I was listening to a podcast from the Irish Pagan School on the way to work this morning. Jon was discussing whether the Dagda and Lugh get on… And of course it got me thinking, as Jon’s thoughts tend to do. Yes, I was thinking of Brigid! And how I built a relationship with the deities that appear in my home at times.
Now, I’ve never had an issue with the various deities that appear in my home. I’ve had a few circling through over the last few years because of the various courses I’ve been doing for the IPS. So, there’s been the Morrigan, the Dagda, Lugh and of course Brigid. There’s also been Crom Dubh and Tailtiu, and I have a feeling Crom Cruach will be making an appearance shortly. There’s also St. Therese and the Mother Mary hanging around as well. Although to be fair, they tend to be a bit busier than others. But how do you manage a relationship with multiple deities? How do you start a relationship with a deity at all?
Well, ye know from previous posts on this topic, I’m a strong believer in reading the lore and learning from it. How to start a relationship with a deity, in my opinion, is to get to know what you can about them, from reputable source. I highly recommend UCC Celt to find either original manuscripts and translations of them as a starter. Now, to be honest, the CODECS site is far better for sourcing academic work. But the UCC Celt one is easier to search and find things on, so if you’re starting out – try there first!
How to build a relationship with deity can move on from there, once you know the basics. Start a daily check in. A few mins every day, or even a single minute of less every day, is a good way to start. A lot of my practice with Brigid right now is a pause on my way to the car in the morning. I stop, take a breath, thank her for the weather or something, then move about my day.
How to manage multiple deities at once?
Well, it’s more of the same really. Build the relationship with the deity gradually. Start with the basics. Learn what you can about whoever you want to welcome to your home. But here’s the important bit. And Jon highlighted this in his podcast as well – your home, your altar, it’s your space. You get to decide who is invited in and who isn’t. You can create your altar as a space for you, as you need it to be. If a deity chooses to come visit, that’s up to them. To my mind, the usual guest responsibilities apply.
Deities don’t have the same relationships as humans. So, just because, for example, Tailtiu and the Dagda were on opposite sides in the first battle of Moytura, doesn’t mean they have any issues visiting my home at the same time. For a start, it was a long time ago. For a second, I’ve built my relationship with them in different ways. And they’re deities – they don’t think like humans. We have a habit of anthropomorphising them at times, but they aren’t human. Building a relationship with multiple deities is harder work – and I’d advise doing it one at a time. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I focus on Brigid for the most part, because she is my main relationship. But I burned frankincense and myrrh incense for over a year, accidentally, because of the influence of the Dagda (the sneaky fecker!) I picked flowers last year for Crom Dubh. I gave blood to the Morrigan – again, not entirely voluntarily, but it wasn’t a massive wound, so, grand. It is entirely possible to work with multiple deities and have multiple deities on your altar.
Altars and sharing space
Now, your altar doesn’t have to be something grand and big like the one pictures above. It can be a statue. A mug of coffee and a slice of bread. A flower. Your altar is your sacred space, it’s for you to maintain and keep up, so it must suit you and your lifestyle. If it needs to be hidden – shoebox! (Also works for not much space as well) If you need multiple deities represented there – no problem. Maybe having separate places in your home works better for you, in which case, grand as well. But don’t think you can’t put two deities together on an altar just because of one story from two millennia ago!
As I said above, a deity’s relationship with deities is different from ours. They’re not human. So, naturally, our relationship with deities will vary as well. There are very few hard and fast lines I adhere to with deity. (Unless you’re trying to argue that Brigid is meek and mild – that’s a hill I will die on!) So, if you have multiple deities calling you, don’t panic. Build it up as you normally would with each individual. Maybe ask one if it’s ok to wait while you deal with another one. Don’t commit to more than you can manage. And then move forward, as it works in your life.