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Sprouting: Question from a Beginner

By Tess Dawson

An acquaintance of mine recently asked “What would you advise someone new to polytheism?” It appears on the surface to be a simple question, but it is one of those questions that although simple can go to great depths, and could probably take volumes to fully explore.

[Snip] The best advice I can give is to set up a daily devotional practice. A person can do this a couple of different ways, but the most common are setting up a shrine, making offerings, and engaging in daily prayer.

To set up a shrine, make or purchase images of the deities, or print out a picture or two of the deities you would like to honor, the deities who interest you, the deities of your ancestors or your biological precedents, and / or the deities who have called to you. Set up a small area for their devotion. Make sure the area is clean and free of clutter and smells decent. Make sure it isn’t near the trash can or the bathroom. Make sure it is an area where ignorant or disrespectful hands can’t get to, and pets won’t walk all over it or try to eat the offerings. Keep the area clean and picked up—if you make food offerings, take them away from the shrine after about a day. Pray daily, and if you can make it a practice to pray at or near your shrine, all the better. Make an offering there as often as you can, but at least set a schedule for offerings if you are just starting out, for instance making offerings at least each Saturday. Offerings can include incense (preferably Japanese incense because many Indian incenses have dung in them), food (make sure you research your deities and their cultures, because sometimes there are food taboos), and drink (such as wine, alcohol, or juice). Bread and olive oil are also typically welcome. What offerings the deities want and how the shrine is best set up will often depend on which deities you are honoring.

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