Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Patron Deities, Alters and offerings

So if you are reading this, I will assume: (a) You are Neopagan (b) You have an interest in the Warrior spirituality And (c) You have an open mind If you are not in (a) through (c) and can stay polite, read and comment on ;) Otherwise the door is over there *points* So I’ve talked very little about he spiritual side of the Neopagan Warrior thus far, time to change that. Taking on a Patron Deity: So generally in Indo-European cultures (upon which a good 90% of modern Neopaganism is based) a warrior (a member of the warrior caste) would be beholden to a Chieftain, King, Council, etc. Think of the Patron Deity/Deities as something akin to this. Those, which make you more than a baseless thug, those who give you a place and a meaning. Indeed you may have adopted a community to serve, but you need a sounding board, a place to have a steady footing. This (to me at least) is the Deity/Deities we honor. So if you don’t have one, go research the deities out there. It can be Jehovah (though chances are you need to go to the nearest church to talk to him/it) or it could be Coyote (in which case please keep the pranks to a minimum). Once you find a deity that seems interesting (or indeed a whole pantheon of them, and no they do not have to be of the same cultural group, though mine are). Begin to make a working relationship with them! Reach out to them in meditation. You don’t meditate? Ok Trance work? Astral Traveling? No? Hmm find something. Assuming you meditate, when you “hit the sweet spot” as I call it (where you feel your mind soar away, and can maintain it). Go looking. Say it’s Odin (not one of mine, but a deity I respect), are there a pair of Ravens near by? (There usually is for me, and another singular raven (more in a second about that one). Follow them. They are Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory), and they are his spies, yeah I said it, spies. He also has a pair of Wolves Geri and Freki (also Gere and Freke. Freki is translated as "Ravenous." Geri is "Greedy", if they are there. Don’t bug them, just trust me. Those ravens will likely take you back to a one eyed, intimidating gentleman, who may or may not be hanging from a Tree. Talk to him. So look for a sign of a deity, this means you will have to research them. Personally I hold the Tuatha De Dannan as my Patrons, most particularly the Dagda, Lugh, Danu, and the Morrigain. But any of them have my service if they ask it (and a repercussion of this is I have their “protection” if I need it). It took me years of meditation, and self-searching, yeah I’m a bit slow, to forge this. So you now have a deity or two you call patron. You have researched them. Time to show them honor. Chances are you have picked a martial deity (but this is not certain, I will progress as if you have). Set up an alter to them. If you have more than one deity, and they are from different pantheons/cultures, I’d advise separate alters. They don’t have to be huge. Does your deity have a known representation (statue, art work, wall painting?), if possible have one. If not, it’s not essential. Does your deity have a weapon of choice? Thor liked his hammer, if you follow Him, a hammer (usable!) might be a good idea. This may take some time to find, and should not be the first piece of junk you come across. Junk? Yeah Junk. Say a sword is the symbol; say you have a “Celtic” deity you honor. Don’t buy a cheap and nasty Katana, not only is it ethnically wrong (the Katana) it’s not very polite to say “here is a weapon to honor you, it cost me sweet FA, and will bend in a slight breeze, but thanks you are a cool deity”. I am not saying you have to have the most expensive thing out there, but well made, and potentially ethnically correct helps. Personally I have a very nice sword, hand forged in England. It is worth a lot more now than when I got it. Next have an offering bowl/plate on the alter. It’s nice to leave something for the deity. A glass of beer/wine/mead/whisky to share, some fresh water, some nuts, whatever. I do not advise something that will turn putrid however, unless the smell does not bother you and anyone else who may “sample” it in the air. Offerings out side the alter? This is a touchy one. Offering implies sacrifice (yes it does) and the s word turns most Neopagans queasy. Any of the religious Reich into frothing lunatics (sorry more so) and is not wise. By sacrifice/offering we mean giving something of value up. NOT a chicken/small child on an alter. So offerings. I make offerings to my patrons as often as I can (every high day, and oft times when I feel like it). These are often in the form of silver jewelry and small but well made knives to a river, lake or the sea (a common path way to the “other world), mead or whisky to the earth (and I share it) and poetry/prayers and incense to the air. Fire is not something I use much, it’s the vector to the air for me (burn a bit of parchment with the ONLY copy of a prayer or poem, burn the incense burn the witch… uh sorry). But like water, fire is a vector. You don’t have to (nor should you) ruin yourself for the deity in question. That certainly is not being responsible or honorable! Ok so Shrines, offerings, what else? Dedications. I when I exercise dedicate it to a deity. “Just ten more reps for Lugh” “I will bench 100 kg by June 1st in honor of the Morrigan?” Deeds speak loudest. So if you are going to do something of note (even of just to you) dedicate them. The Abrahamic don’t have to have all the monopoly; though don’t be obnoxious about it either. Don’t “thank the goddess” over and over. Just let them know (the deity) it was for them! Ok so that is a start. More soon