I spent years trying to get a personal connection to the Gods. Years. Way back when I was in my early teens, I flirted briefly with British evangelical Christianity. That ended abruptly; the “pastor” decided he liked looking at magazines imported from Europe catering for those with a taste in younger women. I was outta there like a shot - although my boyfriend of the time stayed for a while. Proves that the Catholic Church doesn’t have a monopoly on priests with paedophile tendencies. When I was 18, I discovered Wicca. And Silver wotserface. This appealed to me; no more listening to what others told me I should believe in, time to do it FOR MYSELF. I still have all the original journals and writings I did back then. (They are embarrassingly naïve, on occasions I have forced myself to read some of it, but the cringing gets painful after a while.) I don’t know why I keep them, perhaps just to prove to myself how far I’ve come (and maybe I don’t read them all just in case I realise I haven’t come nearly far enough).
Anyway, I tried hard to work within specific pantheons, starting with the Greek, and then Roman, and then back to Greek. The Egyptian pantheon was next, driven by my obsession with all things Egypt as a small child. Then I tried the Norse gods - and pretty much got absolutely nothing. So for the next eight years I stagnated into working with “The God” and “The Goddess”, with occasional forages into specific archetypes (as they seemed to me) now and then. Any magic I did seemed very ineffectual.
In 2002 I was in a stinker of an abusive relationship. (Bear with me, this may look like another of my tangents, but there is a point to it.) One day in the August, the bastard had thrown me to the floor, beat on the side of my head with his fists and kicked me so hard in my left kidney I was left pissing blood for three days. Like many abused women, I had no control in the home over anything. I was the bread-winner; I had a really good job (a majorly, seriously, wonderful career) but he wanted more. His spending was out of control - but he was spending all MY money, running up debts in MY name. I finally started to make plans to leave him. He worked out what was going on, and turned on the charm. I wavered… and then, one last time, he showed his true colours. Fortunately he was too drunk to do much more than scream at me, and I barricaded myself into the spare room. As I sat there, in the cold (he’d spent the money I gave him for oil on fuck knows what else), in the beautiful converted barn I loved, I knew something had to change. And that’s when I heard my name called. Not in my head. Not from another room, but all around me. And again, and again. The voice was insistent, starting out full of sorrow, and sounding increasingly pissed off. I knew I was being spoken to by the Divine, and I knew precisely who it was.
The following morning, as I tried to creep out of the gothic arch oak door (honestly, this was my dream place, and I still can’t think about it without feeling a real pang), the bastard sat up on the sofa. “I’ll see YOU when you get home.”
He never did, because I never went back. Eventually the dust settled, and, with the help of friends, the company I worked for and my Grandfather, I rented a small terraced house and worked out a plan to deal with the debt he’d left me in. Selling my home cleared most of it; the last few thousand cleared by my redundancy payout I got when I lost my job ten months later. In that year, I had to move twice, lose the job I loved, get shafted by the Managing Director of the company I worked for, find another job (a fairly shit one, but it was all I could manage as I was teetering on the brink of a breakdown), get treated like a piece of crap by my boss, find my boss dead one morning (I don’t THINK I had anything to do with that, but you never know), work for his bloody partner (a total bitch) and listen to that bloody voice call my name every fucking time I had to make a hard decision or was facing major upheaval. I didn’t sleep beyond three or four hours a day. Things went a little weird. My life-long little OCD tendencies went into overdrive. Cleaning became an overwhelming obsession (and I lived in a house that shed brick dust and plaster everywhere like a cat sheds fur) and I couldn’t relax until every room was clean and tidy. And then I couldn’t relax anyway. I kept the television on every minute I was in that house, even when I was sleeping.
All the way through this, I continued some sort of eclectic, half-arsed Wicca. I developed decent Tarot skills. I tried finding all the love and light the fluffy bunnies spouted (I haunted the Mystic Wicks forum for hours, spouting copied invocations to Aphrodite, Diana, etc, and trying to give up doing my own Tarot readings as they invariably had The Tower, 9 and 10 of Swords and Death appear.)
And still the voice. Drowned out by the television, it started in my dreams. I could never find the source, but I’d be running down gothic torch-lit corridors of locked doors (and purple patterned carpets; still haven’t figured out the significance of purple patterned carpets) hearing my name being called over and over and over.
I knew who it was. But to me She was fucking scary, Queen of the Damned style scary. I knew Her name, I knew what little was written about Her in Bullfinch’s Mythology, and I knew only that most people saw Her as an old crone, harsh and malicious. But in the end I had to stop running, stop avoiding Her and take my childish fingers out of my ears and stop doing the “La la la la I’m not LISTENING” thing. I had to accept Hekate had an interest in me, and that she wasn’t about to take no for an answer.
The minute I did that, it was like a switch being thrown - my life turned around. I found a little home, I found the man that was eventually to become The Hubster and progenitor of The Witchlets, and I got my sleep back. Once I acknowledged Her, once I was back on the right path again, the way was smoothed. It would be another five years before I started working with Her, and another two years more before I began to honour Her in a way that has evolved into my relationship with Her now. Don’t get me wrong, life has been rocky in places these last (nearly) ten years, and She’s called my name in the same way a few more times, (once bringing me back from the brink of handing over Witchlet One to The Hubster and telling them they’d be better off without me and walking under a bus) but She has never, ever let me down.
She’s always been approachable, but we have a very specific relationship. I honour Her, I give Her offerings, I craft stuff I think She will approve of, I give money to an animal charity every month, and I petition Her when I am in great need. I occasionally ask Her to bless magical workings, but not THAT often. I have occasionally honoured other Greek deities with Her. It’s not that She’s stand-offish, or aloof, it’s just that we have set boundaries. She looks after me (fairly jealously, in the past), and I don’t race around nekkid having sex with The Hubster in front of Her shrine. (I wouldn’t call Her a prude, as SUCH - fuck me with a stick, I like living WAY too much to say that - but She’s not about to go all Dionysus on my arse.) All the mucky stuff (as the Hubster likes to call my herb, feather and bone-work) was purely witchcraft, not so much mixed with deity worship.
So the last thing I bloody expected was for her to invite a member of the Lwa into my life.
I’d started working with a land spirit in the local woods. He’s very powerful, has a right grumpy side to him (boy, was I made to feel VERY unwelcome the first time I explored his woods) but he’s softened up a lot since I’ve taken him offerings, and litter-picked every time I go. I started getting the impression there were two sides to him, as sometimes he could play tricks, laugh like a drain at me. Yeah, yeah, I didn’t get it. This was somebody else entirely. This was Papa Legba. In the end he had to go all typecast and BLACK at me before I got it (took an awful lot of ‘Yo, woman,’ and frankly unintelligible patois being whispered in my ear) but within a month or so I’d raided my Hallowe’en decorations for items for a shrine/altar for him.
I did have some doubts, of course. I mean, Hekate had pretty much prevented me from getting any involvement from any other deity, why on earth would She suddenly start inviting other metaphysical beings to come fuck with my sanity? I’m guessing that working with Hekate, a liminal Goddess that is a guide to the underworld, got Papa Legba’s attention (after all, he must be invoked before other spirits; he is the gatekeeper, so he has similar attributes to Hekate).
It didn’t end there. I’ve since been up close and personal with somebody else’s guardian angel, an Archangel, a dragon, the Queen of the fucking fairies for fucks sake and an ancient Witch. It can get kinda crowded in here.
Of course, I might be completely fucking nuts.