Getting into polytheism from a monotheistic religion can be quite confusing. Especially before you have chosen a particular polytheist tradition or if you are an eclectic Pagan, drawing inspiration from a number of different faiths. The sheer number of Deities can feel overwhelming. With so many, who are you supposed to worship and why?
First I’d like to say that it is not an obligation to restrict yourself to one or a few Deities. You can have a wide variety of relationships with many Deities, just like you can have a wide variety of relationships with different people. Not that Deities are just like humans (They’re not. Otherwise there would be no reason to worship Them). But you get my point.
Just as you will be drawn more to certain people in life, you might find yourself drawn more to certain Deities than others. Sometimes you will be the one moving towards Them, sometimes you might experience Them through UPG (unverified personal gnosis) and feel called by Them. Either way, it isn’t uncommon for polytheists to feel closer to certain Divinities than others and even to consider one or more to be their patron Deities.
The process can look in a multitude of different ways. Probably as many as there are worshipers. Here’s how it happened for me.
When I got back into spirituality after five years of shunning anything religion related, it was through Hinduism and more specifically by reading the Bhagavad-Gita. I then started to delve into the many books and philosophies of Sanatana Dharma. I got acquainted with the two main denominations: Vaishnavism, which worships Vishnu as the Supreme Being/Brahman, and Shaivism, which worships Shiva as the Supreme Being. But it was in Shaktism, which sees the Supreme Being as Adi Shakti or the Divine Feminine, that I found what I was searching for. To me, the Supreme One is like a Mother rather than a Father. She births all that is and contains them within Herself. She is Herself the Sacred Womb that She uses to make all things.
So, I became early in my spiritual re-journey devoted to the Divine Feminine in Her many forms. First in the context of Sanatana Dharma and through the worship of Goddesses such as Kali, Saraswati och Radha. I didn’t have much interest in European polytheism, as it seemed mostly to be what you’d call ”hard polytheism” and didn’t fit with the monistic form of polytheism I believe in. Then I discovered the writings of Plotinus and that Monism has a long history in European polytheism. I started reading up on the many different European pantheons, especially their Goddesses.
There isn’t much evidence that the Norse and Germanic tribes of Europe had a similar concept as the Monad/Brahman/The One and so it might seem strange that I ended up as a devotee to a Norse Goddess. Some Heathen/Norse polytheists I’ve come across even seem angry that the Æsir and Vanir could be worshipped by someone they deem a ”soft polytheist”. But I now personally don’t see much of a contradiction between ”hard” and ”soft” polytheism. I’ll explain why in a future post. In this one, I’d like to write about why I am a devotee of Freya, of all the Norse and Germanic Goddesses.
Freya, like many Norse Deities, is incredibly multifaceted and so the reasons why people are drawn to Her varies greatly. For someone in the military it might be due to Her association with war and death. To a farmer, it might be Her association with fertility of the land and of cattle. While someone looking to find a romantic partner might turn to Her in Her aspect of Goddess of love and sex. But for me, it is primarily as Vanadís that She calls to me.
The Dísir are female powers within Norse religion and the Vanir are Deities associated with the earth. Freya being called Vanadís, or Dís of the Vanir, shows that one of Her aspects is that of the feminine power of nature. As someone who loves and feels the most at home close to nature, it feels obvious and right to worship Freya. She is the presence of The One in the forest, the trees, the rivers and the sky. When I sit and pray out in the wild, it his Her presence I seek.
Being associated with the wilderness, Freya is also a particularly untamable Deity. She goes Her own way and submits to no one. As someone who grew up in a cult, I have seen the dangers of making yourself a slave to a collective. The spirit of Freya is that of independence, personal dignity and liberty. To worship Freya to me entails walking your own path and following your own wyrd, whether or not the rest of the world approves or understands.
So, to make it short: I am a devotee of Freya because I love and venerate nature and because I admire Her independent spirit. Why you might choose to become Hers or any other Deities devotee can be very different. Who and how you choose to worship is entirely up to you, and between you and Divinity. That’s the beauty of being a polytheist.