On Devotion

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Today I read a blog post by The Dionysian Artist on his blog titled “Teaching Devotion“. This blog post hit close to home for me as it is something I struggle with, even after 5-6 years of practicing Hellenic polytheism. But first, let me explain what devotion is.

Devotion is the practice of piety, ideally worshipping the Gods as part of everyday life, rather than something separate from it. It means the actual practice of our religions, for if you believe in the Gods, their existence, and their agency beyond the human psyche (so NOT archetypes of faces of One Ultimate Godhead), then it naturally follows that we will act accordingly, recognising the Divine powers everywhere and interacting with them accordingly, according to the language and protocols we have for doing so: religious practice.

Devotional practice means being consistent about it, having steady times for honouring the Deities (e.g. morning and evening offerings), honouring the appropriate Deities at appropriate times (e.g. whenever leaving the house offering a libation to Apollon Agyieus and Hermes Enodios, and any other deity you feel appropriate), or whenever you feel like you have a need of doing it. This will build the meaningful relationships with them that we naturally wish to have, following from our belief in, our knowing of, these Holy Powers.

Devotional practice should ideally happen in mind and deed, becoming part of your nature, of your being, rather than another chore on the list of things to do in a day.

Now that I have hopefully made the concept more clear to you, on to why I felt it hitting close to home. I struggle with really integrating devotional practice in my life as a matter of course rather than a matter of chore. And after being at this for about five to six years (I’m not entirely clear anymore about when I started exactly, it’s become hard to really think of my life before I came to Hellenic polytheism) that makes me feel like a failure. Like I’m letting down the Deities, my fellow polytheists, and myself.

I still struggle to actually go and consistently make time for worshipping the Deities on steady times in the morning and evening, which has worsened since I got a full-time job. I have gotten to the point where I mostly (unfortunately not always) pour libations in the morning for Hestia, the Ephestioi, the Herkeioi, the Strophaioi, Eos, Helios, Hermes Eriounios, and Hestia again, and the same in the evening with Selene in place of the Eos and Helios. But then there’s the major monthly and yearly celebrations. Like this past weekend the Deipnon and Noumenia, which I didn’t actually celebrate at all. I did last time they happened. Just this morning I did pour a libation to the Noumenioi Theoi (Selene and Apollon Noumenios), but that was it. Only now, not too long before it starts getting dark and the next day starts, have I performed a ritual to celebrate the Noumenia a bit belatedly, with incense and hymns and candle light and libations of water.

Another reason that I feel makes it hard for me to really cultivate my piety and devotion is that I still live with my parents (and two sisters), who also have their own schedules, and I need to be considerate of them. I do not have the luck of having an entire family worshipping the Gods, though I am lucky enough that they think nothing of it that I do and let me do my thing. So I do not really have the freedom to do all the things I might want or to do them when I want necessarily in the way that i would want. I feel this stunts, inhibits, and constricts me in the cultivation of my piety and devotional practice. And I simply don’t have the means to support myself in an independent household, and being an introvert who has trouble really bonding with new people, just finding a roommate or something seems an insurmountable obstacle.

Finally, I also do feel sometimes like I am just being too hard on myself, getting too hung up on insignificant things or feeling like I am sucking at this, and that this then makes me not want to do anything devotionally out of fear of doing it wrong, which is something Dionysian Artist spoke of in his blog post. I have tried going back to basics and building up from there, but I always seem to end up the same way, like I keep hitting my head on the same stone. Sometimes I wish I had elders I could talk to for advice or who could teach me these things, in real life, I mean. But I don’t. We Hellenic polytheists seem pretty thinly spread in the Low Countries.One of my latest attempts at tackling my issues is reading Galina Krasskova’s “Devotional Polytheism: An Introduction” (I can recommend it to everyone) and trying to follow the tips and other information she provides therein. So far I have had limited success. The only thing I have successfully been doing (but also slacking as of late, as with my actual devotional practice) is keeping a devotional diary. For the most part, I have kept this going daily, most often even making entries on days I did nothing devotionally, and then writing about that, what I am feeling, etc. This is a practice I can advise to everyone.

One of my latest attempts at tackling my issues is reading Galina Krasskova’s “Devotional Polytheism: An Introduction” (I can recommend it to everyone) and trying to follow the tips and other information she provides therein. So far I have had limited success. The only thing I have successfully been doing (but also slacking as of late, as with my actual devotional practice) is keeping a devotional diary. For the most part, I have kept this going daily, most often even making entries on days I did nothing devotionally, and then writing about that, what I am feeling, etc. This is a practice I can advise to everyone, along with reading Galina’s book (she’s not paying me for promoting her book or something, I swear 😉 .

I think I’m gonna leave it at this, for now.

Ἔρρωσο.

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3 comments on “On Devotion

  1. I have yet to read “Teaching Devotion”, but I’m certain that this post of yours will hit closer to home than it. We’re on the same boat, although in different sections.

    As you can guess, I also struggle a lot with keeping devotion going, and I dare say that I may struggle even more, whilst not wanting to turn this into a who’s-most-unfortunate competition. I’m quite certain that the main thing that stops me from actually developing devotional routines or the like is that I live with my parents, but they don’t — and can’t — know that I’m a polytheist. Therefore, everything I do must be kept in the shadows, and so, the safest time to worship is during the night… but I’m already tired by the time night comes. It’s not like I don’t want to keep in touch with the gods, I just don’t feel like doing anything except being a vegetable whilst watching a series, or sleeping. I also haven’t been celebrating any of the holidays… the last photographic record I have dates from last year’s November. All other plans of celebrating anything were foiled by my own exhaustion and demotivation and a little something phonetically spelt /dɪˈpreʃn̩/.

    On the other hand, my certainty that my parents are the main obstacle comes from the fact that on occasions in which they spent holidays away, and I had the house all to myself, I almost immediately started going back to devotional routines. A little prayer here and there, small shrines would pop up in some parts of the house, I would start sacrificing again (around meal time)… Once they returned home, had to be hidden inside a locked cupboard, and that makes me feel really bad. Think of how normal people would feel terrible if they had an eleven year-old Harry Potter locked in a cupboard under their staircases.

    Alas, have a nice day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ganglerisgrove says:

    I think the struggles help us go deeper. I think they’re a normal part of developing and more importantly maintaining a good devotional practice and sometimes it’s really frustrating and really hard. but staying the course, or picking ourselves up when we fail and starting again…i think in the long run, that perseverence and willingness to face those challenges is what renders for us a rich and sustainable devotional life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds like you’ve committed yourself to quite a lot! I’ve slowly formed a devotional practice that fits with the deities I venerate and the natural rhythms of my life – devotions to my local spirits and personal patron in the morning and to a deity called Nodens who is a god of dreams before bedtime plus additionals if I visit particular sites doing the day. Devotional practice is always going to be a work in progress!

    Liked by 1 person

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