When we talk about Paganism there is no ‘one true way’ to express one’s spirituality, and our relationship to Irish Gods is no different.
There are many and varied paths and practices which fall under the collective term Paganism, but what all forms have in common are a reverence for nature, a method of introspection of meditation, a belief in energy work or magic, and an acceptance of polytheism, or the belief in the existence of many Gods.
There are some forms of Paganism that do not involve connection with any particular God or Goddess, but what we have found over the years is that Irish Paganism (as we practice the living traditions) cannot really be separated from the deities which helped define not just Ireland but also the people and culture that still exist to this day.
So, with that in mind, here are ten steps to approaching, building or deepening a connection with any of the Irish Gods.
Step 1- Begin Where You Are
The first step on any journey can only ever be made in the present moment. We are only ever truly effective in the now. Of course we all have our past experiences and future potentials, but the only place we can actually do something is in the present.
There is no point wanting or wishing to be somewhere that you are not, right now. That will only frustrate you!
So no matter what came before, or whatever comes next, making any sort of connection has to start with a choice made in the present. Simply Choose.
Step 2 – There Are No Prerequisites
At the Irish Pagan School we get a lot of queries about whether a person needs to be Irish, have Irish ancestry, or come from a certain spiritual practice in order to connect with Irish Gods. Many people will come at us with their laundry list of lineage, which, please understand, Irish people do not care about.
The answer to all of the above questions in no. Understanding Irish culture as it exists both in the past and in the now can help, but it is not a must. From our FAQ at the Irish Pagan School:
Step 3 – You Are Unique and So Is Your Journey
The Irish Pagan School exists not to restrict or control any person’s experience of their spiritual path, but simply to provide good information and guidance. We see many folk come to us wishing they ‘had only found us sooner’ or that they knew ‘how badly misinformation’ could ‘delay or damage their spiritual growth’.
Accepting that each of us have our own path to walk can help us to approach healthy spiritual growth with respect and compassion. We are here to put up sign posts, provide community, educate and help to guide you… but this is your journey, your path to walk.
Step 4 – With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Though we are, each of us as unique and special as a snowflake, we must acknowledge and accept that we are but one of many that make up the snow storm. As our growth empowers us with knowledge from learning and experiences, so too does it increase our responsibility to honour that growth, not just for ourselves, but for those that have gone before and those that will follow after.
Only in truly embracing the concept of Túath, or tribe can one really flourish as part of a spiritual community, because these are our people.
Step 5 – Know Thyself
The voices of the Irish Gods can be tricky to hear and then even trickier to understand. We are each of us caught up in the ‘noise’ of our existence. From the clutter of our upbringing, social climate, daily occupation/calling, to familial connections our minds are rarely clear and truly open to deity without some considerable effort (or a serious ‘oh Fuck!’ moment instigated by a God).
Regular engagement with some form of introspection or meditation can help create space for self recognition and realisation which in turn clears room for the voices of deity to be heard clearly in our lives. At the Irish Pagan School Lora’s FREE Foundation Class in Meditation & Guided Journeys gives a person the tools to do this self work. By connecting with ourselves first, we are then ready to connect with deity.
Step 6 – Recognising the Gods When They Speak
Time and again we receive messages from people asking us to define or diagnose their experiences, or wondering who the person they saw in their journey was and what they might want. Sad to say it’s not always easy for us to help with these questions.
A person’s spiritual experiences are recorded and rationalised in their own minds and the language of our thoughts can be as unique to us as our fingerprint in some ways.
What we always encourage is that you learn what has been recorded about the Gods in the past, and what is growing from their active workers through the living tradition in Ireland in the present.
For example, there are many male presenting Irish Gods, but there can and will only ever be one Dagda. Recognising him, his influence, energies, or indeed voice, can only come from knowing what has been remembered of him through time, as well as what is happening with those who work with him in the present.
Knowing this information is the only way to truly achieve recognition, not just in one’s spiritual experiences, but also in building a connection to any of the Irish Gods, should you choose to.
Step 7 – A Living Breathing Spirituality
The Irish Gods are not and have never been ‘gone’. They are manifest in their own full and rich existence which moves parallel to our own inside and through an Saoil Eile, the ‘Other Life’ or Irish Otherworld. Their purposes and agenda can only ever be known to us through glimpses which they offer from time to time as we work, worship, or simply walk alongside them. Accepting this as fact allows for us to remove or at very least acknowledge and temporarily shush our natural ego from interfering with our connection.
We believe that the Irish Gods are not just some ancient distant ancestor, frozen in a moment of a picture, or remembered only in an old story. They are certainly not figments or constructs of our own mental landscape, or imagination. They are and have always been investing in the island of their own ancestors and the comings and goings of its many peoples. Irish Paganism is as growing and evolving as Irish culture, as it should be in our constantly changing world.
Step 8 – A Matter of Personal Sovereignty
As with any form of relationship, be it formal, informal, or even distant, our first duty of care can only ever be to the self. Each of us exist in accordance with our own will and our own calling or purpose.
Though we may offer connection or even service to others or deities, even this offer is a function of our own willful intent. In accepting and truly acknowledging that fact we are instantly empowered and responsible for the decisions we choose to make for ourselves.
Some Irish Gods have broad and extensive agendas against which they are looking to find and deploy assistance from devotees who connect with them. Other Gods simply wish to be known and to spread their philosophies to us should we choose.
The most important word here is of course, choice. As with the very first step, all of this is a function of choice and we are each of us both empowered and responsible for the choices we make.
Step 9 – The Path to Connection Begins with…
It’s as true now as it was in the playgrounds of our childhood. There are few lasting connections in our lives that did not start with one party being open and brave enough to request that connection. From the person who said ‘let’s be friends’ to the one who redefined a connection with ‘are we besties or what?’ none of this would have happened if not for the act of asking.
The same can be said for the Irish Gods. Sometimes it is they who reach out to us and present us with the choice, other times it is we who seek them. Either way it happens it always comes down to that request.
From the willingness to be open, to the understanding of the knowledge we have learned and the belief in the sense of self that defines us, we can move with assurance towards an ask, knowing that no matter the answer, we are ready for whatever comes next.
Step 10 – What Comes Next?
The last step is one that may seem simple, but is not as easy as we all believe. The test of a true connection is a matter of time.
Time, not just allowed to pass, but time offered, time spent, time invested. Time for us is finite. We each of us arrive into our world with a gasp of breath and will each of us depart it with a last exhalation.
Though the Gods themselves may be timeless, we are not so, one of the greatest offerings we can make to them is time. Be it time given at an altar dedicated to them, or time spent in service to their purposes for our world and our people.
As with any connection in our lives, some are defined not by their depth, but also by their duration. Those relationships that no matter how many sun, or moon cycles pass us by, we are still joyfully bonded to and engaged with.
Not every connection will last and it is healthy that some shouldn’t, but the only way one can know for sure is in giving it the time to find out either way.
Does it Ever Really End?
So here we are at the end of our process for today. We have given time to share in these words and who knows, some of them might help you with your connection to the Irish Gods, to a connection with yourself, or even a connection with our purpose at the Irish Pagan School.
We sometimes get asked about connections that end. Where a bond with a deity becomes distant, or some calling or task is completed… and so I wanted to slip in an extra point here to touch on just that.
It is normal that some relationships end, be it organically as we grow beyond them, or intentionally as we step away from that which no longer serves us. The same can be said for our connections to the Gods.
We are each of us on our own path of spiritual exploration and as with all things we can only step forward based on what we know at the time. The more we learn and experience, the more we grow and in that growth comes change.
As we change we begin to know different, or indeed know better – at which point we have an obligation to ourselves and our tribes, to do better. Healthy connections with ourselves and with our Gods will make space for this, and in many cases be the very meaning of the connection and journey in the first place.
Interestingly in the Irish Pagan context, we believe in the transmigration of spirit, where when one life ends a spirit may pass through Teach Donn – the Irish house of the dead – and return to inhabit another form for another lifespan. Who is to say these timeless ones would not seek to continue where they left off in their connections and working with our spirit. I guess it leaves us with a final question to explore for ourselves.
Does it ever really end?
IRISH GODS RESOURCES
- Our Free Checklist of Trustworthy Sources has a whole section on the Gods! Get it HERE.
- Jon also writes stories reflecting his connection to the Great God, An Dagda Mór. Read them HERE.
- Take a Class on Meeting Irish Gods – Click Here for More Details.