As you may have noticed, I chose to answer the call of many deities. The challenges endemic to that choice might have been lessened had the deities originated in the same pantheon; however, that is not the case for me. The gods with whom I work are from all over – Greece, Rome, Germany and Scandinavia, and the African diaspora (Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean in particular)! So, how do I manage? The answer is only a little better than marginally, but there are certain lessons I have learned along the way that allow me to manage to that degree and have given me the foothold that I need to continue to improve my multiple deity relationships!
1. Know your gods’ lore and cultural context.
When dealing with many deities from many different cultures, it really, really helps to know more than a little bit about that deity’s traditional attributes and lore as well as quite a bit about the culture in which that deity first functioned. Everything, including gods, function within a context. That context can and does change but you need to be versed in its iterations nonetheless. The gods can be engaged without that cultural/contextual awareness, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it, not because they will smite you or anything but because it just isn’t very savvy in my opinion. I speak from experience; I am still trying to repair a faux pas from early in my relationship with Elegua!!
2. Identify and practice with a divine communication method that works for you.
Develop an effective method for listening to the gods. Tarot, runes, direct communication, etc. work well for many. Find your tool, hone your skill, use it well. Obviously, the more gods you work with, the more important this is because you have lots of folks taking to you at once. Refining your hearing so that you can tell who is talking, when, and what they are saying is super important! Step one: practice with whatever method you have elected.
3. Create a communion and sacrifice schedule.
When working with multiple gods, it is helpful to have designated time for performing major rites and offerings for each god/group of gods. I have found that if I just honor who ever when ever, I end up forgetting folks and/or pissing people off. Saturdays, Sundays, and now Mondays are the days that I do the most work and make offerings; everyone gets their due and their time that way. I also engage in impromptu workings, rites, and offerings but the scheduled time ensures that everyone is remembered and honored.
4. Do what you are able to do.
When it comes to altar construction, making offerings, communing with the gods, and completing the personal and public tasks that they ask of you, do what you are able to do (but always everything that you said you would do, even if it takes more time to make it happen). If you can afford nice fabric for a deity altar, by all means purchase enough to cover the altar and rejoice in the beauty of it. If the god is fond of a particular hard-to-obtain mineral, grain, alcohol, or other substance and you have the time, money, and resources to procure it, then by all means do so. If you are able to efficiently, effectively, and reliably meditate/commune with the gods only once per week then meditate efficiently, effectively, and reliably once per week. Any more or any less might impair your ability to be efficient, effective, or reliable. In the end, I have found that the gods – at least the ones I work with – want you to do what you are able to do. What they do not want you to do is starve your children, not pay your bills, be unethical, or otherwise fail at being a responsible, decent human being in their name.
5. Do not agonize over what you are unable to do.
Do not become emotionally weighed down by the thought of what you are unable to do. If you cannot afford super expensive altar items, or the bomb-ass incense for this week’s offering, or that really cool silver-rimmed drinking horn for your next ritual in honor of Odin, do not become so sad and depressed that you fail to do what you are able to do, or fail to take pride in the honor you are able to give the gods within your means. If you feel like crap while making your offerings, meditating, making altars, etc. because of what you cannot give, something is wrong. Figure it out and get it sorted with your self and with your gods!
6. Do well those things that you are able to do.
The gods, like most others we are in a relationship with, appreciate a little sacrifice every now and again to show that you are serious and committed to the relationship. So, if you have an extra hour this week instead of starting that new book you really want to read, consider engaging in a deeper meditation or go on that wild harvesting herb excursion you have been promising Eir. If you have the extra funds this month (meaning you have extra after you pay your bills and take care of other financial requirements), splurge on that drinking horn. In a nutshell, when it comes to the gods, if you are choosing between fine and finer – and you are still able to feed your family – choose finer every time and the gods will notice!
Also, the more thoughtful and planned your altar, ritual, meditation, etc. is the happier most gods are. Its not about perfect execution or everything going as planned, it is about the attentiveness and devotion in taking the time to think things through and plan in the first place. The gods I work with dig that sort of thing.
7. Feel it!
You are in a relationship. When you stop being yourself, when you stop connecting with the gods, talking to them, inviting them into your life, mind and heart, you have stopped honoring them, even if you are still making your regularly scheduled offerings. To my thinking, Pagan spirituality is about heart and soul in addition to ritual, offerings, and the like. A part of the goal is to “feel it”. When you don’t feel the relationship (i.e. you’re distracted, you’d rather be somewhere else, your new devotional craft project is lopsided, poorly constructed, and a little smelly from cat urine and you don’t even care), something is wrong. Figure it out and get it sorted with your self and with the gods.
8. Experiment until you find a combination of divination, rituals, sacrificial rites, festivals, etc. that efficiently, effectively, and reliably cultivates your relationship with the gods.
Working with many deities is alchemical! Lots of varied chemicals have to come together, and with a little magic, make gold. Some combinations of time, energy, ritual, and offering will blow up in your face. Others will work for a time and then start to revert to lead. Experiment. Don’t be afraid to try things out. There are many folks who are more than happy to nay-say or – even more annoyingly – try to tell you the definitive way to do X Y or Z but I have found that other people’s formulas, while great for them, sometimes do not work in my lab. Sometimes they do and that’s awesome but sometimes they don’t and that’s awesome too because its an opportunity for me to work in a new and interesting way with deity to craft unique formulas and test them. As long as you keep the avenues of communication open and remain respectful (but not humorless) the gods will accept your growing pains and they just may see you on the other side of them.