How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
I’ve known Indra since childhood, though I didn’t know His name or even think to ask. I would see, in my mind’s eye just before falling asleep, the presence of a golden man on a pale horse – not merely blond, but crowned with gold, flesh glistening gold, even radiating golden light. He was both diademed and armoured, like a prince and a knight both, and the feeling of this Prince wasn’t like daydreams or TV stories; I couldn’t remember ever making Him up, and I didn’t know who He was supposed to be. But He actually felt real, like someone I might meet one day. He’d come into my thoughts every once in a long while, particularly when I was deeply unhappy or lonely, and I felt like a Princess when He was near. Sometimes I thought – imagined? – deluded? – who knows, that He held a crown for me.
When I grew older and found the Pagan way, I’d long since dismissed “the Prince” as some silly made-up kid stuff. But I felt far more drawn to the Gods than the Goddesses; while I loved the knowledge of both Male and Female as divine, I rather disliked being female myself and thought of most of the Goddesses as kind of mushy (excepting Artemis, who was awesome). The first Gods who drew me were Artemis and Apollon. But when I began practicing Wiccan rituals, I tried to be correct in traditional practice and called Them by the names given in those rites, Cernunnos and Aradia.
And this was despite the wrong feeling of both names. “Aradia” was about as evocative to me as the name “Gertrude,” i.e. not at all. “Cernunnos”…well, have you ever heard one instrument trying to tune itself to another, and hearing that irritating “wavering” quality when the pitches almost match, but haven’t quite reached concordance? That’s what hearing the name “Cernunnos” was like, every time I spoke it. It was almost right, and jangled my nerves with an irksome, quivering, sort-of quality.
It wasn’t long before I discovered and delved into study of the Egyptian Gods, and though He was problematic in my Wiccan practice because He didn’t have a clearly-defined consort or female counterpart, I didn’t care; Ra became my God, bright-dark, golden, beautiful. But after a while, I felt difficulty and conflict by keeping this outlier male God in a balanced, male/female Wiccan practice. Yet I also felt that pursuing a solely Egyptian path, like Kemetic Orthodoxy, would be the wrong thing to do.
Meanwhile, I joined a large, wonderful, and convivial Wiccan coven in my area. I also started reading about more Gods. (My interests have always cropped up rather organically; I don’t “shop around” per se. Rather, I start wondering about things I don’t know and then revel in new knowledge to be had.) I learned about the Norse pantheon from some wonderful texts, and though I knew this faith wasn’t my home, I still loved the lessons and greatly enjoyed an Ásatrú blót I attended. I read more about the “Celtic” gods as well, and learned about various other Pagan traditions besides Wicca. Over time, I earned my Wiccan First Degree, and then became a Second Degree candidate while teaching would-be Firsts myself.
The highlight of this time, besides the joys of teaching and initiating, came in discovering “my” Horned God: Herne – my final correct pitch of “Cernunnos,” one might say. Perhaps when this project is over, I will write a little about Herne, and share a few of the special memories of Him that I cherish.
But over time I grew increasingly restless; I was tired of the huge, vast net encompassed by “eclectic Wicca,” and sick of what I viewed as hypocrisy and laxity, disguised as “tolerance.” Around this time I was browsing a local spiritual magazine and noticed a public Vodou ritual happening in a few weeks’ time. I knew that my coven maintained close ties with the Vodou community and had much respect for both the religion and its folk. It seemed weird that I knew almost nothing about it, so despite being an incredibly shy person who had – still has – trouble even going outside, I attended the rite. That night I dreamed about the spirits.
Determined to find out what that was all about, I began attending the temple’s private ceremonies; a few years later, I severed my ties to the coven and took the first Vodou initiation. My patron’s name was given me at that time, and not surprisingly, He was the same vigorous thunder-God and King on whose feast-day I’d been born. I felt part of a close-knit, extraordinarily hard-working, honourable group of people who took religion with great seriousness, and I was happy there.
The severance came when I moved to Canada and discovered how hard it is to practice Vodou in isolation; while home worship is important, community and ritual are also essential. Without the support of the temple, and knowing that I couldn’t return home for years – if ever – I again felt restless, solitary, and discontent. This was also when my other problems began, which I mentioned in my post about yoga. And that was the start of a journey towards Hinduism and Indra.
Only then was there an almost comedic sense of coming full circle, as I stupidly realised, “Wait a minute…I know You!” And honestly, having to wait two decades for a simple name was so very ridiculous that I could hardly believe it. (Though He did point out that I’d never asked.)
After reading Ṛgveda, falling in love with it and Indra, my relationship with Him was one of wholehearted delight in which the “real world” seemed barely to exist. Only after nearly two years of this bliss did I develop the problems described in my last post, and move very quickly from “honeymoon” into listless despair.
At this point, I don’t know exactly what my path is; a Hindu-Pagan hybrid might be the best way to describe it, for besides Indra, I still consider my “holy days” to involve the Wheel of the Year, and still have ties to beings who don’t fit neatly into the Hindu way. Regarding Indra specifically, well, you can see that my relationship with him has been up, down, up and down again, and over the years, I’ve worshipped many names and forms of Gods who are very, very like Him. It seems that I’m “getting at” the same general idea in my devotions, regardless of the specific practices involved.
In conclusion, I’ll give you the tl;dr version of My Relationship With Indra:
To have a relationship with Him, I first had to learn who He was…
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