This is Part Two in a series on Going Deeper with your Pagan Practice. Read Part One here.
You’ve done some great personal introspection, feel pretty confident about your spiritual skills, and you’ve taken a look at the personal considerations in the previous blog post (Going Deeper – Are You Ready to Dive In?). You’ve done your research, and are pretty sure of the deity (or deities) you want to work with. You know about their lore, their traditions, and their holidays. Maybe you’ve even already started to reach out to them. These are all wonderful things! Here are some next steps on how to pursue a deeper relationship with a deity.
I have found that an easy access point to begin a Divine relationship is through prayer. Those of us who were raised in other faiths may be more or less familiar with the idea, and it’s something that most people have at least some experience with. If there is a typical prayer structure in your tradition, try that! If there’s not, invent your own, or find some inspiration on the internet. I’ve always found that spontaneous prayers spoken from the heart are the most connective, but don’t feel like that is your only option.
Written prayers are good for daily devotionals and rituals, and having specific prayers for specific occasions (like before a meal) also have special meaning. You may want to include some of your deity’s epithets in your prayers. This can help further connect you to their various aspects, and can give you a touchstone for when you don’t feel you have much to say.
2. Do a daily devotion
A daily devotional practice to your deity is essential to building a deep relationship. Start small! There are many different ways to do a daily devotion and many practices that you can incorporate into yours. I suggest that you start small, with one action a day, and keep doing that until it becomes a regular habit. Then you can build on that solid foundation with more elaborate practices.
A great way to start a daily devotional practice is with prayer. This can be scripted or spontaneous – something you say right when you wake up, before you go to bed, before a meal, or another time that feels right for your deity. You are more likely to be successful if you connect it to something you already do on a daily basis (which is why I’m a fan of the waking up/going to bed option). This could be something as simple as being mindful while you drink your morning tea and dedicating that time to your deity. Make sure gratitude, joy, and celebration are a part of whatever devotion you do.
3. Make offerings
Making offerings can be a part of your daily devotional practice, but it doesn’t have to be, especially not in the beginning. I do suggest you start making offerings of some variety to your deity, even if it is just once a week, or at the very least, once a moon cycle.
I think of offerings in two categories: physical offerings, and offerings of action. Your deity may have a particular preference (and even preferences within those categories), and it is important that you honor that. The gods and goddesses also know and respect your financial status and ability level. They won’t ask for offerings of gold if you can’t afford it. That being said, sometimes requests that seem like a stretch will be made. This may be a sign of something you need to work towards, and it’s good to open up communication with your deity about these requests to clarify what is really being asked of you.
Physical offerings are just that, physical objects that are given to the deity. This can be food or a libation, incense burned in their honor, flowers or other decorations, or something you have made. This is offered with love and respect for the deity, usually placed on an altar or in another special location, and accompanied by a prayer or expression of gratitude. If your offering is something that will spoil (like food or drink), the offering will generally be placed outside and returned to the Earth after the ritual is finished or after a day or so, if left on an altar. I live in a third-story apartment, so I don’t have access to an outdoor offering space. I also have a cat that will eat pretty much anything (including aluminum foil and staples), so I can’t leave anything out in my apartment. I also risk running into my neighbors and getting looks from dog-walkers if I go downstairs and out to the edge of the woods. There’s a modification for every living situation. My balcony is pretty private and faces the woods, so my solution for perishable offerings is to ceremoniously (though, some might argue unceremoniously, depending on my throwing skills that day) toss them off my balcony into the woods. Luckily, I work with a laughter-loving goddess who doesn’t mind me being a little silly when I make my offerings. You’ll have to come up with a method that works for you and your deity.
Offerings of action are things that you do in your daily life to honor your deity. They could be things you do that are within your deity’s purview, like attending a pole dancing class in honor of Aphrodite, or performing an activity that you enjoy and mindfully doing it for them. For example, I frequently dedicate my yoga practice to Aphrodite. For offerings of action, I refer to the line in the Charge of the Goddess (version by Doreen Valiente) “Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth, for behold: All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.”
“All acts of love and pleasure” – that phrase just makes my heart sing. Because the gods want us to be happy. Yes, sometimes we will need to go through hard times in order to further our personal growth, but all with the purpose of developing our joyful, beautiful souls. Almost anything can be an offering, if it is done mindfully and with intention. Some of my favorite offerings of action are: spending time with friends, going for a hike, exercise of pretty much any form, making art, writing, cooking, cleaning (with intention!), singing in the shower, learning another language, studying a new subject, and reading magickal books.
4. Listen deeply
If you want to form a meaningful relationship with a deity, you want it to be two ways, which means you need to listen deeply to what they have to say. When I say listening, I don’t mean in the literal auditory sense (though that can also apply). Communications from the Divine can take many forms, including visions and “just knowing” things. Be mindful to listen as you are praying, making offerings, or doing devotions. Meditation can be a wonderful opportunity to listen, as your mind is quieter than normal, and you are open to different experiences. More on that in the next section.
Communications can also happen anytime the Divinity chooses. I remember having one particularly memorable Divine transmission from Aphrodite while sitting at a stoplight in my car. I’ve also had a quieter goddess go through one of my friends to get me to pay attention when I wasn’t listening to her. While setting up a spiritual context for listening greatly increases the likelihood of meaningful communication, it doesn’t always have to be “spiritual.”
I’m sure there is no shortage of books or internet articles telling you how important meditation is for spiritual practice (or even just life in general), so I’m not going to bore you with another proselytizing speech here. You can find good research about the other benefits of meditation pretty easily as well. My reasons for including meditation here are mostly rooted in deep listening, but it’s also a pretty essential magickal skill for spellwork and raising energy.
Setting aside at least 10 minutes a day (or every other day – again, start small and work your way up!) to meditate in whatever way feels best to you will open you up to receiving Divine messages. I mentioned a few of my favorite types of meditation in Part One of this post, but choose something that works for you, and do it consistently. You may not hear anything right away. That’s okay. Keep up the practice. You may not hear anything at all. That’s okay, too. Your deity may communicate with you in other ways. If you consistently don’t hear/see/feel anything from a deity you have been trying to work with, you might consider exploring other options and seeing if another deity “clicks” with you better. Your relationship should be a two-way street. You can choose the deity, but the deity also has to choose you.
6. Perform acts of service
Acts of service are similar to offerings of action, but are more themed around doing the deity’s work in the world. This can be a lot of different things, but it is generally related to the deity’s sphere of influence. For me, an act of service for Aphrodite would be helping my friends out when they come to me for advice about romance or sex. For one of my friends who is devoted to Frigg, it can take the form of being an amazing mother.
Acts of service are extremely personal between the deity and their devotee, and it depends on your abilities and resources. Once you begin a relationship with a deity, they may ask you do certain things for them, give you tasks or a mission. Sometimes they do not. Sometimes you will need to seek those things out on your own. Sometimes the opportunities will just appear in front of you. You always have the option of saying no, but if you are trying to build a relationship with this deity and what they are asking for doesn’t conflict with your morals or go beyond your capabilities, I recommend you give it a try. Be honest and upfront about it with your deity, too. That’s what I did with Aphrodite. I told her I would “try out this being-a-priestess” thing, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
What is asked of you may not be easy. It’s okay to struggle, but you need to be honest with yourself and with your deity about why you are struggling (refer back to the “Have you dealt with your personal shit?” section of Part One of this post). Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. If a deity wants you to do their work in the world, they will help you do it, but you also need to put in the effort.
7. Make the Divine a part of your daily life
This is my favorite part of all about “Going Deeper” into a relationship with a deity. My life, from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep (and sometimes even in my dreams), is filled with magick, love, and spiritual experiences. No joke. I’ve tried my best to merge my magickal and mundane lives as much as possible, and it has resulted in some pretty great synergy.
I do devotions when I awake and before I go to sleep. I’ve recently started a regular practice of blessing my food, particularly the rose tea I drink for Aphrodite. My purse at any point in time contains a myriad of crystals, charms, quarter calls, a candle, notes for rituals, and an emergency rosewater vial (yes, you read that correctly). My phone has pagan blogs bookmarked, inspirational goddess art, and an app to track the moon phases and astrological signs. My bookshelf is filled with books on witchcraft, paganism, personal development, relationship help, tantra, sex, and love. I have several spaces in my apartment dedicated to different spiritual purposes. Even at work, I have some covert spiritual things. I pray I don’t know how many times a day. I do a cleansing ritual every time I shower. The Divine has permeated my life, and I am so much better for it.
I hope these two posts have served as a good jumping off point for your own spiritual deep dives. I wish you the best of luck in your spiritual endeavors. May the Gods and Goddesses go with you.