|An image of the German Woden|
When I began my pagan path I really wasn't aware of the idea of dedicating oneself to a deity, or several even, but over time I not only started to read about the idea but I started to see it in action. I met people who described themselves as a priest or priestess of a specific deity and I saw the way that dedication could impact a person's life. Nonetheless I hadn't felt pulled to that level of focus on any God or group of Gods during my first years as a pagan, although I certainly had my favorites. My spirituality was always a complex thing with different layers of focus between the Gods, the Good Folk, and magical practices and I was fairly happy with what it was.
It wasn't until I began following a Heathen path in the mid-2000's that I felt called to formally dedicate myself to a deity. While I had developed what I would describe as a sense of closeness with several deities when I started practicing Heathenry I very quickly felt pulled to Odin. In what seemed to me the blink of an eye I found myself beset by dreams of a pair of ravens with a one-eyed rider and haunted during the day by his presence. My life took a decidedly weird (wyrd?) turn and within a year I was standing before witnesses making oaths, pledging myself to Odin*.
I don't regret it. For a decade I considered Odin my fulltrui; I learned to read the runes and studied seidhr, I became the gythia of a kindred, connected to the Hidden Folk under new guises. Odin was a driving force in my practice of Heathenry, staying with me as I shifted from a more Norse to a more German approach. He became my muse and my poetry was dedicated to him. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy - Odin is a hard one in many ways and even his kinder faces present interesting challenges. But I loved him and I loved being dedicated to him.
Then, after a decade, it ended.
I was pulled into a deeper relationship with the aos sidhe and that shifted things profoundly for me. Before I knew it, and to my utter shock, I found that my connection - my dedication - to Odin was over. I meditated and had an experience of Odin coming to me and telling me I was freed from my oaths to him. I didn't believe it at first but when I went to several people I trusted who were good with divination or channeling they all confirmed it. I paid weregeld for the oath anyway, for the people who had witnessed my oath, and just like that it was over.
I don't think I truly understood why the Norse called such dedication 'fulltrui' until that friendship was gone. Of course I can still honour Odin - and I do - and of course I can still call on him in ritual. But it isn't the same. It isn't that close, personal feeling, that friendship anymore.
People talk about building dedication and about finding patron deities, but no one talks about when those relationships end, whether that end comes from the deity choosing to break the connection or the person doing so. Its painful, as painful as losing an important human relationship is. When you are dedicated to a deity that deity becomes a part of your life on a regular basis and having that suddenly gone is a shock - it's like losing a friend.
I had to learn that it was alright to grieve that relationship. I had to tell myself it was alright to be sad that things had changed and that I was allowed to be sad that I wasn't formally dedicated to a deity I had spent 10 years of my life closely connected to. And that was hard. Painfully hard. But things change and even in devotional polytheism dedication isn't always for life, even when we go into it planning that it will be. The Gods have agency and independent will and sometimes what they want diverges from what we want. Sometimes what they plan isn't what we plan. And sometimes we grow in a different direction and that growth takes us away from the place that our dedication was rooted in.
And that's okay.
*I also dedicated to Macha around this same time - I found the two were a good balance for each other, and given how challenging Odin could be I am glad I had that balance.