Making Stock of Polytheism

Spiritual fallow periods are things that happen to everyone with a certain disposition, no matter your faith or inclination. In Christianity, I've heard the term 'winter Christian' bandied about, but I know I'm a winter pagan. It's not that I doubt the existence of the gods or spirits, but I start questioning their benevolence and attentiveness the way you can lose trust in people or institutions. Worse is my typical solution, where I start being ever more rigorous and punctual with my offerings. I find myself putting meaning not in the act of worship but in the sequence of actions that quickly start feeling rote and purposeless. When the sense of worship and awe goes out of cult, all its benefits and side-benefits evaporate.

Thinking back, though, the fallow period is always preceded by a period of stress or depression in my life, where I just can't carry the load or I'm managing a crisis. I don't pray, I'm not grateful, I don't examine my actions anymore in the rush to get them done. The daily or weekly offering is the last thing to go, and all the effort I've put into trying to readjust the moment of offering is actually wasted. The thing that impoverishes my praxis is not the big moment of giving cult but the loss of all the little prayers and rites, all the tiny things that seem superfluous.

Stress leads me to demote the gods' presence to the official moment of giving cult. They're being treated as if they're only conditionally relevant, as if they're another checkbox on my to-do list. I'll write "gave cult" in my daily logs and then I'm done. Spirituality is not just another ingredient in the dish that is my life, though. It should pervade everything I do, everything I think about. It's all the tiny moments that make up a life, and worship is the stock that makes the soup's flavour richer, fuller, deeper; it brings it together and transforms it from ingredients in water into a full dish.

If your faith seems poor, bookend everything you do with moments of prayer, wear jewelry, make art and put it up on the wall. Faith's a way of life.

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