So You Want to Try and Connect with Gods??

Nearly every polytheist I have talked with has heard this question or something quite similar to it:

How did you go about finding the Gods and Goddesses you work with?

To be completely truthful, I would say that its different for everyone. There are similarities and parallels that can be found in each person’s particular “moment” but each individual makes a unique connection with the Gods and Goddesses that they work with. No one connection will be the same. And while some approaches taken to the Gods and Goddesses may be similar, I would still claim each to be unique because of the complexities that exist within any relationship.

So, you want to try and make a connection with the Gods? Its quite an exciting moment when you decide to reach across and work with the Gods in some way or another. And I’m not talking about the $Deity-As-Vending-Machine concept. For me, working with the Gods can mean a lot more than that. And when you start to think about it, it can be a scary concept as well. After all, what happens if you get asked to do something that you aren’t really prepared to do? Well, that’s somewhat easy – you can just say “no”. We have the ability to choose what we will and will not do. We can (and do) create our own lines that are into territory too far. Many people call that personal sovereignty, where you are the ultimate decider of what is a request-to-far.

I have discussed how I met Crow through Coyote. Both remain in my life to this day – Crow more so than Coyote. I pledged myself to Crow as a Priest a couple of years back. But even as Priest, I do have the ability to say “no” – I just don’t normally do so. On tougher requests of action, I ask for time to think things through. One of those things was attending Many Gods West this year (where I am typing this from right now). Crow asked (rather strongly) that I go; that I talk with people; that I get to know them better; that I set my feet back onto the direction of getting out of the shadows and into the observable light. That was shortly before Pantheacon, sometime late last calendar year. I asked for time to think about it. I checked available time. I checked available funds. When I realized it was workable for me, I agreed. I could have just as easily have said no.

Coyote approached me through my dreams. It took a short while before I figured out who He was. That was my first encounter with Coyote. As I said, Coyote passed me over to Crow to learn more. Flidias, on the other hand, has been something completely different. I encountered Her through Dreams and meditations, where She has been hiding behind trees – among other items – beckoning me to follow Her. Most of my time spent with Her has been playing this game. She whispered Her name to me when I managed to catch up with Her – and I had to look that up to figure out who She is. Even then, it was a pain, because I had no idea how to spell the name.

There are many other ways that one might be able to approach the Gods and Goddesses. Study who They are. Find devotional rites and figure out how to do these on your own. Go to places that are sacred to Them, and meditate on who They are. Or just stumble across Them in your everyday practice. Or talk to others who have worked with a deity that you are interested in approaching. Find out how they had managed to come in contact with Them. And then try what they express worked for them. And be patient. Remember, you are trying to court favor with a being that sees the world very differently from you.¬†And realize, They may not be interested. That can suck, but it can be a reality. They have just as much right to say “no” as you do.

I will toss this out there as well…working with the Gods is not the same as rolling dice and looking up Their stats and such in Deities and Demi-Gods. My initial workings with Coyote were about changing the way I see myself; trying to not be so serious about who I am, and having fun with the daily drudgery of Life in general. My work with Crow has been far more specific, far more intense, and a lot more difficult in what I needed to do. In some cases, I have sacrificed what I wanted to do, for what Crow wanted me to do. But there is reward with the hard-work as well. I have learned lessons about myself that I would never thought I would entertain in my best dreams. That’s the exciting stuff. There are daily offerings and rites that I do as well. What I tend to call the “same old drudgery” – but its part of being who and what I am – A Priest of Crow.

I can always say “no” to any of this, so Crow is not my Master. We work in partnership, though I would consider Crow to be far more other-worldly than I am. In this physical realm, for the tasks He gives to me, I am His presence. I am quite sure I am one of my followers…my role is not the same as theirs nor is it bigger or better. It is my role. Our relationship is unique between us, it took hard work, and a lot of trust on both sides of the equation to get here. And I cherish what that relationship is. I celebrate it every moment of my Life.

Do you want a similar relationship with a Deity? My suggestion would be to learn about who They are. Learn what They like, what They dislike. Put daily moments aside for Them and attempt to approach Them in whatever fashion you deem is right. And again, be patient, be respectful, and be prepared to do the hard work. Not every moment with the Gods can be like the movies. Nor should it. The movies are the movies. You are living in real life. And real life….it most assuredly is hard work.



Working with the Gods Does Not Always Have to be Epic in Scale and Scope

The past few days it has been really cold up here on the Oklahoma/Texas border. Cold enough that the pipes to my pool and hot tub froze up and burst. Its nothing major, and provides the opportunity to replace the old heating system that is currently in place. But it was an unexpected moment. And a little reminder of why two Trickster Gods have been such an influence on who I am today.

When I heard people say that they were “working with the Gods”, I always fell into a pattern of thinking that they were doing something similar to Hercules – achieving stuff for the Gods that was just some massive undertaking. But in working with the trio of Gods that work within my life, I have found that this is not always the case. Sometimes, the tasks are a bit more internal – and in reflection, typically even more epic in size and scope within an individual’s life – rather than epic in the measure of our entire Pagan community or scopes even larger than that. And sometimes, the individual scope is enough to effect change elsewhere.

Ten years ago, I would be cursing and angry about what happened with the burst pipes for the pool. I would be proclaiming my bad luck, and how Life is being unfair to me. In short, I would be pitching a Titanic hissy fit. My disposition throughout my earlier life has always been one of being knocked off balance by events that happened along the way. When shit happened, I hit major meltdowns of epic proportions.

But two Trickster Gods intervened in all of this six years ago. My life was turned upside down in every imaginable way. I quit my job after working the worst employer I have ever had. I found myself caught up in one of the biggest downturns in economic history within the United States. I was unemployed for ninety-eight weeks. One week shy of the maximum amount that could be pulled during unemployment. I was hired in as an adjunct professor at the college I am currently working for. A position that I felt uniquely unqualified for at that time. And through all of that, every step of the way, there was a voice in the back of my mind.

Keep calm. It is only a stretch of rocks in the road. You will get past all of this, and find yourself among the trees again. I promise.

That was Coyote, whom I had just started finding in my meditations. I was learning the lesson of seeing the bigger picture. Opening up to the perspective of seeing wider and further than just me, I soon realized that while I was unemployed, and that full-time work, along with the medical benefits that I needed for working with my diabetes, was a difficult stretch of road – it could be far worse. I saw that on the news constantly. People losing their homes because they had lost their jobs. Unable to provide for their families. People leaving the keys on the kitchen counters as they abandoned their homes. Their pets left behind in those same homes because they could no longer afford to feed the furry members of their family. Yes, my road was difficult. But it could definitely have been worse.

I was learning another lesson as well – that of transformation. My time working as a desktop support technician were over. My skillset was similar to that of a high school student entering the workforce. There was no way a forty-something man was going to be able to compete in that industry with workers who would do the same thing at a cheaper price. I had two Masters degrees and a Bachelor degree. My time working in hardware was over, and I needed to realize that. It took a while. Hardware was what I knew. Hardware was how I made a living. But slowly I was nudged into the classroom, where I taught basic hardware concepts. I was able to show students how data on them was utilized by their own government. How data flowed between government entities – and how it did not in other cases.

And through those two lessons – amid the howls and laughter that Coyote had throughout all of it, I learned to control my emotions a lot more, and figure out how humility would work for me. Not only was I transforming my skillsets and moving into other areas of Information Technology, I was growing as an individual in ways that I desperately needed.And I was growing towards being what I needed to be: a Priest.

I have resisted that title for so long, that I still feel odd in accepting that aspect of my Path. Its only been fairly recent that I have turned towards that and decided that I would define what the term “Priest” meant to me – rather than accepting some definition that mainstream society attached to it. I am not going to hear confession. I am not going to transform anything into the body of anything else – no matter what the ritual. And honestly, I am not likely to lead any ritual anywhere except in my own backyard. And even then, only when I am the only one there. For me, Priest is something a little different, which I have talked about before.

For me, one of the tasks given to me by my trio of Gods was to grow. Coyote required me to grow up, and learn to be more in control of myself. Crow showed me how to find the silver lining in situations. Yes, the pipes froze and burst. That’s a bad thing. But it certainly provides the opportunity to replace the aging heater as well as repair the pipes. Fliodhas is showing me to find beauty in all aspects of Life. To look at the beauty of things beyond the external appearances. To look deeper at the relationships, how things interconnect, and where the intersection of all of that has a deeper meaning than can initially be realized.

Certainly, there is a lot going in the world all around us. A contentious Presidential election. Seemingly endless terror attacks on our over-arching society. Many, many people using political tides as excuses for behavior that is completely unacceptable. I am reminded that each time these moments occur, we – as a collective society – need to stand up against that. But in doing so, we need to make sure that we don’t let our emotions go overboard and boil over – that we don’t become something we never meant to be in the first place. Certainly, such issues need to be responded to, but we also need to remember having restraint in those moments as well. That’s what makes us different than those people. For me, Coyote, Crow, and Fliodhas have provided enough insight for me to recognize this need within myself.


Because the Name is Different

Every morning, I greet the Sun as it rises. Whether I am indoors or outdoors, I take the moment of sunrise to stop and try to empty my mind. Its not the easiest task in the world, after all – I have a billion thoughts roaming around in there at any given time. The goal is to relax for a few moments, and start the day fresh with a new focus and a cup of coffee in my hand.

My evenings tend to wind up the same. I wait for the sun to settle below the horizon, and as I watch the ebbing tide of light disappear, I do a reverse of the morning moment. I spend a few moments taking inventory of how the day went, what I managed to accomplish, and what still needs a few moments of my time.

I have never been big on ritual. If you have read me enough here, you are aware of that. But I really need to establish that a little more. I’m not a huge fan of formalized ritual. I don’t see a need for formalized movements and recited words and prayers. Instead, I seek conversations – with myself, with my backyard trees, with the birds that are flitting from branch to branch in the evening, with the Kami, whose presence I feel in the nearby area.

Ok, I get it. I understand the wide-eyed, “you’re so strange” look you are giving me right now. But before you call out the guys with the butterfly nets, and tell them I need a new sweater that ties in the back – let me push this out in return. Why is that when a person – let’s use the generic concept of a “Christian” as an example – why is that when that person prays out loud to God or Jesus, their prayers are not consider to be a point of mental confusion? Its the same thing – you know.

When I hold conversations with the trees, the birds, and the Kami – its the same concept of prayer. Except that I am not asking them for anything. I’m not wanting anything from them. Except a moment of their time. I’m not asking them to intercede on my behalf. I’m quite capable of fixing my own fuck-ups, thank you very much. All I am seeking is a momentary interaction – on a personal and private level. Sometimes I get answers, sometimes I get responses. Most of the time, I don’t. But I still want to take the time, just incase I might get some form of a response.

I would suppose the same can be said to be true of the Christian that prays – out loud or silent. They pray to God or Jesus, not necessarily expecting much of a response, but they do so – just in case there may be a response of some sort. And yet, despite the similarity, I’m the one that gets labeled as mental head-job. I’m the one that is told that I am living in a Fantasy World. But the conversation would be flipped to a positive if it were God and/or Jesus.

I’m not saying this to tear-down what a Christian may have in the way of a personal, private interaction with God or Jesus. In fact, I would applaud anyone who has managed to cultivate that relationship. I have a similar relationship with Crow. I don’t always get told what to do, or how to feel – sometimes its just a “checking in” thing. But because Crow is not Jesus, because Crow is not the Christian God — I’m the one that gets the label of “mentally not there” — even despite the similarities. All because the name is different. And to be perfectly honest, I find that to be very sad.