Freedom and Fire

flame-1789451_1920A couple of years ago, I began deepening my relationship with Lilith, the Witch Mother. I conducted a ritual of communion with her in which I offered fragrant anointing oil, red wine, blood, and invocations. After the invocation I could feel her encircle me and I realized in that moment that Hekate had played a part in connecting me with Lilith during a summer festival earlier that year. During the communion ritual, Lilith interrogated me in serpent form, asking me questions that I had never asked myself before.
When my encounter with her ended, I began to understood her, though I was only scratching the surface. She offers freedom from ignorance, from slavery, from blind acceptance of authority. What’s more, she offers freedom from the rigid, walled spaces within us that block us from ourselves and thus from growth, change, and self-knowledge. We must have safe spaces, but when those places become our prison (as they tend to do), Lilith frees us, no matter the cost. When we accept her outstretched hand we are compelled to embrace our true nature in its entirety and comprehend ourselves utterly. Over the course of my time with her, she has demanded conscious will, righteous power, unashamed agency, unapologetic autonomy, and the full fire of my soul. She insists that I know exactly what I desire, know my worth, and don’t settle for less. I often fall way short of that high call, but I am enriched and refined by the striving – tempted to fall or rise, and tempered by the Cunning Fire.
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I do not “worship” the gods.

el-salvador-337441_1920To worship a being means to deeply respect and revere that being. That basic definition is powerful and meaningful for me personally because by that definition I worship all beings – deities, humans, animals, plants, rocks, you name it. However, when most people use the term worship, it is understood to mean that one not only respects and reveres a being but also submits to and defers to that being. That understanding of worship centers hierarchy and the logics of domination in my opinion, which is not really my bag.

statue-250819_1920I honor the “Powers That Be”, I praise them, I edify their holy names, but I do not worship them in the sense that they are better than or more important or more holy. The worlds gain nothing by asserting the worth of one class of beings over another. Do the gods have power and influence beyond my own? Hell yes they do. So much so that it scares me sometimes. But there are human folk who fit this description to a degree too. Honestly, President Obama has more power and influence than lots of people, but he’s not worshiped. I think that’s because his worth is obviously equal to other people’s. In my view my worth and every other person’s worth is equal to the worth of the gods, pandas, slugs, herb plants, river rocks, and the host of other beings in our universe.┬áThe gods have great worth and so do I. The gods have great value and so do I. I appreciate the gods influence in the worlds and their power to effect change, but they are not better than anyone or anything, and neither am I.

statue-1405539_1920I prefer ecological models of relationship to hierarchical ones. Hierarchies obscure the ways that we are utterly interdependent and interconnected. We are side by side, not one above or below the other. If any one group of beings is removed from the ecology, the entire system shifts for all beings involved.

Honoring a deity takes strength of spirit. Worship is what we are often encouraged to do in relation to “higher” powers. From my experience of worship it easily gives way to obligation and bondage. The soul caliber required to choose a deity and be chosen by them and to continually choose one another and the Work that you both value for it’s impact on the world shapes many aspects of my spiritual journey and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have come to believe that power, value, and worth are really best figured horizontally rather than vertically, ecologically rather than hierarchically.

Wayfaring Woman: Honoring Hekate in the Rite of Her Sacred Fires

Hekate Kerberos Herakles

Hekate with Twin Torches, from ancient Greek vase

I have updated my Wayfaring Woman column at The Agora on Patheos.com. Check out my latest post, Honoring Hekate in the Rite of Her Sacred Fires!