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Author Topic: Starting over and re-finding my path  (Read 23969 times)
outlaw393
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« Topic Start: July 03, 2011, 04:38:51 pm »

Recently I've decided to start back at square one when it comes to my pagan faith. I have stepped back and am looking at different pantheons I have dealt with over the years.

When I first became pagan I dealt with the Egyptian pantheon, because it was the first one I ever knew. Then I got into Hellenic, and eventually the Norse.

The Norse gods haven't (at least from what I've seen anyway) expressed any real continued interest in me. Likewise it has been difficult finding any community, and if I did, they aren't accepting and aren't friendly. So far I'm leaning toward getting back into Wicca. But the whole thing with just the Lord/Lady aspects makes me feel like I'm missing something. To me the gods are much more than just one god/one goddess.

I've thought about walking away from religion permanently as well but that doesn't work, because I have a continued interest in Paganism. And I want to follow something. I don't feel connected to the Egyptian pantheon at all, and I feel awkward at best praying to Zeus. Odin and his bunch don't seem to care either way. However, my altar has Zeus and Artemis on it, so I'll probably go that way again and be Hellenic.

 Smiley

Any (FRIENDLY) advice is welcome.
Criticism and any general unfriendliness will NOT get a response.
Thanks.
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« Reply #1: July 03, 2011, 05:05:07 pm »

The Norse gods haven't (at least from what I've seen anyway) expressed any real continued interest in me. Likewise it has been difficult finding any community, and if I did, they aren't accepting and aren't friendly. So far I'm leaning toward getting back into Wicca. But the whole thing with just the Lord/Lady aspects makes me feel like I'm missing something. To me the gods are much more than just one god/one goddess.

There are multiple ways Wiccans can conceive of deity (especially when you look at British Traditional Witchcraft/Wicca AND eclectic/solitary/Neo-Wicca together). There are Wiccans who are polytheistic, those who believe in a single God and Goddess, and some (like my High Priestess) who are pantheistic and see the God and Goddess as metaphor for all the dualities in nature - no actual person behind the concept.
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« Reply #2: July 03, 2011, 05:07:43 pm »

Recently I've decided to start back at square one when it comes to my pagan faith. I have stepped back and am looking at different pantheons I have dealt with over the years.

Another thought... have you considered or looked into any paths that either DON'T have gods or just don't place an emphasis on them? Since you're having a few bumps connecting with deities (and I think you've gotten advice elsewhere on ideas of working through those bumps), maybe you should explore spirituality without gods. I was an atheist/agnostic Pagan for several years and I still believe in a greater, non-sentient sacred force that every thing in the universe belongs to.
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« Reply #3: July 03, 2011, 05:08:22 pm »

Recently I've decided to start back at square one when it comes to my pagan faith. I have stepped back and am looking at different pantheons I have dealt with over the years.

When I first became pagan I dealt with the Egyptian pantheon, because it was the first one I ever knew. Then I got into Hellenic, and eventually the Norse.

The Norse gods haven't (at least from what I've seen anyway) expressed any real continued interest in me. Likewise it has been difficult finding any community, and if I did, they aren't accepting and aren't friendly. So far I'm leaning toward getting back into Wicca. But the whole thing with just the Lord/Lady aspects makes me feel like I'm missing something. To me the gods are much more than just one god/one goddess.

I've thought about walking away from religion permanently as well but that doesn't work, because I have a continued interest in Paganism. And I want to follow something. I don't feel connected to the Egyptian pantheon at all, and I feel awkward at best praying to Zeus. Odin and his bunch don't seem to care either way. However, my altar has Zeus and Artemis on it, so I'll probably go that way again and be Hellenic.

 Smiley

Any (FRIENDLY) advice is welcome.
Criticism and any general unfriendliness will NOT get a response.
Thanks.

Just a note, criticism isn't necessarily unfriendly. Is it unfriendly for a parent to criticize a child for running into a street? Or for a teacher to correct or criticize bad behavior or unacceptable work? Criticism is a tool, if you can excise the valuable input from a perceived attack you will be the richer for it.
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« Reply #4: July 03, 2011, 05:11:04 pm »

Just a note, criticism isn't necessarily unfriendly. Is it unfriendly for a parent to criticize a child for running into a street? Or for a teacher to correct or criticize bad behavior or unacceptable work? Criticism is a tool, if you can excise the valuable input from a perceived attack you will be the richer for it.

Learning to accept constructive criticism is a skill that many people have to work at. One of the things I've appreciated most about TC is people are honest with me and expect my ideas to be up to scratch, if I'm going to go through the trouble of expressing them. This means if I have wrong or faulty ideas, I don't have to worry about my friends on here sugarcoating the truth into something I'd rather hear. And I've grown thicker skin overall - having my ideas poked and prodded doesn't mean I'm getting poked and prodded (even if sometimes it feels that way).
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« Reply #5: July 03, 2011, 05:16:10 pm »

Recently I've decided to start back at square one when it comes to my pagan faith. I have stepped back and am looking at different pantheons I have dealt with over the years.

When I first became pagan I dealt with the Egyptian pantheon, because it was the first one I ever knew. Then I got into Hellenic, and eventually the Norse.

The Norse gods haven't (at least from what I've seen anyway) expressed any real continued interest in me. Likewise it has been difficult finding any community, and if I did, they aren't accepting and aren't friendly. So far I'm leaning toward getting back into Wicca. But the whole thing with just the Lord/Lady aspects makes me feel like I'm missing something. To me the gods are much more than just one god/one goddess.

I've thought about walking away from religion permanently as well but that doesn't work, because I have a continued interest in Paganism. And I want to follow something. I don't feel connected to the Egyptian pantheon at all, and I feel awkward at best praying to Zeus. Odin and his bunch don't seem to care either way. However, my altar has Zeus and Artemis on it, so I'll probably go that way again and be Hellenic.

 Smiley

Any (FRIENDLY) advice is welcome.
Criticism and any general unfriendliness will NOT get a response.
Thanks.

What sort of interest do you think the Norse God's are going to take in you? Because generally they aren't buddy-buddy gods.

It sounds to me (from this and all your other posts) like you want a religion that will fill your world and that you expect this to come from ritual practice- -have you ever considered allowing a religion to enhance/change the way you view the world in which ritual is a small testament to that?
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« Reply #6: July 03, 2011, 06:25:45 pm »

Recently I've decided to start back at square one when it comes to my pagan faith. I have stepped back and am looking at different pantheons I have dealt with over the years.

When I first became pagan I dealt with the Egyptian pantheon, because it was the first one I ever knew. Then I got into Hellenic, and eventually the Norse.

The Norse gods haven't (at least from what I've seen anyway) expressed any real continued interest in me. Likewise it has been difficult finding any community, and if I did, they aren't accepting and aren't friendly. So far I'm leaning toward getting back into Wicca. But the whole thing with just the Lord/Lady aspects makes me feel like I'm missing something. To me the gods are much more than just one god/one goddess.

I've thought about walking away from religion permanently as well but that doesn't work, because I have a continued interest in Paganism. And I want to follow something. I don't feel connected to the Egyptian pantheon at all, and I feel awkward at best praying to Zeus. Odin and his bunch don't seem to care either way. However, my altar has Zeus and Artemis on it, so I'll probably go that way again and be Hellenic.

 Smiley

Any (FRIENDLY) advice is welcome.
Criticism and any general unfriendliness will NOT get a response.
Thanks.

Sometimes it is best to just BE.

Labels can be very helpful but not always needed. Right now it sounds like you are still unsure where you belong and I would just take a few steps back and relax. There is NO need to jump into a term or place yourself into any box when you are not ready or happy about it!

One..you don't need to look at it as starting over. Your brain doesn't get wiped just because you are not feeling like you fit. Perhaps it is best to just not worry about any specific paths and go an eclectic route of discovering what you BELIEVE & what you think.

When I first found paganism I began practicing Wicca but I soon began to feel out of place & disconnected from it. Wicca just wasn't the right path for me. I learned alot about my own path from studying it though. My path just decided to curve in a different direction is all lol

It seems to me that you are just jumping from one path to the next seeking something but you are not sure what. Really I think the best advice would to be just relax and forget any paths. Take the time to just find yourself. Write it all down- what does God mean to you? How can you communicate with the Divine? What is life? Death? The afterlife? Read & explore paths but don't make any commitments just let yourself flow until you are really ready. Maybe you never will be. Alot of people are very happy just being eclectic pagans.

Two...intent. I believe we attract what we are putting out there. if you walk into a situation thinking people will already be unfriendly then you probably are not even giving them a chance to be otherwise. In every group there will be those who are awful and some that are amazing. You just have to keep a positive attitude and be open & friendly yourself and ignore those who are not.

I think it works the same with deities too. Maybe they are not feeling that interested because you are not really that interested either? Can you elaborate on why you feel awkward praying to Zeus?

While some may disagree, I think there is nothing wrong with being eclectic towards deities. It all really depends on how you see them I guess but I love different pantheons & pray to many different Goddesses. I am devoted to Persephone and yet have a Bast statue on my altar right now. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and it will all come together for you Smiley

Goodluck!
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« Reply #7: July 03, 2011, 08:46:37 pm »

Recently I've decided to start back at square one when it comes to my pagan faith. I have stepped back and am looking at different pantheons I have dealt with over the years.

(snip)

I've thought about walking away from religion permanently as well but that doesn't work, because I have a continued interest in Paganism. And I want to follow something. I don't feel connected to the Egyptian pantheon at all, and I feel awkward at best praying to Zeus. Odin and his bunch don't seem to care either way. However, my altar has Zeus and Artemis on it, so I'll probably go that way again and be Hellenic.

There's nothing saying that you have to work with a pantheon to be Pagan. Deity work is a huge thing for many people, and it gets talked about a lot, but there are others (like me) who don't do much with deities on a regular basis. No holidays or regular offerings, just a "Hey, how's it going?" every few months.

What do you want out of your religion/faith? To worship something, to get guidance, to have tools to get control over your life, what? And for what part of that do you need a pantheon or a patron?

You don't actually have to answer that! Wink But if no pantheons are working for you, so to speak, and what you want doesn't require deity, then you might want to start looking into other things, like elemental systems or working with local land spirits. Something that you don't have to connect with a god/etc for.
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« Reply #8: July 03, 2011, 10:09:49 pm »

One..you don't need to look at it as starting over. Your brain doesn't get wiped just because you are not feeling like you fit. Perhaps it is best to just not worry about any specific paths and go an eclectic route of discovering what you BELIEVE & what you think.

I've tried being eclectic, and it doesn't work. Honestly I don't like the idea of crossing pantheons and working with many different pantheons. It's just disrespectful. I've also tried being an agnostic/atheistic Pagan and that doesn't work either. I'm a theist. I know that much.

When I first found paganism I began practicing Wicca but I soon began to feel out of place & disconnected from it. Wicca just wasn't the right path for me. I learned alot about my own path from studying it though. My path just decided to curve in a different direction is all lol

Wicca doesn't seem like enough for me either, but it's what I'm willing to settle with for now. I need something that I know how to practice, and something that's easy to learn about. There is another Wiccan in my family. So at least I'm not alone with the religion.

Two...intent. I believe we attract what we are putting out there. if you walk into a situation thinking people will already be unfriendly then you probably are not even giving them a chance to be otherwise. In every group there will be those who are awful and some that are amazing. You just have to keep a positive attitude and be open & friendly yourself and ignore those who are not.

I was speaking from experience there when I said the Asatru community comes across as unaccepting and unfriendly.

I think it works the same with deities too. Maybe they are not feeling that interested because you are not really that interested either? Can you elaborate on why you feel awkward praying to Zeus?

I feel awkward because I was taught my whole life that the Greek gods are nothing more than myth, and not real. I honestly feel little if any connection with Zeus, my prayers to him make little if any difference. Though I can't say NO difference, I prayed to him one time for guidance and I got what I asked for.

While some may disagree, I think there is nothing wrong with being eclectic towards deities. It all really depends on how you see them I guess but I love different pantheons & pray to many different Goddesses. I am devoted to Persephone and yet have a Bast statue on my altar right now. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and it will all come together for you Smiley

Well, that's good - for you. I don't believe in crossing pantheons.

Also, a question for you all who replied: Any of you ever heard of a half human, half snake goddess? Human but entire lower body is a snake? I have a real feeling that some research is needed to figure out who she is, though I've done research and found little if anything on the matter.

Thanks for your responses!  Cheesy
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« Reply #9: July 03, 2011, 10:22:53 pm »

<snippage>
Also, a question for you all who replied: Any of you ever heard of a half human, half snake goddess? Human but entire lower body is a snake? I have a real feeling that some research is needed to figure out who she is, though I've done research and found little if anything on the matter.

Thanks for your responses!  Cheesy

The lamia comes immediately to mind, for me. Poke around with Google-fu for "Libyan" and "Snake goddess" and "lamia" and see if anything there strikes a chord.
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« Reply #10: July 04, 2011, 12:45:02 am »

I've tried being eclectic, and it doesn't work. Honestly I don't like the idea of crossing pantheons and working with many different pantheons. It's just disrespectful.

"Eclectic" doesn't have to mean crossing or combining deities from multiple pantheons.  It can mean using methods and practices from different paths to create a unique system or structure that works for you as an individual.

As a theist, do you believe in a supreme Divine entity?  A pair of Divine entities?  A group?  Maybe a panentheistic approach would work for you.

Whichever it is, how does that Divinity translate itself into a practical presence in your life?  How do/can you reach out and/or open up to a relationship with that Divinity?

Wicca doesn't seem like enough for me either, but it's what I'm willing to settle with for now. I need something that I know how to practice, and something that's easy to learn about. There is another Wiccan in my family. So at least I'm not alone with the religion.

I'm not Wiccan, so I could be way off base, but I have to say that none of the Wiccans I know would consider any of the Wiccan paths easy to learn about, and certainly not easy to practice.   Wink 

But I think I understand what you mean.  Wicca is much more visible (in the U.S., anyway) than most other pagan paths, with the possible exception of druidry. There is a lot of material available on Wicca (although how much of that is reliable is another question  Undecided ), and there are ways to find groups practicing Wicca and Wicca-type paths.  It has a defined structure.  Plus, there seems to be a fair amount of flexibility in Wiccan beliefs regarding deity.  If I understand correctly, even members of the same coven can hold different opinions about the nature of the god/desses.

I can definitely see how that is attractive.  Many of the regular posters here on TC first experienced paganism through Wicca.  When I first started looking at paganism, back in the early 80s, Wicca was pretty much the only option.  And there's nothing wrong with giving Wicca a try.  You might even find that it's a good fit for you, as it is for many people.

But here's what concerns me:  I don't want you to "settle."  Religion is too important for you to settle.

In your OP in this thread, you mention the pantheons of three ancient cultures: Egypt, Norse, and Greek.  That makes me think that your way of approaching religion is through belief in and connection to the god/desses of that particular religion -- an orthodoxy based approach.  That's one way to think about it.  (That's the way I tend to think about it, too.  My path -- the one I'm creating myself -- is centered on a specific goddess.  I found that goddess purely by accident, through a lot of reading about the ancient Celtic tribes.)

Have you looked into other cultures, ancient or otherwise?  Off the top of my head, there's Celtic, Roman, Slavic, Sumerian, Mayan, Indian, and many others.  You don't have to know anything about their religions to start with.  Maybe you're interested in the art of a particular culture, or the history, or the mythology.  Delving into another culture and reading about it -- the day-to-day life of its people, its art, its history, its language, current archeology in its geographic area -- can open your eyes to the god/desses of that culture.  When you find yourself sort of perking up whenever you read about a certain god/dess, you'll know you should pursue that.

You also mention Wicca, which makes me think that you're also open to approaching a possible religion through its practice -- an orthopraxy based approach.  What about Wicca attracts you?  Is it the use of magic?  The coven structure?  The ritual practice?  The yearly structure of the eight festivals?

If you can figure out what you're looking for in the way of a practice, that might point you to an appropriate path.  For example, if you like ritual, you feel a pull to celebrate nature, you have an affinity for group practice, maybe druidry would interest you.  Have you looked into the various forms of neo-druidry?  There are several druid organizations that vary in the ways they approach the Divine and in the ways they practice.  And "neo-druidry" does not necessarily mean "Celtic."  At least one of the neo-druidry organizations, ADF, offers its practitioners a choice of the culture they want to focus on.

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with enough kinds of pagan practice to be able to make any useful suggestions.  But you can figure it out by working through what you believe (in addition to being a theist), what you're looking for in a religion, what kind of group you would feel comfortable in, what kinds of practice you're interested in (formal ritual, spontaneous worship, etc.), and anything else you can think of that you consider an important aspect of religion.

It's not easy to figure this out, and it takes time.  You might find that you need to experience different kinds of things in order to understand what you like and what resonates with you and what doesn't.  There's no better way to learn about something than to experience it firsthand.  I've been wandering through pagan paths and agnosticism off and on for about 30 years, now.  Several years ago, I finally figured out what I need, and I've been working on creating it ever since.

You might also find that there isn't an existing religion out there that meets your needs.  In that case, you might want to consider creating your own path, as many of us on TC are doing.  That's not easy either, but it has the benefit of being uniquely tailored to your own personal requirements and preferences.

Basically, what I'm saying is: Don't Settle!   Cheesy 

If Wicca is what you want to learn about and experience now, go for it.  Who knows where it will lead you?  OTOH, if you know that Wicca is not right for you, keep looking.

Good luck!

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« Reply #11: July 04, 2011, 12:56:26 am »

Wicca doesn't seem like enough for me either, but it's what I'm willing to settle with for now. I need something that I know how to practice, and something that's easy to learn about. There is another Wiccan in my family. So at least I'm not alone with the religion.

As I understand it Wicca is a mystery initiatory tradition. There are certainly types of religious witchcraft that are similar to Wicca (Neo-wicca) that are not so secretive etc, but, my concern is if you are 'settling' for Wicca you may doing yourself and whatever coven/group you're training with -assuming you are following Wicca/Neo-Wicca that requires such training - a disservice by merely dabbling. Jenett - as a member of an initiatory witchcraft tradition - could better articulate what I'm trying to say here, basically, my point is it's not something that will necessarily benefit you via casual dabbling.

Perhaps you might be better served by sitting down with a good selection of books and doing some hardcore research? There are several 'surveys' of neo-pagan faiths available, such as (I'm cribbing these from an ADF reading list):

Being a Pagan: Druids, Wiccans, and Witches Today by Ellen Evert Hopman & Lawrence Bond

The Idiot's Guide to PaganismBy Carl McColman

Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today By Margot Adler

Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca And Paganism in America By Chas S. Clifton

And I'm sure there are many more.

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« Reply #12: July 04, 2011, 01:51:46 am »

Any (FRIENDLY) advice is welcome.
Criticism and any general unfriendliness will NOT get a response.
Thanks.

Lol, I swear, every time I log onto this site you're following a different path!  It seems to me you're expecting too much at once, like the Egyptian gods to start speaking to you right off because your interest of the week is Kemeticism, for example.

Spirituality isn't something that can be rushed.  Especially relationships with the gods!   It took me probably around 5 years of being a Wiccan and praying to an overarching God & Goddess (all the while feeling nothing), before Apollo reached out to me.  By then, I'd started the transition to being more of a hard polytheist, and was praying to Hekate at the time -- still not really feeling much of a connection. (Incidentally, one of Apollo's epithets is Hekatos, which means far-shooter.  Perhaps I was drawn to the name? Only Apollo really knows!)

Now, within the past 2 years, and after 4 years of solely worshiping Apollo and exploring the Hellenic path, Poseidon has reached out to me, and very directly so!   I was actually a little resistant at first, as I was perfectly content with worshiping only Apollo. But Poseidon's persistence helped make room in my heart, and I am so much better & spiritually richer for having Him in my life!  And now that I'm turning more towards Hellenismos, I have plans to start worshiping the rest of the Olympians, even though I don't "know" any of them.  

Point being, you can see how long it took for my spirituality to evolve.  Years!!!

What you need to do, imo, is distill what you DO believe and use it as your spiritual base.

From what I've observed, you do believe in gods.  You also believe that they're distinct individuals and not the face of a larger god or goddess, that's known as  "hard polytheism."  You also believe you've been contacted by certain gods -- Odin being one of them.  

Am I correct thus far?

So why not try reaching out to those gods who've already contacted you and see if you get a response?  As others have mentioned, if the gods think you're not interested or serious about your spirituality, then why should They keep trying?  I mean, some gods might.  But others (and I would think Odin would be one of them), might not be so patient when it comes to wafflers.

Give it a try.  A full, dedicated, patient try.  I recommend for a few months.  And don't expect, or demand (like expecting a "sign") an instant response.  It takes a lot of work to forge a connection with a deity.   Make sure it's something you're willing to invest a lot of energy in!

Finally, you mentioned in this thread that Wicca isn't substantial enough.  Have you considered supplementing your spirituality with philosophy?  

That's what I did. I found Stoicism matched my spiritual views the most, so I went with that.  And ya' know what?  It works for me!   I feel spiritually complete, with no "holes!" http://sites.google.com/site/thestoiclife/Home

Something to consider!  Smiley

  
« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 01:55:19 am by SeaShine, Reason: Typos. » Logged
Aster Breo
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« Reply #13: July 04, 2011, 04:27:36 am »

It takes a lot of work to forge a connection with a deity.   Make sure it's something you're willing to invest a lot of energy in!

This is a point that can't be emphasized enough, IMO.

I've been dedicated to Brighid for several years. Before that, I spent a lot of time researching the ancient Celts, their culture, what we know about their religion, and Brighid Herself.  And by "a lot of time" I mean years.  To put that in context: over those years, I amassed a personal library of relevant books -- about any Celtic-related topic I could think of, about certain aspects of paganism, about Brighid specifically -- that now numbers 197 books, and counting.  I've read at least the pertinent sections of all of them, and I've read most of them cover to cover.  That takes A LOT of time.  (And there are still more books I hope to add to my library. Wink )

Also during that time, I learned and tried out everything I could that seemed to be related to Brighid and Her worship.  That included things like joining a Cill and co-founding another one, training with a seer in an oracular seidh technique, learning about ogam and its contemporary use as a divination method, experimenting with meditation techniques, writing and using my own prayers and rituals and adapting those written by other people, and spending countless hours online corresponding with other Celtic pagans, Celtic Studies scholars, and other Brighid dedicants.  And I do my evening devotional -- including lighting a dedicated oil lamp -- every single night, without fail.  Not to mention making monetary donations to certain organizations in honor of Brighid and the tattoo I got as a devotional act for Her.

Eventually, after a good, long time, I had the honor of hearing Her voice.

All this is to say that it takes time.  A LOT of time.  And, even then, there's no guarantee that you'll ever receive a clear sign from your god/dess(es). 

But, if you don't put in the time, you'll almost definitely never receive a sign.   Cheesy

Basically, it's a cost-benefit analysis.  Is the possibility of building a personal relationship with your deity worth the time, effort, and work you have to put in? 

My answer was and remains "YES!"  But it's not necessarily everyone's cup of tea.  And that's perfectly fine.  You have to choose for yourself.

~ Aster
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« Reply #14: July 04, 2011, 05:48:13 am »

But, if you don't put in the time, you'll almost definitely never receive a sign.   Cheesy

Basically, it's a cost-benefit analysis.  Is the possibility of building a personal relationship with your deity worth the time, effort, and work you have to put in? 

My answer was and remains "YES!"  But it's not necessarily everyone's cup of tea.  And that's perfectly fine.  You have to choose for yourself.

~ Aster

THIS ever so much this. I don't have a patron deity or even a set pantheon but I'm dedicated to courting and earning the attention of the divine, I am full aware and prepared for this to take decades and in the end I may never have direct interaction/confirmation. It's all about faith, but the journey of my faith and the practice of it fulfill me. I don't need (though I would *love*) a thwap, a voice in my ear, a thunderclap, etc who wouldn't? But for most of us? That won't ever happen and I am completely fine with that. But there are people that won't be and that's fine too.
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