This all comes down to lack.
- I sometimes lack a desire to perform devotions.
- I have lacked faith in the gods I claimed to worship.
- Likewise, in a secular world, I sometimes feel like the belief that this is all worthwhile is mostly beaten out of me.
I get depressed. (Let’s be clear what this means. Depression is a mood and an illness, and the two are often conflated. Some years ago when I was suffering mightily from the illness of that name, I attended a “Norseworking” healing ritual; when I told the leader of my ailment, she suggested I “grab some energy when the ‘warm fuzzies’ come around.” Warm fuzzies may tickle a mood, but the suggestion was one of the best-intentioned utter dismissals I have even been subject to.) Depression interferes with just about every mental process, including relations with the gods. There’s a reason my Catholic mother finds the poem Footprints in the Sand to be inspiring: depression cuts you off from men and gods alike. There’s no greater obstacle than that.
Luckily for me, routine is the core of an orthopraxic religion. I can perform devotions whether or not I happen to believe on any given day, and I’ve performed daily devotions long enough that they’ve become a habit for me. In other words, I’m more likely to do them in my sleep than not do them at all. That’s good, because depression amplifies the feelings of hopelessness and being a tool that our secular world create without effort.
In the before-times, when I simply described myself as Pagan but couldn’t articulate what exactly that meant for me other than an enduring love of the Earth and an attraction to forest gods, the obstacles were greater. I never quite got myself into a ritual routine as I have now, so it didn’t take so much to undermine me. I didn’t feel any divine forces unless I was in nature, or in a group ritual, if at all, and I needed that to inspire me to act.
I was all but saying, “Show me that you’re real from time to time, and I’ll honor you.”
But I really can’t say enough about orthopraxy and the power of forming habits. The idea is present in many, if not all, Pagan religions, but Hellenic practice spoke to me in the most sure voice. I’m sure that any Pagan can become more rooted in eir faith with some solid routine, whether they come from a reconstructionist, traditionalist, polytraditionalist, or pretty much any perspective at all.
This post is part of a series of devotional questions for polytheists which were developed by Galina Krasskova.