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Author Topic: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.  (Read 2186 times)

missgraceless

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Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2017, 09:13:44 am »
Quote from: sevensons;202812
Try and focus your self with basically decreasing into earth letting go of all your negativity. now imagine a sway of pure energy rising from the solid earth. now imagine a beam of light reaching for the stars.
That's... great, but what what about those of us who can't visualize? I'm not saying it's the wrong way to do it, it just isn't the ONLY way. Sometimes people (myself included) just. Can't. Visualize.

(All of the following is simply my way of doing things and by no means the "only" or "right" way.)

~ (My method) on grounding.
(And this works for mental issues, too) I use the 5-4-3-2-1 game. It originally started as a mindfulness method for dealing with my crippling anxiety, but when I do it I've noticed I'm more spiritually aware as well. Basically you use the 5 senses to "count down."
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch/feel ("earth beneath my feet" or "air in my nose")
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste (seriously even if it's "nasty morning breath" that works too)

It's not perfect, and I think it was originally developed for mental health, but I like to think mental and spiritual health can sometimes go hand in hand.


~ ...on relationships with deities They start.
Sometimes you get what's known as being thwapped, when a deity basically says "oh hey, I'm here! Pay attention to me!!" (Other times it's a little more forceful, but my experience is with the former.) My goddess Quan Yin came into my life through an Alanis Morissette song (seriously!). I was meditating on finding a deity and listening to ambient music when my iPod glitched out and started playing a song called "Citizen of the Planet." It was off an album I'd downloaded but never listened to so it was a surprise. The first line of the chorus is "I am a citizen of the planet/my president is Quan Yin." (Had to look Her up because I had no idea who She was.) It was something like the 5th or 6th time I'd tried to meditate and find a deity, with no previous results. So don't give up just because nothing happens right away. And pay attention to what's going on around you. Sometimes the gods are throwing signs in your face and you just can't see it.

~ ...on relationships you have to start.
More often than thwapping, however, we puny humans have to initiate the relationship. In which case we have to strike up the conversation with someone. Who said in this thread that it's no different than building relationships with other humans? Tapatalk doesn't let me go back and look. They're right though. But a good starting point is common interests. What's important to you? Sit down and think about hobbies, interests, even world issues that mean a lot to you. Write a list. If it's super long and all over the place, narrow it down to just a few things. Do some googling. "gods of X" usually works well as a starting point. Once you find one (or even a few) that click, do more research. Jenett is the Master of Research and can definitely help you more than my "basic Google tips," haha.

Honestly I'm a little bit of a stalker-type when it comes to making friends in real life (creeping on Facebook mostly), getting to know them before I get to know them. If that makes sense. But with deities it's actually beneficial. Learn the "person" before you decide if you want a relationship with them.
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Sorcha

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Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2017, 09:19:07 am »
Quote from: missgraceless;202821
That's... great, but what what about those of us who can't visualize? I'm not saying it's the wrong way to do it, it just isn't the ONLY way. Sometimes people (myself included) just. Can't. Visualize.

(All of the following is simply my way of doing things and by no means the "only" or "right" way.)

~ (My method) on grounding.
(And this works for mental issues, too) I use the 5-4-3-2-1 game. It originally started as a mindfulness method for dealing with my crippling anxiety, but when I do it I've noticed I'm more spiritually aware as well. Basically you use the 5 senses to "count down."
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch/feel ("earth beneath my feet" or "air in my nose")
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste (seriously even if it's "nasty morning breath" that works too)

It's not perfect, and I think it was originally developed for mental health, but I like to think mental and spiritual health can sometimes go hand in hand.


~ ...on relationships with deities They start.
Sometimes you get what's known as being thwapped, when a deity basically says "oh hey, I'm here! Pay attention to me!!" (Other times it's a little more forceful, but my experience is with the former.) My goddess Quan Yin came into my life through an Alanis Morissette song (seriously!). I was meditating on finding a deity and listening to ambient music when my iPod glitched out and started playing a song called "Citizen of the Planet." It was off an album I'd downloaded but never listened to so it was a surprise. The first line of the chorus is "I am a citizen of the planet/my president is Quan Yin." (Had to look Her up because I had no idea who She was.) It was something like the 5th or 6th time I'd tried to meditate and find a deity, with no previous results. So don't give up just because nothing happens right away. And pay attention to what's going on around you. Sometimes the gods are throwing signs in your face and you just can't see it.

~ ...on relationships you have to start.
More often than thwapping, however, we puny humans have to initiate the relationship. In which case we have to strike up the conversation with someone. Who said in this thread that it's no different than building relationships with other humans? Tapatalk doesn't let me go back and look. They're right though. But a good starting point is common interests. What's important to you? Sit down and think about hobbies, interests, even world issues that mean a lot to you. Write a list. If it's super long and all over the place, narrow it down to just a few things. Do some googling. "gods of X" usually works well as a starting point. Once you find one (or even a few) that click, do more research. Jenett is the Master of Research and can definitely help you more than my "basic Google tips," haha.

Honestly I'm a little bit of a stalker-type when it comes to making friends in real life (creeping on Facebook mostly), getting to know them before I get to know them. If that makes sense. But with deities it's actually beneficial. Learn the "person" before you decide if you want a relationship with them.


Yeah, to ground I just stand in dirt or sit on the floor or eat something or whatever. There are dozens of ways to ground. Visualizing energy doesn't work for me, but I still have meaningful connections with gods. I don't find casting an energy circle or imagining shields of blue light particularly helpful to me either. I do sometimes walk a circle around my house or the area where I'm working with incense, which gives me that tangible "this area is sacred and protected" thing I need.


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Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2017, 09:39:50 am »
Quote from: LunarRainbow;202809
I've looked up some stuff about it, but I'm having some difficulty with understanding some of the basic concepts. Like how I'm supposed to 'feel' my energy, or how to I know when enough's enough, and all that. I'll definitely take a look in the more magick-oriented forums for this, but if you have any further things to look up or keep in mind that'd be absolutely grand! : )

 
So, here's the thing: feeling energy in your body is a thing that's very like knowing if you're hungry, or if you're tired in a way that sleep will help, or if you have a headache coming on you should do something about.

For some people, that kind of awareness comes pretty naturally and they've never been trained out of it. But for a lot of us, we've messed up our cues for some of it, or been trained to ignore some of that information. (We can learn to ignore hunger and sleep cues, for example, and eventually that messes up our habits about them.)

The same is true for the stuff we call 'energy' in a lot of magical work.

The good news is that you can realise that and do something about it. Like going "Hey, it's been a while, I should eat something" or "Hey, it's getting toward when I should go to bed, even though I'm not tired, I'll start working on that." you can do the same thing with your energy work, even if you don't really feel it.

Where I'd suggest starting is something like this:

1) Spend a minute or two a couple of times a day checking in with yourself.

Are you hungry? Tired? Do you feel like you have lots of energy? Ability to concentrate? Do you feel really alive and sort of 'bright' and 'shiny', or do you feel sort of dull and dragging? (Or whatever other combo of sensations you feel for 'really good and able to do all the things' and 'struggling to keep going'.)

You might want to make some notes briefly in a journal or something else about how you feel for a bit: keeping track of it is a way to encourage your brain to pay more attention to what you're feeling in general. Chances are pretty good that if you do this regularly for a couple of weeks or months, you'll find yourself starting to recognise changes in your energy on the go. (Your cues for what it feels like may not be like what's in most books, though!)

2) Try out some simple energy exercises.

My training has us start with breathing first, then centering, then grounding (You can see more articles about the sequence on my website here, under the 'core skills' section, and there's various exercises in there to try.)

Also pay attention when you're in situations that might affect your magical energy - for example some people recharge energy really effectively at parties, or a concert or performance, or being around friends, or doing an activity they love. And some people find some activities really drain them. Getting a sense of that over time will give you some ideas of what you can do to help yourself better.

One thing worth mentioning here is that a lot people talk about grounding as dumping energy, but really, I think it's more like osmosis, rebalancing your energy. You deliberately open up to the energy around you from other sources that can share energy easily, without damage (the planet, the sun, other big things like that) and you can either give your extra or breathe in more if you need to, just like you do with air or water in your body. It's an exchange.

3) Work on getting yourself up to 'full' when you can.

You asked how you know when you have enough - so, that's like my sleep and food thing. Sometimes our cues get messed up, but we can learn how much food makes us full and how much is too much, and how much sleep feels great, and how much more makes us feel lousy.

Energy work is like that - when you're full but not overloaded, you should feel generally good, like you're able to go do things and enjoy them, that you have the ability to interact in the world and do useful things.

If you have too much energy, you may feel jittery or unsettled or not be able to sleep (see the grounding exercise I linked above for a big list) - this is most common after times you've been around a lot of energy and need to get rid of some of it. That's often true after a ritual where a lot of energy has been moving, but I feel it most reliably after really good concert or performance I've been to.

If you don't have enough energy, it's sort of like everything is gray and dull and there's not quite enough light and everything's a little too heavy, a little too much work. In that case, going through a grounding exercise and taking in energy from the sources around you that have plenty can help a lot.

And once you have all of this down, you have an amazing new tool in your set of tools to help you have a better life, and to recognise when you maybe need to do something to help your body and brain out, or to be able to use your body and brain in more ways to do stuff you want to do.
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sevensons

Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2017, 10:42:48 am »
Quote from: Jenett;202823


If you don't have enough energy, it's sort of like everything is gray and dull and there's not quite enough light and everything's a little too heavy, a little too much work. .

 
One good point is for those that can visualise think of something that gave you energy and label that as heavy then when you encounter something heavy you would gain energy.

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Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2017, 04:56:08 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;202823
So, here's the thing: feeling energy in your body is a thing that's very like knowing if you're hungry, or if you're tired in a way that sleep will help, or if you have a headache coming on you should do something about.

For some people, that kind of awareness comes pretty naturally and they've never been trained out of it. But for a lot of us, we've messed up our cues for some of it, or been trained to ignore some of that information. (We can learn to ignore hunger and sleep cues, for example, and eventually that messes up our habits about them.)

The same is true for the stuff we call 'energy' in a lot of magical work.

The good news is that you can realise that and do something about it. Like going "Hey, it's been a while, I should eat something" or "Hey, it's getting toward when I should go to bed, even though I'm not tired, I'll start working on that." you can do the same thing with your energy work, even if you don't really feel it.

Where I'd suggest starting is something like this:

1) Spend a minute or two a couple of times a day checking in with yourself.

Are you hungry? Tired? Do you feel like you have lots of energy? Ability to concentrate? Do you feel really alive and sort of 'bright' and 'shiny', or do you feel sort of dull and dragging? (Or whatever other combo of sensations you feel for 'really good and able to do all the things' and 'struggling to keep going'.)

You might want to make some notes briefly in a journal or something else about how you feel for a bit: keeping track of it is a way to encourage your brain to pay more attention to what you're feeling in general. Chances are pretty good that if you do this regularly for a couple of weeks or months, you'll find yourself starting to recognise changes in your energy on the go. (Your cues for what it feels like may not be like what's in most books, though!)

2) Try out some simple energy exercises.

My training has us start with breathing first, then centering, then grounding (You can see more articles about the sequence on my website here, under the 'core skills' section, and there's various exercises in there to try.)

Also pay attention when you're in situations that might affect your magical energy - for example some people recharge energy really effectively at parties, or a concert or performance, or being around friends, or doing an activity they love. And some people find some activities really drain them. Getting a sense of that over time will give you some ideas of what you can do to help yourself better.

One thing worth mentioning here is that a lot people talk about grounding as dumping energy, but really, I think it's more like osmosis, rebalancing your energy. You deliberately open up to the energy around you from other sources that can share energy easily, without damage (the planet, the sun, other big things like that) and you can either give your extra or breathe in more if you need to, just like you do with air or water in your body. It's an exchange.

3) Work on getting yourself up to 'full' when you can.

You asked how you know when you have enough - so, that's like my sleep and food thing. Sometimes our cues get messed up, but we can learn how much food makes us full and how much is too much, and how much sleep feels great, and how much more makes us feel lousy.

Energy work is like that - when you're full but not overloaded, you should feel generally good, like you're able to go do things and enjoy them, that you have the ability to interact in the world and do useful things.

If you have too much energy, you may feel jittery or unsettled or not be able to sleep (see the grounding exercise I linked above for a big list) - this is most common after times you've been around a lot of energy and need to get rid of some of it. That's often true after a ritual where a lot of energy has been moving, but I feel it most reliably after really good concert or performance I've been to.

If you don't have enough energy, it's sort of like everything is gray and dull and there's not quite enough light and everything's a little too heavy, a little too much work. In that case, going through a grounding exercise and taking in energy from the sources around you that have plenty can help a lot.

And once you have all of this down, you have an amazing new tool in your set of tools to help you have a better life, and to recognise when you maybe need to do something to help your body and brain out, or to be able to use your body and brain in more ways to do stuff you want to do.

 
Honestly, this is the most helpful thing I've ever read on energy. It makes total sense. I've kind of not bothered with energy work because I'd never heard it explained well, but this was a major aha. Thanks!


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Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2017, 08:06:23 pm »
Quote from: Sorcha;202835
Honestly, this is the most helpful thing I've ever read on energy. It makes total sense. I've kind of not bothered with energy work because I'd never heard it explained well, but this was a major aha. Thanks!


So glad it helped! A lot of it is stuff that has been rattling around in my head for a while, but took a bit to come out in a way that might make sense to other people.

(If you like this approach, I'd actually also recommend Ivo Dominguez on the topic: some of this crystallising for me came from hearing a couple of presentations of his that talked about energy work. I think of his books, Spirit Speak and the circle casting ones are the two most relevant ones.)
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Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2017, 08:51:58 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;202842
So glad it helped! A lot of it is stuff that has been rattling around in my head for a while, but took a bit to come out in a way that might make sense to other people.

(If you like this approach, I'd actually also recommend Ivo Dominguez on the topic: some of this crystallising for me came from hearing a couple of presentations of his that talked about energy work. I think of his books, Spirit Speak and the circle casting ones are the two most relevant ones.)

 
Ooooh book recommendations! I shall add them to my extensive wishlist, lol.


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LunarRainbow

Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2017, 12:47:52 am »
Quote from: Jenett;202842
So glad it helped! A lot of it is stuff that has been rattling around in my head for a while, but took a bit to come out in a way that might make sense to other people.

(If you like this approach, I'd actually also recommend Ivo Dominguez on the topic: some of this crystallising for me came from hearing a couple of presentations of his that talked about energy work. I think of his books, Spirit Speak and the circle casting ones are the two most relevant ones.)

Your advice has been really helpful so far Jenett, and everyone who's taken the time to write back thank you so much for doing so. If you have any other insights please feel free to reply. I'm loving that everyone is so helpful.

I will say that I'm not sure about the relationship with a deity part. It's been just that something about it has been not sitting right. I'm sorry if that isn't very helpful, but I know the idea of going to all the different cultures is particularly unsettling to me for whatever reason.

I do want to give a little bit of an update though:

I was outside and pretending to read at a table while in all honesty I was meditating for a good half hour to forty-five minutes. Mostly focusing on breathing, and as I was doing this I took some of the advice and was taking mental check-ups on how and what I was feeling. I also took into account my physical senses. I then got the idea to kind of noting everything about the location I was in. The smell of the trees and Earth, the small sounds that showed life in the area. Stuff like that.

Something definitely ressonated with me throughout the process, although it was, I suppose in typical Animist fashion, not with only one thing or the other, but also with pretty much everything. Almost as if everything was...there...but not there like I was in the physical reality, but with a sense of something else entirely separate with it. Kind of like there was an entire new...life...to everything, if I might say that.

I also experienced a much higher sense of awareness of my place in my local area. I was simultaneously aware of the inside of the building I was in, but also the greater area around me and felt myself as a part of that greater world (while normally I'm only aware of my immediate area like the room I'm in).

It was really freaking surreal, and any input would greatly appreciated. Overall, I feel like this is definitely a good first step. Definitely a good bit of progress for one night, eh? Thank you again, for what help you've all provided thusfar. It was using your ideas that I even got that experience.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 12:52:21 am by LunarRainbow »

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Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2017, 08:11:44 am »
First, it sounds like what you've been trying has been good for you! If you haven't already done some exploring of the idea of 'spirits of place', sometimes also called locus genii, you might find that useful to you.

(Some people also find it really rewarding to pick an outdoor place they can get to easily and stop in there regularly - daily, every few days, once a week - and build that into their practice, noticing the small changes that happen over the seasons.)

Quote from: LunarRainbow;202868
I will say that I'm not sure about the relationship with a deity part. It's been just that something about it has been not sitting right. I'm sorry if that isn't very helpful, but I know the idea of going to all the different cultures is particularly unsettling to me for whatever reason.

There's nothing that says you have to do things with deities, fortunately. There are plenty of animists out there in the Pagan community, and while they can be a little harder to find, a fair number of atheist Pagans too.

That said, if someone has a strong discomfort with something that is a fairly common practice for reasons they can't make sense of, poking at that discomfort to understand more about it sometimes worth doing. We sometimes carry baggage with us from our previous religious experiences or non-religious experience that turns out not to be helpful to us moving forward.

So even if deity focused work isn't something you want to do, figuring out more about why you have that discomfort could be really informative and helpful in other parts of your path.

For example, if the thing you're getting stuck on is the idea of relationship with something you can't see, that might affect your interactions with nature, but if your discomfort comes from a (quite admirable) desire to avoid cultural appropriation, there's different possible solutions to that.

The exercises people have suggested here are roughly equivalent to meeting someone interesting in a new setting, and chatting to them briefly. There's certainly rude ways to do that, but there's also a bunch of polite ways that indicate interest and curiousity.

Just reading about different Pagan pantheons isn't going to offend a deity, and while there's tons of lousy sources out there, there are also plenty of well-done ones. Likewise, the exercises I suggested (that are part of my own training) can certainly be done in a strongly devotional context (creating a work honoring a deity) but they're also things that artists and writers of many kinds and many religious persuasions have done over millenia.

They're unlikely to be offensive so long as you're doing it sincerely and not committing to things you're not wanting to commit to (i.e. Don't create anything with explicit oaths or commitments)

If it helps you to focus on a particular culture first, that's also something a lot of people find easier.

Picking a culture is something a lot of people struggle with. A common suggestion is to start with one that's part of your own background, but if that doesn't make sense, you can also look at others that appeal.

(Some cultures were very much about expanding and showing off what they were good at and having other people find out how awesome they were - there are reasons that people are still fascinated by Greek or Roman or Egyptian myths today. The idea that someone would avoid learning about Roman deities because it might be rude is something your average Roman resident would have found totally baffling.)
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LunarRainbow

Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2017, 01:38:32 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;202883
First, it sounds like what you've been trying has been good for you! If you haven't already done some exploring of the idea of 'spirits of place', sometimes also called locus genii, you might find that useful to you.

(Some people also find it really rewarding to pick an outdoor place they can get to easily and stop in there regularly - daily, every few days, once a week - and build that into their practice, noticing the small changes that happen over the seasons.)

There's nothing that says you have to do things with deities, fortunately. There are plenty of animists out there in the Pagan community, and while they can be a little harder to find, a fair number of atheist Pagans too.

That said, if someone has a strong discomfort with something that is a fairly common practice for reasons they can't make sense of, poking at that discomfort to understand more about it sometimes worth doing. We sometimes carry baggage with us from our previous religious experiences or non-religious experience that turns out not to be helpful to us moving forward.

...

Picking a culture is something a lot of people struggle with. A common suggestion is to start with one that's part of your own background, but if that doesn't make sense, you can also look at others that appeal.

I don't have an issue with an idea of a relationship with a deity, at least I don't think that I do, but maybe its more the nature of the relationship I'm seeking? Hmmm...I need to think about this a lot more. I guess...In all honesty I'm just not altogether sure where my discomfort comes from, but I feel like just something isn't clicking.

I will say I've had negative experiences with cultural appropriation when I was a practicioner of Shinto. Could also, to be honest, I just don't see myself as a part of any distinctive culture or heritage, so I don't really have anything to build it off of as far as that part is concerned.

Could be a lot of things, but I think a big thing is that I really have no experience with spirtitual relationships, so I'm kind of blind when it comes to really knowing, what I'm looking for. Sorry if I'm at all being a bother.

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Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2017, 02:09:41 pm »
Quote from: LunarRainbow;202931

Could be a lot of things, but I think a big thing is that I really have no experience with spirtitual relationships, so I'm kind of blind when it comes to really knowing, what I'm looking for. Sorry if I'm at all being a bother.

 
Not a bother! Questions are pretty much what the forum is for, right?

If you want to dig at it some more, what I'd recommend is spending some quality time with Darkhawk's post on different ways people see relationships with deities or powers. I'd sit down and think about each one, and whether it's something you find interesting/attractive/intriguing/engaging (positively about), something you find abhorrent or repulsive for you personally (negatively about), and then the stuff that you're not sure about, that's in that sometimes uncomfortable undefined middle of "not sure what I think about this or if I want it"

(I'd probably go through the list a couple of times, over at least a couple of weeks and see if anything changes as you have more time to think about it and have time to look for interactions in other parts of your life.)

I think an activity like that might help you get a grasp on what kinds of interactions you might be open to or interested (if there are some, and because you keep cycling back to sort of wanting an interaction, I think there might well be), and if it turns out you don't want any of that extremely varied list of interactions, you will know you've thought about it thoroughly.

And then you can poke further at whatever results you have, and that may well give you guidance on either cultures to explore further where that would be appropriate, or specific deities (since different deities - like people - have some tendencies and common patterns in their habits and relationships)
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LunarRainbow

Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2017, 09:16:29 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;202933
(I'd probably go through the list a couple of times, over at least a couple of weeks and see if anything changes as you have more time to think about it and have time to look for interactions in other parts of your life.)
I was going through the list, and went through, narrowing it down one by one. In the end I was able to narrow it down to three of them. There's also one that's popped to me every time I've looked. Kind of clicked every time I see it over the past two days. That's #1 on the list. However they're not more than the other. They're co-equal on the list.

1.   God as mother
2.   God as spiritual kin
3.   God as raw magical force
« Last Edit: February 20, 2017, 09:17:36 pm by LunarRainbow »

MadeiraDarling

Re: Building a relationship & connection with the Gods.
« Reply #27 on: April 06, 2017, 02:27:06 am »
Quote from: LunarRainbow;202759
I actually already identify as an animist, so you're right on the money there! Yay! : D

I was in a very ritualistic path before, and that really didn't help at all to me I'd want to focus more about incorporating spirituality into my day-to-day life and activities. Not have to do them only separate from that, and the rest of my life. I don't think spirituality and life are separate, so I left and only recently started identifying solely as animist.

I think that's the main block I'm running into. Nothing...resonates, as you said, with me. That or I'm just blind to whatever resonates with me. Even if I did know then I wouldn't know how to act or strengthen that resonance.

I think that's the first time I've heard talking to trees and rocks used in a respectful and helpful way. If I knew how I probably would, but I don't. xD

 
One thing I do find helps (and it seems a bit silly at first) is just to talk to whatever deity you want to commune with, if you're going about your daily business, doing the dishes, talk to the bush outside your kitchen window.  

Personally, I'm not a naturally very reverent person most of the time (follower of Baubo that I am) so I talk pretty casually to deities, I joke around and say stuff "yeah, but like why did you make that guy so annoying?  Do you regret giving him free will?  Yeah I thought so."

Talk to them about the weather, talk to them about what you're doing, talk to them about anything and everything, it opens up lines of communication and allows for a personal relationship

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