Like so many other times during the pandemic, Life Happened and this final entry in the series is being posted over a month later than the previous installment. Oh, well. Going with the flow has featured prominently throughout the past two years. Priorities shift, and sometimes things take me away from blogging. I know my posts haven’t been consistent over the past two years, and that is because life hasn’t been consistent. I embrace what comes and adapt when I need to.
The pandemic brought changes to every aspect of my life, including my spiritual practice. I talked a little bit about this in my Adaptive Spiritual Practice for Pagans: A Response to Challenging Times posts, and a smattering of other posts I’ve written throughout the pandemic, but there are some things that I haven’t had the chance to really synthesize into writing yet. Here are a few of them:
New Gods Enter the Scene
The pandemic saw a rededication of myself to my main Deities – Aphrodite (obviously), Cerridwyn/Cerridwen (more on that in another post), and the Lord of the Wild Wood (an antlered nature deity related to but distinct from the Horned God or Cernunnos) – but it also brought several new Deities into my life and my spiritual practice.
Hermes crashed the party in spectacular Las Vegas fashion in February 2020, shortly before the pandemic took hold, and has been hanging out since then. I first related to Him as a God of Travel, but when everything came to a screeching halt in March 2020, my relationship with Him shifted. He took on the primary role of God of Communication – another aspect of life that the pandemic had turned on its head. I began praying to Him regularly, and we came to an understanding that I would honor Him on Wednesdays (His sacred day). He is the first deity I have worked with that has requested reversion of offerings, particularly alcohol. My common offering to Him is Ouzo (a Greek liquor), so I would sit out a shot glass for Him and pour Him some. Then after He has accepted the offering, I drink it in his honor. (I’m 90% sure He does this because He enjoys revelry and likes to see me tipsy. In any case, merriment in general seems to be something He enjoys and is a fitting offering for Him in whatever form that takes – be it wine, song, pouring offerings into a fire and having them go everywhere, sexily dancing to the Pink Panther Theme, or making a rootbeer float. If it makes you giggle, Hermes probably likes it.)
During the pandemic, Asclepius appeared/reappeared in my life. I had first met Him while studying in Italy, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to form a relationship with Him. Some later research would reveal that Asclepius (a Greek God) was actually brought to Rome during a pandemic, so the nature of my learning about Him while abroad and Him popping up back in my life now on another continent seemed like Divine synchronicity. As a God of Health, Healing, and Medicine, He has taken on a special role in my life during the pandemic. I have a little altar set up for Him in my kitchen with a mortar and pestle, herbal teas, honey, a candle, and the occasional bandage. I’ve prayed to Him A LOT over the last two years, and I hope to write more about Him soon.
As I wrote in my first article about Hermes, for a while, it seemed like every deity I interacted with was from a different pantheon. I’m eclectic, and I honor who shows up. While I do believe that deities transcend all geographical boundaries, I have always tried to be respectful of the culture in which their worship originated or was most popular.
Sekhmet made a brief appearance previously, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that I cultivated long term relationships with Egyptian deities. Two in particular, Bast and Isis, have entered my life and seem to be here to stay.
Prior to the pandemic, I had some minor interactions with Bast as part of the Bast-Bastet-Sekhmet constellation of deities. I would sometimes feel called to put out offerings, but I wasn’t really sure whom they were for. So, I would offer to all three, and that somehow felt right. My Paganism is very intuitive, so if I feel called to do something, I do it, even if I don’t understand the reason for it at the time.
Bast showed up as an individual Goddess during the pandemic. I felt called to Her through some life circumstances, so I lit a candle in Her honor, offered some catnip, and journeyed to meet Her. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as for each deity I visit through journeying, the setting and interaction style have been very unique. I closed my eyes and was transported through a sea of rolling sand dunes, was swept up in whirling desert winds, saw stone structures towering over me, witnessed a river so unimaginably vast, and came to rest on a fertile floodplain where I talked with a statue that came to life. It was an incredibly powerful experience.
I also cultivated a relationship with Isis this past year. That’s a bit of a longer story that I will elaborate on at a later time. I started writing it, but it quickly turned into a blog post of its own. Her presence in my life has been intense, comforting, and transformative. Another very unique relationship with a deity.
My Polytheism Became Harder
This probably comes as no surprise, but as a result of my powerful interactions with specific deities, my polytheism has become even harder. In the spectrum of Hard Polytheism (all deities are distinct entities) vs Soft Polytheism (deities are aspects of a greater Divine force), I already knew that I fell on the harder end of things. My experiences with Aphrodite, Venus, and Turanna/Turan were my first steps in that direction, and my experiences with deities since then have continued in that trend.
With new Gods coming onto the scene and becoming a part of my life in such spectacular and unique ways, it has confirmed that I experience deities as independent from each other with very different energy signatures. In chatting with one of my Pagan friends who had similar experiences, we talked about how we were kind of “reluctant hard polytheists.” For both of us, the idea of there being a unifying force with different manifestations is definitely the belief we would have chosen on our own, but our direct experiences with the Divine seem to indicate otherwise.
There is no one right way to view the Gods. Both hard and soft polytheism are valid, as is animism, pantheism, or any other life-affirming belief system that celebrates love. What I share here on this blog is just my experience – one possibility in the infinite. My experiences of the Gods are deeply meaningful for me and bring joy into my life. May your own spiritual practice, whatever it may be, do the same for you!