Welcome to May’s Gaelic Roundtable! If this is your first visit to my blog, then please make yourself at home. And if you’re returning – I’m glad as ever to have you. This month’s topic is – devotion.
Does your Worship include Devotional acts? If not, why not? If so, why? Who is the common object of these Devotionals- or who do you find yourself performing them for the most often? Do they have a structure, or is it whatever feels right? Do you record these devotionals? What acts do they usually include? How often do you practice them? Is it daily? Weekly? Whenever the fancy strikes?
Devotion tends to fall into that category with “worship” for me. I practice acts of devotion but because it doesn’t look like what I was raised with, I sometimes have trouble recognizing it as such. When I first read the prompt for this month, much like last month, my initial reaction was, “well, I don’t really do that.”
But the truth is that while I don’t practice daily devotional and I don’t have a set plan of “this is what I do as devotional daily/monthly/regularly”, I do practice acts of devotion. They tend to be random – when inspiration strikes, when opportunity presents itself, when an issue or other prompt arises that reminds me that it’s time. But just as I’ve had to come to relearn what worship means, I’ve come to learn a new way of devotion. For me, it’s not time spent in prayer or meditation. It’s writing poetry in honor of my Gods. It’s writing prayers and sharing them with the community. And it’s acting in a way that honors my Gods and doing work specifically in their honor.
For example, it is the Dagda that empowers me to stand up for myself and for others less fortunate and less able to stand up for themselves. I rarely announce the acts that are devotion to Him, because that’s not the point. But all of my social justice actions are in His honor and in devotion to Him who pulled me out of the darkest time in my life. When that action is on behalf of women and children, it is also in devotion to Danu/Boann, who found a scared child and led me to all of the Gods who make my life whole. Pursuits of knowledge are also my devotion to Her, no matter how unrelated to Irish/Gaelic polytheism.
Brighid is the easiest of my Gods for me to show my devotion, as all acts of creation are devoted to Her. Every time I write a poem or a prayer, it’s an act of devotion for She who lights that spark and burns through me. Even when the poem is a devotion for another God, She is given honor for Her place in my creativity. Those poems, at least here of late, have often been an act of devotion for Manannan. But it is when Sir Joshimus and I are riding on Buttercup that my devotion to Him happens. She isn’t a horse, but the feeling and sheer joy of riding makes me think of Him, so those sensations will be offered up to Him who rides the waves.
There are other methods of devotion and no one way is right. For some, prayer and reading the lore are acts of devotion – and I do read or listen to the lore as an act of devotion. For others, only acts feel as if they are giving what is required of them. Whether it’s the Gods or those who fall under the title of Ungods. The way I learned what was devotion for my Gods was largely trial and error – finding the things that pleased Them, as well as the things that I could do, the patterns that I could maintain, and still have that personal mindfulness of the Gods and Ungods.
At the end of the day, for your practice, that’s what’s most important. It’s mindfulness, it’s actively thinking about who your devotion is supposed to honor. If you spend every day reciting prayers by rote, but you aren’t also mindful of who those prayers are for, then what’s the point? But if every time you do a specific action – whether it’s daily, monthly, or just whenever you remember it – you think of someone you wish to honor by that action, it becomes an act of devotion. And only you and They can decide if it’s a worthy action.
Again, I thank you for visiting this month and I look forward to next month and next month’s topic!