I am making a willful decision to act and believe as if the deities and spirits I encounter are actual beings, separate from myself, with their own agency.

It’s not easy.

Our society only seems to want us to believe in no gods or one god. It’s something we’ve had inculcated in us. I’ve made what is, for me, a radical decision to believe otherwise. Why? Because ever since I’ve heard of Paganism and became a Pagan, I wanted to believe in and worship the gods.

I took it casually for many years. I attended sabbat rituals and Pagan gatherings. I even helped organize a Pagan group. However, I wasn’t feeling the connection I wanted with the Divine. Most people I knew seemed to take it casually. The gods were archetypes or one god and one goddess. Or a single Goddess or the Earth. It was all over the map.

I fell out of Paganism for a while as a result. It wasn’t just that. It was many things and, truth be told, this was only a very small part of it.

In reading lots of polytheist blogs, I find many accounts of people who have had all sorts of experiences with gods or other entities for many years…even before they identified as polytheists.

This is definitely not me.

I’ve never heard the voice of my deities. I don’t get told what to do or what not to do. I rely on diviners to tell me how my relationships are with the Divine. I have difficulty attaining any sort of trance state.

The closest I’ve ever come to any sort of altered state (outside of the use of entheogens many years ago) is a spontaneous feeling of what I can only describe as “grace” during a period of severe illness about 5 years ago. It was an intense feeling of love and beauty and awe for everyone and everything. It lasted for nearly an hour. It was the most real thing that I’ve ever known or probably ever will.

That experience was enough to convince me that something is out there. Something benevolent. Something that wants to contact me.

When I returned to Paganism, I saw the beginnings of the polytheist movement and it blew me away. This was what I wanted. I wanted a relationship with the Divine that treated Them as real.

I went to PantheaCon in 2014 and though I had no relationship with the Morrigan, was drawn to the Temple of the Morrigan set up by Coru Cathubodua. I visited and was blown away. I felt…something. There was a palpable energy difference. There was a presence of “The Other”. I was not called to worship Her but I paid my respects.

OK, sometimes the devotional polytheism movement seemed a little crazy to me. Especially with reading about godspouses and such on tumblr. But I persevered.

Then last year, an author with little respect for the privacy of others or of sacred vows wrote a book on “witches” involving her time with various Pagans. The book was controversial and the controversy was all over the Pagan blogs, news sites, and Facebook sites that I read. I picked up the book to get a sense of what the controversy was about. Coru was featured prominently. Despite the massive indiscretions of the author, I loved reading the backstory of their group. I found it inspirational.

When I went back to PantheaCon, I made a point to hang out more with the Coru crowd in my spare moments between workshops or rituals. In the months prior to the Con, I’d become a donor for their hospitality suite/temple after seeing a post on Facebook. At that point, I wasn’t even sure I was going to the conference but I had a deep respect for their approach and wanted to support the things that I feel are important.

As before, I felt a great sense of “presence” in their temple. I’ve been a Pagan since 1993. I’d never felt anything like that. I bid my respects to the Morrigan and to all of the gods there through offerings throughout the weekend.

When I came back, I felt inspired to really focus on my own worship. I wanted what the Coru group had but with my deities, in my own space. Once I had my own space, I began a daily practice of worship. Every day. Sometimes twice a day.

I don’t hear voices or any sort of direct communication yet..and, frankly, I may never. But I am beginning to feel a sense of ‘Presence’ during my morning worship that was not there before in my casual approach to worship.

I’ve also been reading up in books and blog posts from prominent polytheists, trying to steep myself in the knowledge. But ultimately, it’s about doing the work. Which I’m now doing.

Though I “feel” a presence, it’s important to neither dismiss that as imaginary or depend upon it as proof that what I’m doing is working. There’s a lot said in polytheist literature (such as it is) regarding how it is not about orthodoxy (right belief) but orthopraxy (right action)…giving the offerings, doing the worship, etc.

There may come a time in which I feel nothing. But that doesn’t mean the gods are not there. I don’t do it for that feeling or for any. I do it because I believe in worshipping the gods. If it happens, it’s a blessing. If not, it doesn’t matter.

I have already felt Their blessings in many ways.

~ by R.M. McGrath on 05/26/2016.

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