Obligatory context: In 2020, due to feeling a lot of social burnout, pessimism, and pain about our wider polytheistic communities, I started doing a divination reading every three months about the polytheistic communit[y/ies]. The point of this divination, like most divinations I do, is to highlight growth areas that we may be missing that prevent us from being our best. My hope is that those who have a hunger and need for this will serendipitously find it. 💛 I don’t have any credentials and other people are way more experienced than I am, so please take everything with a grain of salt. 💛
The question: What course of action should [people in] the Western polytheistic revival communities take over the next three months to improve ourselves?
I used the Girls Underground Oracle, so the questions work best when they are phrased in ways that focus on the unfolding of a narrative or process, like a story. A single die comes with the deck, and this type of reading uses the die to set the number of cards to draw. This time, I was told six. I made sacrifices to Apollon and asked him this question. Hail to the God of the twinned light that dances, humming its notes eternal. 🙌
There are two themes in this quarter’s divination: Give gifts without expectation of recompense. Follow the truth, no matter how painful or difficult. Do not make lies your companions.
I drew the following cards:
- She helps someone in need (#21).
- She faces many obstacles and foes (#10).
- She must make a sacrifice (#31).
- She confronts the Adversary alone (#34).
- A fraud or secret is exposed (#35).
- She is tempted by the Adversary (#16).
The first card focuses on helping others in need. In the card description, it is mentioned that sometimes, helping others leads to rewards for ourselves; at other times, it doesn’t. We need to help regardless of whether or not we get a “kickback” from something — we cannot be calculating or Machiavellian. We must be there for others around us and show real compassion.
One could interpret the path forward in several ways, starting at the second card. Are the obstacles related to giving genuine help — or is it something more general? For instance, when we reorient ourselves to altruistic thinking, or even thinking about the friction between individuals and group dynamics, a lot can happen. There are additional obstacles inherent to New Religious Movements (NRMs) like the high convert-to-lineage ratio; it can be positive in that new people always bring fresh ideas and perspectives (seeing things in new ways) and enthusiasm for the religion, but unstable when — to pull from Platonism — people try to upend things based on changeable material conditions or desires and use cognitive fallacies to convince themselves that they are in the right. There are symbols, ritual elements, and perspectives that are integral to establishing connections with the Gods, to build on what Iamblichus says about theurgy; in practice, however, there are some symbols and practices that can be modified based on context. It’s tricky to figure out which is which. Other obstacles are ones we face from outside, like bureaucracy, legal codes that target polytheistic practices, societal design, and malicious intent.
Reading this, you may know exactly what the second card means for you. All I can emphasize — in a general sense — is the importance of awareness and the need to actively participate in troubleshooting to remove the obstacles. Building aretē, or virtue, requires continuous effort, and obstacles can be our greatest teachers.
Now we get to sacrifices. The third card relies on knowing the opportune moment to make a sacrifice. This could be a literal sacrifice to a God. In a secular sense, it could refer to releasing a bad habit or offering up something for the greater good that no longer serves us. Have we been too attached to erroneous fantasies? Are there feelings that we need to release?
In the Republic, during the discussion about myths, Plato’s Socrates says that in the ideal city, some myths could only be accessible to the few who had made a very great sacrifice. Returning to the first card, a sacrifice is also something that is given; there is a term, sacred wastefulness, that I have sometimes seen when reading scholarship. (The term is a bit of a problem because it’s not wasteful to give something to a God; however, many types of sacrifices render what is sacrificed unusable by the person doing the sacrifice, like wine spilled upon the Earth, or functionally taboo to consume, so there is a technical way in which it is true.) We make some sacrifices because we have requests; at other times, we give because something is due to a God. This card reinforces the idea of giving.
The fourth card is a confrontation. Importantly, we are on our own when we face our challenge(s) — do these stem from the obstacles from earlier? — but can still make our best effort to overcome them. We must address what we need to face and have courage. It is interesting that this card follows the one about sacrifice; it makes me think of the spirits roaming after the wine-casks are opened at Anthesteria or the sacrifice of Iphigenia that was made to change the winds and bring the Achaeans to Troy for their long, long siege. What can we learn from our confrontation, both about ourselves and what we are forced to confront?
If you remember January 2021, I drew #35, “a fraud or secret is exposed.” The fact that this was present in the April 2021 reading as the fifth card tells me that we may not have dealt with this issue or that we have multiple problems that must be dealt with in the open so we can grow into a place of flourishing. It could also just be something that arises out of dealing with our Adversar[y/ies].
Whatever the case, a deception has been removed. What was sacrificed — and faced — has led to the destruction of ignorance, like Pytho rotting in Helios’ rays after being destroyed by Apollon. These are two Gods of the “truthy triad” (okay, fine, elevating/Apolloniacal triad), which is made up of the unnamed deity (I’d argue a Goddess) who unfolds intellectual light; the second, Apollon; and the third, Helios. What do we deal with when a secret is out in the open or a deception is removed? What is being held within — is it positive or negative? What can we learn from it?
This brings us to the sixth card. Permanent closure is something that rarely happens. Sometimes, progress can slip back into a state even worse than what it was originally. The world defaults to cycles, and it takes a lot of effort to move oneself into a better orbit. Once there, we can accustom to the new revolution/orbit, but the linear push to get there can be dampened or even completely sabotaged if we don’t sustain the effort long enough. Whatever we have discovered may seem less troublesome out in the open, and we may be tempted to just let things run their course and not deal with whatever it is. We cannot rationalize ourselves into not seeing it as an issue, though — we must work against that tendency and avoid traps of complacency. Our adversaries can be great teachers, but a teacher is not always a friend or a situation/person/thing we can relax around.
I hope that this was useful. Feel free to take or leave my commentary, as always! The next divination will take place in early July.