February’s New Moon brought our first Healing Ritual of the year. I had a few relative new-comers present so I began running through the ritual. While reviewing the Goddesses we were calling one of the women present asked a couple of very astute questions. “How do we know when deity answers our call? How do we know when Goddess has arrived?” Good questions my friend, good questions.
Our time for the ritual was limited, (it was set to start at a specific time so those in cyberspace could “tune in”) so I made my answer brief. Yet, I continued to ponder these questions. The more I did, the more I realized that my previous answer wasn’t complete. Many practitioners have these same questions, so how was I going to answer them in a way that made sense to them? Also, can I really answer for them? In order to give the most informed answer we all need to know the basics. I’ll begin with explaining what a call to deity is and why we do it. Next, I will discuss what is experienced when deity answers your call.
Calling to Deity
A call to Deity is an invitation. Your call is a request for your chosen God or Goddess to be a part of your working, whether it is a ritual or spell. We call to them to lend us their support, their energy, and knowledge. Sometimes, we request them to be there as witness for rites of passage. Notice the terminology here – Call. We do not demand, we do not summon, we call.
Our calls can be simple. A few words or phrases asking them for their presence in our circles. Calls to deity can be elaborate – think of the times Goddess has been called by reading the entire “Charge of the Goddess.*” No matter the form of your call, it must be heartfelt, sincere, reverent (mostly, but that’s for another blog). If you go at this half-assed, deity hears you and will place your request on “hold” or not honor the request at all.
The same may be said of calling a Deity that you are not familiar with. If you haven’t taken the time to learn about who you are calling, to sit and commune with them, why would they take the time to answer you? Some of the most uncomfortable rituals I have attended were facilitated by those who neglected to understand this fundamental rule of respect.
Please don’t forget to learn the Gods proper names and how to say them (to the best of your ability). If you call in a Sumerian God you’d better pronounce his name properly if you expect him to answer. Google translator has been a huge help to me in this respect. While it may not translate Sumerian, it can help you with Greek, Irish and Latin. If their name has several possible pronunciations (like Hekate), use the one that resonates with you.
Knowing When Deity Answers
You’ve begun your work, perhaps created sacred space and called your corners. Confidently, you stride to towards your altar, raise your hands towards the heavens (or down towards earth for the Chthonic) and call unto deity. The words you speak are joyful, yet reverent. Completing your call you wait for their response. What, wait? For what?
This is where it gets tricky. Why? Because we are all different. We all process sensory and emotional stimuli in different ways. Each of us experiences Deity and their presence from our own levels of understanding and perception. Knowing when deity answers your call is extremely personal. What I feel when Hekate is present may be may the complete opposite of what you are feeling. You may hear a “pop” when deity arrives whereas the person standing next to you gets goose bumps. When I work with Sekhmet I know she is present because I smell lotus blossoms but Brighid’s presence brings a not so subtle heat. These are my experiences and I don’t expect you to have the same.
Remember that all of these feelings are completely valid because they are yours. When deity answers your call, you will know, just know. Whether you see, hear, smell or feel, you will know when deity answers your call. I can’t be any clearer than that.
When Deity Doesn’t Answer
But what if deity doesn’t answer? What then? Deity can’t always be at our beck and call and sometimes they just don’t wish to answer. If this happens, especially if it occurs during a public ritual, acknowledge the fact they are not present. Be honest and don’t try to fake it (I’ve seen this happen). You can say to yourself -or the room full of people standing there, waiting – that although Deity has not answered, is not present, the rite can still move forward with the energy of all present and the Universe. Just because Deity didn’t show up when we first called, doesn’t discount them from popping in later on in the ritual. Trust me, it’s happened.
Even if deity never joins your circle, your working can still be a success. After all it is your work, not theirs. You alone make or break your rituals and spells. We call in Deity for assistance, for the additional energies they bring to us, to commune with and have them protect our rites. Their presence is not mandatory for success. I know witches that do not work with deities at all and they do some fairly spectacular work. Yes, I wish to have my deities acknowledge and be present with me as I work, but I understand when they do not join me. They are deities and perhaps they know that they are not needed at that particular time. Who am I to question the Gods? – Okay I do question but again, another time, another post.
As with all Witchcraft, what we do, think and feel is very personal. Knowing when deity answers your call is no different. Next time you step into circle, whether it is your own or at a public ritual, breathe, relax and allow the connection to happen. It is only when we experience things for ourselves, and not as we are “supposed” to , that we allow the magick to truly happen.
*Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente