Cedric's Pagan Thoughts

The spiritual meanderings of a NeoPagan shaman, an eclectic Wiccan, a Celtic musician, a world traveler, a bard, and an uncompromising cat-loving Bast-worshipper

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Connecting with the Divine

The word “religion,” though much maligned by those who dislike organized religion, originally means “re-linking.” That is, it refers to our efforts to renew our links to the Divine, to regain (at least to some degree) our union with the Divine.

Because the Divine is so great as to be too much for our minds, we conceive of it as various deities; these are channels through which we connect to the whole. (I’ll go into this in a separate post.) This article will address methods for connecting with individual deities. Of course, there are myriad methods. This list is far from comprehensive or definitive, but it should serve as a good start.

First, approach the connection with your mind. Do research on the deity. Read all you can about Him or Her. Don’t limit yourself to works written by NeoPagans; look at scholarly studies of mythology, anthropology, and history. If you can find primary sources regarding the deity, study those. Look at ancient depictions of the deity; they will often tell more than mere words will.

Read the myths concerning the deity. Think about the myths and learn them. Then re-tell them, either to friends or in your journal. (Re-telling a story forces you to focus on the parts that are important to you.) Consider what lessons the myths are teaching you, realizing that a single myth can support multiple interpretations and may contain truth on many levels.

If you can find information on the deity’s worship, study that. Examine what rituals were or are used to honor the deity. (Sometimes there is an abundance of such information, and sometimes there is virtually nothing known. That’s just how it is.)

Examine the deity in context. What role did the deity serve in the culture where He or She was worshipped? How does this deity compare to similar deities in other cultures and pantheons? What archetypes does this deity embody?

Once you have sought the deity as much as you can through knowledge, then you must seek the deity through spiritual means. There are lots of ways to do this, but here are a few of my favorite methods.

Re-live the myth in your imagination. If you are good at visualization, watch the story play out in your mind’s eye, and look for details you did not expect. If your visualization skills are still developing, record the myth onto a tape recorder and listen back to it as a guided meditation.

Perform a meditation to invoke the deity. I find that the simplest way to do this is to close my eyes, reach a meditative state, and then chant a simple invocation, such as “Name, Name, Teach me of thee.” (Of course, you fill in the name of the deity for the word “name.”) Repeat the chant for as long as you need, and impressions of the deity will come to you. Even if you don’t get any sensations or experiences during the meditation, keep your eyes peeled; lessons may come to you through other means: stray comments, random occurrences and synchronicities.

To enhance the meditation, make it into an entire ritual. To do this, drape your altar in colors associated with the deity. Place a representation of that deity at the center of your altar. Dress in the appropriate colors and light candles in those colors. (You can even dress in a costume that represents that deity.) Burn incense or use oil in a scent that makes you think of that deity. Play music that makes you think of that deity. (If you can find an actual hymn to the deity, so much the better.) Adopt a stance appropriate to the deity. If there is a day of the week or year, phase of the moon, or hour of the day that is associated with the deity, work your ritual at that time. In short, do everything you can to focus your mind, body, and spirit on union with that aspect of the Divine. Then use the chant described in the last paragraph.

(If you can’t pull off all of the ritual details mentioned above, don’t sweat it. They are helpful, but not necessary. Incorporate as many as you can.)

If you are familiar with chakra work, there is an even more intense meditation for union with a deity. I adapted this meditation from the Buddhists, but it works with any face of Deity. I like to call it the Rainbow Bridge Meditation, after the bridge that links the realm of humans and the realm of Gods in Norse mythology:

Once you’ve reached a meditative state, visualize the deity sitting or standing before you, facing you. Now, visualize your root chakra spinning and glowing with a red light; see the deity’s root chakra doing the same. Next, send forth the light from your root to the deity’s root; bridge the gap between you and the deity. Now let the light flow up to your second (sacral) chakra, shifting to orange and setting that chakra spinning. Again, see the same process happening in the body of the deity, and then build a bridge of orange light between the two sacral chakras. Continue the process with each of the chakras, until you have joined all seven. Remain in that state for as long as you are comfortable, staying receptive to any realizations the deity gives you while you are linked. Accept any strength or energy that deity gives you at that time. Then, when you are ready, gently reverse the process, unlinking each pair of chakras.

The Rainbow Bridge Meditation can have a number of applications. Besides helping you build a stronger connection with the Divine, it can be helpful in spellwork. Once linked with a deity, you may draw on that deity’s power to strengthen your spells or prayers. In a group working, an entire congregation may join to the same deity. The process links the group together as well as to the deity.

In conclusion, let me say that once you have found union with a deity, don’t expect that to be the final step; it’s just a beginning. You will have an ongoing relationship with that deity, and like any relationship, you will need to work to maintain it. However, like any good friendship, it can be a highly rewarding experience.

(For more information on chakras, check out http://www.eclecticenergies.com/chakras/open.php)

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