Dedicating Yourself to a God, or “Slow Down There, Cowboy!”

caution-slowI can’t tell you how often I see newcomers to Ásatrú, full of enthusiasm, passion, and drive to be “legitimate” go screaming past so many other things that are basic skills, understandings, and knowledge and right on into asking “how do I dedicate myself to a god?” I can’t tell you because I’ve lost count. With the prevalence of Heathen troth on the Internet it is to be expected that certain things are going to have that “ooh, shiny” effect on people who have more desire than experience. They want to be seen as legitimate members of the community, or at least the online community, and they start emulating things they see without fully understanding what they’re getting themselves into or doing. It’s a case of “monkey see, monkey do.” Who can blame them, really? Every time you turn around you run smack dab into an Odinsman, a Thorsman, a Tyrsman, or a Freyaswoman. Who doesn’t want to be like the big kids and have a special relationship with a god?

I can’t stress this first point strongly enough, we are polytheists. We worship many gods. While it is common enough to feel some sort of attraction to one of the gods or goddesses of the Aesir or Vanir because of what looks like common interests, values, behaviors, or characteristics, this alone means only so much, and it isn’t much. When dealing with new people, we don’t just declare someone we just met but have a lot in common with our new best friend, give them a key to our house, and send our kids over to their place to play unsupervised. We don’t do that with people, so why would we do that with a god? Developing a deep, personal relationship with any being is just that, personal. It takes time to develop. They don’t happen over night. You might come to find out that while there is a lot in common there are also unreconcilable differences that you simply can’t live with. If ending a marriage is a pain in the tailpipe, imagine how rough a “break up” with a god you swore to serve and honor your entire life is going to be.

We should also look at what it means to be “dedicated” to a god. Like any relationship, there is give and take. To be “fulltrui,” or fully faithful, to a god means you go to them first and foremost. It means you place their honor before all the others. It means you sacrifice to them first and best. It also means that you have put in the time and effort to develop a meaningful relationship with that god or goddess and that you know, without any doubt at all, that they accept your offerings and provide meaningful benefit to your life. It does not mean that you ignore the other gods or give them short shrift because you’re out of good stuff to offer them because it all went to your fulltrui. It is an extra burden of sacrifice, honor, and worship, not a shift in priorities. Lip service alone isn’t enough.

It also needs to be pointed out that there is all too often a desire to “dedicate” yourself to one god because it is easier to wrap your mind around than worshipping many gods who are all different. It should never, under any circumstance, be a substitute action for having trouble adapting from monotheism to polytheism. For some people, the scope of polytheism is extremely hard to get their mind around. It’s frightening to think that there are so many gods and none of them can do everything. To think, they are all different and inconceivably complex on top of that. It can be a daunting task to accept this and be okay with it for a lot of people and that makes it much easier to seek refuge early on by focusing your devotion to just one god or goddess.

There is nothing wrong with having a favorite god or gods. There is nothing wrong with becoming fulltrui to one of them. You just have to make sure that you aren’t rushing into something before you are ready for it and understand at least some of the ramifications of it. You have to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons too. Is it simply easier or have you had several years, maybe a decade or more, of deep development of a relationship with that god? Why do you feel the need to formalize it in a dedication oath? What is your motivation for doing this and do your really think it’s a good idea? Consider these, and other, questions but make sure you do the most important thing first. Slow down, take a deep breath, and think about what you’re doing.


Dedicating Yourself to a God, or “Slow Down There, Cowboy!” — 5 Comments

  1. Gods and Goddesses enter your life sometimes as quieckly as they go away… I have a patron Goddess, and an other one very important in my practice. Other Divinities come and go. But I have never really think about dedicating myself to one of them. Maybe I am not ready, or maybe it’s too early… maybe I feel it a little bit dangerous or would be misunderstanding the “message”…
    As you say, building such a relationship is so long, so sensitive… and should really be done on purpose and aware of what is involved…

  2. For a long time I was totally against people becoming fulltrui… It wasn’t until I had been Heathen for 10+ yrs that I saw the reasoning behind it. A few yrs ago I took that step myself. I would totally agree with you on this. You need to take your time and build your relationship with the Gods before you even consider taking that step of commitment…

  3. i have been knowingly heathen for 25 of my 45 years, Loki has been in my life for 41 of my 45 years and I oathed myself to Him as my Fulltrui last year in ink, my other gods are in ink on me as well but Lokis was the first done with that intent. I agree with this and this is exactly what my relationship with my fulltrui is. Very well said!

  4. I follow your blog faithfully in order to learn what Asatru is and where my place within it may be. I usually don’t comment, as I am learning and considering carefully everything you say and feel I don’t know enough yet to make an opinion worth sharing. But I did want to thank you for the wisdom you share with the world, the time you put into this blog (which is clearly a labor of love), and the courage you show to take a stand and confront popular opinions with a more insightful take on the subject. I thank all the Gods of the Vanir and Aesir that led me to discover your blog. I have been astonished at how your dedication to your faith and your character shine through in what you write. I particularly appreciated your post on forced/false familiarity where it has not been earned, and am glad you showed that viewpoint to me before I made a disastrous first impression on someone by intruding where I wasn’t yet invited. In fact, all your posts are timely and seem to address topics I had had rolling around in my mind, bringing a sharp focus to questions I didn’t know how to phrase. Please continue! I for one need this contact with someone so level-headed, yet passionate, about the foundation for his life.

    • Thank you very much for the wonderful compliment, Sherry. I am glad you get so much out of this project. It is a labor of love, although some days it’s more labor than love. 🙂

      If there’s anything you’d like to see written about, please let me know. If I don’t know enough about the subject to write about it, I will try and find someone who does.

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