Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Goddess Comes for You When She Will; or, you cannot push the river

Many times in the past, I have advocated the practice of aligning yourself with a patron deity or saint, as much to strengthen your spellwork as to deepen spiritual practice. Having a mentor to guide you through the ups and downs is a marvelous, enriching part of ritual work.

Though, admittedly in the past, it's usually accompanied by admonishments against calling up random gods from a table of correspondence and ordering them to make your spell go "zoom".

A number of frustrated practitioners have approached me over the years, saying that they aren't sure how to find their patron, if the one they think is their patron really IS (or just wishful thinking), or are too wound up about offending any deity to even approach and ask for mentorship and help.

I'll approach these ideas back to front, just because I like the scenic route ;)

The First Date

I'm a firm believer that the very essence of good communication is understanding what the other person MEANS, not necessarily just what words come out of their mouth. The flow and arrangement of words, pauses, and gestures really give insight into the heart of the other persons intent. In approaching a deity, a sincere attitude and well-thought offering will get you miles further in their favor than flowery but trite rhyming couplets and expensive but meaningless trinkets.
For example, if the god that you wish to engage with continually has a certain food or flower appear in their mythology,incorporate that into your offering.
Many modern practitioners believe that it "vibrates" or aligns easily with their energy, effectively filling your sacred space with so many pieces of their collected earthly consciousness that the rest can't help but follow. This relates to the principle of "like attracts like".
Speak from the heart about why you wish to have them as your patron, pay attention to any feelings that you get within the Circle. Even if they have no interest in working with you, respectfully end the ritual and thank them for their time. You CANNOT take the offering back. It's bad manners.
This is a good way to find even temporary magical partners, though I will strongly caution you to research any entity that you intend to invoke very, very thoroughly before hand.

Wishful Thinking

You feel a strong affinity with a god or goddess. Their mythology inspires and moves you. You see parallels between their life and yours.
These are all good bases for a magical partnership. But how can you "tell" if they've taken you under their wing?
It's easiest to tell if they have decidedly not. If I were to draw a parallel in the mundane world, it's kind of like trying to convince yourself that you're in love. I worked with many different goddesses before my patron chose me (and they usually choose you, not the other way around). When it happens, you WILL know. In the meantime, enjoy the ride.

The Journey is Half the Fun

"Never work with a god you couldn't have a beer with"

In other words, knowing what you do about this deity, if they were a physically manifest person and you couldn't stand their personality, don't expect it to be any different without the fleshy bits. Always remain grounded in the physical world.
That said, read and study as much as you possibly can about their mythology. Address older sources whenever possible, and stay away from books written about gods specifically for the magical crowd. These tend to be excessively watered down and "spun" to suit the authors needs. Instead of hitting the Wicca and New Age section of your library or local bookstore, haunt the ancient history (particularly of the culture they appear in most often), mythology, anthropology and archeology sections.
Many people lament the lack of "advanced" magical texts, but it's a bit of a misnomer. To get to the meat, you really have to sift through dry bones, but the discovery and application of the knowledge is itself the Advanced material. The upper echelons of magical practice really confirm it as experiential: you cannot be Told, it must be Shown.

I hope this has answered at least a few questions you might have been pondering; if you have any questions that weren't addressed, please feel free to ask in the comments!



Dan said...

Hey, I was wondering if you would hold that god's exist in their own right or simply as a human archetype? I tend to think of them as dependent upon human belief, or rather a personification of belief. Wondered what you would have to say about it.

Lodestone and Ladys Mantle said...

That's a really complex question. I am inclined to believe that the gods (at least many of them) exist in their own right, in an individual sense, and in a collective sense. The idea of avatars, with the divine consciousness and abilities spread throughout many manifestations, yet fully manifest on the Earth.

If worship truly is the food of the gods, I cannot help but think that many are just ghosts or echoes of their former selves, faltering as belief in them halted, but with an intact archetype that we can draw upon. Of course, if enough people call upon that archetype, who knows if that would have a reviving effect?

My only problem with taking the gods (or any Otherworldy entity) for granted as a pure archetype is that it tends to cultivate an ego-driven carelessness in the practitioner. It isn't even necessary to work with gods to have an effective magical practice, which is one more reason that I am rather puzzled by many crescent moon books that insist on working them in as an afterthought. Go big or go home ;)