Some time ago, I was corresponding with a man in England on Dionysian subjects. (You may recall that, in addition to my devotion to Isis, I also have a passion for Lord D.) During the course of our conversation, I said something about worshipping Dionysos. He wrote me back to the effect of “you wouldn’t catch me worshipping anybody or anything!”
I suspected we had a definition problem—and that turned out to be so, because when I explained that what I meant by worship was an expression of love, appreciation, and honor toward the Divine, my Dionysian pal wrote back saying he’d decided that, in that case, he guessed worship was okay with him.
I think a lot of people share my friend’s ideas about worship. The word is too…um…”churchy.” For many, it has come to have a hollow sound and worse yet, a hollow feeling. Some associate it with merely going through the motions—attending church, sitting in rows, singing ill-harmonized hymns, and eventually passing the collection plate. Others may associate worship with bowing before some cold and distant deity. (I am inevitably reminded, and perhaps you are, too, of Monty Python’s toadying minister: “Oh God, You are so gosh-darned BIG…”) Such prostration appears to them to have no respect for the sacred possibilities of either humankind or Nature and leaves an unpleasant taste in their mouths.
Yet worship is one of the most significant ways we can relate to the Goddess. It is certainly an appropriate way for a priestess or priest of Isis to relate to Her.
True worship has to do with reverence and appreciation for the Divine, as well as for that which is sacred in others, in ourselves, and in the manifested world. Worship is a meaningful way of expressing our feelings and inner selves to the Divine. It is a way of speaking about and participating in that which we find sacred. Worship requires participation not by the mere rote actions of our bodies, but by the focus of our minds, the openness of our hearts, and the willingness of our souls and spirits.
When we sense Isis’ heartbeat and understand that She senses ours, we are participating in worship. When we finally, actually know, in our bones, in our guts, in our hearts that She really is there, the door to worship is flung wide. The temple of our soul is opened, and She indwells. When we taste Her truth upon our tongues, and are grateful, grateful, grateful for that taste, then we worship. When Her Mystery allures and deepens us rather than merely baffling, that is worship. When we know Her in the light in our lover’s eyes, a blade of grass, a spider’s dance, we are worshipping.
We may do this intuitively or, using the priest/essly art of ritual, we may speak to Isis, sing to Her, listen to Her, make offerings to Her, express our gratitude to Her, commune with Her in a ritual context. When we do this consciously and with full intent to expand our souls and spirits, it is then that we truly worship. As we come to know Isis through our acts of devotion, we come to love Her and to understand that She has always loved us.
And love…love is the true essence of the worship a priestess or priest of Isis gives to her or his Goddess.
Next time: The last installment of this series, Key 5: Spiritual development
And speaking of love, and a little late for Valentine’s Day, here are some thoughts on Isis as a Goddess of Love.