Gender Politics in Worship?

As part of my efforts to shake up my home practice, my husband is creating a random deity “generator” for me, a program that will email to me a specific deity or entity to honor during my nightly ritual. The list of deities comes from me, of course, and tonight I sat down to make it.

I listed all the deities I’ve worked with and felt connected to, as well as all those I’d like to get to know better. I put a lot of thought and care into those Beings I’d like to draw closer to my hearth. But as I began to glance back over my list, I realized that it’s pretty lady-heavy.

Am I, as a woman, inclined to worship goddesses rather than goddesses? Have I connected with them because of our shared femininity? Do I feel more comfortable praying to a Being who has, on some oddly-perceived level, more in common with me? Am I (I say this in a whisper) sexist?

What an interesting and alarming thought. I’ll be exploring this a bit more in the coming weeks.

How about you? Are you more inclined to worship a deity that shares your gender identity?

…Communication

Wow. At the suggestion of the lovely Grey Catsidhe in a comment on my last post, I did some specific meditation, offering, and divination directed at the Morrigan in my nightly ritual. Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never had such a clear reading from Ogham.

I asked…

What is it you want with or from me, with all these signs? I received Eadha, aspen. In my notes (from a variety of sources, including Skip Ellison’s book), I have written, among other things, the single keyword, ‘communication.’ In other words, “Duh. Listen up, moron.” (Not that I think the Morrigan necessarily talks like that.) I also have courage, mastering our fears.

What relationship do you seek with me? I received Nuin, ash. My notes suggest ancient knowledge, transformation, and relationship to a larger context. Events may be more important than they appear.

Um… if you don’t mind me asking… are you wanting to be my patron? I received Fearn, alder. Guidance. Protection. Good counsel. The presence of the gods.

Yipes. I’m pretty sure that’s a yes.

Believe me, I said okay and made some more offerings. This could be interesting.

The Morrigan

I hope this story doesn’t come off as too superstitious and, for lack of a better term, woo-woo.

Awhile back, I had a dream that so moved me, I told my fiance about it as soon as I woke. In the dream, I was in an attic with a very old, alarming, disturbing-looking woman. She was, in retrospect, horrible and cadaverous and hideous. In the dream, though, I approached her, brushed back her dry white hair, touched her grey face, and told her she was beautiful. I was not afraid. And she was beautiful.

I told my non-pagan fiance about it, and he said, unprompted, “Maybe it was a goddess.”

My first instinct was to say it was the Morrigan. I’m not sure why–but this woman was clearly associated with death, and was clearly a Cailleach or Badb type figure. She was dying, and she was horrible–but she was beautiful.

On Saturday at ritual (which I will discuss in detail in another post), while an attendant called the Morrigan and led us through a meditation on Her, a crow circled our ritual area, calling loudly as the guest spoke. At one point I caught another grove member’s eyes and we both grinned, thinking the same thing: the Morrigan was with us, quite literally and quite physically. During the meditation, I cheated and opened my eyes, and at that moment, the crow landed in the tree we had designated our World Tree. I watched her call, sitting high in the bare branches, turning her head to the moon against a blue sky gilded with sun-blooded clouds.

Since my dream, I’ve felt called to the Morrigan, and before that I considered her Macha, horse-goddess aspect as a possible patron. I decided today to make a representation of her, and I started my research earlier this evening. I cracked open my trusty (and disgustingly used by its previous owner) copy of Celtic Heritage, flipped to the index, and started at the beginning of the references to the Morrigan.

The page was already dog-eared.

I’m not sure what any of this means — I’ve been working with Brigid as my patroness, and–to be frank–the thought of having the Morrigan as a patroness frightens me a little. But even in my distant Catholic days, I believed very strongly in signs. All this–especially the dream–has not happened for nothing.

Any thoughts, fellow ADF-ers? Have any you had very strange, specific experiences with a deity?

Spring is Almost Here

A few ramblings… Spring is just around the corner. I can feel it in the sunshine and the rushing river near my home. There aren’t any buds on the trees yet, and some of the ground under the large tree I park the car under is still frozen, but I can feel the thaw starting far below my feet.

Spring is particularly significant for me because I suffer from seasonal affective disorder, which, mock all you will, is a real condition. This winter wasn’t quite as bad as some (thank you, New Mexico sunshine), but I’ve been unhappy all the same. Now the sun is shining more and I spend as much of my writing time outdoors as I can.

With the change of seasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about Persephone. I’m not sure how having patrons in two different hearth cultures would work, but I feel drawn to her as a goddess with whom I want to develop a personal relationship. How do you start developing a new relationship with a deity? I’ve been making offerings to her and thinking of her often, and I think that’s a good start.

It’s odd to me that both Manannán, my definite patron, and Persephone, a potential patron, are associated with the Underworld. Manannán is a gatekeeper, certainly, while Persephone is Queen of the Underworld but travels back and forth. I would never have guessed myself to be attracted to deities associated with the dead and the Underworld. I wonder what that says…?

Subtle Reminders

Two posts in one day! Shocking, I know. But I just had an experience I have to share.

I neglected both meditation and rituals this week, and I’m pretty sure my patron, Manannán mac Lir, just chastised me for it. I frequently make an offering of incense to him, in part because it seems appropriate and in part because I like the reminder of his presence in my life.

Tonight, during my meditation time after making my offerings, the incense would not stay lit! Once I realized what was happening, I promptly apologized and made an additional offering of brandy to him.

The incense is now burning happily and filling my bedroom with its odor… and making me sneeze for the first time ever!

Okay, okay, I get the hint: I won’t neglect my devotionals again.

Patron Sought and Found

I had quite a remarkable experience last night, which led me to finding the first of my patrons. I considered not sharing the story, because the search for a patron is in many ways very personal, but I decided that if it will help others in their search, it’s worth the sacrifice.

A lot of this is very difficult to articulate, so bear with me.

Awhile ago, I ‘discovered’ Brighid and decided she might be a patron of mine. I certainly feel drawn to her. But I held off on committing — as I still do — because I have yet to feel that ‘click’ that says, “Yes, I belong to you.” When I considered Brighid as a patroness, I felt a sort of lack, and a certainty that one of my patrons was male, and a strong male at that. I had — unbidden — and image of a man in a chariot, surrounded by clouds or mist. He wore a helm and breastplate. I suspected, though I’m not sure what gave me this feeling, that he was a Gatekeeper.

Last night, after a first attempt at the ‘Parting the Mists’ meditation in the DP guide (which deserves a blog post of its own), I lay trying to sleep with the mists of the meditation and the image of that unnamed god swirling in my head. I couldn’t shake them away. Finally, I remembered the story “The Stolen Wheel,” told by Rev. Michael J. Dangler in the August 2009 Tribeways podcast; there was a male god in that podcast! And a chariot! Could it be…?

So at about 12:30 a.m., I turned on my Ipod, scanned through the podcast and found the story: Taranis and Sulis. Taranis, a storm god, had his own chariot, and I do love the story. So with that, I grabbed at my phone (gotta love 3G), opened Wikipedia, and pulled up the entry on Taranis. And… it wasn’t him. No click. With the Thor/Jupiter associations, he just didn’t have the right ‘energy.’ (Not to sound too New Agey or anything.)

Disappointed, I looked at some of the external links. None of the associations here jumped out at me, but here, the word “charioteer” stood out like it was marked in flames. A quick search for “Barinthus” led me to… Manannán mac Lir, sea god, Gatekeeper, charioteer, wearer of magical helm and breastplate, owner of a magical horse, and keeper of the mists. Trickster, harpist, father, warrior.

Click.

I’d never even heard of him, but as I read about him, I felt completely sure. I fell into a sound sleep, confident in the love and protection of my patron. Strange, isn’t it, how we have these connections with a force in our life we’ve never even identified? And yet as soon as we touch the connection, it flares to life inside of us and fills a hole we never knew we had.