Monday, December 16, 2013

I Think a God Called. Now What?

Recently, I checked Facebook and ran across this question, which I’ve edited here for brevity and privacy:

“Is it possible that a God calls you to reinstate something? Is this a possibility? Perhaps I was hallucinating?” The individual also included that s/he has been an atheist. I shall tackle this matter here briefly. I know that even though there is only one person asking this where I can see it, there are dozens more who wonder about the same matter but haven’t asked it aloud yet. (If this is you: you there! Start asking aloud! It is desperately difficult for a person to answer your question if that question only stays in your mind and isn’t translated into written or spoken words.)

“Yes, Virginia, there...are gods”. There are lots and lots of gods, and they do call you into their service. Many times they will call you into their service whether you are aware you’re hearing them or not. If you have become aware of them, that is a blessing and you can begin to use that connection to communicate with them further and embark upon the Work. So, yes, this is a “possibility”.  Sure, hallucinations are also a possibility, but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking here. I think what you’re really saying is “I’ve had this experience and I do not have a context for it. Where do I find context and please tell me how do I discern from real communication with the deities, casual self-mental chatter, or if I’m having a clinical problem.”

I am no doctor, so I cannot answer the question of clinical psychological delusions; if you think that this is going on, seek qualified care, and better yet try to find a professional who is open to polytheistic religion. However, I can help something in the matter of discerning divine communication from everyday healthy mental chatter. It can be a deeply shattering experience when the gods contact us. It can shake us to the foundations which make us question even our own identities. When a person does not believe in gods prior to the experience, and when a person has no context for such an experience, the feeling can extend from shattering to pulverizing. So what do you do if this happens?

Search for a context. If you feel the god was Egyptian, look to Egyptian religion. If you feel the goddess was Greek, look to Greek religion, and so on. If you have no idea from what context the deity is from, ask someone, or go with a hunch. They worst you could be is wrong, and if you’re wrong, you can always correct that later. Search for polytheists. Although it hurts, suck up your pride a little and ask. We were all new to this once. If you’ve been looking for context in one place and think it isn’t the right context, ask for someone to refer you elsewhere. We’re a chatty lot, and we give our all in service to our deities—we love to help you do the same and most of us often bend over backwards to help.

But be patient; sometimes it takes us a while to get to things. I know it feels urgent, and in some respects it is. Sitting with uncertainty is an unsettling feeling and it increases the sense of urgency. Take a deep breath and try to go into that uncertainty, acknowledge it, sit with it a while, and know that it will resolve...and often lead to even better questions. The harder you push against that uncertainty, the worse it feels; in contrast, the more you breathe into it and acknowledge it, and see it as an opportunity, the more you have to gain from it. By seeking and asking for a context, you can begin to have some sort of structure or framework, a language, a basis to work with. With context, experiences have a deeper meaning with less trauma. Context provides a greater sense of stability in dealing with things that before were outside your typical frame of reference, and aids you in interacting with the deities.

Next, test the message and test the connection. Begin this process by making an offering to the deity. Talk with the deity; approach the deity with respect. Tell the deity that you need some kind of proof that you heard correctly and that these are her/his words you're hearing and not your own. When I pray, I let the deities know that I honor them so deeply that I do not want to confuse their words for my own; they are usually quite helpful in this regard. Ask the deity to help you to know when s/he’s presenting proof to you and/or ask the deity to tell you what that proof will be.

I have found in my work that most deities are willing to do this. As for exactly how to do this, this is the moment when you rely on context. If the deity is Greek, look to Greek religion to provide ideas for what to offer, how to make offerings, and what prayers to make. This is why context is so useful.  If you can’t seem to find any context, if you can’t seem to find any help, if you can’t seem to find any way to address the deities who have called you, a)ask around even more—aloud, in public or private forums, to people, and b) you can try this:

Find something to represent the deity in question: picture from the internet, a symbol, a rock, a book, a cup, a doll, whatever. Set the image up on a table. Pour wine, vodka, good fruit juice, olive oil, milk, beer, kefir, perfume, or another fine beverage or liquid in a bowl or cup before the image. (Unless the deity in question has a history of wanting something like kool-aid or soda pop, you may want to avoid these.) If you’ve not been able to find out what liquid would be appropriate, go with your gut feeling. Bow down, prostrate yourself before the deity’s image, and pray. If you’re in this situation, the best prayer you can make is the one that is honest—there’s no formula here, no magic words, no formulaic incantation. 

Do not consume the liquid that you pour for the deity. Wait a cycle of a full day and night, then pour the liquid into the earth outside. Yes. Pour it into the earth. It is not "wasteful"--it was given to a deity and the deity consumed the essence of the liquid. By pouring it out, you are completing the process of sending it on to the deity. By drinking it instead, you may have interrupted this process (again, it can depend on context). 

I hope this helps. Best wishes and guidance to you and your growing relationships with the deities.