I know it’s called -poly-theism but this feels a bit ridiculous

I have some free time, and some things bothering me (not in a bad way, just in a “what the fuck, help, why, oh gods” way), and the best way to deal with that is generally to complain to someone, in text. Aren’t you lucky.

I set up 3 more altars this weekend. On Friday, I was expecting to set up 1.

But, well, life when deities know where to find you is what it is, and I knew I might regret it if I didn’t pick up and at least consider bringing home the piece of “bulk” beeswax at the coop that had been poured into a sun mold (which I have never before seen in the bulk beeswax bin, BTW, it’s sometimes hearts but usually simple cylinders), muttering to Loki that I was certain this was purely random, and He was only encouraging me to wind me up, and I didn’t know what offerings would really make sense anyway – and He was unusually silent on that topic. Then I turned around and saw something called “corn crisps,” which are like rice cakes, only corn, made from “sun-ripened corn,” and I lost all my remaining composure.

So Sunna has a space next to Odin now. (That placement was a bit surprising to me, but some minor divination seemed to indicate that would work, and it -felt- right, at least as right as anything else . . .) She’d contacted me several weeks ago, but I thought it was just a “hello,” I got no sense She wanted anything else, and I’ve been too busy to sit down and do any divination; besides, I told myself, if She did want more, I was sure it would become more obvious. Ha ha. Ha. I’ve thought off and on over the past year or so that someday, I would like to set an altar up for Her regardless, because the sun is fairly important, and it seemed like a nice thing to do.

So perhaps this will be a simple altar and simple devotional relationship. And that would be nice. (Do I sometimes avoid doing divination because I don’t want to know right now, because knowing might mean taking action, and I have rather a lot on my plate already? Yes, yes I do.)

The other two altars were for Narvi and Vali; Sigyn (I think) nudged me to get Them candles several weeks ago (the same day, actually, that Sunna got my attention), and after they sat on Her altar for a few weeks, I got a clearer message to give Them more space, which turned out to mean two separate spaces.

One of my regular devotional practices is that, when I bake bread (and I bake my own bread, for the most part), I share out the first loaf, or portions of it, across all the altars. Originally, I just shared it with the ancestors, but I got a nudge earlier this year to share it with everyone. At which point I already did not have enough saucers and tiny plates, so I’ve been balancing slices of bread on tea cups and drinking glasses.

I had bread to share out tonight and had to count two or three times to figure out how many additional cups to get out – when I rearranged things, one of the other combined altars ended up being split up somewhat . . . so I really, really, REALLY DO NOT have enough tiny plates and things, and I feel about out of cope on that front. And completely out of the shared loaf of bread, for the first time (until this week, I would end up with a few inches left of the offering loaf).

I tend altars on a weekly basis (schedule has slipped some weeks recently, due to mundane life being too busy; They don’t seem to mind, but I do). Sunday, when I dusted, and set up the new spaces, and put out offerings, it seemed like Everyone wanted to talk.

It was a bit much, and I’m still not certain how much of it was really Someone and how much was my mind got away from me – or that Someone Else was projecting images (I accused Loki of this at least once while it was happening, pulled runes after to check on several instances – to at least verify that certain information was what it sounded like, and have been highly suspicious of at least a couple instances since then).

Sadly for my peace of mind, some of the instances I thought were not-real (i.e., test projections, or my imagination), seem to have been.

I am an introvert. My room is tiny and cramped, and there are altars honoring 24 (I counted. I recounted. I wanted to be wrong.) deities, an ancestor altar, and a land spirit altar, in here.

Nine entities/groups of entities – or maybe 10, or 11 – showed up on Sunday to chat briefly. (Including Sunna, Who seemed satisfied with Her altar, well, er, given the space constraints.) No one said anything terrifying; no one made any requests that seem difficult to fulfill. Several of Them said things that were meant to be (I think) both generally supportive and indirect nudges to change some things about my living situation. At the same time, it feels like something that went completely out of control, because it was so unexpected, and because I don’t even know how much of it to believe as “Yes that was Who it felt like,” and I feel like I must be losing my mind. (I know I’m not, but I have decades of “gods don’t exist” fighting me.)

I’ve had altar tendings sometimes turn into a “passing ‘hello'” from more than one deity in the past – after I was done, and was sitting down to enjoy the newly cleansed space – but this happened as soon, or even before, I was finished with each specific space. I’ve also never had land spirits, or ancestors, show up during these times. And I think one of the deities Who I’ve had no contact with for over a year stopped by, too. (I haven’t done any verification on that one. It felt like it might have been Him, at least it didn’t feel suspicious, but I couldn’t understand a single word.)

Every time I’ve thought about it since then, I end up feeling like I want to crawl under a heavy piece of furniture until the feeling goes away.

This isn’t normal.

This isn’t normal even for normal polytheists, as far as I can tell. Or for normal god-touched polytheists, as far as I can tell.It’s been a fairly slow expansion of altars, I just hadn’t sat down and counted, and felt the number, until a couple days ago.This feels completely crazy, like, I don’t even know what’s going on in my life, or why.There are exactly 5 deities here Who have a place because I thought it would be a nice thing to do (and 3 of Them, I’ve had no contact with, though I was later informed I will probably need to learn from one of Them someday). (I am counting Loki’s as my idea, even though it was probably really His; at the time I set it up, I thought it was my idea.)I don’t understand why all of Them are here. Some it seems like it’s just as simple as a basic place of worship, of honoring Them. Others I know have things to learn from. But I’m really starting to feel unnerved by it all, even if in a typical week, I only hear from Loki (in most -months- I hear nothing from Anyone else, except the Undines and some land spirits, when I go to the coast).Okay, I guess by sheer count, I do know something about why most of Them are here.But it just.I feel like I must be losing my mind. And They don’t even talk to me that much. Thank go- I kind of want to know why so many, but I’m afraid the answer would be worse than not knowing. It’s not normal, I mean, this can’t be healthy, right?? I’m glad to have Their support, and presence (occasionally; see above re:introvert), I truly am, but what the fuck does this imply about my future life that I need the help of so many deities? Or that I have just attracted Their attention? . . . It’s been less than 18 months since I set up Loki’s and now there are TWENTY-FOUR OF THEM HERE. (for various values of “here” ranging from “Loki” to “Aegir has probably heard me but I doubt He has ever dropped by.”) It feels like an honor, I like Them, and I value the assistance from Those in that role, and it’s kind of flattering, but what do They want?? And what’s the bigger picture here that I don’t know yet?
Where’s the help file for this? The self-help guide for polytheists – “Suddenly You’re Really Surrounded: 101 coping mechanisms that don’t involve drinking all the devotional supplies”?(Speaking of which: if you have alcohol you have intended for your consumption, perhaps the occasional sharing with a special Someone, it should not be left next to the devotional alcohol, nor where your eyes can stray across it while you are about to grab one of the for-Someone-only bottles, or you may find yourself unexpectedly sharing that, before you’ve even managed to open it for yourself. I’m not upset, but I have put the gin in another part of the house.)I’m sure things will be fine.I’ll get used to my new abnormal.I’ll stop thinking about it and giggling nervously.I will go to my nice mundane day-job and be consumed by the work, occasionally pausing to pull myself back to *cough* reality, and I will only have one or two nervous twitches when I think about reality these days, and.It’ll be fine.It’s been a while since I had a hiding-under-the-furniture moment, so I suppose it was about time.. . .

Did you know that you can derive several very entertaining meanings from “oh gods help” depending on how you punctuate and emphasis parts of that phrase?

(Desire to curl in a corner aside, I’m overwhelmingly happy with my life, overwhelming numbers of spirits interested in me included in that – I just don’t know how to cope with it all.)


About Fjothr Lokakvan

More or less Northern Tradition polytheist.
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11 Responses to I know it’s called -poly-theism but this feels a bit ridiculous

  1. Oh, I’m glad to see someone mentioning Sunna. In mornings (as I used to stay up until the sunrise), I used to say hello to Her and goodbye to Mani. I have an altar for Mani in progress, and I keep meaning to set one up for Her as well. For some reason, I hear of less people building altars to Her and that sometimes makes me sad.

    Totally don’t feel bad. I recently set up Skadi’s, as well as the Kemetics/Egyptians, and Mani’s needs to be finished up. I still mean to set space aside for Narvi & Vali, as well as separate Loki’s from Sigyn and Angrboda’s, particularly because it’s awkward to have Angrboda try and speak to me through His altar. I have to build the Nornir’s altar too,and I think Fenrir and Jormungandr stand to have their own shelf. Admittedly, I never did build an altar to Thor, but He hasn’t really requested one, and neither have Frey and Freyja. (And never mind that it seems that the Kemetics want -more- space and statues.)

    A long time ago, I gave up on surface space. I need to find a better system. HRM.

    (I’m just glad that my apartment wight just wanted a doll of itself to be placed in the chandelier. My landvaettir’s place is outside, as well, thankfully. Less clutter in here. Same with Yggdrasil’s, of course.)

    • I set up an altar for Mani last August, after EtinMoot, because He gave me some advice, and I thought perhaps this would be appropriate, though my devotional practice has been pretty much limited to dusting the altar and hailing Him when I see the moon in the sky. Later, probably after a talk at the Nine Worlds festival about the House of Mundilfari, I started thinking more seriously about eventually setting one up for Sunna. What I remember most from that talk was the presenter talking about how Mani and Sunna were probably heavily worshiped way back when, because of the importance of the sun and moon to agriculture, and life in general, and how these days, we’re so distanced from food production that they don’t –seem- as important any more. I suppose that there is little in the lore/myths/etc. on either of Them probably affects how likely people are to set up altars. As well as, well, probably other biases, but I’m not going to rant about that now.

      I’m sure I will be figuring out a new way to arrange altar space in my next place; I’d like to be able to reclaim all the bookshelves that are now altar space! And having more of them set up so I can safely light more candles, though I figure not all spirits necessarily will want fire (it seems a bad fit for the land spirits – who are a mix of tree spirits I’ve spoken with in various places, many of whom gave me branches or other parts of themselves, and a couple spirits-of-place in other parts of the state who I have relationships with).

      I have wised up a bit about how much –stuff- to put on altars, though, so most of them are pretty minimal (the land spirit altar is NOT minimal, though when I have more space, I think removing some of the gift-objects/tools to their own space would be appropriate), as much as part of me likes the idea of having more items on altars. If I were to rebuild the Sea Powers’ altar, I’d put /way fewer/ shells on it, because that’s less stuff to remove, dust, and replace. It already takes over an hour to dust them all, so I am a big fan of starting with a really simple altar space.

      . . .

      I know I’m not done, either. :| I’ve gotten information that’s indicated there are a couple of Others I’ll need to spend some time with . . . sometime. And gods only know Who else Loki may decide to invite over, or Who might just . . . show up. So far, there’s only one deity Who is likely to really leave at some point (He may have already, I’m unsure; I haven’t gotten any strong-enough indication though).

      Also I’ve been a bad pagan and haven’t contacted either my most-local land wight, or the house wight (if there is one here), so if/when I do that (not here, but . . . probably in my next place), and I maybe probably ought to say Hello to the city spirit, so that’s MORE. I will make a note of the “doll” concept, because that sounds like a neat way to work with spirits. And save space.

      I would not have ever figured myself to be someone who was maintaining this many important relationships. I’m really poor about keeping in touch with my mortal family very often.

      Small, wall-mounted shelves, or something like that, is an appealing thought, at least for some altars.

      Yggdrasil? You have an altar to Yggdrasil, is that what you mean? That’s really cool; I’ve wondered sometimes how often people actually interact WITH the Tree, or venerate it, instead of just using it as a travel mechanism.

      • Heh! My local land spirits were very friendly and one of the reasons why I chose to move here. They don’t really seem to want much. The apartment-based one just wanted a little doll for itself and that was it.

        It took me FOREVER to set up my altar to Mani because I couldn’t tell if it was Him or not. When I met Him at Etin Moot this year, I was like “Ohhh… OK, sure.” But I really feel like both Mani and Sunna deserve altars…

        I’m actually going through some now random big change in my apartment. For some reason, all of a sudden, Loki and the Others want a different set-up. Which is hard because I have no idea how to do it yet.

        Also, sorry for being unclear! Yea, it’s an altar for Yggdrasil. I’ve always wondered the same, about people working It Itself. I have this one tree outside that I go to and honor Yggdrasil there, and originally I was like “Oh, it’ll be like an altar to Odin, considering He’s tied there at one point, right?” and I quickly realized that Odin had no real interest in the altar at all. I usually go and place compost down around the tree that serves as a representative for the Tree and I dunno. It’s an odd… Thing. I’ll probably write a post about it some time.

        (Also, sorry for how long it took for me to reply. MAJOR busy week. Uff.)

        • I understand, a great deal, about not having time to reply to things quickly.

          A while back, when people on L&A were having that discussion about whether Sleipnir was a deity, or just a really powerful spirit, I started wondering about Yggdrasil, thinking that, if anyone did “hear” from the Tree, it might be as . . . weird and hard to understand as I hear Jormungand is/can be, but I figured that it probably did exist as an independent spirit, not just an inanimate spirit-tree. How could the Tree not be sentient, right? Given its (literally) central role in the Nine Realms, it certainly seems like it should be given more attention than it is. I don’t know if it’s a spirit that doesn’t feel like communicating with mortals much, or the gap is too big to bridge much, or if it’s human biases that get in the way of more people reaching out, even with simple altars like yours. Somewhere I think I read a short account from someone who learned something directly from the Tree – but beyond that, I can’t think of anything.

  2. Tom says:

    Maybe they are seeing how far they can push you before you say no? Sometimes you have to set boundaries with gods and spirits too. Because if it’s overwhelming you, then that is not good.

    • This is overwhelming in the way that going from “I am moving house” to “HOLY shit I’M MOVING HOUSE” can be overwhelming, when suddenly it hits you how something is a big thing. But it’ll pass, mostly, I have these moments from time to time, though I don’t know if I’ll ever stop feeling at least vaguely unnerved by having the attention of one or more deities.

      It didn’t feel like a being pushed to test my limits test – except in one case, and that was a minor thing. I may have a lot on my plate right now, but the only pressure I am feeling to work on things is coming from me. . . . Though I am certain that if I did slack off too much, or neglect to get to something I’m not working on for too long, I’d get some manner of “You’re messing up, change.”

      I have not, in the past, had a regular meditation practice where I was just open to any/all of the entities I work with; I’ve always been focused on Loki, so it could be I need to treat altar tending like that from now on. If that works out, it would be more manageable than spirits just randomly showing up while I’m doing other things and being all “Pay attention.” (They haven’t done that for the most part . . . except Loki.)

      • Tom says:

        Hey, if you can handle it, more power to you. All I know is that I would likely burnout. XD

        I have enough going on with my one patron god and the massive amounts of processing that he’s helping me out with. On top of my first job that has full-time hours!

        (Oh god, I’ve been working a full three months now.)

        • Processing is really exhausting. :| That’s what most of the past spring and summer were for me – I don’t know if Loki was taking advantage of my joblessness situation to push me through so much of it at that time, or things just worked out conveniently, but as hard as not having an income was, I was also glad I could kind of take it easy and just deal with the emotional stuff.

          I talked to Everyone today about how often dusting ought to be done, and it’s (mostly) much less frequently than I have been doing that, so that’s nice, though I just turned into one of those pagans/polytheists with a (semi) complicated schedule of devotional work.

  3. Aubs Tea says:

    I legitimately can’t even.

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