deity Work but rather start by acquiring some basics such as knowing what Paganism is, distinguishing between its main concepts and knowing more about the culture from which their chosen Deity hails from, reading books on Paganism and Witchcraft and getting some foundations with which to start developing this devotional practice.
For those who sense that they are already at the point where they feel ready to introduce this new path in their individual practice, here are some tips on how to start working with Deities:
- The first step in devotional work is…reading! Read about the Deity: their myths, correspondence, read about the culture from which this Deity originated, read the devotional practices and forms that were done in honor of the Deity in Antiquity, etc. Contrary to what many people think, dedicating our time to that Deity, through readings and investigations, is already a devotional act because we are giving that Deity part of our time and there is nothing more precious than our time!
- In addition to reading a lot and investigating more about the Deity (or Deities) with which you intend to start devotional work, we can also establish contact through meditations, simple offerings (candles, water or liquids, incense, etc.). Don’t be surprised if at first you don’t feel anything or are confused, it can take a while.
- Don’t try to rush! Look at a relationship with a Deity just as you see relationships with people in your everyday life. You don’t walk up to a stranger, offer a gift once, and expect them to be your best friend, do you? With the Deities it is the same. Relationships take time and work to be developed, it takes constant work, devotion and dedication so that this relationship can flourish and become a stable and lasting one.
- Don’t assume it’s all signs from a Deity. It is normal at the beginning of our devotional practice to think that everything we see is a sign of the Deity we are trying to contact. However, not everything are signs. In fact, it is most likely not to be the case. If you receive something that you think might be a signal, first follow the path of logic: Is there a logical/physical reason why this happened? Follow these steps first. If necessary, consult a divinatory method (pendulum, tarot, runes, etc.) to find out if it really was a sign or not. Ask for more signs. Don’t be afraid to communicate with the divine but don’t think that everything is a sign either.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep! It is very normal to hear about vows to Deities, promises, oaths, commitments, etc. However, this type of practice should not be done lightly! Dedicating our life to a Deity or making a pledge to a Deity is something serious and we shouldn’t do it without being 100% sure we can deliver. This is especially important for those just taking their first steps. It’s normal that when we’re just starting out, we have all the enthusiasm and courage to think that “this is the divinity I want to work with for the rest of my life!”. And it could be. But it also couldn’t… We should not commit to something that we don’t know if we can accomplish in 5, 10 or 15 years. So, don’t make promises that you can’t keep and always be careful with what you commit to, because what you promise the Gods is to keep!
- Don’t use the Gods as shelf puppets. Gods are not jars of spices in the cupboard to take out and use as we need them. If I’m a devotee of Goddess Hekate and I need help in terms of love, I don’t need to go to Aphrodite with whom I never established a relationship before. I can do this work of love with Hekate because this is the Deity I work with on a daily basis. Do not use the Gods in your practice like objects but instead think of them as you would for “regular” people in your life. Would you walk up to someone to ask a favor and never speak to them again? No? So don’t do it either for your Deities.
These are some tips for those who want to start the journey of devotional work with Deities, feel free to ask questions or even add more tips in the comments for our readers if you want! I hope this journey will take you to magnificent places and bestow experiences that will change your life for the better, and that you can find the right Divinities for your unique path.
But what about you? How did you start this journey?