I am devoted to my gods. Except I’m not sure I can say that truthfully, because I’ve never explored in-depth what “devotion” means to me, what forms it takes, and so I can’t know whether or not I’m devoted.
If I were a bettin’ man, I’d reckon that devotion can be boiled down to giving one’s time, attention, and energy to something. No monetary contribution can make or break devotion; no physical object can, either. I can be devoted without a penny or statue to my name; I can have all the money and icons in the world without being devoted.
But time, and attention, and energy – those are things pretty much everyone has, in whatever quantity and quality. If I’m the uber-busy parent of three young children and CEO of a start-up company, my giving five minutes a day is going to mean a whole hell of a lot; if I’m working part-time and chillin’ out, enjoying life, then maybe five minutes isn’t going to cut it. Devotion is, in my eyes, something that adjusts to fit each individual. Likewise with energy and attention – some people do not have the physical or mental capacity to give as much energy and focus as others, and that’s totally okay. Devotion should be a subjective, personal standard. (I acknowledge that, many times, Netjer will request a certain standard of us, but for the sake of this post, I’m only exploring self-set expectations. I can’t predict what the gods will want of me, after all!)
So, what’s my standard for myself?
I practice mindfulness, so staying mindful of my gods is part and parcel of it. Remembering what They would like from me, what They expect from me, and how I might be able to include Them in my life. I am not terribly ceremonial, so I’m not going to hold myself to an unrealistic standard of performing ritual or senut X times a week. I value spontaneity and flowing with the moment, so any given standard of doing something a number of times per week or month is likely going to feel forced– but if I lack a guideline, I may well wind up doing too little for my own tastes.
I work a demanding web job, and I deal with migraines, and I find I lose one or two days a week to something or other that’s less than voluntary and ideal– so is it unrealistic or just optimistic to think I might be able to “touch base” with each of my gods, my Mothers and my Beloveds, once a week at minimum? If I keep myself flexible, I think it might work out quite well.
My devotion takes many forms, all of them valid in my eyes. If I spend time maintaining this website, writing in this blog, and researching the Netjeru I honor, that’s still giving my time, energy, and attention to Them, either directly or indirectly. If I keep my virtual space as clean as my altar, keep everything well-organized so that the energy flows, that counts, too. I don’t have to be in front of my shrine or in deep trance to experience and honor Them, and I need to keep that in mind, ’cause it’s pretty easy for me to think I can only talk to Them in certain places, under certain circumstances. But They’re everywhere, and that’s why I wear jewelry for each of Them daily – to be able to touch Their symbols and reconnect with Them throughout the day.
There are always plenty of ways I can interact with Netjer. Physical exertion, be it exercise or martial arts, is my tribute to Sekhmet. Spending time breathing the wind outside and watching the clouds or stars is a way to be closer to my Mothers. Stepping outside at sunset to honor Ma’ahes is a wonderful respite from the daily grind. A simple prayer – be it a written letter to a god or a spoken refrain while I drive to work – grounds me in mindfulness and gratitude. And of course, any creativity worked in Their names – painting or beading or sculpeying or musicking – is one of my favorite ways to bring me close to Them and to offer the best of my hands and heart to Them.
I love my gods, and I would like to count myself as devoted, so I will keep taking small, sustainable steps to see and honor Them in my life.