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Author Topic: Expectation of a deep, personal relationship with deity/ies  (Read 7566 times)
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« Topic Start: February 02, 2010, 07:53:25 pm »

I was reading in another thread - and my apologies, but I can't seem to locate it again! - and something in it stuck with me today. The idea brought up was that for most Celts, a relationship with the gods wasn't necessarily about having a deep, personal, intimate communion with them, that it was a different way of looking at the gods' interaction with men. In other threads, primarily from those of Celtic or Heathen beliefs, the relationship with local land and house spirits seems to have more emphasis as a more important part of the day to day life.

I know that there are those who do have an intimate, personal relationship with one or more deities... but perhaps my expectation of this as an inherent and fundamental part of religion is a Christian hangover, rather than fully embracing a totally new approach to things? And I sense that it could be a barrier to developing a deep and intimate experience in a totally different way, especially since in the last month or so, forming a better understanding of and connection with the more immediate, local spirits has become more and more something on my mind.

I would love some more discussion of this idea, and about making this paradigm shift.
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« Reply #1: February 02, 2010, 11:19:42 pm »



Well, personally following the Celtic deities, I find that my practise has less of an emphasis on the local spirits is a little stunted.  I've often attributed this to the fact that my manicured house in the 'burbs hasn't got very many "free" plants or nature near it, and I find it much harder to connect with the idea of the spirit of a man-made object.  I believe that a house, if lived in for long enough, gains some attributes of a spirit - like memories, almost - but for true "land spirits", you'd need a river, stream, even a garden.

OTOH, I need to try and connect with these local spirits more often - that part of my practise is sorely lacking - and I'll very likely be surprised, and am happy to backpedal as fast as I can in order to suit new evidence.

I think the Christian monotheistic worldview is pretty pervasive, especially for those raised Christian (I wasn't, but I currently attend a Christian school, and I've experienced some of their views and beliefs far more than I did before), so it wouldn't surprise me if the paradigm shift is a little hard to grasp at first.
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« Reply #2: February 03, 2010, 03:27:32 am »


I know that there are those who do have an intimate, personal relationship with one or more deities... but perhaps my expectation of this as an inherent and fundamental part of religion is a Christian hangover, rather than fully embracing a totally new approach to things? And I sense that it could be a barrier to developing a deep and intimate experience in a totally different way, especially since in the last month or so, forming a better understanding of and connection with the more immediate, local spirits has become more and more something on my mind.

I would love some more discussion of this idea, and about making this paradigm shift.

As a child I had a deep personal relationship with a Deity I assumed was the Christian god. When I realised it wasn't I started exploring Wicca but I couldn't find any other gods or fit any to the God/dess I had always known. In the end I just gave up and continued to worship my God/dess in my own ways. I recently tried to access local spirits which I felt was especially important in the area I was living but had no luck in any way shape or form. I guess I am stuck with what I get but I am going to try to access some of the local elders to find out more about the local land.
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« Reply #3: February 03, 2010, 07:12:45 pm »

I know that there are those who do have an intimate, personal relationship with one or more deities... but perhaps my expectation of this as an inherent and fundamental part of religion is a Christian hangover, rather than fully embracing a totally new approach to things? And I sense that it could be a barrier to developing a deep and intimate experience in a totally different way, especially since in the last month or so, forming a better understanding of and connection with the more immediate, local spirits has become more and more something on my mind.
This is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about recently too (was actually considering a thread about it even Wink ). I think the expectation for a close, personal relationship with a deity (or deities) and the expectation to have a "patron god/dess" to be incredibly monotheistic. And it does largely smack of Christianity to me.

Yes, naturally you're going to feel more affinity for some deities over others; I don't doubt that. But I do NOT think a "by me while I brush my teeth" familiarity or a personal patron is a given or even necessary. Some people seem to think it is, but it is something I've never felt. It's something I've wanted in the past, not going to lie, and I don't think it's something that's outside the realm of possibility for some people. But I do not think it is an assumed, "if I don't find my patron, what's wrong with me?" kind of thing.

It seems especially people that are new to polytheism/Paganism are concerned with snapping that close relationship in place like a Lego and finding that one patron to be their focus, protector, whatever. But these are GODS, for crying out loud... you can make offerings, ask, beg, whatever... but you're not going to force them into anything. If they want a relationship, I believe they'll come to you. Not saying you can't encourage their attention, but you can't expect a slumber party.

What is supposed to replace a close connection to the divine? Some might say wights or ancestors. I would also include simply the relationships you have with people and with yourself to be a way to connect with the world and the spirit. I don't need the gods on a daily basis. Sure, I might ask for a little silly help finding a parking space on campus or whatever, but I'm not offended if I don't get it. I can take care of myself, by and large. I know that when I truly need them the gods will be there. Smiley

P.S. Rant over. And yes, I know some of this might come off a bit harsh. lol.
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« Reply #4: February 03, 2010, 07:36:31 pm »

P.S. Rant over. And yes, I know some of this might come off a bit harsh. lol.

Not an attack against anyone, just can't think of a better place to post this than here.

Throughout the years, while going through my various religious phases (yes, christianity and atheism were there), I always wondered why a God or Goddess wouldn't want a personal relationship with people. I'm not saying its because I think that I or anyone else deserve one, but rather it's the other way around, that the Gods and Goddesses deserve to be recognized, admired, and appreciated by their people(s).

Now with this new direction my faith has taken, I think it depends on the personality of the God or Goddess themselves. Otherwise, I couldn't see how they'd possibly mind it when a speck of human creation cries out to them, thus admitting they're greater than it.

I definently believe a close relationship is essential with Gods or Goddesses, but by relationship, I mean it in the sense like a Man and his dog. the Man being the divine, and the dog being the human. Who knows, they might enjoy it whenever the pets try crying out for a bone or two.

Note: I strive for close relationships with the Gods and Goddesses I worship.
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« Reply #5: February 03, 2010, 07:43:59 pm »

Throughout the years, while going through my various religious phases (yes, christianity and atheism were there), I always wondered why a God or Goddess wouldn't want a personal relationship with people. I'm not saying its because I think that I or anyone else deserve one, but rather it's the other way around, that the Gods and Goddesses deserve to be recognized, admired, and appreciated by their people(s).
*calmed down a bit now lol*
I should also mention that I think the gods really like people and want to be involved with us. I've even got a crazy scheme that they depend on us, or somewhat need the energy provided by worship. I guess the point of my post is that 1.) no one should expect a personal relationship with a god or gods to happen quickly and 2.) you don't necessarily need that personal relationship to have a strong faith or religion. Smiley
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« Reply #6: February 03, 2010, 09:09:29 pm »


Well, when I first took the steps down this road, I didn't expect a close, personal relationship with any deity. I viewed them more as archetypes than actual Beings. My mom is a nontheistic Buddhist, so I sort of viewed any deities I called upon on ritual as...a combination of archetype and Bodhisattva, I guess.

Needless to say when I encountered Thoth in a trance as an actual Being Who took interest in me, I was shocked. And when the Morrigan thwapped me I nearly had a heart attack -- not because I was afraid of Her, but because I was afraid of not being good enough for Her. (Delusions of grandeur and such. I'm sort of over it now.)

My paradigm shifted completely, and now I'd feel bereft if I didn't have some sort of relationship with the god/desses I honor, worship, or work with. One that I've given offerings to and prayed to without having much, or any, personal relationship with is Dionysus. That doesn't bother me so much, as I view anything with Him as a sort of work contract -- I'm in theatre, He's into theatre, I ask Him to make our shows go smoothly and give him wine (or Sobe Green Tea; He seems to like that) in return. That may change at Spring Mysteries; I plan on visiting His temple and speaking to Him.

Now my close relationships are with Brighid and Morrigan. Thoth and I have drifted apart over the years, and while I will always love Him, I don't think we'll always be in direct contact. Morrigan is my Patron with a capital "P", and She's made it very clear that She's not going anywhere. Ever.

Brighid is entirely new and I'm not sure what to make of our relationship (except I'm getting the distinct impression from both Ladies it's a fostering type -- I'm being sent to Brighid so She can teach me things the Morrigan can't, or doesn't want to, or something). However, in the short time I've gotten to know Her (the past month) I have come to love Her so much that I can't imagine a future without Her.

Honestly it's just like my relationships with people: some I like, some I have nothing to do with, some are work relationships, and some I love almost instantly. I never really expected that with the gods, but I'm glad I have it. 

I would love to foster more of a relationship with local spirits as well. I've had a block in this area for a while as I've moved around quite a bit in the past few years. Now that I'm going to be settled for a while in this town I'm going to make a more conscious effort to commune with the spirits around me. Whenever I go walking in a park, or section of forest surrounded by city, however, wherever I may be, I always make sure to pick up litter (there is SO MUCH in the parks in Vancouver; honestly people are just disgusting to me sometimes) and say hi to the local fey/faeries/spirits of the land. I've had a few responses.


Anyway, those are just my thoughts. YMMV. Smiley
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« Reply #7: February 03, 2010, 11:18:16 pm »

Well, when I first took the steps down this road, I didn't expect a close, personal relationship with any deity. I viewed them more as archetypes than actual Beings.

Exactly, for me at least. I never expected a relationship with anything, much less a deity. My first contact with Rhiannon was a complete and utter surprise and I had no idea what was happening. When I first started my path, what I wanted was to feel closer to the natural world (but having a relationship with it was not considered) and to know my place in the world. I didn't respond to Rhiannon for a relatively long time, kind of almost feeling like I didn't need to because She hadn't made Her presence known since. It wasn't until Manannan thwapped me that I realized I should thank Rhiannon properly, and She's been more present since, but more removed than Manannan. And even when Manannan showed up, I still had no idea what was happening. I knew nothing about "patrons." I was vaguely familiar with some of the Celtic deities, and was beginning down a Celtic path, but originally saw the Gods/Goddesses as nothing more than representations of the world (archetypes, I guess). I had do to some research to figure out what was going on, and finding this forum was a big step and an eye-opener. I wasn't crazy!

As for local spirits...mostly, I've focused on rivers that are near me. I feel them more strongly and am more prompted to commune with them than with other spirits. This is something I need to work on, definitely, and I will. I will hopefully in the near future begin growing plants indoors, once I figure out how to keep my cats from eating them. I hope starting small will help.
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« Reply #8: February 05, 2010, 08:59:58 pm »

P.S. Rant over. And yes, I know some of this might come off a bit harsh. lol.

I didn't find it harsh -- it was exactly what I was asking about, so I felt like you really got where I was at. The "snapping a close relationship in place like a Lego" was particularly apt.

Which doesn't mean that I think that striving for a relationship is a bad or wrongful idea... but if I'm putting my personal energy into trying to cultivate that specifically with deities, could be I'm missing the point entirely. I think putting the focus on cultivating a deep, intimate, fulfilling relationship with my family, my community, and the immediate local spirits of home/garden and the land around me... that really might be "where it's at" in terms of what I'm truly seeking, and inadvertently trying to copy the Christian idea of a relationship with god and juxtapose it onto a polytheistic framework was a pitfall I stumbled into when I moved away from "plain" pantheism and back to belief in deity/ies.
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« Reply #9: February 05, 2010, 09:28:49 pm »

Which doesn't mean that I think that striving for a relationship is a bad or wrongful idea... but if I'm putting my personal energy into trying to cultivate that specifically with deities, could be I'm missing the point entirely. I think putting the focus on cultivating a deep, intimate, fulfilling relationship with my family, my community, and the immediate local spirits of home/garden and the land around me... that really might be "where it's at" in terms of what I'm truly seeking, and inadvertently trying to copy the Christian idea of a relationship with god and juxtapose it onto a polytheistic framework was a pitfall I stumbled into when I moved away from "plain" pantheism and back to belief in deity/ies.
This is well said, and I tend to agree. I do feel I have a personal relationship with my gods, but it's painfully slow and painfully subtle for me.

They don't (or haven't yet) flat-out spoken in words to me, or given me a vision in meditation, etc. And I've given up trying to force that or somehow subconsciously punishing myself for it. It's just not that simple. For me, it's all feelings, sometimes colors. And whenever I've truly prayed for something, I've gotten it (including that time I asked for more energy to make it through the next day, and my alarm *somehow* turned off overnight and so I was late the next morning... be careful what you wish for. lol).

It's an ongoing process, but I think I'm better for it. I've learned (am still learning) to SHUT UP and just listen. As I said, they're gods! I can't put words in their mouths by trying to conjure up something in my imagination, and I can think of no better way to insult them or simply exasperate them and chase them off. All I have to do is freaking listen. I don't have to *do* anything! The "simplest" things in life are often the hardest.

I've also learned to continue seeing and feeling the gods and Tao everywhere in and around me, and that is an awesome feeling. As far as personal experience with "divine" goes, the Tao has always been it for me. That comes to me so easily.

And as you said, I've learned to be thankful for and spend time cultivating the connections I have here more in Midgard. The gods will be wholly there for me, and I owe it to be wholly there for the people and pursuits in my own life.

Not sure if the above makes a whole lotta sense, but I've enjoyed the opportunity to contemplate this. Smiley
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"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #10: February 06, 2010, 12:24:23 am »


I sometimes wonder if gods-in-general feel about people 'seeking an intimate relationship' with them like I feel about guys who make lewd comments at me on the street.

Intimate relationships are so, so dependent on the individuals involved, what they want, what they have to offer each other.  And pagan gods have rarely been portrayed as interested in being everyone's friend.  They play favorites.  They make deals.  They will do business with an ordinary mortal pretty readily, from what I can judge from various lores - you scratch my back I'll scratch yours style - but intimacy is not exactly a common thing.

On the flip side of this, though: I suspect that there is a reasonably high density of people who have the individual attention of various gods in much of paganism because many people will muddle along in what they were raised in unless they have some level of active nudge to do something else.  In the old days, the mavericks who heard the call of something new were converting to Christianity; these days it goes differently.

I think I tend to fall at "Expecting intimacy is rude, but that doesn't mean it can't happen."

Or something like that.  I'm really fried lately, I can't make words go together right.
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« Reply #11: February 06, 2010, 02:58:38 am »

I think I tend to fall at "Expecting intimacy is rude, but that doesn't mean it can't happen."

I know what you mean. I have a very close relationship with my Deity which I never expected would ever happen. I was always taught that 'closeness with a Deity can be a wonderful thing, but don't sorrow if it doesn't happen'.
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« Reply #12: February 06, 2010, 08:51:40 pm »

I was reading in another thread - and my apologies, but I can't seem to locate it again! - and something in it stuck with me today. The idea brought up was that for most Celts, a relationship with the gods wasn't necessarily about having a deep, personal, intimate communion with them, that it was a different way of looking at the gods' interaction with men. In other threads, primarily from those of Celtic or Heathen beliefs, the relationship with local land and house spirits seems to have more emphasis as a more important part of the day to day life.

I know that there are those who do have an intimate, personal relationship with one or more deities... but perhaps my expectation of this as an inherent and fundamental part of religion is a Christian hangover, rather than fully embracing a totally new approach to things? And I sense that it could be a barrier to developing a deep and intimate experience in a totally different way, especially since in the last month or so, forming a better understanding of and connection with the more immediate, local spirits has become more and more something on my mind.

I would love some more discussion of this idea, and about making this paradigm shift.

Honestly, I don't think it's as much a Christian hangover as it is an evangelical Protestant one.  You will find that mainstream Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox Christians have concepts of deity that are much less evocative of the "Buddy Christ" than of a distant, but benevolent godparent.

My relationship with Brigid is much like that, oddly enough.

It is definitely personal, as She makes clear every time I ignore her cosmic 2x4's.  But it isn't a closeness.  Brigid is not my friend.  She is not my big sister.  She is not my mother.

She is who and what She is.  And I am honored to serve her.  And, for whatever reason, she has decided that I am worth keeping half an eye on.  Not always a comfortable reality, but not one I would trade for the world.
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« Reply #13: February 06, 2010, 09:01:17 pm »

Yes, naturally you're going to feel more affinity for some deities over others; I don't doubt that. But I do NOT think a "by me while I brush my teeth" familiarity or a personal patron is a given or even necessary. Some people seem to think it is, but it is something I've never felt. It's something I've wanted in the past, not going to lie, and I don't think it's something that's outside the realm of possibility for some people. But I do not think it is an assumed, "if I don't find my patron, what's wrong with me?" kind of thing.

Excellent point.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with not finding or having a personal patron.  The fact that Brigid decided to take an interest in my life (in the macro strokes; she certainly doesn't sit and watch my brush my teeth) does not make me any more or less special than anyone else.  Any more than the fact that I have two children makes me more or less special than anyone else. 

Having a patron is what it is.  Not having a patron is what it is.  Neither infringes upon one's overall spiritual life.

Frankly, there are moments when having a patron is a royal PITA.
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« Reply #14: February 07, 2010, 02:06:06 am »

Frankly, there are moments when having a patron is a royal PITA.

Oh yes! I'm with you here (and ducking the hand that is threatening to connect with the back of my head).  Grin
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