The Gods are beautiful and worthy of worship. If you’ve been having anxiety about honoring them, though, don’t feel embarrassed — let’s thread through some false beliefs and expectations that are useful to address.
Regardless of how different a group of Gods is from a more familiar-to-you paradigm, their otherness doesn’t make them occult or beings to be warned away from worshipping. Religions with many Gods are often confused with the occult, esp. in monotheism-dominated areas.
However, a caveat: Due to the history of the pagan and polytheistic revivals in the West, they often have more contact between and overlap with people whom we would classify as into the esoteric and/or occult. This is a common phenomenon for new religious movements in general.
Many people who say “I want to worship the old Gods” or similar are plunged into a chaotic subcultural environment and do not easily find their bearings. It is much harder to find practical information about shrine upkeep and schedules than paganism-adjacent occult practices.
Religious beliefs and practices are the system you use to honor the Gods. For the majority of human history, people would (and still do in many, many places) offer to household Gods, spirits of the natural world, divinities relevant to their professions & livelihoods, and so on.
These systems also give you rules for how to honor a God — the types of things said and done when you give an offering, the types of offerings appropriate, and anything you have to do before or after the offering. There are baseline expectations in any religion.
An example in Hesiod is the admonition not to go uncovered before the household shrine after sex out of respect for Hestia. A non-Hesiod example is to not go to the shrine/temple distracted — intend to go, and go without deviating from the purpose — out of respect for the Gods.
You can have a perfectly fulfilling religious practice without regular occult/esoteric/mystic engagement. I didn’t do mystic practices until I was reading Hermias and had a transformative experience, and such experiences are not the norm. Think about what makes sense for you.
If you take a look at hashtags for paganism and polytheism on Instagram or at the images shared in groups, many of them are glitzy and glamorous — crystals, spell supplies, smoke cleansing kits, and so on. Take a step back from by typing “household shrine” into Google Images.
You will see numerous results — ones from continuous traditions, syncretic ones, revivals and new religious movements, even exclusivist faiths. “All things pray except the First,” as Proclus said. Many such spaces are functional — an image, a place to make offerings.
People who keep these shrines come from all walks of life: doctors and nurses, technicians and computer scientists, teachers and professors, food service workers, trade professionals — every job humans do. Some spend a few minutes a day, and others spend more, with prayers.
Desacralization and commodification has an impact on all of us, even if we have an active religious practice. It’s what turns something like this ordinary beauty and engagement into something to be bought and sold and made into an aesthetic or an object of performance anxiety.
That prevalent current turns things that are natural and universal like prayer and sacrifice to Gods into something commodified and exoticized — treated either as something fashionable and trendy or as a dangerous Other to be avoided.
When commodified and exoticized, one may hear appropriative justifications for why someone is engaging with the Gods — “they gave these Gods up, so they have no right to them, but I do,” or “these people should be grateful that I did x and use it because [savior mentality],” &c.
When treated as a dangerous Other, exoticism takes a Turn, as if sticking one’s hand into a pile of old wood w/o checking for brown recluses. It could manifest as an unwillingness/fear to pray or delusions like reenacting blockbuster movies starring oneself fighting baneful Gods.
Yes, be careful what you vow (but you should always do that with absolutely anyone, as it’s good form to be truthful; lies and broken promises waste everyone’s time). Yes, there can be a learning curve and/or difficulty in finding good mentors. However, you can still pray.
You can come to Gods as you are, from the culture you are in and the background you have, confidently and without any weird pretensions of being anything else but you — just remember to uphold the sacred. Prayer is a gift. It connects, even when you are unaware of it.
Some of my favorite passages about prayer are from Proclus, and here’s a post I wrote a while back while reading through his Timaeus commentary.…
The one that comes to mind here specifically is at Proclus, Timaeus Book II, 210.30-211.8: It is to this reversion that prayer offers an enormous contr

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14 Sep
Much of my current restless "it's 10 PM why" excited energy right now has to do with Phorcys and Ceto and whether this has anything to do with things "freezing out" into the material world and that jolt of spatial and temporal division being the source of both beauty and horror.
I haven't truly read Hesiod in YEARS b/c I've been reading so. many. other. things. and I'm also trying a translation I haven't done before (ML West). Some of the OCR is a bit off. What must be "stern" keeps being rendered "stem" and it's hilarious. I mean what is stem-hearted.
P&C had "the wondrous Echidna stern of heart, who is half a nymph with fair cheeks & curling lashes, and half a monstrous serpent, terrible & huge, glinting & ravening, down in the hidden depths of the numinous earth" <-- this is legit what our experience of the world is like
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