Interactions and Intersections
One thing I’ve always had some trouble with is my tendency to put my gods and spirits and other elements of my practice in little boxes (in my head) that make sense to me, but limit my understanding and experiences of Them. For instance, when I first started on this path, about 15 years ago, I had a strong division in my head between what I considered the Religious and Magical parts of my practice – in other words, the devotional and spirit-work sides. I thought I had to be doing either one or the other at any given time, and that, in general, gods belonged in the first box and spirits in the second. Well, They all took no time in disabusing me of that notion! The more I let these two sides intermingle, the more powerful my entire practice became. I should have known better from the beginning – after all, Dionysos clearly had opened the door for my main group of spirits to come into my life, even though They had previously had no connection to Him or His tradition – but you know how stubborn we can be about our little preconceptions.
So over the years, I’ve made a deliberate effort to stop doing this, and to integrate my spiritual life more and more. But it was Pointed Out to me recently that I am still keeping some of those boxes intact. For instance, I still seem to have difficulty in allowing for the full extent of interaction and intersection between my various gods and spirits. I think on some level it disturbs me a little to realize that in some cases, the only point of connection and commonality is, well, me – and yet, there it is. Whether it’s about experiencing more than one entity within the same ritual and seeing how They interact, or even finding new perspectives where They overlap in a syncretic sort of way, sometimes the only reason They are doing so is because I worship Them both/all. This is, I suspect, how it’s always been, at least collectively – for instance the Greek gods being introduced to the Egyptian gods via the migration of Their respective worshippers – but it’s still a little strange to consider.
It’s all well and good when Hermes spends a year or so stealing all of Dionysos’ festivals (this happened – we decided to call Him “heortokleptos”), or comes to me in a dream alongside Odin (hey, at least They’re both gods, and similar ones at that) but when I see a face of my spirit-Husband (who has nothing to do with the Hellenic tradition, is not a god, is not even known to anyone but me) that looks an awful lot like Hermes… that is still a little hard for me to process. And frankly, even with some of the more familiar or “natural” intersections, I’ve been shutting my mind to them as I dedicate time to only one or another god or spirit, thinking erroneously that it was more proper to give a holy day or ritual wholly to the designated entity. That might seem reasonable, but I have been Told that it is never the right choice to be shutting any of Them out, for any reason.
That instruction may not actually apply to everyone but just specifically to me because of my spiritual/magical role, but I think sharing this stuff is useful in case it resonates with someone else. I don’t even know if anyone else has this problem – I mean, it may have a lot to do with my overall tendency to be more comfortable with one-on-one interaction rather than even small groups, which seems to apply to divine as well as human situations. But I would hazard a guess that at least some other people are also putting Them in boxes, maybe different sorts, and we could all use a reminder not to confine the gods with our own limited ideas of Them.
As I am loosening up about this, I am finding some really fascinating intersections between my gods and spirits that is teaching me a lot about Them both individually and collectively, and bringing me closer to Them. And that is certainly worth a bit of discomfort. Anyway, I wouldn’t be a Dionysian if I didn’t challenge every boundary I found within myself!