It is Still About the Hard Work

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First before, I get going too far, I want to thank Oh My Gods! for the use of the above strip in this blog. I have been a long-time fan of the strip, and am really thrilled to be given permission to utilize this particular strip for this blog post. I happened across this today (September 18th) in my Facebook feed, and realized that this would work perfectly with this particular post. Visit all the folks over at Oh My Gods! and relax with some of the best Pagan-oriented comedy I have ever read. Again, many thanks to the folks there for the use of this, much appreciated.

9352206759_c8d7e8963b_zSo, many folks within Paganism have had a similar moment that Victor is having here. They spend their forty-five bucks for some form of instruction in a magickal tradition and have all the secrets available to them. Or, in my own current case, they have spent their money and received their monthly Gwers lessons from OBOD. They rip the package open (carefully, so you don’t rip any part of the booklets, leaflets or whatever may be contained within the packing), leaf through the pages of the information, or listen to the recorded lessons contained within, and it happens….the magickal osmosis begins and the information is leaked into a corner of their brain meats. And their magickal hit points are increased. Their experience points move upwards, and according to the Players’ Handbook – they have moved up to level-three Druid or fifth-level Bard. Now they are ready to take on new modules and adventures with their newfound knowledge.

::head-desk::  ::repeat::

Yes, you have spent money on getting the materials. Regardless of the total cost, part of that is to cover the production and shipping of what you have in your hands or on your headphones, as the case may be. Reading it is a good first step. Or listening to it, if you will. But that is not the total end of it. There is still a lot of work to be done. The lessons have exercises to try. Not just a single time, but many times over. Repetition is a key part of what you now have. Repetition brings things to rote memory, particularly where ritual patterns and concepts are concerned.

Yes, Virginia, there are patterns and a conceptual perception that is a part of learning rituals. Yes, you are reading that correctly for someone that leans HEAVILY on an extemporaneous ritual format in his own daily practice. But that is one’s daily practice. When working with others, formalized ritual practice is necessary so that everyone is on the same page, so to speak. When you are working through the exercises presented to you, it is important to follow the basic outline, learn it, and live it BEFORE you change it. Much like eating sushi, you will never know if you like it or not until you have tried it. More than once.

Besides, is that not why you sent away for these lessons in the first place?  To learn what is being offered? Or is it just to sit on your shelf, becoming a set of “impressive” titles that you can have gazing down on the visitors to your office? Sort of like getting a diploma with an impressive array of collegiate initials, so as to impress people?  And for the record, I do have an MBA (Masters of Business Administration), but it is just a set of initials I can place behind my name on a professional signature block. It doesn’t make me any smarter than anyone else.

But is Victor doing bad by purchasing his lessons from a location? Maybe. I think it would all depend on where he is running off to spend his money. There are tons of Get-Witch-Quick places out there. There are a lot of long-distance education and correspondence learning formats that are so much more than that. How do you pick? Well, that’s really up to you. I chose OBOD’s system after a lot of personal research. It works for what I need it to be (and far better than I had originally realized). But I certainly wouldn’t pick based on whether someone I knew looked down their nose at it or not.

For me, the framework that OBOD has allowed me to hang my own personal aspect of Polytheism wherever I needed it to be – as close to the center of my personal practice or as far away from it as I needed it to be. I also realize that this same framework does not necessarily work for anyone else. But just because I purchase my lessons from somewhere in the United Kingdom and do not have someone immediately available for face-to-face conversation ascribes no demeaning value to it. Nor does the reception of each package in my mailbox mean that I just set the CDs and Lesson booklets on top of my head while I sleep – letting the knowledge seep in. Each lesson holds exercises for me to accomplish. And each lesson takes me a step further along a Path I have chosen to walk. Many others have walked this same Path, and their own individual experiences have provided to them lessons and experience that is unique to them.

Nor does the reception of each package in my mailbox mean that I just set the CDs and Lesson booklets on top of my head while I sleep – letting the knowledge seep in. Each lesson holds exercises for me to accomplish. And each lesson takes me a step further along a Path I have chosen to walk. Many others have walked this same Path, and their own individual experiences have provided to them lessons and experience that is unique to them. For, in the end, we can walk the same deer trod through the forest, but what we encounter is unique to our own steps on our own journey.

Sure, Victor can believe that he has purchased his own tradition in a box. But its really meaningless until he starts to do the work, walk the steps, learn the lessons, and bring all of that into his everyday life. Yes, adding all of this into your everyday life is important, at least in my own opinion. I tried to compartmentalize my mundane life from my own Spiritual practice. And failed miserably at both. I only had the footing for a single step. After that, I found myself scrambling to achieve a balance rather than living the life that I wanted to have. I do not proclaim myself to be a Pagan openly by wearing an “I am a Pagan” button everywhere that I go. I really do not need to. I am who I am. And when I started taking the lessons to heart, applying each one to my daily life – I had no need to struggle for a balance. I achieve it every morning that I step outside to greet the sun.

Victor will have that balance as well, even with his $44.95 Tradition-in-a-Box – provided he is willing to put in the hard work to learn the lessons and apply them to his life. The same goes for you; whoever might be reading this. Whether your lessons come via the post or done in a face-to-face learning situation – its the work that you, as an individual, put into learning, doing, and living your magickal life that matters most. And there is absolutely no substitute for that.

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TommyElf, the”Writer”?

I have always had trouble coming up with topics to write about. Honestly, it took a long time before I realized that the books I was reading could spark topics and questions for blog posts. Nowadays, any book I am not reading for leisure takes longer to read because I have a notebook in hand when doing so. In that notebook, I jot down questions to ask of myself, topics to explore in more depth, and even books I need to locate and add to my growing collection. From those notes, I create these blog posts.

Two years ago, I attended my first Pantheacon. I was fortunate enough to have a semi-experienced guide for that time in fellow blogger (and far better than I could ever dream of becoming), John Beckett. Since that time, John has become a published author with his really great book, “The Path of Paganism.” While at that Pantheacon, I went to several panels, wrote copious notes, and came back with more blog material than I could have dreamed of. Since then, I have notes from other conventions, some Pagan gatherings, and even from interviews from podcasts such as “Down at the Crossroads.” More interestingly, I have started to gather blog topics from conversations I am having with other Pagans – both in online and face-to-face conversations. In short, I am finding blog topics nearly everywhere around me.

I have never been a prolific writer. In collegiate classes, I was praised for my writings in several research papers and essays. In a Creative Writing class, I wrote a short story based on a true incident that I had in going back to my unit in Germany from a rehabilitation stint I had in Wichita Falls, Texas. Incidentally, when I first joined the United States Air Force in 1986, it was this same base that I did my technical training at. Now, I live less than an hour away from that same base, here near Gainesville, Texas. Amazing how life tends to revolve in circles and cycles. Back to the writing aspect though, my papers and essays were mostly singular writings. In other words, I wrote a single draft, checked for spelling and grammar issues – and then submitted the assignment. Rereading those assignments, I can see where my writing truly fell short.

Back to the writing aspect though, my papers and essays were mostly singular writings. In other words, I wrote a single draft, checked for spelling and grammar issues – and then submitted the assignment. Rereading those assignments, I can see where my writing truly fell short. Circular logical references; thoughts and points that were cut short; and just generally poorly constructed explanations are rife throughout all of that work. I am truly amazed that I managed to make my way through two Masters degrees and a Bachelor’s degree with what I had submitted.

Looking back on older blog posts, here at the site, I also see many of the same faults. And a lot of that stems from my own lazy habit of writing singular version posts. I know I am a good writer, but as I was once told by an evening fire during one Gulf Coast Gathering, I have the ability to be an even better writer. So, in an effort to try and move beyond that singular version writing of blog posts, I write very little during the last two weeks. Well, very little that got posted. There are currently four posts that are being written – not including this one. One will be completed tomorrow (Sunday) and posted. The other three will be completed and set up for posting automatically. So that material can be reread, revised, and rewritten as necessary.

Coyote taught me not to take myself too seriously. I learned to laugh at myself and my mistakes. To not think of myself as having complete mastery of anything. All of that helped me learn to not be overly serious and find the fun in everyday life. I am more likely known as a smart-ass than anything else. However, those closest to me also know about my serious side. My desire to get things “right”…not just “right enough”. That is carried over into my daily life, into the statistical and data work I do for the college. But I have managed to not bring that into things outside of work. I clown, I kid, I try to find the absurd in everything. And somewhere between those two extremes is where I really am. It is long past time to embrace the two, and be a little more serious…while also finding fun.

So, to start the more serious, more deliberate aspect of writing…I provide this post as that moment. I know my initial efforts may not be the brightest, shining examples of this. However, these are just the start. I hope to get far better, a bit more deliberative, a bit more precise in what I write. I am not sure I was meant to be a writer, but I am meant to relate the stories – both of my everyday life, and those of the Gods. I am excited about the possibilities and fearful of the technique in doing so. As I was reminded shortly after my Ovate initiation, being a little fearful of what was about to take place was an indication that I was taken the approach in the correct, serious manner. There will be seriousness, there will be fun….

I Have No Desire to be a “Helicopter Elder” – More Thoughts on Being an Elder in a Changing Pagan and Polytheist Community

Well, we have now come to the last of the topics I have culled from all my notes made at Many Gods West 2017. This last one, I have written about to various degrees already. But I thought it might be interesting to explore this from the perspective of Polytheism added to the Pagan slant that it builds on.

As the Elders of the Pagan community move on, our generation becomes the next Elders. What happens next? How do we nurture the younger generations to help facilitate the necessary change and growth within our varied Pagan communities??

I believe that the entire paragraph is worth looking at by each successive generation of Pagans and Polytheists as time progresses on. For me, this paragraph continues to underline that realization I had last year — being in the Pagan community to one degree or another since 1986, I have become an “Elder”. I certainly hope that I am not looked upon in that manner because I am unsure what it means to be an Elder, aside from the single descriptor of longevity. But honestly, that descriptive measure of time is a large part of what defines the concept of Elder or at least that’s what I have come to comprehend. But this is really not about wearing the “Elder cape” – it is about being helpful to others as they also grow on their own Paths.

First, Pagans are fairly independent folk. Needing nurturing or leadership is not necessary for many. Nor do they need to have someone tell them what they are or not. I watched this play out in a Pagan group when I was stationed in Germany. What was meant to be an umbrella group that encompassed many Pagan beliefs was perverted into being a “Wiccan” circle by one individual, who represented it in this manner to the Air Force chaplaincy at Ramstein Air Base. It made many people upset over the designation and drove a lot of people away from the group. Not all Pagans are Wiccans and that held true for the group. And it holds true here in the present day. So, how to handle the concepts of nurturing growth and change when the folks you might be working directly with may not want it?? Especially if they are not of the same Path as you or do not share a lot of the common aspects of faith that you do?

So, how to handle the concepts of nurturing growth and change when the folks you might be working directly with may not want it?? Especially if they are not of the same Path as you or do not share a lot of the common aspects of faith that you do? Well, I cannot speak from the perspective of anyone other than myself. And to be honest, if you ask five other Pagans this same question when we compare all the answers – we should have nine or ten ways to approach it. So, what I share comes solely from me….

I believe the best way to approach the idea is to encourage people to explore what they are experiencing but with caution. Sometimes, in exploring something, you can place yourself in a dangerous spot. Have someone that can be your anchor. Since my experiences with spirituality will differ from your own, most of the time, I cannot explain what is right or wrong in what you experience or the process that you undertake. I can provide examples of how I would do something, but that is merely how I would approach something.

So, in nurturing younger Pagans and Polytheists on how to move forward in their own Spirituality, I would be available to them to explain my processes, my experiences, and my methodologies. However, being available is different from trying to wedge my way into their practices. The well-worn saying of “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” comes to mind. And I am not fond of the “teacher” part of this, as I see myself more as a mentor. I am there to provide advice, and if you trust me enough – I will even gladly be an anchor for you. I am not teaching as much as I am advising. It is still up to you to decide what to do, when, where, and how. For me, this is an ideal way to approach the concept of nurturing the growth of the younger generations of Pagans.

Perhaps, in the future, members of these younger generations of Pagan and Polytheists will step into roles of leadership, teaching, and being Elders, themselves. I certainly hope that I can serve as some kind of example for some of them, just as so many other Pagans and Polytheists out there will also serve as examples of leadership – both positive and negative examples. Yes, the infamous Pagan musician that gets arrested for child porn and has a sullied reputation throughout the wider Pagan community can serve as an example as well as a beloved writer, blogger, musician, Priest or Priestess does. Predators within our community may not be the best examples of what to be in a wider community, but they do serve as examples of what to watch for.

Predators within our community may not be the best examples of what to be in a wider community, but they do serve as examples of what to watch for. There is no police force for our community, other than ourselves. In order to help our younger Pagans and Polytheists have a safe environment to learn and experience within, as they make a choice of where they will go in their Spiritual growth; we need to know what to look for, as well as what to guard against. Furthermore, we need to also be careful that we do not wind up imitating the insane Witch Hunts of the 1980s that fueled a rabid evangelical Christian base to forcing non-Christians to submit to some aspect of a “character test” to prove they were “fit parents” according to their (the Christians) standards. There is a fine balance between protection and persecution – we (the Pagan community) should be cognizant of that measure, especially as our younger generations begin to come of age.

Honestly, I am not what I consider to be a “leader” of any sort. Emails, text messages, and conversations from many other people tend to prove me wrong on that point. I am not a Presidential figure that stands up and makes statements that every Pagan should hear about. That is one type of leadership. I am available for advice. I am available to just be an ear to bend for others. I am available to talk about my experiences within my Paganism and my Polytheism. I am available for hugs. I am available to stand between you and someone else, barring the way when you need shelter or protection. And while I consider all of that to just be “me being me” – I have come to recognize that it is a form of leadership as well. I want to see Paganism and Polytheism continue to openly grow.

I want to see Paganism and Polytheism continue to openly grow. I dream of a day where being a Pagan and/or Polytheist does not draw a negative stigmatism from the general public. Where being a Pagan or a Polytheist is just as accepted in the wider world society as being a Christian, an Atheist, an Agnostic, Buddhist, Muslim, or any other faith tends to be. Where living a lifestyle where honoring the Gods openly is not seen as some sign of “mental illness or instability.” And that is not going to happen unless the younger generations to explore what being a Pagan means to them. They will eventually need someone to talk about their experiences, their theories on various subjects – and not be prejudged for what they think. For me, that happens when they are given the room to do just that….and I have no desire to become a “Helicopter Elder”.

Guitarists That Inspire Me to Learn to Play

Way back when I was younger, I played the bass guitar. I had some really high-level heroes too. The late Cliff Burton was my primary hero….I want to play like Cliff. I never really got there. But recently, I decided to take up an instrument again…this time, I moved over to the acoustic guitar. So, since other folks are tossing out their top tens of this, that or the other…I figured I would toss out my top ten favorite guitarists….or, if you prefer, the guys I would love to emulate – if I manage to get better with this….

And while I would populate this list with guys like the late Randy Rhoads and the amazing Alex Lifeson…I’m limiting this to guys that play acoustic guitar for the most part…though there’s a few that play electric guitar as well. I just don’t want to populate my list with shredding masters…though I do admire their technique and ability quite a lot.

  1. Declan Sinnott – Declan is here because he just has a way of making a guitar sing whatever emotion he’s trying to emulate for you. He mostly plays support for Christy Moore, along with a few others – but he’s quite awesome on his own.
  2. Trey Anastasio – Trey makes stuff fun. He is not the most accomplished player on any list, but he is definitely an excellent player. I keep watching for Trey or Phish to come to somewhere near me. Apparently, north Texas ain’t a usual stop.
  3. Damh the Bard – Damh is fun to listen to. His playing is always a perfect harmony to his voice. And for all I know, he can shred right along with Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden.
  4. Allan Holdsworth – this guy is just downright amazing to watch. He’s got some freakishly long fingers and some very deft ability on the fretboard. I have watched a few videos that he has on YouTube, and he is just mesmerizing with his ability. I could never aspire to be as good as this guy.
  5. Pat Metheny – no surprise here, especially if you know me well enough. Pat is not only an incredible player but an out-of-this-world songwriter. Another one of those players I could only dream of being as good as.
  6. Pete Townsend – now, I did say I didn’t want any shredders on this list but I have to include Pete. Not for his lead guitar work but for his rhythm guitar work. Listen to any song from The Who or any of his solo albums, and you will find that guitar riff that all the rest of the music just holds on to. I’m particularly fond of his work on the album “Face Dances”.
  7. Tommy Shaw – another master of the rhythm guitar. Again, listen to his solo work or what he has done in Styx, and you will hear some wonderful work. It is this rhythm work that I really aspire to learn. Maybe one day, I could emulate what Shaw and Townsend do in their rhythm work.
  8. The Edge – this guy is just sheer genius. None of what he does is overly difficult, and yet the phrasing is just amazingly distinct for what U2 does. He is a study in how simple riff work can be magnified into excellence when done in an understated manner.
  9. Craig Chaquico – sure, the stuff he does in Jefferson Starship sounds great, but its his guitar work on his solo albums that is just out of this world. These are jazz albums, so there’s not a ton of singing (if it all) to the tracks – unless you count the way he makes the guitar sing his “voice”. Much like Sinnott, Holdsworth, and Metheny – his styling is other-worldly for me.
  10. Bran Cerddorion – I just cannot make a list without adding the guy that inspired me to get back to playing an instrument – even if I am not that great with it. I’ve seen Bran live plenty of times…and he has a way of playing his instrument in a way that makes you believe that the guitar is the same instrument as his voice. One without the other just does not sound complete.

So, there’s my top ten….its not a list of people that I think are absolutely out of this world with a guitar. There’s a whole host of players I would have in this list, such as Rhoads, Abbott, Moore, Santana, Satriani, Vai, May, and so many more. This list is about the people that inspire me to continue to get better with the guitar….and have fun doing so….as with any top ten list – people will likely disagree with me on many of the choices. Yeah, I get that. And I am so very alright with that. Hopefully, you will be alright with my list being different from yours.  🙂

 

Bargaining (or not) with The Gods

There were a lot of good statements that came out of the conversations at Many Gods West. This blog post is a continuation of writing prompts I developed while there, earlier this year. But this particular one came from a random thought that hit my mind during a large discussion panel and was prompted because of a statement made on the other side of the room.

Working with the Gods can sometimes place us in the position of being problem solvers. How can this come into conflict with our own personal limits, and does this limit our relationship with the Gods?

I wind up in this sometimes awkward position quite a bit. My personality is really that of a troubleshooter. I am always ready to solve a problem, and more than willing to make things happen without any of the typical tools. When I was in the military, I was prized for my ways of solving issues with unconventional (and sometimes illegal) means. My philosophy was that if it worked long enough for a real and correct solution to be implemented along side it – and then switched from the makeshift solution – then everything would be fine. I worked in Command and Control Communications, and my job was to keep the communications systems working so that information could flow…I just took it upon myself to add the statement of “by any means possible” to the end of it.

My concept of work responsibility has not changed much. I am still available to make solutions happen, utilizing whatever tools I have at hand. And to be completely frank, I tend to do the same within my own Spiritual work as well. No candles for a ritual? I’ll make due with flashlights instead (yes, I have done this). The wording for a particular part of the ritual is tricky and I stumble over it too easily. I’ll improvise or change some of the tricky wording. If the wording cannot be changed – I’ll spell it phonetically on an index card. To me, there’s always a solution available. It might not be ideal, but it works for that moment.

I also like to believe that my ability to problem solve is attractive to Crow, and is one of the reasons that our relationship works the way it does. And sometimes, I have been put in a position to problem solve, and found that the solution was not really palatable to a limit that I had. This has (three different times now) placed me in a somewhat difficult spot of choosing between a methodology that I was comfortable with, and one that would be appropriate. Essentially, I wound up in a spot where I could either say “no” to Crow or grit my teeth and step into a solution that might not be ideal for my own personal comfort level.

For me, it’s a tug of war between my own personal sovereignty, and my devotion to Crow. I want control over who I am, to be able to decide how far I am willing to go with this, that or the other. On the other hand, I am a Priest of Crow. Much like when I worked in a command post, my desire is to do the best that I can….even at all possible means. Which brings me to a clashing point of defining where my limits are, and performing my tasks as a Priest to Crow, where the two may collide.

Now, one can always say “no” to the Gods at any time. You run the risk of the God or Goddess taking no further interest in you. Or, the exact opposite. Where They become MORE interested in you and continually make Their request(s) to you despite your refusals. And one can always just say “yes” to a God or Goddess without perusing the details of what is being asked of you. But, without reading through the “fine” details of what is being asked, you may find yourself placed into a position where you just cannot do what is being asked.

For me, I have learned (the hard way) that is easier to stop (let me think about that), and look at what is being asked, as well as how it is to be done or any other relevant details. Check all that against your own personal limits – your sovereignty, if you prefer. And if you cannot do what is asked, state so. Give reasons why. Ask if there can be alterations to what is being asked. Try to bargain your way through to terms or methodologies that are better suited for you. But be prepared to also be told that there is no “deal” to be had. It’s either what is being asked, or not at all. And then you will need to really check your desire to do Their will against what you feel you are able to do (comfortably or not).

Will bargaining or saying no limit your relationship with your God or Goddess? That is definitely possible. So I would caution you to bargain or deny carefully. Weigh your options. Weigh the potential consequences. And choose your next steps gently…..

 

Comparisons Are Inevitable and Difficult to Overcome

One of the more difficult questions that came out of the discussions at Many Gods West was actually not a direct statement made anywhere in the discussions, at least not where I can recall. And to be honest, I was caught on this particular thought for a long while, just a few years back.

What happens when you compare where you are in your polytheistic practice with others that you know? Is it fair to do so??

Admittedly, this is a difficult topic, and difficult to put in terms that are not so personal to me. In fact, I don’t really know a better way to bracket this entire topic, other than to utilize myself as an example. So, yes – this particular blog entry is about me and my own experiences, along with a lot of thinking that I had to eventually get beyond in order to be more of what I have become.

Comparisons are inevitable. Particularly when you get too wound up in the idea of advancing towards being a better [x]. I hold three academic degrees:  a Bachelors of Science in Computer Sciences; a Masters of Information Systems Management; and a Masters of Business Administration. Any professional conference I have attended, conversations with strangers have always started with something close to:  “So, what are your degrees?” Almost akin to the “how big is your penis” conversations that men supposedly hold amongst one another on drunken nights. (I can vouch on my behalf that I have never had one of these conversations before) It’s a quick comparison of how this person may or may not match up to your intelligence level – like a degree seems to be some measure of intelligence. ::eye-roll:: But regardless the comparison is there. We do it in the Pagan community as well…

How many years have you been a Pagan? What degree do you hold in your tradition? What’s your lineage? Who initiated you? All questions I have heard asked of me or others within the Pagan communities that are out there. But it’s the internal measures that caught me. Where I found myself comparing my abilities and experiences as a Pagan against others that I knew.

I found myself comparing my experiences in everything. With the Gods, with Spirits of Place, with Spirits of Ancestors, how far I had managed to get in my Bardic studies in OBOD, whether my experiences with the Gods were as deep as this person….EVERYTHING. And I wound up being a complete wreck as a person, and what I felt was an even worse example of a Pagan. There were nights that I sat on my knees in my living room, silently crying because I felt I was a failure as a Pagan because I didn’t measure up to where I felt another person was on their Path.

This was not a very comfortable moment on my Path. I had found Coyote a short while before. I had just been led to Crow, and I was questioning a lot of what and how I was – as well as a lot that was being asked of me. I was pointed towards one person as an example of what to do, and how to be. And I was completely unsure I would ever be his equal in anything. In fact, I still doubt that I will be his equal in a lot of things. But whether he believes it or not, he has been a mentor of sorts to me – if just from a distance. I was provided this individual as an example. Not a cutout. Not a pattern to follow precisely. Not an image to become a carbon copy of. An example. Particularly, an example of how to be a Priest. I only hope I have become what Crow has intended me to be at this point on this Path – and that I continue to grow towards what He intends me to be in the future.

What happened was that I let my own internal fears get in the way. I started looking at who this person was, how he approached topics, how he handled his own calling to his Gods – and I tried to hold myself up to that precise level. I needed to learn to do ritual the same way. I needed to reach the levels that he has climbed to. I had to do things in [x] time because he had. And that small voice came to the back of my mind, one night on the living room floor.

Be you. I need you as my Priest. Not a copy of him. Aspire to those attributes, but mold those to who you are.

When I responded with the doubtful voice that I wasn’t sure that I could, I was told:

You can. There is no doubt of that.

After a long period of pulling myself back together, finally believing in my own ability to travel this Path on my time, ensuring that I learned what I needed through all my lessons – I started to remember key points of what I saw in this individual. He followed the rules, learned the knowledge, and then scored it appropriately so that it became his. His. I didn’t really need to compare myself to him. I needed to emulate some of his perspectives in order to start down certain parts of the Paths laid before me. But in the end, I needed to place my own feet into the appropriate places for my travels. Walking this Path is not about emulating someone. Rather, it is about walking down a well-worn Path where many others have come before us, and many others will come after….and making the experience of the travel my own. It wasn’t about being “as good as”…it was about being “right and appropriate” for me.

At Many Gods West, one panel was a massive discussion that wound all around the room. And for a few moments, I felt as intimidated in that room as I did on the floor of my living room on those mostly sleepless nights. Many of the people there described very personal experiences that they had had with their Gods with beautiful, evocative descriptions of some of their experiences. And it was really tough sledding for me. I began to question whether I had a “tight” relationship with Crow. I started to slip back into my own doubts of how “good” I was compared to the rest of these people. And after a few minutes, I suddenly realized that I had spoken. I had said something.

And after a few minutes, I suddenly realized that I had spoken. I had said something. And for the life of me, I couldn’t remember exactly what I had said. Listening to the follow-on statements, I understood I had mentioned something about my relationship with Crow….how I managed to create a bargaining system between us over some of the tasks that had been set before me. Tasks I was uncomfortable with. And that what I had said was sparking a thread with others at the table that was delving deeper into all of our relationships with our Gods and Goddesses and Spirits. There was that small voice at the back of my head:

See stupid? There was never any doubt.

Building Relationships With Our Gods in a Ten-Second Society

Ok…the title is a bit misleading. But it is derived from a conversation point in a panel from Many Gods West 2017 this year. And it does bend back to something I have heard quite a bit from people trying to work their way into a relationship with a God, Goddess, Spirit of Place, Spirit of Ancestor, etc etc. The typical question boils down to a similar cry from many of them…

How do I get a [insert God or Spirit of choice here] to work with me or talk to me? How do I connect with Them??

That’s not an easy question to answer, and at times, I have felt a bit awkward trying to provide an answer that might make sense or at least be bit coherent. Creating a relationship with one or more of the Gods (I am going to use this as a generic catch-all from this point on out – so please don’t get hung on terminology) is not a simple thing. In my opinion, it takes time; it takes effort; it takes personal sacrifice; it takes patience; it takes determination; it takes research; and it takes love. And to some degree, I would urge a little touch of caution in trying to create a relationship or connection. You never know precisely what you are going to wind up with – even after all the research and effort.

If you have read the blog, you know that I am a Priest of Crow. I am dedicated to Crow, and it took a long time for me to get to this point. Prior to Crow, there was Coyote. Coyote spent about two years putting me through a few tasks, all designed to force me to not take myself so seriously. Eventually, Coyote led me to Crow. From the beginning, my relationship with Crow has been a very slow, deliberate build between the two of us. First, we learned how to communicate between the two of us. Then, we worked on building trust for us both – a process that continues to this day. That was back in 2005-2006….I am unsure of the exact date. It took even longer before I decided to become a Priest for Crow. And there’s a long conversation about my aversion to the title of “Priest” that figures into all of that as well. But the point here is that it’s a long, complicated process. Coyote and Crow didn’t just appear in my Life and an immediate bond between us was formed. I am sure that others may have a different experience with their own Gods and the relationships that they have. But that is just not my case.

Currently, our modern-day society is fast-paced. News, information, and other things are available at near instant speeds to any individual. Through the magic of the internet, combined with the delivery platform of a digital phone, tablet, and/or computer – everything happens quickly. We can pay for our coffee and other food items from our phones, while en-route to the location we are purchasing those items from. The expectation is that our items will be ready for pickup when we get there, and we can skip the long lines to just waltz in and waltz right back out. Need information on something? Just type a descriptive word or phrase into our devices, and the information arrives at our fingertips at break-neck speed.

If all that can happen, why can I not create a relationship with one of the Gods through a simple five-minute meditation? I have already spent five minutes doing this, that should be enough, right? Well, my experience has been that it is just not that simple. In fact, in a manner of speaking, it is a lot like dating. Sure, the flirtation feels great – there is a promise of something more, but you need to come back, again and again, to continue to build on that interest. But building a relationship is about more than just making out and the hope of an eventual tryst for the night. There’s trust, bonding, building on so many other aspects of mutual interest, exploring differences and the avenues that this may open up. The same holds true for a relationship with the Gods. Spending time getting to know about your potential relationship partner will require some research. Reading Their myths, reading what other bloggers and writers may have to say, and even visiting sites that may be sacred to

The same holds true for a relationship with the Gods. Spending time getting to know about your potential relationship partner will require some research. Reading Their myths; reading what other bloggers and writers may have to say; even visiting sites that may be sacred to Them; invoking Them in your daily rituals and offerings; and even performing rituals that are sacred to Them. All of this requires research, study, gathering required materials, and practice, practice, practice. And even when it is all said and done – you might not even get a second glance. Much like trying to court favor with that attractive individual that you would like to have a relationship with; you can find all your effort was for naught. Because the Gods, just as we human beings do, have the choice of saying “no way.”

Fret not, you can still go through the same processes of devotion, adoration, and just essentially praising the Gods as you see fit. The only difference is that you may not receive reciprocation in your efforts. Sort of the same way that I adore Lzzy Hale, but she likely has no clue that I am alive.  😉

Probably the most key thing, in my opinion, is not whether you manage to create the relationship between you and your specific choice among the Gods. If you’re a hard polytheist – believing that all the Gods, Goddesses, and Spirits are distinct, unique beings – the fact that you believe is what makes your relationship with the Gods a beautiful thing. And this even goes for the monotheists that are out there. You may not have the direct-line that you were so wanting, but you do have belief. Whatever that is anchored upon is important, and a wonderful thing. No one should be able to wrestle that away from you. And who knows?? It just might be the start of something beautiful and special between you and the Gods. And it might even be a God, Goddess or Spirit you never considered.