This is the blog I said I was setting out to do in the last post!
Many of you should already know this, but I'll start with a bit of background. I'm a solitary practitioner most of the time, and I was definitely completely solitary for the majority of my decade-ish of practice (the early years, particularly). My path is Wiccan-based, but also eclectic, having been brought up learning bits and pieces from other cultures and always embracing those things that resonated with me. As I grew to learn more vocabulary and terminology, such as the difference between a hard polytheist and a soft one, or between a polytheist and a pantheist and an omnitheist, I obviously thought a lot about how I see Deity. I did a video for Pagan Perspective last week about how I view Deity and I have a pretty good idea of it now, but I used to not have the vocabulary to describe it.
To catch you up, my view of Deity is basically a cross between a soft polytheistic one and a pantheistic one. I find it hard to choose either one term, and I normally say soft polytheism, though my overall view definitely includes pantheism. In simplest terms possible, I recognize that many deities exist and I may call upon any of them when their realm of expertise is in question, but I think of them not as literal beings but as personifications that humans use to classify something far greater that we cannot understand in simple terms at all. And beyond this, I think that "something far greater" is one thing, ultimately. So yes, I recognize many, but I think they all boil down to one. And not one "God" but one Energy, one Force, one Balance. (This is all part of why I also feel so very at home with the Unitarian Universalist church!) I call this Force-Balance-Energy-Oneness "UE" or Universal Energy, because to me, that's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the Energy of the whole entire Universe--and maybe parallel Universes, but that's another blog entry.
Finally, to the point, Cara!
Now that you've been appraised of the situation of my mind, I can discuss my thoughts as far as worship. Having these views as described above, I have always found the idea of having a patron God and matron Goddess strange, for me. I view them all as equal and necessary at different times (there is a whole other -theism term for that!), but also all as ultimately one, so... How could I possibly be meant to work with only a few? Could I be drawn to one or two? I know most about these, but then do I just ignore these others? Maybe some are more important to my life now and they'll change later? I don't know, I'll wait and see... That was my thought process, and so for years when people ask me, I've just said that I have not yet felt called to any particular deities, so I work with general Goddess and God. And that has been fine with me. But lately, I've been thinking. And that's dangerous. It leads to change. And to progress. Yikes. =)
So I've been thinking, and I've been wondering whether I've been taking the right approach. I keep asking deity to tell me if I'm meant to work with anyone, and to aid me in becoming closer to the God aspect, but I haven't felt any pull so I thought that meant I was alright where I was. But now I'm thinking maybe it means I just haven't listened very well. I got one brief signal about a particular goddess, and I did more research and thought "This could be something!" but didn't want to start working with her until I KNEW. No other signs came. Well, hello, Cara, that could possibly mean the ball's in your court, I thought! Then, over the summer, I started to develop a strong relationship (or at least a strong pull of one, and I was working toward the relationship part) with the spirit of Willow and Oak. There are two trees in my area that have been landmarks in my life, so I sought to work with them as connections to the divine feminine and masculine, rather than particular deities. Willow came much easier than Oak because I can see her more often, as she is out in the open by the lake and Oak is tucked back in the woods, ringed with prickers and poisonous plants and hornets' nests... Talk about a metaphor for my difficulty connecting to the masculine! Then there have also been other times where I simply honor a deity or speak to them, and even though they're not a deity I've "felt a pull from," or whatever it is I think I'm waiting for, something magickal definitely takes place! I recently prayed to Athena and felt a connection. At Mabon, I honored Dionysus and absolutely felt his welcome. I attended a ritual for Hecate and felt a new appreciation for her, and only since then learned that Willow is also sacred to her. I feel there are connections all around me now, I just felt that I shouldn't presume they were there before enough to act on them...
Thus, my question is this. Especially for those of you who DO work with specific deities, how did you know? And for my case, does it make sense to just go ahead and honor a deity that I'm interested in, or that I feel deserves a bit of notice from me, even though maybe they're not "my" deity? I joked to Dionysus that I'm probably not the kind of witch he'd expect to have as his friend, but I wanted to address him anyway, and I think he showed me a thing or two about who I really am. And I'd never met Hecate but I offered her things that I take very seriously. Another deity I speak to often, I actually learned about from one of my favorite fictional stories! Though, to be fair, it is based on historical events and religious background.
My problem is, admittedly, that I don't want to offend anyone (deity or human) by seeking a relationship that just isn't for me. I mentioned in my last post that I follow Chris' blog and he's a Hellenic polytheist who works with Athena, so is it shallow for me to work with her as an eclectic? Or when I speak to Thor, does it step on the toes of my Norse pantheist friend, Eric, who's made much deeper connections with that pantheon? On any other topic you'd hear me emphatically shout, NO! Of course not! Your connections are PERSONAL and whatever Deity says to YOU is said to YOU. Other people's experiences with the same deity may differ, because you are not the same people! Still, even though I do have a soft view of Deity, I respect each and every one of them in their many, many aspects and cultural forms, and do not ever wish to presume their place in my practice.
I hope to look back on this one day, knowing how long I've been mulling over these ideas, from a place of understanding in whatever I learn in the future. However it turns out, I know I'll laugh at this, for ever taking it quite so seriously. Thanks for being along for the ride.