I love rivers. I’ve always wanted to live by one. Perhaps it’s because I’m a Pisces as I find healing in running water; whenever I’m sick, I head for the shower and let the water beat down on me. So, it was natural for me to seek out deities of the river. I found a name that caught my eye and felt a connection; however, when attempting to research further, I soon hit a wall. There’s not much out there about her: basically, the same paragraph appears in the various websites; she doesn’t seem to be on the devotion radar for the Reconstructionists or the more mystically-minded. Can’t find much in the way of books, statuary, or paintings/prints either. In one place, searching her name brings up a couple of pieces of jewelry, but there’s no mention of her in the description. Another item says it has herbs dedicated to her, but the herbs don’t line up with the little information I’ve been able to glean.
So, what do I do now?
I suppose I could look for another deity, but as I struggle to communicate with the divine, I am reluctant to turn away from someone I feel calling. Also, I feel terribly sad for deities whose worship base has significantly diminished, or the ones that never had a major following. No, I’m going to stick with it, because, with her help, I’ve found a few ways to honor her, and thought I share some ideas:
Find a cause to support in honor of your deity
A deity can have many associations. If your deity is a deity of justice, you could contribute or volunteer to legal defense funds. If the deity is associated with crafts, donating school supplies for kids or assisting with an art therapy class could be good ways to show your commitment. Nature deities can be honored by joining a litter clean up-crew, becoming a member donating to conservation groups, recycling, etc. As previously mentioned, she is a goddess of rivers. I’m researching foundations that have a commitment to protecting freshwater and looking for opportunities to participate in cleanups. She’s also associated with the sun, While I rent and cannot put up solar panels I can donate to foundations or charities that promote solar energy.
Practice a craft or hobby as an offering to your deity
Diana/Artemis is an archer. Dionysus is a god of wine., Athena weaves cloth. Brigid is a smith. Even if you don’t know a lot about the deity, or don’t have an accommodating space you can make offerings too. Recently, I went to a store where you pick pottery pieces to paint, and was struggling to pick out a piece of pottery to decorate. I heard the same voice say, “Make something for me,” and around this same time, my spouse said, “Oh, you could make devotional bowls.” I also made a purchase of a non-specific goddess doll in river colors. The statue is handcrafted, which is something I think would matter greatly to her. I plan on acquiring some river pebbles or some shells from freshwater animals if I can find something suitable. Painting a goddess on a river rock also seems like it could be appropriate. It’s some pretty modern concepts, but I think it could help create a decent shrine for her.
Learn about the culture your deity comes from
“Learn about my people,” was the next message received when I was at the bookstore. I did manage to find a history book related to the location and era that would match the highest point of her veneration. Maybe I’ll find some more information about her there. History is of course written by the victors, and her worshipers were on the losing side, so I’m not sure how much of her will be in the book. Regardless, I think it’s important to learn about the people and the location from which she comes.
Now she is conflated with a vastly more well-known goddess from the conquerors’ own pantheon, but I am reluctant to use items intended for the latter for the former. It’s not that I’m purist or a staunch polytheist (I consider myself a “medium” polytheist). Rather, I don’t see enough overlap to justify it, and, on principle, I’m not a fan of using imagery from one deity for another. When devotional objects are created for deity, there is a specific intent and energy imbued within the object.
On a non-material level, I’m attempting to meditate to get to know her better. I’m working on adorations for her. While I can write some of the adorations based on the historical information, I hope to gain more insight from the mediation; something more personal. Since meditation is something I’m not good at, I’m using river/water ambient music to help me get to her. I’m trying to write enough adorations that I can divide them by seven. That way I will have an equal amount I can say every day of the week.
Of course, the more I look for her online, the more I discover. Perhaps, someday she will emerge as more of a mainstream goddess; maybe she will call to more people. Trends rise and fall throughout the years within Neo-Paganism, and there are archaeological discoveries that yield more information about ancient cultures.
On the other hand, there’s something to be said for working with a lesser-known deity. There’s no questionable statutes of her. There’s no angry debates about acceptable offerings to her. There’s no supremacist groups claiming that only they have the right to worship her. Perhaps, most importantly, it’s pushing me to not be complacent; I’m going to have to work to get to know her, I’m going to have the improve upon skills I’ve neglected to hone. It’s inspiring me to become more thoughtful about appropriate expressions of faith.
What about you? Do you worship a deity that isn’t mainstream? How do you compensate for a lack of material and information available regarding the deity? Did/do you venerate a once little-known deity that moved into the mainstream consciousness?