After delivering a Deity Communication or Deity Identification reading to a customer, I often receive a quick “thank you so much!!!” response. In many cases this is followed by–a few hours to a day later–by a message asking, “So, how do I connect with these deities?”
My best advice would be to start slowly, and build from there. If you are able to, start by setting aside a space for Them in your room or in your home. (It doesn’t have to be a large area; a corner of a bookshelf or dresser will do for now as long as it is set apart as belonging to Them.) If you are unable, due to your living conditions, to set aside a permanent space, I suggest keeping your shrine items (see below) in a box that is dedicated to Them, and setting up your sacred space each time you are able to spend time with your deities. This box could be a decorated or painted shoebox, a toolbox if stealth is required, a storage bin or tote, a reused mailing box, a pretty box or tin from the craft store, etc. Whatever you already have on hand, can afford to acquire, or feel drawn to use will be perfect.
As for your shrine items: Put a candle in your sacred space (whether that space is permanent or temporary). If you are in a situation (such as a dorm room) where you cannot have real candles, feel free to use a battery-operated one. I don’t feel it lends quite the same ambience, but my wife actually prefers them for safety reasons, and it’s certainly better than nothing. Also, print an image of your deity from online and get a frame for it. (The dollar store is a good place to find frames). The picture will give you something to contemplate, and the candle will lend light and energy to your sacred space. The image you choose need not be something traditionally associated with your deity, or something other people would associate with Them, as long as it calls to you. It need not be a visual image, either, because some people are not visually-oriented, and maybe that includes you. It could be something tactile; maybe there’s a stone that makes you think of your deity, or a piece of fabric, or maybe there’s a smell, a certain essential oil or fragrance.
You can then begin to give Them offerings and talk to Them in this special area you’ve reserved for Them. Start by offering something very basic, such as a glass of water that you refresh daily; all spirits love water, and because water conducts energy it makes it easier for us to connect with Them. As time goes on, you can offer up part of whatever you are having for dinner, or if you want to make a really special offering you can research what foods are sacred to your deity in particular, and/or what foods were common to Their geographical region and culture, and prepare a special treat for Them. (Feel free to enjoy this meal along with Them, as in most ancient cultures the food offered to the gods was shared with their worshipers.)
You may also find it helpful to hold your devotional rituals at night. The night is a psychic quiet time when people are either asleep or resting, rather than rushing around on daytime errands. This makes it easier for us to expand our senses beyond the physical at night, and begin to be able to sense and communicate with spirits and deities.
I recommend establishing a daily practice, but this can consist of anything you choose, no matter how simple. In fact, it is better if you start simply, because consistency is much more important than elaborate ritual or fancy words. (That being said, don’t beat yourself up if life interferes and you miss a day–or a week–here or there. Simply begin again.) And all worship is best when it comes from the heart. You can serve Them a cup of tea if you like as long as you are truly present for it, not simply doing it by rote. (But having said that, rote happens, and don’t give yourself a hard time when it does. When you catch yourself doing things by rote, take a moment to hold that, to be aware of it, and then refocus.)
You can also light a candle, gaze into its flame, and offer up a prayer to Them. Do not overanalyze working with the gods; working with the gods is simple. It is as simple as sitting down and having a chat with a new friend, and along the way you may quickly find that They are in fact a very old friend.
I definitely support learning what you can about Their culture of origin, how They were worshiped in antiquity, and how They are worshiped by modern people today, but I would also suggest maybe putting this off until a habit of regular devotion/touching in has been established. Ultimately, it’s about knowing yourself, right? If you’re the sort of person who tends toward perfectionism, knowing too much about your deity’s background or how other people work with Them could derail you at the outset, or make you feel overwhelmed. Allowing yourself to get to know the Spirit in question, just between the two of you, can be beneficial before adding in the cultural trappings.
Whether you decide to dive into research right away or delay it for a bit, don’t allow any of this information to intimidate you or make you compare yourself with another worshiper unfavorably. There is no contest; you are simply getting to know Someone, just as you would in any other relationship. This is an ongoing process, not a race to the finish line. As time goes on and you learn more, you may want to incorporate some of what you learn into your own practice–or you may not. Either is fine. Your relationship with this deity is yours–not anyone else’s to make judgments about. Allow Them to guide you.
How will you know if it’s working? Ultimately, it is really just going to take time and experience to know what it feels like when They are present in your space, and what it feels like when They are communicating with you. In the meantime, just go ahead and talk and trust that They hear you. 🙂 You can also watch for signs–bits of overheard conversation as you go about your daily routine, animals or birds you see, feelings you may get that don’t seem to come from you, etc. Some deities communicate with us by talking inside our heads, but not all of Them do. Some communicate by means of emotion, visions, or just an instant sense of knowing something. Many of Them will tailor Their preferred communication method to better connect with the person trying to work with Them. Again, it will just take time to see how things will play out in your particular relationship.
If you’d like to go more deeply into the ins and outs of deity communication, I recommend a book called Trance-portation by Diana Paxson that discusses how she learned to communicate with deities, having started out being what she called “headblind.” It’s widely available via Amazon and basically wherever books are sold. Diana was my mentor in the Troth’s clergy program (which I successfully completed but then chose not to take the organizational oaths–and thus did not become official Troth clergy), and her own past struggles with deity communication make her insights into the topic so much more valuable than what I can offer in a brief blog post here.