Or: how to do devotion. Though, in truth,this is more ‘a way to do devotion,’ and not ‘the way to do devotion.’ (Honestly, if anyone tries to sell you THE way to do devotion, run, don’t walk, as far and as fast as you can.)
When asked what I believe is the single-most crucial step in offering devotion to a particular Power or Spirit one is trying to establish or maintain a relationship with, I always say: give of yourself. Bring yourself. Before the shrine, if there is one, if you keep one, if you have access to one. Give offerings of food or drink, of incense or flame, of toys or candy or jewellery or whatever it is you both have means, and desire, to give. Offerings need not always be a sacrifice — and a sacrifices need not always be physical. You, and Them, are the boss of your exchange, so you, and Them, get to determine what is what.
I’ve spent years giving incense and water, and journalling or writing letters to Poseidon as a form of offering. I’ve given the first bites of my dinner when food was hard to come by — and maybe shouldn’t have done. I’ve given orange juice, wine, tea, water. I’ve lit candles and offered only that. Tea and attention have been the offering given for most of o/Our time together, the most consistent of the offerings. I’ve written stories and hymns and, once, because He really wanted it, a memoir that will likely never see the light of day. I’ve given blood.
I’ve sat before the shrine and prayed. I’ve stood in our local wetlands and prayed. I’ve taken images off the shrine, have had it naked before me, and have filled it up with little things that tell the story of o/Our time together. I am comfortable offering everything and anything to Poseidon.
Vishnu? Not so much. Currently, my big offering, the thing I do in a contemplative, mindful way, with Them heavy on my mind, with intention, with love, with adoration, and a small amount of joy?
I’ve been coloring. The artwork is not mine. One is a free coloring page available thanks to crayola. Another was an image I found online and wanted to color. Beth and I have been playing with (super, super cheap) Copic knock-offs, and have been enjoying it immensely.
I’m dabbling in art, but I’m not good at it by any means, not yet, and I’m impatient. But, thanks to the Internet, and printers, one does not need to be an artist to create pretty things to give to one’s Gods.
I colored this piece — the added quote is a Pearl Jam quote and as you can likely guess, it’s a phrase that resonants with me strongly — for Vishnu-with-Poseidon, acknowledging, yeah, I’m down for this journey.
I colored the one at the top for Durga, simply because I wanted to. Do I feel like a child before Her, offering a humble coloring to hang upon the fridge? You bet I do! Only, it’s a great feeling, that, and nothing at all to discount.
My advice in this: bring yourself before Them. Share of yourself. Don’t build up devotion in your mind to some big, elaborate, impressive, off-putting thing. It only needs to be elaborate if you desire it to be. Don’t look to what others do; do what you are moved to do. Worry less about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Give of yourself, and let yourself be Seen.
*originally published Feb 2017 @ http://stripmebacktothebone.wordpress.com. Retro-dated here.