“ And while other things can be made into acts of devotion by grafting elements of worship onto them, without those elements it just does not qualify. Worship is done for somebody or something else – and that’s how you can instantly tell the difference. If you take Dionysos out of the equation and nothing changes – you’d still be doing the same thing in the same way and getting the same results – then it’s just not worship.” Sannion at Witches and Pagans.
I belief that anything can be a potential act of devotion. But that’s it, it is potentially so. My weekly run can be a devotional act, but it can also be just a run. And then to decide that this should suffice as my main religious practice, long after the deed is completed, is dishonest pretence. What matters is our mindset during the act itself. Anything can be a devotional act, but not everything is. It is important to know the difference, and the difference is us. We can remain passive consumers, hoping that a some revelation will magically descend upon us, or we can actively engage with the world around us and the gods and spirits within.
The thing that really gets me, though, is that it’s not difficult to make these into proper devotional acts.
It does not require much … what is required is to take a stand, to dare shout the names of the gods, not caring who hears them … or perhaps shouting loudly because we do care. Because we want those ancient names to be heard again, if only by the gods themselves. Words are powerful. We all know that some things only become very real if we say them aloud, and we do want the gods to be real, right? I have always been frank about my doubts concerning the objective reality of the gods. This is not about that, really. This is not even about theology. But if we wish to experience the gods as real, we must embrace their names. To say their names is the most basic devotional act there is, a practice of recognition and acknowledgement. To know the gods in any way, we must invite them. That is common courtesy, and frankly common sense. It also my first step to re-ignite my own practise.
Drinkin a glass of wine can be revelling in the glory of Dionysus. It can also be a way to escape boredom. Which is it this time? And what can it be the next?
Allison Leigh Lilly here below, has eloquently commented that we need not include the gods in order to have a meaningful religious experience. This is true. If we want to experience a sunrise in its own right, we need not say ‘Aurora’ to be in awe. Yet … we must do something, something more than just take a picture and move on. To turn it into a religious moment, we somehow must express our awe. Connection makes sacred. Expression makes sacred. And if its gods you want to connect to, we must reach out to them.
Nature religion – whether it includes the concept of gods or not – means we cannot just be on the outside looking in. We should sing, dance, build cairns, kneel, pray, create. I need to do this. I need to do more. Religion is more than hoping for mystical experiences and counting them afterwards.