Im going to try and write this one as an organized list of questions and answers since this week is all about generating thought material for the final essay.
What interests you in various hearth cultures?
I am always interested in their legends, epics and histories. I am always interested in the anthropological and archaeological aspects that we can learn from these cultures today. I am generally interested in how they lived, what their art forms were, what their architecture styles were and how their warriors did battle (and with whom). I do this type of thinking with all hearth cultures, spanning across Indo-European lands and around the entire globe.
What sort of things are you looking for in a culture?
In terms of spirituality, its hard to put into words aside, Connection. I have a deep love for anthropology and treat all cultures with respect and fascination but that love is generally academic and not spiritual based. Ive tried to establish spiritual connection with various cultures and realized that there is no spiritual connection at all so they stay respectfully academic.
Do you have an ancestral tie to a certain culture, or is this even important to you?
Yes. I have always known I was of Irish heritage from my grandmother and she use to comment on it frequently when I was a child. As I grew up, I loved the stereotypical things about Ireland but as far as mythology was concerned....I actually did not study the spiritual side of it. I studied Irish History, Irish tragedy, Irish wars but all of this was after the conversion of Ireland. I could tell you Hellenic, Egyptian, Chinese, African, Native American, Mesopotamian myths/epics/mythology for days and days, but outside of hard recent history I never looked at the pagan roots of Ireland until I was into adulthood. This DOES make my knowledge of Celtic history very new, very green, and it is a mild source of insecurity for me, BUT I will honestly say that it is the only culture I have felt a real connection too from day one of my seriously looking into it. Despite my "greenness" my connection is genuinely strong and I can't help but feel that my ancestral ties to Ireland have a part of this. It is because of the strength of this connection that I had DNA testing done to confirm my actual heritage and I also discovered a significant amount of Scandinavian DNA as well This has prompted me to start looking at other cultures as well but the connection simply isn't as strong as Irish Celtic for me.
Are there aspects of your personal life that you need help with?
Over the past year I have realized that the answer to this is yes. The first time I called out to Brighid was in a time when I needed support and she has been there for many other times when I have needed help. She gives me strength when I need maternal support both as a mother and as a mother-less daughter. There is a strong powerful feminine quality to Brighid that helps me often. I generally ask The Morrigan when I need an honest truth without the strong maternal presence. Sometimes I need a dose of reality and others I need support.
Are there deities who intrigue you, amuse you, or frighten you?
I am constantly intrigued and amused by the Sidhe they often are quite entertaining (when they aren't being confusing or somewhat annoying). I am intrigued by Flidais and I plan to start trying to build a relationship with her. At one time The Morrigan frightened me but that has vanished and been replaced with a deep respect and reverence. I will say that lately I have been somewhat focused on Namain the frenzy goddess/sister of The Morrigan for very personal mental reasons that I wont go into in this post. This winter solstice I began working with Cailleach but I don't feel she is a patron to me, we are acquaintances and that is good. On an interesting note, there are no male deities that really connect with me, yet. I stress yet as I intend to continue to try and form/build relationships with the Celtic Gods and Goddesses.
Is there a Goddess who affects a large part of your life?
Yes. Brighid in more ways than I can list here. The triple aspect of Brighid reflects so many parts of me and my life. From the nurturing mother to the healer wise in the way of herbcraft to the pounding hammer and anvil of weaponry and strength. Her fire is akin to the fire inside myself in all of these main ways. The fire is not just in the forge, it is in all of these things and all of these echo within me. When I feel lost as a parent, I call to Brighid. When I feel weak or unsure, I call to Brighid. When I feel ill or injured or those around me are, I call to Brighid. And often I talk to her as if she were the inspirational mother figure my life has missed. A strong, powerful, yet nurturing and loving mother figure.
In the short amount of time that I have been working with The Morrigan I would say that She does affect my life in many ways. Almost the exact opposite ways. She has a habit of tearing my heart or mind open to reveal the things I don't wish to look at and demands me to. The Morrigan has given me strength in my dreams that has never existed. I have always had nightmares and reoccurring dreams about horrible events in my life or my worst fears, but lately instead of being helpless in these dreams, She has appeared and I have taken powerful control over these things. It's been surreal. While Brighid tends to support me and encourage me, The Morrigan wont let me rely on that sort of soft approach comfort. She often tells me exactly what I need to hear (despite its bluntness) to light the fire in me, She demands that I not withdraw but that I fight all things that give me challenge.
Its not that she leads me to bad decisions and conflict for no reason, not at all, its more that she is standing there with a "sink or swim" mentality saying "YOU can do this, stop doubting yourself because you are far stronger than that and you know it. I wont coddle you or hold your hand, but I will not cease to push you past where even you think your limits lie because you are unbreakable, you are fearless, and YOU know it. PROVE it."
(Versions of this conversation have happened more than once in both dreams and meditations now and It has affected me in so many ways I cannot begin to describe it all.)
On the subject of deities from multiple hearth Cultures.
All attempts at this time to form relationships with Hellenic or Roman deities have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. The connection just isn't there, it may be on my side or theirs, but either way, There really hasn't been a connection.
In regards to Norse deities....I keep trying and learning, but at this time, again, there really hasn't been a noticeable connection.
I am open to deities from other hearth cultures but with many spiritual things, time and devotion will reveal (or build) the path.
I hold to the idea of a "Pantheon of Agreement" while I am in ritual and when working with my grove to obtain that respectful community aspect of religion.