Thursday, March 7, 2013

Forging New Bonds With Deities

Image of An Cailleach by Mairin-Taj Caya

Being a "hard" polytheist, I believe that there are many different individual deities, those that I worship and others that I do not. Over the years I have felt my interactions with them change, and have had a few become what are sometimes called "household deities".

When it comes to new relationships with deities, some people feel like they have been called to a certain God or Goddess, while others actively pursue a relationship with certain deities. Personally I feel like I have experienced both, and over the last few months I have been working to forge a new bond with one Goddess in particular.

Since this isn't something that I have seen discussed too much over the last little while within the Pagan community, I thought that I would share some of my experiences in case it might be helpful to others.
Around a year or so ago I started asking a couple of folks within the Celtic Reconstructionist {mostly the Gaelic Polytheist} community about their experiences with An Cailleach, what suggestions they had for offerings and approach, as well as any research resources that they would recommend.

Thankfully I found the people I asked to be very helpful and open. Unfortuantely this isn't always the case when people are starting out. That is why I highly recommend doing quite a bit of research before you formally begin to start a relationship with them.
Some things to keep in mind while doing research are:
  • Do you have relationships with other deities or spirits that might be in opposition to this new deity?
  • What can you expect this deity to want from you? Will you be in a position to full those obligations?
  • Do they have any festivals, days or times of year that are special to them?
  • What types of offerings would be appropriate to give them?
  • Should you set up an altar or shrine for them? If so, should they have their own? What are appropriate items to put on that altar or shrine?
Besides just doing research, you may wish to do some type of divination, or you may even have some type of contact with the deity that will help answer some of these question, such as in a dream. I do personally place value on UPG and I have put trust in my own; however, I do like to check in with other folks who are of my particular faith to verify things whenever I can.
So I spent a good part of last year doing research, asking questions and planning before I started to formally pursue a relationship with An Cailleach. There were many things that I had yet to figure out and there are still many things that I am in the process to try and figure out, but I did feel that I had enough information to cautiously move forward.
Last Samhain I set up a seperate shrine for her, and started to make regular offerings. After a couple of months, once I felt it was right, I created a space for her on our household deity altar. Now I have been honouring An Cailleach in the same way that I pay respects to our other household deities, whether or not she becomes one or a long-term guest is very much up to her.
One last thing in closing: I do think that it is important to keep good hospitality mind! It is probably not wise to start making a bunch of requests {or even worse, demands!} when you are getting started. Save the requests for after you have built a rapport over an extended period of time. 
If there is anything of importance that I may have left out, please do feel free to say so in the comment section. :)

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