Identifying a Deity

Recently I had to identify a deity who I kept sensing (and have been sensing for years, though I didn’t realise it). It wasn’t easy. I thought I’d set out my process for anyone else who might need it.

  1. First of all, is it a deity, or is it a local or regional spirit? This might differ based on your worldview, but essentially, spirits or regional deities might only manifest in specific locales or regions. For example, Arduinna is a goddess of the Ardennes forest. For some, however, she might be a deity of forests in general. Consider your own worldview. This will help you later in your search when you’re trying to narrow it down.
  2. Looking for clues. What specific things give you the sensation of this entity? What gives you the vibe/feeling? For me, it was forests; specifically, a feeling of darkness, richness of soil and moisture, and decay. The more specific you can be with these ‘clues’, the better. Try and get to the core of what gives you the sensation. Clues could be certain animals (for example, rabbits or bears), geographical locations (e.g. beaches, mountains), colours, seasons, or more abstract things, like “creativity”, “companionship”, or “romantic love”.
  3. Divination. Many people will want to try divination at this stage. If you can tap into the sensations you get from the entity, do divination at the same time. If not, just focus on the clues you’ve identified. Use whatever method you’re most comfortable with. I used runes. Try asking the deity for some symbols or associations of theirs. If you’re feeling lucky, you could ask for their name. Otherwise, you could ask them to send you some signs or dreams.
  4. The search. Time to search the world’s knowledge. Come up with search terms using the clue you identified. I used “forest deities” and “tree gods” to begin with. Again, the more terms you can come up with, the better. If you have a feeling what culture the deity is from, this can be a useful search term to add, although be careful not to narrow your search too early – you might overlook some important information. Use different terms in different combinations. Go beyond the first page of Google results. Don’t be afraid to use Google Scholar. If you have access to a good library, it’s worth checking out old-fashioned encyclopedias or other more scholarly books. They have good, solid info that the Neopagan web doesn’t. Write down any deity names or other information that ring true to you. Pass over anything that doesn’t ring true, but keep in mind that you might have to revisit it later in case your search doesn’t turn up anything.

At this stage, you might have pinpointed who it is. You might have a name – hooray! If not, start again, and branch out, think outside the box a little. Follow steps 2-4 again. I had to do this four or five times. When I thought I had it, I did some divination to confirm – success!

However…you might have done all your research and done your divination and still not have a name. You might have found an unknown or ‘forgotten’ deity, whose name was lost to history but who still remains. In that case, it’s up to you to find out more about them.

Fearing the Silence

I haven’t heard from my god in nine months. I thought this would bother me, but it doesn’t, mostly. Constant divine communication is not a must, and at some point, one must learn how to accept long silences.

I haven’t heard from Heimdall since January. When I do hear from him, I usually get vibes. I don’t usually hear words, since I don’t get a good signal. I also suspect that he doesn’t talk very much. Of course, there are lots of issues with actually hearing words from your gods: bad signal, bad translation, garbled lines, miscommunication, discernment, so on. But every once in a while, I’ll get some very clear words ringing through my head, and I don’t think I’m the one that put them there. The last time I heard him, all he said was, “Do you trust me?” and I thought for one split second before thinking “Yes” in response. That was the last I heard. Then I was handed over to Baldr, sort of officially, until whatever there is to be done is done. I have no idea what the plan is, but I haven’t heard from Heimdall since January.

Back to what I was saying at the beginning of this post. It doesn’t bother me that I haven’t heard from him. I figure he’s there. I figure I just need to continue with what I’m doing, and make some progress. I haven’t needed his help and I haven’t asked for it.
But I am bothered. It’s not the silence per se that bothers me. I’m afraid – terrified, actually – that I’m growing apart from him, that I’m losing touch. I’m afraid if I stray too far, I won’t remember how to get back to him. I’m afraid I’ll forget what he feels like. I’m afraid of doing something that will be the last straw with him, and I’m afraid he won’t have me back.

These are the fears I always have regarding him. They come when I haven’t meditated in a while, or when I ignore my better judgment and do foolish things. When these things happen, it’s my fault, and I’m capable of fixing it myself. It’s on my head. But right now, I’m doing well. I’m using my common sense and I’m fighting the fight. Granted, I should be meditating more. But I’m wondering whether it’s me this time or not. Is he pulling away? Is he moving on somewhere else? I didn’t think I’d be in his path forever. But I hoped it would be a long time.

I’m afraid. I’ve had these fears before. I’ll have them again. If the lack of connection is my fault, then that’s okay. I can fix that. If the lack of connection means he’s not dealing with me any longer, well…I’ll feel his absence sorely. But whatever happens, I won’t stop honouring him or living my life with his ideals in mind. I won’t leave him.

And this is the important thing about dealing with silences: you have to be able to carry on just fine when they happen. It’s hard work, but otherwise, you might fall apart. Or stumble. Or get lost. If you, like me, don’t have a strong god signal, you’ll need something else in your spiritual life to sustain and even drive you through the silences.

Is It Me or Him? (Discernment)

I find it difficult to tell the difference between my inner voice and what might be divine communication. Of course! So does everyone. But in this case it’s not wondering if the warning signs and negative vibes are me or not, it’s wondering if the advice and positive influences are me or not. Because my god has never said anything hurtful to me and I don’t think he ever would.

“But, all this positivity, where’s the problem?” you might ask. Here’s a thing. I, like many people, value and desire (regular) communication with the gods. It’s reassuring. It’s a reminder that they exist and that I am not crazy. It’s a sign that I’m on the right track with whatever I’m meant to be doing. For me, divine input is also motivational. My current task is to take care of myself. My own wellbeing isn’t motivating enough for me by itself, but if I’m doing it for a god, the task is much more likely to get done. If I’m trying to do it without supervision, well, all bets are off. I need constant pushes.

(To be totally honest the attention is also nice. But the satisfaction of the human ego is irrelevant in spiritual matters in my view.)

In any case I have a couple voices in my head telling me to do things or not to do things. I know they’re probably all me, because they’re pretty quiet and vague most of the time. Sometimes they’re loud and clear-cut, and then I really wonder: is it me or Heimdall? Either way the message is the same. (Nowadays, anyway.) But if it comes from him, I’m more likely to actually listen.

The point is probably that I should be doing what I’m supposed to be doing anyway, whether or not that voice belongs to me or not. The real problem is that I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and my inner voices know it.

Hey, if I actually got stuff done, maybe I’d hear more from him. What a concept. But disobedient mortals are nothing new. Man, we must be annoying to deal with.