I wasn’t sure which one I was going to go with first, Idols or Offerings, but I think Idols is actually the more important one to start with. I touched on idols way back in the start of the Getting Started series when I spoke about putting together. Now I want to delve into just what an Idol is, what it can be, and what it means in your practice and to have one.
I suppose the best thing to do is define what I mean by an Idol. I don’t mean a celebrity, at least not in this case. No, in this case an Idol is either a statue or an image of a Deity used for worship of that deity. This can be anything from a tiny picture that you carry in your wallet, to a 20′ or higher statue of marble and gold. What’s important is the Image, and the Dedication.
Heathenism and its subbranches (Asatru, Troth, Odinism, etc) are what are known as Idolatrous religions. This means that our worship “centers” around the worship of Idols. Now, this is how most Monotheists see it, anyways. They worship a being that can’t be seen, we’re worshiping bits of stone and wood and oil and metal. How can these tiny physical things have any power, right? Stupid Heathens.
Well…not so much. See Idols form a very integral part of both making worship of our Gods and Goddesses easier and of drawing them close. First off, they help us with Visualization. This makes our Prayer very similar to spells, in some ways, where you have to visualize the outcome. For us, prayer is about communicating with the Gods and Goddesses. How often do you visualize your friends and family when you talk to them on the phone, and use that to help you speak to them, imagining their reactions and expressions as you talk to them? I’d bet pretty much all the time. It’s the same with Idols. Having an Image of a God and Goddess in your mind as you Pray makes it easier for that prayer to “connect” with that God or Goddess. You’re not praying to the idol, nor asking for the power of the idol, but rather to the God or Goddess represented by the idol. This is a fundamental difference that has escaped monotheists, perhaps because they cannot see their God, they can not imagine the difference between an image and the being. One wonders if some of them talk to pictures of their friends as if it were the friend itself, or perhaps do not permit themselves images of their friends lest they be an insult to the existence of that friend. 😉
Okay, I doubt there’s a monotheist out there that is that bad, but that’s pretty much what an Idol is. An image of your Godkin.
I came up with the idea a while back that Idols are actually not so different from telephones or cellphones. An Idol is dedicated to a God or Goddess, and connects to them, making it easier for prayers and offerings to transmit their energy to that God or Goddess. Because our Gods and Goddesses are “finite” beings. They travel about, they have stuff they have to do, or want to do, so they can’t just sit at home all the time, or over our shoulders. So an idol kind of acts like a phone/answering machine. Leave your offering/prayer after the beep. They can pick up then, or they can let it go to message, and get back to you soon as they stop beating the crap out of the latest Jotun, or making sure that someone gets the child they need, or that the harvest will be take care of. Idols can also take on a bit of power from the faith of the individual and from the God they are dedicated to, potentially allowing the God or Goddess to let it serve as an “automatic” function for smaller requests. Store a bit of power in the Idol, the worshiper asks for something, “click” and walla. Prayer is granted by the God or Goddess, if the need is fitting and the request is righteous.
So what can you use for Idols? Well, I got my start with statues off of Amazon, though if you have a local Pagan supply store I’d say start there first. There are statues made of specific deities, at least the big names. Certainly there are for the Norse and the Greek on Amazon, and you can likely find more beyond. For the lesser known Gods and Goddesses, you might have to get inventive, but you can find or make your own. Images, such as pictures or drawings, can also work. More than half my Idols are pictures that I’ve hunted down frames for at various places. What it is isn’t so important as that you have it and that you use it in your prayers and have it at your altar.