My gods don’t want kowtowing. They don’t want kneeling, groveling, or trembling. They don’t want me prostrate on the floor, and they certainly don’t want to be told how are unworthy I am. In fact, if I came before them with that last message they’d probably tell me to go away and come back when I was worthy.
I don’t know if this is a god- or pantheon-specific situation. I’ve heard that the Celtic gods don’t take kindly to the whole “I’m not worthy” thing, but I have no first-hand experience with them. (Maybe someone who does could share?)
The deities I worship are mainly of the netjeru, with one or two from other pantheons. There’s a long tradition of approaching Egyptian deities from the position of an equal – in fact, many of the spells from the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts (I have the Faulkner translations) start from the position that the speaker is also a deity. As for the others, well, Ganesha enjoys his offerings as much as any deity but he’s not interested in watching me be flat on my belly. I’m just getting to know Spider so I’ll have to wait and see. If it’s expected, though, it won’t be easy for me. I’ve gotten into the habit of not kneeling.
(Well, except for Set, but that’s a blog post for another day and there’s a power dynamic going on there. And, unlike so many people believe, even He doesn’t want me on my knees all the time.)
I have to say it that it took me awhile to get off my knees. I was raised Christian, and there’s a lot of kneeling to pray in Christianity. There are also a lot of hymns and prayers reminding the Christian god that he is, in fact, god and that he is greater than all. To go from that to gods who are enormously great but don’t have worshipers reminding them of it day after day was baffling.
Applying parity to relationships with deity seems, on its face, to be ridiculous. We’re human, and they’re GODS…how could we ever be equals? How could we expect to be received with anything but hysterical laughter and the smite of their choice if we approach them without shaking in our shoes? How can we pray without petitioning from a submissive position? The answer to these questions is simpler than it seems and, from my experience, works quite well…provided the deity in question hasn’t asked for something different.
(If they have, well, approaching in the way requested works quite well and you probably don’t need this post!)
Take a deep breath. Square your shoulders and feel the space around you. Be respectful in speech and manner, and project that you deserve the same respect. And, above all, remember to listen carefully.