Here are some of the questions I’ve been asked most recently:
- Is there a difference between devoting oneself and dedicating oneself?
- At what stage in my relationship with a deity is it considered long-term?
- At what stage in my relationship with a deity do I consider dedicating as a Priest/ess of that deity?
- Everyone says, “don’t rush into it …” but I feel 100% sure. What next?
Dedication vs. Devotion
Devotion is, to me, more of a feeling than an act. The term devotion is defined as, “a feeling of strong love or loyalty.”1 Dedication, on the other hand, is defined as, “setting aside for a particular purpose.”2
The two terms can be defined very similarly, actually. I simply picked the two definitions above that most closely agree with my own conceptualization of the two terms. Devotion is the being loyal, whereas dedication is the act of ritualistic setting aside (“sanctification?”) for a particular purpose. I feel that devotion comes before dedication, when we’re discussing deity.
I can, however, be devoted to many things. For example, I can feel loyal to my Coven Members and even feel love for them, both jointly and individually. And that would lead to specific behaviors. But it does not mean that I need to ritually devote myself – set myself aside – to their well-being. As a High Priest, this is implied, but it is not required, as we’re all Witches who are taught self-responsibility.
I can devote myself to, say, Danu – I can feel loyal and loving towards Her. But am I dedicated to Her, as a Priest of Danu? No, I am not. This type of dedication implies to me a much deeper, and higher, purpose. If I am to be Her Priest, there are certain obligations which I must fulfill in order to remain worthy of Danu’s Priesthood. On the other and, I can merely remain a devoted person – someone who has feelings for Danu as my Cosmic Mother – without dedicating my entire existence to Her.
Is the distinction more clear now?
As the point was made above in the distinctions between the two terms, Dedication is where you’d make a ritualistic effort to make yourself a Priest/ess of a particular Deity. At this stage, it would be assumed that you don’t just feel an affinity or are feeling drawn. Quite the contrary, you’ve probably had some very real, tangible contact with the deity, either in waking reality or in a dream-state.
If your relationship with a deity is to be long-term, there has to have been some form of contact that has caused you to be dedicated, as opposed to just devoted. Some experience has led you to the point where you cannot emotionally fathom being without this deity for the remainder of your life. In a way, you are in love with this deity now, and you are, in some small fashion, desirous of marrying/wedding the deity. (This is what I would consider Dedication to be – a wedding of oneself to a Deity as a means to become His/Her Priest/ess for the remainder of one’s life.)
As said in the above paragraph – only when this deepest sense of devotion (wedding/love/marriage) to a deity is apparent should one even consider a ritual act of dedication.
But I feel 100% …
I’m not trying to scare anyone. But you should really, really consider where you’re at with this before jumping in. I would not consider dedicating (i.e., marrying) a deity until I was OneBillion% sure.
Speaking from experience: I have locked myself into a relationship with a deity before. I had to worm my way out of it and it was not an easy task. The deity was not fooled by any means at all – He was 100% certain of what I was doing. I couldn’t lie to the God and say, “I didn’t mean it,” because at the time I said it, I very well indeed did mean it.
The problem was that I was not at all cautious. What was supposed to be a fleeting, momentary involvement of this deity in my life turned into a nearly-decade-long struggle to be released from my dedication. The deity came into my life with a promise of assistance at a time when I was desperate to make a big career move in order to be able to continue eating. I was financially destitute at the time.
I’d said to the deity that, if things were moved and arranged in my favor, I would dedicate myself to him. He agreed. Situations favored me – heavily favored me. My finances turned around almost overnight. I dedicated myself to this deity. But months later, He was nowhere to be found when I asked for His presence in my life again.
If you’re truly in love with a deity to a point where you want to dedicate to (read: marry) the deity, you should be certain that s/he wants the same thing. I jumped headlong into it without getting a clear “okay, you can be my priest when the current work is accomplished.” As a result, the deity to which I’d dedicated was holding to my promise of dedication, and yet, we’d made no bargain for him to be a permanent fixture in my life. Thus, I had let my own desperateness for an immediate solution cloud my vision for whether the deity’s and my relationship should be long-term.
After several negotiations in trance, prayer and meditation, and several offerings later, the deity and I came to an amicable compromise. If he would let me out of the promise of dedication, I would be much more careful with my words and actions towards any deity – especially that one particular deity – in the future. He, thankfully, agreed. He and I still talk, but we are, by no means, on the same level of relationship as we once were. Not because I’m not dedicated anymore, but because it was never meant to be long-term. I mistook it for that when it should never have been that.
Had I been more thorough in my thought-process and investigation of the answers I received from that deity, I would’ve known better than to dedicate.