(Originally appearing in The Second Road)
When I was starting out on the path of witchcraft, I learned a version of the ritual circle that called upon Celtic gods and goddesses, along with animals for each of the four quarters. I was simply following the instructions given to me, hesitant and unsure of what would happen. When I called upon the element of Air, I called upon Crow and the goddess Macha. I felt a strong breeze, even though I was inside. I thought it was pretty strange, but since getting involved in the craft, I have had a number of strange and psychic experiences, so I wasn’t alarmed or bewildered. I didn’t know if I believed in the gods and goddesses of myth, but I believe in my own experiences, so I went with it. I felt a call from this direction and deity, but didn’t understand it. I did many circles after that, and each time, I really felt something from Air, Crow and Macha. Then I started to have vague visions, seeing a tall woman with black and red hair, and wearing a long cloak of crow feathers, iridescent in the light.
In a later meditation, I had a much clearer vision of this woman appear to me and tell me to start teaching. I wasn’t doing a pathworking or visualization. She simply appeared in mind’s eye as I did breathing exercises. I didn’t understand. Then a few friends came to me and asked me to teach them meditation and some spells. I started to consciously call upon Macha to be with me, and called to her in meditations. We would discuss things in my life, and she would offer an ear to “listen” or give advice. Although at times she was frightening, she was also very loving and her words wise. She then appeared to me again in a meditation, without me calling to her, and said, “Teach more.” I lost my job the next week, and couldn’t find another, but more and more people came for readings, healings and classes. When I specifically called to her asking advice on how to get a new steady job, she simply said, “Now you can teach more.” I was given the opportunity and resources to study in depth and prepare myself for this new calling even though I never desired it or asked for it. I wanted to be a musician and spend my life training in music. Witchcraft was something private and personal for me. But I realized all the areas I soon became involved in, teaching, writing and counseling, all involved communication – the characteristic of the element of Air. As a crow goddess, among her many other associations, she guided my calling and path, to Air and challenged me to take flight.
She was the first experience with the gods and goddesses. Since then I’ve called on quite a few specifically for their mythic attributes and areas of expertise. And quite often some have shown up that I had little desire or need to “meet” but they have pointed me to areas in life I had been avoiding. Although I didn’t believe in the deities of old prior to this, they made their presence known to me and I built a personal relationship with them.
How does one build a relationship with the gods, and more importantly, why? I can only speak from my own experience, and I have found these relationships critical in my spiritual development. When we look to the larger creative spirit, the entire diamond of divinity, as described last issue, we often lose our personal connection, the divine seems distant and remote. By working through the gods and goddesses, you can achieve a greater state of awareness, but have a personal connection and personal direction. Each of the pagan divinities, in a variety of cultures, had specific domains, or areas of expertise. People also seem to specialize in certain areas, be it their profession, spiritual calling or areas of “soul development” where challenges are presented. By working with a deity in alignment with your own development, you can be stimulated into areas you would not normally venture. Lastly, when taking the role of a priestess or priest, we are servants of the divine, of the universe. A patron goddess or god gives you direction as to where you will serve and what gifts you should be sharing with the world. We each come to this world to share and create something with the world, and the deities can guide the way.