|Posted by Erin nighean Brìghde on August 6, 2015 at 2:20 PM|
Last weekend I attended the marvelous Many Gods West polytheist conference in Olympia, WA (right here in Cascadia!), organized by Niki Whiting, Rhyd Wildermuth, and PVSL. It was fascinating and exciting to spend a few days soaking in the theology and ritual of devotional polytheism, meeting new people, and getting to chat with personalities I'd only met or known by repute online. I especially enjoyed the workshop talks by druids John Beckett of a CUUPS chapter in Texas, who spoke about bringing polytheistic infrastructure into our wider society, and Kirk Thomas, archdruid of the ADF who lives in his own druid monastery in Trout Lake, WA (also in Cascadia!), who spoke about how offerings form the foundation of our practical relationships with our gods. Keynote speaker Morpheus Ravenna gave an engaging and thoughtful speech about the agency of the gods, and how agency works with and informs archetypes (I will always remember the imagery of the stained glass window figure illuminated fom without by the light of the sun). And, I attended two devotional rituals, one to Cathubodua, a Gaulish battle goddess of endurance and strength, lead by Morpheus Ravenna and Rynn Fox of the Coru Cathubodua, and one to the Romano-Gaulish Matronae, depicted often as three, but really a collection of all the culturally-included goddesses of healing through weaving strong bonds across all areas of life and between all beings, to bring health and vitality to society at large, lead by River Devora, who channelled the Matronae, and Rynn Fox. While Slavic polytheist Gordana Kokic sadly missed her slot to give her talk due to car trouble, a friend of mine introduced me to her, and I enjoyed hearing her reflections on the workshops we all attended together, and sharing ideas with her. The Aomolous Thracian shared an intriguing talk about engaging with the gods via local cultus, and how the envorinments through which the gods come to us informs the nature of Their beings and blessings. Bravo to the brave and daring organizers who put this together-- please do it again next year!
After sitting with the residual energies, and processing all the workshop input for a few days, what has settled for me as the essence of what I take away from this experience is that the work devotional polytheist leaders are doing today is truly *with* the gods, not just for their own growth, actualization, or empowerment, but to bring the many blessings of the many gods *back into* our world today. The gods have sensed our readiness to work with them actively and deliberately, after so much time has passed in which the major work was being done with one god, whose devotees have also worked to bring His blessings into the world, but to the detriment of insisting that there were no other blessings from any other gods to be brought. We have all been poorer for the fewer blessings we've had in the world, but now is the time to bring back that abundance of blessings, and to celebrate these great gifts! How much richer will our worldly lives be with so many gods walking beside us, with so many blessings bestowed upon us!
The beauty of the many blessings is that none of us need become special devotees of all the gods to receive the benefit of their blessings in the world. I received the blessings of both Cathubodua and the Matronae without having ever met Them before. Their priests did this work, bringing these blessingd into the world, for the benefit of the many attendees who enjoyed their rituals. These gods are not necessarily jealous gods, either, so many of we polytheists have the freedom to visit many gods, and receive Their many blessings, even while we might be particularly devoted to one or a few of them at any given time. These blessings are freely given, and freely received, and more blessings are upon Their priests for doing this sacred, holy work with their gods of bringing Their blessings into our world.
This event has also inspired me personally. I am creator of and Mother Priestess to the Nigheanan Brìghde Celtic polytheist Order of Brighidine priestesses and flametenders. This September, the order will be both hosting a Brighid shrine, and leading a devotional ritual to Brighid at our local Columbia-Willamette Pagan Pride event on the 20th. I am also exploring the idea of creating such a conference especially for Brighidine flametenders and devotees, here in Cascadia, which could hopefully turn into many local conferences, like regional Pagan Pride events. I am excited and inspired to join other polytheist leaders in bringing the blessings of the gods into our world again. Hail to all the gods!
The slogan at this year's Many Gods West conference was, "Many Gods, No Masters." In hopes of their being another conference again next year, I propose next year's slogan be, "Many Gods, Many Blessings." This is truly the work we are all doing, with all of our gods, and we can only all benefit.