By Anya Kless
While I’m a relatively new spirit worker, I have had my share of trials bumbling down the “What the hell is talking to me?” path. By God-Bothered, I mean the feeling that something divine or otherworldly is trying to get your attention. This can happen in a myriad of ways—dreams, omens, strange encounters, visions, meditations, etc—in incidents ranging from the gentle to the brutal. If you feel that this describes you, please reach out to others for help and clarity, even as a seasoned practitioner.
Based on my own experiences, here are the steps I recommend, in this order:
1. Determine if this is indeed a god
If you do nothing else on this page, please—for your own safety—follow this step. Many things can mess with the human realm besides deity, including ancestors, angels, demons, and wandering spirits. If you are susceptible to spirit communication—for example, if you have the gift of mediumship—you especially need to confirm this. Spirits can latch onto us for benevolent and not-so benevolent reasons. They can feed on our energy, particularly if we have been less than vigilant in our basic psychic hygiene (centering, grounding, shielding, warding, and cleansing).
Spirits are incredibly adept at deceiving us. They can masquerade as gods or other spirits quite convincingly. Recently, myself and two other spirit workers were all duped by the same dark spirit, despite our combined experience. It affected our behavior and our judgment to get what it wanted. It can and does happen.
Fuzzy signal clarity can also cause less dangerous mixed messages. I missed the fact that my ancestors were trying to contact me by mistaking them for Odin. While Odin is a huge presence in my life, the visions I saw of running with the wolves in the woods were actually my blood brothers calling me rejoin the pack.
So how can you know for sure? The best bet is outside divination, preferably from multiple sources. Even if you practice yourself, it is vital to seek a respected, objective source. Sometimes we see what we want to see, or we simply don’t have enough distance to perceive the big picture. Divination cleared up both of the cases I cite above. When I felt Odin around me, His presence was confirmed by 3 separate spirit workers, two of them Odinspeople. I would not have opened to Him without this check.
Do not proceed to step two until you’ve had the divination done. Really. If this is a god, they’d want that.
2. Who is this? And what do you want?
If this hasn’t been cleared up during step one, you will now face the task of figuring out who this is. Sometimes the signs could not be clearer—every time you turn around, you see their name or their image. Books jump out at you from shelves.
This too, however, can be misleading. I have mistaken gods for other gods or saints on several occasions, particularly when they have similar iconography or qualities. Eleggua, Mercury, and Loki have blurred together for me in the past. For months, I mistook Lilith for Santa Marta. They both were fierce, non-traditional women with snakes. In that case, I knew Lilith was a figure in Judeo-Christian myth but had never thought of her as a goddess or heard of anyone who worked with her. Your perceptions may be clouded by the pantheon you traditionally work with or whatever happens to surround you. During Lilith’s arrival in my life, I was frequenting botanicas in Harlem. The Santa Marta candles that kept calling to me were probably the closest thing she could find to clue me in.
Some people have found the use of PPG useful in these situations (Peer-collaborated Personal Gnosis). You might want to check in how a god has appeared to others and see if this gels with your experiences.
As for what they what, again, this is something you will want to confirm with an objective reading. However, you can also start asking questions or requesting that guidance be given. Talk, listen, and be on the look out for answers in unlikely places. This is where knowing a bit about you deity can be useful.
The terms of this relationship may or may not be negotiable. Find out if you have a choice, and think long and hard about it.
3. Know that there are many different types of human-god relations
You might experience your arrangement with this deity as parent/child, teacher/student, master/slave, or owner/tool. You may be lovers. You may be spouses. All of these are equally special and valid – none is higher or better than the others. This also may change or develop over time.
Like identity, this is also something easily mistaken. In my relationship with Odin, I moved over a number of months from thinking he was my Father to my Master to finally my Husband. Moreover, this final stage came as a complete surprise to me and was only revealed by another Odinswoman.
Odin is my husband, lover, master, boss, and my god. I relate to him in a variety of roles, which require a variety of actions and training on my part. Nothing is simple here.
4. Know that you can have multiple relationships with gods in different permutations
Odin owns me, but Lilith and Loki have appeared as teachers for me. Because of this, I owe them both a debt of obligation, for the rest of my life. Odin, however, will always come first. Adding my ancestors to the mix makes things even more complicated. I have a huge obligation to them, nearly rivaling Odin’s claim on me. I make and share a homemade meal for them weekly. I visit them through meditation weekly. I have changed my diet for them. I follow rules of behavior for them. Even Odin had to haggle with them to secure the terms of my marriage. I envision them as hard-as-nails Polish grandmas, slapping Odin’s hand with a wooden spoon to keep Him in line. One obligation does not excuse you from the rest.
5. It’s not all fun and games
If you are lucky enough to have a “honeymoon” period to your relationship, cherish it while it lasts. They will hook you with whatever it takes to get you. For some people, this is sex, attention, or romance. For others, this is power, knowledge, or new abilities. For others, this is a near-death experience or mental instability, both of which strip away that which distracts you from them. This initial tactic is not their main interest in you – they will want you to do some kind of meaningful work for them.
No matter whom you work with or how sweet they seem, they will always ask you to face the deepest fears and insecurities you have. Otherwise, no dice. They may have little tolerance for bad behavior, resistance, or being ignored. They will take things from you to teach you a lesson, get your attention, or just because they think you’re better off without them. This could mean your job / partner / health / sanity / home / bank account / sexual freedom. Like monastic life, they may require vows of poverty, chastity, and absolute fidelity to their wishes.
I once found a crucial tidbit about Lilith in an otherwise unremarkable book. Lilith does not show you your path—she destroys everything that is NOT your path. Rather than fighting this destructive energy, it’s best to accept it and learn to see its usefulness.
They may require you go to school or learn a trade. What they ask you to do might not be something you’d ever do otherwise. Their morality or values may not match your own or your expectations of them. The people they ask you to serve may annoy the hell out of you. Before you make any decision in your life you will need to consult them and then follow their wishes. You no longer call the shots in your own life.
6. Their interactions with you may not match your expectations or desires
If you’re meant to serve, they don’t care that you don’t like your job or think something’s unfair. There is no fairness in this phenomenon. No matter what your permutation, none of these relationships are equal power. While you might be permitted to yell, cry, and otherwise vent your displeasure, you WILL be doing what you are told. You cannot threaten them or tell them what to do. You can, it’s just incredibly stupid.
They may or may not care that you’re happy, lonely or it hurts. They may punish you disproportionately for messing up or cheating on them with humans or neglecting them.
I don’t mean this to be the voice of cynicism, just reality. Yes, the rewards are countless. But never, ever take for granted the serious weight of this relationship.