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Author Topic: General/Non-Specific: Mental Blocks and Difficulty Connecting to Deities  (Read 1516 times)

EclecticWheel

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Mental Blocks and Difficulty Connecting to Deities
« on: August 01, 2020, 06:58:53 pm »
Given my limited experience with pagan deities in terms of devotion and ritual I chose our beginner friendly section to ask some advice.  I'd also be interested in what experiences others may have had overcoming what I'll call mental barriers to connecting to gods.

I'm no expert, and I have a lot to learn, but for years on and off I have explored Greek mythology and felt a great fondness for some of the deities.  The first barrier I had to overcome was ritual structure, but that was easily enough addressed by adapting rituals from Reconstructionist sources (though I'm not overly strict and do not claim to be Reconstructionist).

The barriers I have are possibly cultural.  I am still learning about this concept but I'm pretty sure I do not want or need a concept of miasma.  It is very foreign to me, and concepts of purity cause me anxiety even when they're not notions of moral purity.

I also struggle with an emphasis I perceive in some places on treating gods as very Other, which is connected to concepts of Hubris.  I am on board with this to a degree, that the gods are in some ways Other, and I am perfectly fine with honoring them, and I do know that apotheosis is a thing, so these barriers can be blurred.  But my emphasis is different, and I will worship just about anyone I am drawn to, god or not.  Maybe not in the same ways exactly, but I do not limit worthiness of worship to the gods.

I am well aware that I could worship the gods in my own context and don't have to take a Reconstructionist route, but I do not yet know what that context would look like.  I could explore some other pantheons, but I haven't felt particularly desirous to do so.  I do feel like my worship should be at least informed by historical practice, but when I turn to the culture and religious setting the gods were worshiped in, I can sense that something is off, that I'm not connecting, and this in turn creates a disconnect from the gods in ritual.

I will go ahead and put this out there as well in case it lends any light to the situation: in the past I've worshiped these gods only during periods of elevated mood.  I don't know why -- it feels like something happening to me rather than something chosen.

Despite all these blocks I'm feeling, I did hear from what I believe to be a goddess, possibly Hekate, since that is who I have been praying to.  All she told me was that it wasn't hard to reach out to a god.  That was definitely progress.

In the meantime I have taken note of the Powers I have been consistently devoted to over 15 years or longer and distilled a very simple ritual form that I practice daily to honor them, and some of my more elaborate rituals I am working on simplifying for various reasons.  I have also deepened my devotion to the departed, especially my ancestors.  This has been so fulfilling I'm considering the possibility that I do not need a pantheon, at least not on a regular basis.  The ancestors along with my main Powers may be enough.

Any advice or experiences with related matters is greatly appreciated.
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arete

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Re: Mental Blocks and Difficulty Connecting to Deities
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2020, 01:46:14 pm »
Given my limited experience with pagan deities in terms of devotion and ritual I chose our beginner friendly section to ask some advice.  I'd also be interested in what experiences others may have had overcoming what I'll call mental barriers to connecting to gods.

Despite all these blocks I'm feeling, I did hear from what I believe to be a goddess, possibly Hekate, since that is who I have been praying to.  All she told me was that it wasn't hard to reach out to a god.  That was definitely progress.
May I ask what do you think a Deity is?

Hekate is right. ;)
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Re: Mental Blocks and Difficulty Connecting to Deities
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2020, 02:36:57 pm »
The barriers I have are possibly cultural.  I am still learning about this concept but I'm pretty sure I do not want or need a concept of miasma.  It is very foreign to me, and concepts of purity cause me anxiety even when they're not notions of moral purity.

I work with semi-reconstructed Greco-Minoan deities (mostly versions of Dionysos, Ariadne-Aphrodite, and Hekate, with a dash of Paean Apollo and Hermes) and I have never particularly drawn on the concept of miasma. My deities do not seem to have a need for it; the apotheosized human I worship, in particular, apparently takes great joy in the messy breath of mortality on my offerings.

Quote
I also struggle with an emphasis I perceive in some places on treating gods as very Other, which is connected to concepts of Hubris.  I am on board with this to a degree, that the gods are in some ways Other, and I am perfectly fine with honoring them, and I do know that apotheosis is a thing, so these barriers can be blurred.  But my emphasis is different, and I will worship just about anyone I am drawn to, god or not.  Maybe not in the same ways exactly, but I do not limit worthiness of worship to the gods.

Just because gods are Other doesn't mean there's an impermeable barrier between us and them. After all, every human being is Other to other human beings, and we still find a way to connect.

Quote
I will go ahead and put this out there as well in case it lends any light to the situation: in the past I've worshiped these gods only during periods of elevated mood.  I don't know why -- it feels like something happening to me rather than something chosen.

It sounds like you've had some barriers to establishing a regular practice; I don't think the solution has to be reconstructionist methods. I would actually suggest picking one to three simple regular rituals that just feel right and starting by following those. Discard the ones that wind up not working and try something else if you run into trouble.

Quote
Despite all these blocks I'm feeling, I did hear from what I believe to be a goddess, possibly Hekate, since that is who I have been praying to.  All she told me was that it wasn't hard to reach out to a god.  That was definitely progress.

I have worked with Hekate somewhat untraditionally in the past; I located a liminal space between my suburban apartment complex and some wild marshfields nearby, dedicated a chunk of it to Hekate, and left regular offerings. This seemed to have good results.

Quote
In the meantime I have taken note of the Powers I have been consistently devoted to over 15 years or longer and distilled a very simple ritual form that I practice daily to honor them, and some of my more elaborate rituals I am working on simplifying for various reasons.  I have also deepened my devotion to the departed, especially my ancestors.  This has been so fulfilling I'm considering the possibility that I do not need a pantheon, at least not on a regular basis.  The ancestors along with my main Powers may be enough.

This seems like a good start. One simple daily ritual plus one or two weekly ones is a good way to begin, in my experience.
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Zlote Jablko

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Re: Mental Blocks and Difficulty Connecting to Deities
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2020, 07:31:38 am »
I'm no expert, and I have a lot to learn, but for years on and off I have explored Greek mythology and felt a great fondness for some of the deities.  The first barrier I had to overcome was ritual structure, but that was easily enough addressed by adapting rituals from Reconstructionist sources (though I'm not overly strict and do not claim to be Reconstructionist).

The barriers I have are possibly cultural.  I am still learning about this concept but I'm pretty sure I do not want or need a concept of miasma.  It is very foreign to me, and concepts of purity cause me anxiety even when they're not notions of moral purity.

Notions of purity and other value judgments can be tricky. They don’t always age well- for example, some traditions have historically viewed women as ritually unclean compared to men. From a modern perspective, that seems like a pretty stupid conceit on the part of the men.

Often times, these anxieties substituted for a real knowledge about epidemiology. (I.e. people were trying to ignore sickness.) On the other hand, even this tied into the broader concept of wellbeing, which is inseparable from many traditions.


I am well aware that I could worship the gods in my own context and don't have to take a Reconstructionist route, but I do not yet know what that context would look like.  I could explore some other pantheons, but I haven't felt particularly desirous to do so.  I do feel like my worship should be at least informed by historical practice, but when I turn to the culture and religious setting the gods were worshiped in, I can sense that something is off, that I'm not connecting, and this in turn creates a disconnect from the gods in ritual.

I tend to consider reconstructionism a solid foundation of my practice these days, but not necessarily the end-all-be-all. Bottom line, none of the pagan traditions were immune to change over the centuries.

But I do think something can be off when there are breaks in continuity. A helpful thought experiment for me is to do a little bit of alternative history, and ask what might have developed in a more enlightened (and more pagan) past.

On the other hand, I don’t think “new” paganism is a bad thing. And it can be shocking how new traditions like Feri can still look very similar to old ones. I think it might be an alternative path to a lot of the same stuff.

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