How to Start Working With a God or Goddess
Paganism and the Gods
You're new to paganism, and maybe you just recently discovered your god or goddess. Maybe both. While there are many forms of paganism and having a god or goddess in your religious practice isn't required, for many it is something that comforts and helps them through troubling times. It also gives them a sense of peace and hope knowing their god and goddess are in their corner. Protecting them. Healing them. Working favors for them.
Having a god or goddess in your life is the same as a Christian having Jesus or God in their lives; however, you don't have to "worship" your pagan deities. More often than not, pagans say they "work with" their gods and goddesses. Your relationship with your god or goddess will be more like a friendship or a working relationship, but can also feel like they are your father or mother too. The point is that the old gods and goddesses don't need us to worship them. They have everything they need and don't need people bowing down before them. They'd rather have you smiling at them as a friend would instead.
So you've found your god and goddess, but now you're left wondering what's next? How do I start this relationship with my god and goddess? Everyone's relationship with their gods will be different and special in their own ways. Don't feel like you have to follow a strict set of rules to work with your god or goddess. Do what you feel is right and true to you.
1. Research and Study Your God and Goddess
The very first thing you can do when you discover your pagan god or goddess is to get to know them through study. Your deities came from somewhere, right? You didn't just make them up in your head, so look up where they came from. Research what their name means, who venerated them in ancient times, and where their sacred temples might have been. Keep a special part of your journal and dedicate it to your god or goddess. Write down all you learn about them in your journal so you can refer back to it at any time. After you've learned the basics, then you should dive into the deep stuff. This includes the mythology of your god or goddess—don't forget that they might have been passed down through folklore as folkloric figures, and if this is the case you should study them in folklore as well.
All of this seems like basic knowledge, but many people will pick a god or goddess and forget to put in the time to get to know them before calling on them for whatever reason. Would you make a friend with someone but never ask them about themselves? Never get to know their history or background? Never ask them where they came from or what they do for a living? If you choose to ignore the research and study of your god or goddess, you aren't getting to know them on a personal level and they will be less likely to put the time and effort into getting to know you. So...research and study. That's number one.
Your relationship with your god or goddess will be more like a friendship or a working relationship.— Nicole Canfield
2. Communication: Prayer and Recurring Signs or Symbols
Next, when starting to work with a god or goddess, you'll want to communicate with them. You can call it prayer, if you'd like, or you can simply call it talking. You can talk to your god or goddess in your mind or out loud, either way, they'll hear you. As mentioned previously, you do not have to kneel down or bow your head to pray to your god or goddess. You can literally drive down the road and talk to them—you can talk to them at any time and literally anywhere, and you don't need a fancy prayer to do it. This is how you can communicate with your god or goddess, but how do they communicate with you?
In my experience, working with pagan gods and goddesses is different in that they will answer your prayers through nature and through recurring signs and symbols. What I mean by this is that you might see a large crow following you to work one day. Then you see the same bird the next day. This might be your sign that Odin or The Morrighan is watching over you and protecting you. Maybe you asked for them to protect you and this is their confirmation of that request. They will send you signs and symbols via nature, passing conversations, and mainstream media (TV, radio, online, books, etc), and these signs will keep coming at you until you make the connection. Recurring signs and symbols are one of the most common ways a god or goddess will talk to you. So pay attention and open your mind, eyes, and ears.
3. Offerings Are Gifts for the Gods
You are starting to establish a relationship with your god or goddess and you want to show your gratitude. You can do this by giving offerings, similar to tithing in Church (except your god or goddess doesn't require money from you).
You can set up an altar or a small space on a tabletop or shelf and leave offerings of various things you feel your god or goddess might appreciate. These offerings can be any of the following: food, candlelight, incense, water, beverages, crystals, artwork, poems, and more! A good practice to develop is to give an offering at least once a week and then build up to once a day. What you're doing is saying you appreciate your god or goddess as a friend. You are essentially giving them a gift. And guess what? In return, they will give you gifts that could include: protection, love, abundance, healing, guidance, and more.
Another wonderful thing you'll notice—the more you give in offerings the more you will receive. Eventually, you'll truly enjoy giving gifts to your god or goddess and they in turn will enjoy showering you with blessings. Keep in mind your offerings don't have to be expensive—you can burn incense once daily, for example. Or you can provide a bowl of herbs once every other week. You can even give a glass of wine or water as an offering. If you want to give an expensive offering, that is okay too, but not required. The gods also enjoy artwork to honor them, as well as writing poems or songs for them. It is about your time and effort and intention.
It's a Beautiful Thing...
As time goes by and you get to know your god or goddess, your relationship will grow and blossom into something truly unique and beautiful. Think of it this way— many of these gods and goddesses have had their names dragged through the dirt for centuries. Many of them have almost been completely forgotten. To hear their name on your lips or see their name in your writing would be flattering, don't you think? And if someone was to give them an offering of patchouli incense or light a candle in their honor, don't you think they would appreciate the effort to get to know them and want to get to know you in return? They're lonely, so give them a friend!
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© 2018 Nicole Canfield