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More on Honoring Mani: a Question Revisited
Having spent the better part of last weekend doing intense devotional work with and to Mani, I didn't want to let too much time passed before I returned to my 'honoring Mani' series. As with my devotional 101 series, I encourage readers to email me your questions about the Norse moon God. I'll do my best to answer them. Last week, Sparrow asked me a question that i covered in my last Mani post, but I wanted to revisit it again here expanding my earlier answer, because I've been thinking about it and it was a good question:
"How can a person connect to Mani? I presume moon gazing and performing full moon rituals are good ways to get to know Him."
You will never hear me protesting regular ritual practice. I think that it can be a powerful way -- whether one engages alone or with a working group--to develop a relationship and devotional practice to the Gods and ancestors. Mani is no exception. I've certainly found that He shares different facets of His personality at different times during the moon's cycle. How He may choose to present during the full moon is different ever so slightly from the dark moon, and different again from the waxing and waning crescents, etc. etc. and there is much mystery --in the sacral sense of the word--to be experienced in each moment of the moon's passing. I've even found Him to shift depending on what astrological sign the moon happened to be in. It is almost as though the moon is His mirror, a lens through which He shares Himself with us. The same moon shines on us all but oh how full of wonder He is.
Of course, when someone asks me how to connect to a Deity, my first suggestion is always to approach it from the tactile, from the senses, from the point and purpose of visual and spacial focus: set up an altar. It really does help give shape and space to your budding devotions. It's both a place of welcome to the Gods, and a sanctuary for oneself to simply *be* in devotion (i.e.: relationship) with Them. In all the years that I"ve been honoring the various Gods and Goddesses, I've never found a better starting point than altar work.
I'd also suggest developing a prayer practice to Him. Sometimes people find it helpful to work with set prayers and prayer beads (I include a set in my devotional to Him) and this is a good baseline. But in addition to that, just talk to Him. That's what prayer is at its heart. It's no fancier than that: talk to Him. Someone asked me today what comes to mind when I hear the word 'prayer, ' because it can have awfully negative connotations to some folks. Sometimes our birth religions really do a number on our ability to connect consciously and lovingly to the Gods, to feel safe in that process. I told her the first handful of thoughts that came to my mind: prayer is talking to my ancestors; it's singing a prayer of praise to a Deity, when my heart is so full of gratitude and love for the blessings I've been given that there is nothing else to do BUT sing; it's sitting down before one of my shrines and telling that Deity what's going on with me; it's expressing my love, my thanks; it's conversation.
I know sometimes the idea of praying can be daunting but it's really no more difficult than that. Start where you start and let your practice evolve from there. Also, I 've never known Mani to demand strict and staunch protocols. I've always found Him very, very approachable and gentle. Those are the two places I would suggest beginning to "get to know" Him. There are hundreds of other ways (painting an icon of Him for instance comes right to mind) that one might connect to Him, but these two techniques are things that everyone can do (whereas not everyone can paint, for instance).
Of course, one could do worse than moon-gazing. He is so incredibly lovely when He rides the night sky gleaming gold in the inky darkness. I particularly like it when He's still winking at us through the pale blueness of the early day, sharing space and time with His sister on Her daily journey.
Thank you, Sparrow, for sending me your questions. In my next post on Mani, I'll be discussing to the best of my ability His thoughts on His wolf follower Hati and His position as a moon God (rather than a Goddess--though this isn't as unusual as one might expect). Stay tuned.
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