Rambly post ahead.
I was originally going to write another post that was more depressing, but I decided to scrap it, because it was very depressing, so now we have a happy times post.
I’ve always been fascinated by devotional traditions. My birth religion is Catholicism, which has a very strong devotional tradition. Besides going to church, you have a metric ton of optional devotions that you can perform. Some pray the rosary, others have special relationships with particular saints. Precious Blood, First Fridays, Divine Mercy, Sacred Heart, Chaplets of St. Such-and-Such, litanies (included as part of a larger devotion or separate). Marian devotions alone will keep you occupied for a long time. There’s even one that (amusingly, for me) promises that you will be her…*ahem*….slave. St. Louis de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary reads
like a collaring ceremony like a long and involved oathing process. For those of you who are interested, you can find the whole thing here.
Anyways, Catholicism isn’t the only tradition who has this strong emphasis on devotion, of course, but it’s the tradition I grew up with, so it’s the one I know best.
However, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
I was never really comfortable performing devotional acts.
I could sit in church and say all the required phrases day in and day out, but I didn’t have a very active prayer life. In fact, I found it kind of embarrassing, and never, ever would I be caught dead expressing my devotion in public (and here, “public” also means in the company of family members). So. Awkward.
So it’s actually kind of mystifying that I actually *want* to do more devotional work. More on this later.
There seems to be this fear of devotional work among certain groups. The fear begins with words. Do I honour, worship, or work with my deities? I’ve seen shitstorms crop up over the use of these terms.
Personally, I use every term interchangeably. I like honour the best, because it carries none of the baggage of “worship” (which has none of the connotations of grovelling), although worship is derived from the Old English “worth-ship” sp it’s not entirely inappropriate for Heathens and the like to use. I also don’t mind “work with” (though some people take this to mean that deity and devotee are equals).
I also don’t mind saying that I love my deities. I will half-jokingly refer to myself as a “fangirl” of certain deities. This form of love, I would say, is a bit more affectionate and swoony. Other people may relate to deities as spouses, or parents, none of these are better than the other, they’re just different.
Correct ritual postures How many times have you heard it said “Heathens don’t kneel to their deities?” A lot, I bet, I’ve said it several times on this blog, and, as I’ve said, kneeling also carries a lot of negative connotations. I think our deities understand this. However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to assume a more respectful pose (and standing for someone also denotes a certain degree of respect in many cases) out of love for that deity (of course, other pantheons will be a bit stricter with this).
And, you know, sometimes you can’t help it.
On this subject, while I have felt that urge, multiple times, still awkward to do in public.
I said “ways” of devotion in the post title because there’s really no one right way to do it. It’s, I’ve found, one of those very personal things, and I don’t think you can force it either. I find it very difficult to keep a regular devotional practice, so I do so when I get the urge, and I don’t do very much. You know, I think some people think they need to turn it into this big production with costumes and props and trumpets going off, but it’s really not that complicated. Prayer, study, writing, making offerings (note that offerings don’t necessarily have to be physical objects), doing work in your community, these can all be devotional acts, and there are a whole bunch more, I’m just too tired to make long lists right now.
And with that, I need to go to bed, and pray (silently, WHERE NO ONE CAN HEAR ME BE AWKWARD) and sleep.