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Dedicating Yourself to the Gods
Dedication to a god or goddess isn’t necessary for you to have a fulfilling spiritual path. Many witches don’t even find themselves particularly religious, and choose to only focus on the energetic aspects of magick and leave the spirituality for someone else. In fact, religious worship is separate from magickal work, and while they often combine into a single practice, they don’t have to.
However, many witches find themselves called to a deity, or group of deities. Often, this happens with eclectic and/or solitary practitioners who don’t have a regular community to make magick and be spiritual with. Having a Patron can provide you with a sense of belonging that you aren’t getting from a coven, grove, or tradition.
If you’re feeling called to work more closely with a particular deity, I’ve got some tips for you to consider, including a ritual outline at the end that you can adapt for your own dedication ceremony (and my own personal dedication story).
How do you know if deity dedication is right for you?
You may find fulfillment in your practice by dedicating yourself to a god if:
- You feel a pull to something bigger than yourself
- You want more spirituality and guidance in your witchcraft
- You come from a different religion and miss that connection
- You still belong to a different religion and want to incorporate your religious beliefs and your witchcraft
- You’ve been doing this for a while and feel a desire to make things more permanent and personal
- You already have a connection or pull to a deity and want to further that relationship
Deity work isn’t right for everyone. Just like any other relationship, it will require work. If you aren’t sure you want to stick with the worship of a particular god – maybe they’re the new fad favorite, or you just haven’t learned enough about them yet (more on that later) – you don’t have to rush into dedication to prove yourself.
That being said – if you know this is what you want, and you’re ready for the time and energetic commitment that comes along with it, it can be an amazing experience.
How to choose a deity to dedicate yourself to?
The easiest way is to wait for a deity to claim you – but the problem here is that if you’re ready for that spiritual connection now, there’s no telling how long it may take. You can ask the universe and any beings listening to step in, let them know you’re ready, but deities work on their own schedule and won’t be pushed into a decision they don’t want to make.
Plus, it’s not like the movies; a lot of people aren’t actively chosen by a deity. Most witches seek out that relationship on their own and make the first moves.
You aren’t less if you aren’t chosen, if you have to do the choosing.
I like to think it means even more if the devotee makes the first move, honestly. You are proving your commitment to the situation by seeking out that relationship voluntarily. That single action says a lot.
The first place to look for the gods is in your bloodline. If you have access to your ancestry and heritage, do some research into who they worshiped and what they believed. Learn about your culture’s ancient practices. Read their myths. You might very well find a god jumps out at you almost immediately.
If you don’t know your ancestry, or your culture is problematic and you want to distance yourself, you can look to traditions and cultures that you have always felt particularly drawn to and follow the same research suggestions to narrow down deities there.
Please always make sure you are working with cultures and traditions that are open to outsiders! There are many pantheons, traditions, and practices that require direct lineage or initiation from an existing practitioner before you’re welcome to partake in their practices. Even if you’re feeling called by their deity, it’s important to respect the actual living people who practice when they ask that outsiders do not co-opt their culture. You can work casually with a god, even revere that god, without directly dedicating to them and insinuating yourself into a practice that doesn’t belong to you.
Instead of narrowing your search down by culture or pantheon, you can instead choose themes or domains that call to you and search for gods within that domain. For example, if you want to dedicate yourself to a Love God, you could choose from Aphrodite, Hathor, or Frigga, just to name a few.
How do you know if a deity is reaching out to you?
Perhaps you’ve been getting regular signs and messages for a while now. Record them, and follow the breadcrumbs to see if it leads you to a particular deity.
This can happen in your dreams – deities love to appear to us in dreams because the subconscious is much more open and inviting – or during divination sessions. Often, it’s just a matter of multiple synchronicities building up over time until you look at the big picture and go, “Wait a minute…”
And sometimes, they just Show Up. Not in a dream, not in a reading, but you’ll suddenly feel the energy shift and you just know, in your mind, that a being is here with you. Trust your gut in those situations.
How do you confirm the identity?
If you are being contacted by a deity, it’s extra important to be sure you know who you’re speaking with. When you’re calling them in, you set the parameters to make sure you’re getting who you want. When they reach out, you’re often caught off guard, and just because someone says their name is Thor, doesn’t mean it’s actually Thor. (Loki is infamous for impersonating other gods, for example.)
Take the time to confirm their identity. If it really is that god, they’ll appreciate your legwork and dedication to transparency. If they try to rush you and distract you from that confirmation, ask yourself why.
Pay attention to the signs and their methods of communication, plus what they’re actually trying to communicate, to help you identify who the being might be. Once you’ve got it narrowed down, start doing research. Start studying up on the god, or gods if you’ve narrowed down to a few, to see what seems to fit best.
Read historical accounts of the deity and pantheon first; try to stay away from modern interpretation until you’re 100% sure. Read the Orphic Hymns, the Eddas, whatever historical mythological texts exist. Find anthropological studies. Basically, learn about the god as they were worshiped originally and see what puzzle pieces might fit together.
Once you’ve done that work, you can look into modern worship to see if that confirms anything else you’ve learned.
This research does double duty, too; it’ll make your connection that much stronger when you know how they’re worshiped, what they like, and what you can do to build the relationship.
One great way to connect with the deity to confirm it’s them is to meet them in your dreams. Mix up a tea for dreaming, drink it about half an hour before bed, and ask the deity to come to you in your subconscious. When you wake up the next morning, analyze those dreams like it’s your job.
If you’re looking for other methods, Druidry.org has a great write up on ways to connect with deity.
What if no one speaks to you?
We’ve talked a lot about communicating with deity, and of course that does encompass a large part of many peoples’ devotional practice, but it might not work that way for everyone. If you don’t feel like a deity is directly communicating with you, you’ve never felt that connection, that doesn’t mean you can’t move forward with dedication if you feel it’s right for you.
Not everyone connects with Spirit in the same way. Not everyone connects with Spirit, period. If you’re a person who doesn’t receive messages and communication, and that’s not a skill you want to develop, you aren’t shut off from deity work. You just need to craft the practice that’s right for you and your needs.
Plenty of Christians pray to their God daily without ever feeling like they’ve received a message back, but they don’t stop praying. This is faith. Believing that a higher power is there, watching out for you, even if you never get a lick of proof otherwise.
If your faith requires proof, and you aren’t getting any, then deity dedication might not be right for you. It’s okay for a relationship to feel one-sided, if you’re still getting something out of it. Don’t stress over being one of those Witches with a “mission” from their god. The relationship is personal and should look however you want it to look.
Deity work isn’t one-size-fits-all.
Are you ready for dedication?
Dedication to a deity is not something to do on a whim. This is akin to getting married. You don’t just meet someone on the street and propose; similarly, you don’t want to enter into a dedication with a god if you’ve only just learned about them or haven’t worked with them much (or at all) before.
Dedicating yourself to a deity is a serious, longterm commitment. You are promising to be their mortal instrument in this world. You are acting as their voice and their hand. In return, they bless you in so many varied and immeasurable ways. It’s an incredibly fulfilling relationship, but like any relationship, it will take work, and you must be prepared to do the work before you embark on the relationship.
A common way to ensure you know you’re making the right decision is to do the “year and a day” study. This is often a period used for study before joining a Wiccan or other Pagan tradition, but it’s just as useful to make sure your connection to a deity isn’t a fleeting one.
I have studied and worked on and off with my patron, Hekate, for years before settling down to work more seriously with Her, and even then, it was a few years before I ever partook in an actual dedication ritual to Her. I needed to be sure it was a long-term commitment, and I needed to be ready and in the right space to accept that responsibility.
What does the dedication process actually look like?
A dedication ritual can be personal, just between you and the deity, or it can be included in a larger initiation into a tradition. Remember that dedication is different from initiation, and you do not need to belong to a tradition or coven to dedicate yourself to a deity.
You can perform the dedication on your own, or you can find another practitioner and devotee to that god to perform the ritual for you.
Whatever you decide, make sure it feels right to you and your deity approves as well.
You can choose to find a dedication ritual someone else has written, use a traditional one from that deity’s myth (if it exists), you could adapt someone else’s work, or you could write a ritual yourself. Spend some time researching the options and choose a method that speaks to your connection with the deity and represents your devotion to them.
You’ll want to treat this as a sacred High Ritual – a ritual of great importance and significance to you and your practice. Follow all the best practices for completing ritual: choose a day and time very deliberately, make sure you won’t be disturbed, spend a few days collecting everything you’ll need, prepare yourself physically and mentally the morning of, etc.
Ultimately, the actual ritual will look different to different people. Trust your gut, follow the guides from any traditions you may be a part of or studying with, and remember to keep it personal to you and your deity.
General Outline to Build Your Own Dedication Ritual
If you want to write your own ritual, this can be a great gift and show of dedication to your deity in itself. Some things to keep in mind are:
- Know how that deity likes to be addressed and revered and make sure to incorporate that often
- Have some sort of physical offering
- Make a promise – typically this is something more specific than “I promise to worship you”. Think of this like a non-physical offering. You’re make a specific promise to do something or act in a certain way in their name, like charity work, personal development, a specific regular offering, veiling, etc
- Ask for something – this can just be guidance and a general presence in your life, but it’s okay to ask for something more specific. When I formally dedicated to Hekate, I made her plenty of promises and oaths, and then asked for something specific from her in return.
- Speak traditional prayers if that deity has any
- Speak also from the heart. Let them know why you’re choosing to embark on this relationship with them, what it means to you, and what you envision from the journey.
Craft your ritual in whatever way you usually do, with a focus on recitation and emotional connection and less on physical spellwork. You could work blessings or crafting a sacred item to your deity in your dedication, but the heart of the ritual should be in proclaiming your connection and commitment to the deity before anything else.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…
Sometimes, the mood overtakes you and you feel called to dedicate yourself in a very specific moment, without any sort of preparation. It doesn’t mean less if you don’t craft the perfect ritual; in fact, sometimes, it can be even more meaningful and from the heart.
I recently did this. On a hike through the woods, I stumbled upon a space that I knew in an instant was sacred to Hekate, and that I had been led there for a reason. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve worked with her extensively in the past, and have even attempted a complicated and intricate dedication process a few years ago, but it did not go according to plan. I knew I would go through a formal dedication at some point, and it’s been on my mind more lately than ever before.
When I came to a singular tree, with a deep cavern in its roots, in the very center of a three way intersection of paths, deep in the woods of a conservation area on sacred land, I knew.
I didn’t have anything to offer. I didn’t have any tools or supplies with me. I simply stood in front of this tree, spoke words to Hekate, shouted, danced, cried, and generally offered her my energy, my words, and my heart. And she accepted me fully and instantly.
I was able to do this for a few reasons. I have been working with Hekate for years, so I had developed a relationship with Her already. I knew Her energy, so when She came to me when I called, I knew it was Her.
I also know about Her general worship thanks to years of reading and study, so I knew the words to say and the gestures to make to call Her in.
This dedication was impromptu, but it wasn’t on a whim. I was prepared in my heart, and I followed my heart to create a beautiful ceremony with Her in that moment. She called upon me to make offerings when I returned home, and I followed through. I have felt clearer and more connected to Her, and to my magick, ever since.
I tell you this for one reason: don’t overthink dedication to deity. You’ll know if it’s something that’s right for you, and you’ll know if you’re called to it. You’ll know when it’s right, too. Lean into your intuition and trust yourself.
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