Bless It Forward

My lover Ember and I have decided to go through Galina Krasskova’s Devotional Polytheist Meme questions together, over the next several months. We encourage our friends to follow along, and welcome links to other people’s answers in our comments, as well as your thoughts on our answers.

What does your tradition do to increase the power and flow of blessings?

It seems to me that blessings are a large-scale, accumulative, pay-it-forward kind of thing. Blessings aren’t strictly quid-pro-quo; exchange is involved, but in a way that increases subtly as it’s passed along. They flow along the lines of our relationships as individuals and communities with each other and the world around us. As long as those relationships are maintained, the flow is strong.

Blessings flow from the Ancestors, through us, to our posterity. This is necessarily a matter of paying things forward, as however much we may venerate our Ancestors, there are limits to how much we can give them. The rum I pour out and the candles I burn are little things, token gifts. What I really give to the Ancestors is the continuing work of improving the life and world they gave to me. What I really give them is the future.

In giving the future to the Ancestors, I am also giving it to my descendents and all those who come after me. When I remember who I came from, honor them, and accept responsibility for the best and the worst they have left to me, that relationship is strong, and the blessings flow forward.

By offering libation and prayer to Dionysos and other powers and spirits, I am making room for them in my life. They teach me, first and foremost, how to be aware of the blessings already in my life–including their presence–and to feel worthy of these blessings. I can only give of what I know I have, and of that, only what I feel is mine to give. They show me more of what I have, and they assure me that what they give me is mine whether or not my overly-self-critical ego thinks I deserve it. Then, I can give more to those around me.

In giving to the powers, I see that I have more to give than I thought. From me, blessings flow to those in my life, and through them, blessings ripple out into the rest of the world. I am rarely repaid directly or overtly for these blessings, except for the subtle benefit of a world with more blessings in it. But in giving to the powers, I am made more than I was, I am made larger and stronger, and I find I have more to give.

Most of the blessings I give to my community are a form of hospitality. I host devotionals and parties, I give people a place to come when stress or isolation are too much to bear. I connect them with each other. Keeping these relationships strong gives blessings deep, clear channels through which to flow. When I help them strengthen their connections with the gods, more of those blessings go back to them.

Blessings grow when they are shared, and shrink when they are hoarded. Strong relationships with the past and the future, the seen and the unseen, make it easier to share. Everybody wins.

You can see Ember’s answer to this question at her blog, EmberVoices.

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About Lon Sarver

Lon Sarver is a polytheist priest of Dionysos, living in the San Francisco Bay Area and contemplating (with a healthy amount of dread) making a second attempt at a career in Marriage and Family Therapy. View all posts by Lon Sarver

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