Imbolg is here and with it, I have seen many prayers and spells that call out to Brigid - and many other deities - in a way that is not as respectful as it could be. Now, I know I come from a different place than many people. It is natural to approach any deity and ask for help, guidance, and the like. However, being a hard polytheist and an animist, my opinion on the subject might differ from yours. I wanted to give some insight into how I believe deities should be approached when asking for help.
Examples of Bad Communication
So we can see the difference, I have come up with some examples here that show what I mean. I am going to give the examples and then explain why I believe they are disrespectful or irreverent. These examples are prayers that I have simply thought of in response to this issue that I have. I am sure there are examples like this online, but these do not come from any online or book source. I am also not going to use any deity names just so it is easier to see what I am talking about.
Oh GOD, I call to you. Bless me and heal me. Protect me from harm. Bring me the joy and light of inspiration and creativity! As I will it, so mote it be!
GODDESS, grant me your inspiration and protection. Heal me from all that ails me. Your wisdom guides me as you bestow your gifts upon me.
It might not be apparent to you if you are used to saying prayers like this. However, the way I approach any deity is always with respect, reverence, and a lack of expectation. These prayers are full of demands. There is no asking for anything. These prayers demand blessings. They demand healing. They demand the bestowing of gifts.
Definition of reverence
1 : honor or respect felt or shown
2 : a gesture of respect (such as a bow)
3 : the state of being revered
4 : one held in reverence —used as a title for a clergyman
We need to talk about respect
In approaching any deity, it is always a good practice to be respectful . Any God or Goddess does not have to give you anything. It might be in Their interest to bestow gifts upon you, but it is entirely optional on Their part. When you approach a deity and demand to be blessed, it shows a lack of respect for their position as Higher Beings.
The way a deity is approached will depend on your tradition, but it is always a safe idea to give an offering of some sort before you ask for anything. You would not go up to a random person and tell them to give you a gift, right? The same concept should be applied to a deity. They do not have to give you Their gifts. They do not have to make your life better. They do not have to do anything for you, and you demanding that They help you can make matters worse.
But I’ve always done it this way!
While that may be the case, I feel that there is always room for improvement when it comes to our interactions with deity. We should always strive to be better for our Gods and Goddesses. Look at the situations I created below and think about which person you would be willing to help.
Person One: “Give me $500 so I can make my rent and have a place to live.”
Person Two: "Friend, I need your help, please. I will [DO THIS THING FOR YOU] in exchange for help paying my rent so I have a place to live.
If you chose person two, you are like most people. As humans, we are a social species and we can barter, trade, and OFFER things to others in exchange for help. This is how I approach any deity I am wanting help from.
Examples of good communication
Changing the way you speak and communication with deity can be a challenge if you’ve always done it a specific way. Here, I have some examples of what I would consider good communication practices.
Oh, wise Athena with your spear and shield, protect me and my family from injustice and harm. Council me with your wisdom so that I may make the best decisions. Grant me success in my endeavors, but keep me humble so that I might not become condescending to others. I thank you for the many times you have guided me on my Path. Share with me your mysteries and I will do my best to follow. Athena my Goddess, I pray this in your sacred name, and I vow to always be your faithful dedicant. - Hellenion
Now, at first glance, this prayer might look like the rest of them. The person is saying things like “Council me…” and “Grant me…” However, the difference here is the ending. The person saying this prayer offers something in return: to always be a faithful dedicant. This is an acceptable form of communication with deity because you are offering something in return for their blessings.
I call to you, Lady Bríg, to instill in me the creativity and inspiration that follows you wherever your feet may take you.
I stand at your feet, Blessed Bríg, and tend the hearth fire in your honor.
May your Sacred Flame burn always and never extinguish. - Spells8 Brighid Invocation Prayer
Here is another good example. In this prayer that I wrote, you can see that I ask for Brigid to instill me with the creativity and inspiration that follows Her and, in return, I will always tend to Her Sacred Flame and Hearth Fire.
How do I give an offering? Or develop a relationship with a deity?
This is a common question with a lot of new pagans or polytheists. I answer this question with another question. How do you approach someone you want to be friends with? How do you ask your own friends for help? You approach them kindly. You find things you have in common - maybe you both need a symbiotic relationship. You both might have something to offer each other.
When building a relationship with a deity, you want to approach them with kindness, reverence, and respect. Now, it is Their prerogative to deny you or not. However, you should also be prepared for Them to ask you for a favor in return. This could be something as simple as a coin on your altar or a large donation to a charity.
It can take work…
…but if you begin to approach the deities with respect, reverence, and kindness - your relationship with your deities have unlimited potential.
Note: Now, obviously this is not going to work with every single God and Goddess out there. Please use discernment, common sense, and critical thinking. If the lore and mythology of the God or Goddess you are working with says something different, approach them in the common way for their mythology and lore.