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Questions on Devotion

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to start writing about the basics, the real fundamentals of devotion, spiritual engagement, and polytheism as I see it, live it, and teach it. I've often lamented that I see way too many people coming to me lacking the basic foundation, a foundation that were we living in a polytheistic society, were we living in a community where our indigenous traditions were intact never having been sundered by monotheism, would have been taught by osmosis. We'd have learned by doing. We'd have learned by living in a community where our parents, our grandparents, our leaders, our friends, our neighbors all modeled these ideas and approaches. It would have been reinforced by the community in a way that simply doesn't happen today.

I've often complained about this to colleagues, but it wasn't until a few days ago that my partner said "why don't you write a series on the basics of devotional work as a way of providing something of that foundation. Gods know people have enough questions." Well, I know a good idea when I hear it, hence this post. 

So send me your questions on devotion, on living polytheism, on honoring the Gods, even on my own practices and I will do my best to answer them based on my own approach, my understanding of polytheism as a theologian, an active polytheist, and a historian, and as a priest and shaman. I'm going to break it down as I see it, to some very base-line concepts that someone in the dubious march of modernity we've lost, forgotten, or decided to ignore. 

You may post your questions here in the comments section, or email me at krasskova at 



(the image here is the altar from a recent Hekate ritual offered at House Sankofa).


Last modified on

 Galina Krasskova is a Heathen priest, author, and Northern Tradition shaman. She holds a Masters degree in Religious Studies and is currently working toward a PhD in Classics. Galina is the author of several books including “Essays in Modern Heathenry” and “Skalded Apples: A Devotional Anthology to Idunna and Bragi.”
(Photo by Hudson Valley photographer Mary Ann Glass.)


  • Ainslie
    Ainslie Wednesday, 29 May 2013

    It's clear to me that I'm psychically gifted. The word on the street is that I need to learn more stuff, in THIS world. The main apparatus I've found after some research is western occultism. I don't trust it. Can you speak to the role western occultism has had in both sundering and preserving the people's ways? It appears to me to be both.

  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova Wednesday, 29 May 2013

    Ok. Training and developing psychic ability is not devotional work. So I might save any articles on that for another series of posts. I will say that Western Occultism is problematic in some respects. Ceremonial magic, certainly as I was introduced to it, put man at the epicenter of the power-verse and culled engaged devotional practice. Even in those cases were Holy Powers were acknowledged, they tended to default to the Judaic or Christian model. It's not that there's anything wrong with western occultism in and of itself, but the structure has been permeated by monotheism, and that in turn has led to magicians being trained to engage with Powers and spirits the way Europeans engaged with the Native Americans buoyed by the Doctrine of Discovery.

    in the meantime, to develop your gifts, i'd recommend "Spiritual Protection" by Sophie Reicher. It's specifically a training handbook.

  • Ainslie
    Ainslie Wednesday, 29 May 2013

    Goodness! Yeah, I'm kind of into that "right relationship" thing. I think that I can work with this now. Thanks for your answer, even though my question was in the wrong place. :p:D

  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan Wednesday, 29 May 2013

    Okay, here is a silly/serious question: how important do you think it is to pepper our everyday speech with references to the Gods, as a way to constantly remind ourselves/keep them in our thoughts? For instance, instead of saying "Thank God" or "Thank Goodness," say "Thank Odin" or "Thank Freyja." And so on.

  • Matt G
    Matt G Friday, 31 May 2013

    Although it doesn't seem to be what you're refering to, I have found incorporating short prayers into my life during various circumstances to be very nourishing. I say a few words every time I walk outside and see the Moon or the Morning/Eveningstar, whenever an ambulance drives by, whenever I drive by an accident on the road, passing a cemetery, etc. Whenever I feel like I've stumbled upon something numinous I try to say something, if only "Hail." My modern American Christian upbringing taught me that spirits are either angels or demons, in heaven or hell, there's nothing spiritually noteworthy here in this world. Breaking that with little things ever time I notice holy things helps me to notice more.

  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova Friday, 31 May 2013

    Matt, thank you. I hadn't considered that. (btw, i hail cemeteries whenever i pass them too). I can see where this conscious redirection and repatterning would be very, very useful and powerful in deepening one's devotional consciousness. thank you for chiming in.

  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson Thursday, 30 May 2013

    I've been working on this frequently. Sometimes you'll hear me pop out with a "Sweet Ditanu!" when I'm frustrated. (Ditanu is the legendary ancestor of many a Canaanite dynasty.) Sometimes I'll use "Go to Motu's pit!" or "Go to Kankanayu" for "go to 'Hell'". And I'll often out with "Thank Ilu" when something is good or tragedy is averted. It aids to put us more in a polytheistic mindset. Considering how beset we are with monotheism and how pervasive it is in our cultures and our minds, I find this practice a useful reinforcement for ourselves and those around us. It's also useful to teach lore because when you make a reference to a deity, event, or place mentioned in lore, it's an opportunity to explain when a new person asks "What are you talking about?"

  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova Wednesday, 29 May 2013

    You know, i've never really thought about that. For me personally, it's not that important at all (though i did have a christian friend, who was about to go into the seminary, ask me not to say 'Jesus!" when i was pissed....that as a polytheist i should know better than to take the name of any Deity in vain and he was right, so i apologized and made an effort to mind my cussing lol). I could see where for some, it might be a good mnemonic, it might call to mind their polytheistic identity. For me, i don't see it being all that important. I tend to use expletives freely and fluently but few of them are Deity oriented though so ymmv.

  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson Thursday, 30 May 2013

    Have you thought about covering the differences between shrines and altars?

  • Trine
    Trine Saturday, 01 June 2013

    I'd be really interested in a piece on that - from the p.o.v. of several traditions too, if there is a difference.

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