Several weeks ago, I caught myself thinking “things have really quieted down around here” and then I thought about what’s actually going on and realized no, they haven’t, they’re just different than they were for quite a while.
What I was thinking of as “quieted down” was “Huh. I haven’t spoken with l o t s of Them in months” but what I’d momentarily forgotten is that there are 4 or 5 of Them I talk to at least once a week (sometimes for only a minute or two, but still, it’s there, on the schedule), and several spirits I check in with basically daily.
This new schedule has been a change since last summer.
Things have also been trending towards even less formality than previously.
I asked Skadi probably a couple times if She wanted me to set up an altar for Her, and the response I got back was something like: *shrug*. Okay. I . . . won’t do that, then. That relationship is super casual/informal, so it fits.
Later, after things with Odin took a sharp turn into what they are now, and He started checking in regularly/I started reaching out to Him regularly, I figured I ought to do the usual customary hospitable thing and ask if He wanted anything, offering-wise.
He suggested a form of alcohol I don’t have in the house. I searched through the cupboard, mentioning what I did have, but He was disinterested. When I said I could go buy a bottle of the stuff for next time, He didn’t seem enthusiastic about that, either!
The next week, He suggested a different kind of alcohol I also didn’t have in the house.
I stopped asking.
Then several weeks ago, I acquired/was aided in acquiring some new shelving for my houseplants. In making space for them, I needed to find space for the former shelving, and ended up stacking it on my old altar spaces, which meant rearranging altars. As I was about to start putting them all back, I got a strong message to “ask” first. Like, ask if they should go back. The answer was “yes” – with the exception of Odin’s altar. Not that He’s shown any sign of going away, but “formal space” isn’t a necessary thing right now.
He also indicated once that He wants me to take the lead (???!?) in that relationship. (A question of trust had come up, and that was how He responded. I suspect the trust issue may have been brought up intentionally to get to the other topic.) Not that I understand how to do that, lead, but things are generally pretty relaxed and pleasant. Informal.
I also got “just . . . leave it in the kitchen” vibes from Sunna and from the ancestors, on separate occasions when I was dedicated to the task of fixing a hot beverage as an offering, because that’s The Thing to Do, right? And it should go on the altar, right?? . . . No. Not any more.
I’ve felt a little awkward with this, dealing with the much-less-formal, more comfortable (??), familial tenor to conversations with Them. With Loki, informal has always been normal. And things with Skadi were like that right away. But there was a long period where normal offerings and formal stuff were normal, with all of Them, even if the conversations with Them felt more casual/familial than Handed Down from On High.
I don’t mind doing less work, except that I do, too, because like, I should be doing something? right?? not just . . . listening????? How do I do this. (I might ask “Do You want something?” more than once, but I’m also not going to force a cup of coffee on Someone who really doesn’t want it.)
I’m not as good at just-conversation as at doing-things, unless I am really really r e a l l y comfortable with someone. Formal traditional activities were a nice, comfortable framework for interactions. Me trying to do something formal for Solstice this past year and getting “how about you don’t . . . coffee’s fine, just leave it in the kitchen” from the goddess in question is not comfortable, especially when She’s someone I don’t talk to that often so don’t have a long-standing “casual” relationship with. (It wasn’t that She didn’t want me bugging Her; She had things She wanted to tell me. But any formal ritual this year? Naw, put that away.)
Hilariously, my routine for devotional activity where Loki is concerned hasn’t changed much in a long time; in fact I’m still doing a bunch of things I started up 3 or more years ago. I honestly don’t know what I’d do with myself if He decided to trash that whole lot of things. (No, I do know: Argue/express extreme skepticism, because sometimes He says things that seem intended to make me question Him. And then if He was serious, cry, probably.) Perhaps those are “safe” because I decided to do them more-or-less on my own, and not because I went to Him and asked for direction. Perhaps He even likes them. (Some of the routine does get tossed out from time to time, by me or Him, but that’s just a day-to-day choice, and then it’s back.)
I’ve looked at different definitions of “religion” from time to time and wondered if I’ve got any of that lying around, given the lack of ritual and so on and so forth. Well – with the exception of Loki, ’cause I’ve still got “normal” altar/offering/prayer type things I do where He’s concerned, but otherwise, it’s less “religion” than “relationships.”
This is uncomfortable enough that I wonder if He’s behind it.
(I don’t think so. And at any rate, if He is, the rest of Them are clearly in on it, too.)