Another reader question today; a long one, asking about the interpretation of signs and how we feel the presence of the Gods in our lives:

"So this is probably a strange question, as I'm very new to hellenic polytheism, and still trying to figure out incorporating all the gods in worship, and so I've been focusing mostly on Athena for now. But I was wondering, what forms can contact from a god take?? I ask because just this Sunday, I was at a comic convention and struck up a conversation with an armor maker, and he ended up selling me these beautiful handcrafted metal greaves for 20$, when their original price was around 150$.

I feel silly asking if you think this was some sort of reciprocation from Athena, because I feel like the acquisition of material goods is not something that she would really be involved in, but the fact remains that I've got these awesome pieces of armor that make me feel brave and strong, and that's v. cool. I made her an offering of olive oil (not sure if that's even a good thing to give)and thanked her for blessing me with courage. I am not quite sure what I'm doing, but I hope it's ok."

I've never heard the voices of the Gods and Goddesses I worship, but I have been in contact with Them on numerous occasions. I know people whom the Gods actually, literally, speak to. I have never been that girl, and that is just fine by me. That way, I'm sure it's not just the inner sock puppets--a term gratefully borrowed--I'm dealing with. This, however, does not mean that I'm never in contact with the Gods. I have come to rely on a certain gut feeling that is impossible to describe. It feels a little like someone putting a hand on your neck and lower back at the same time and pinching. I spoke about the feeling in my post about synchronicity, and those times, I definitely feel that presence. Those times, I listen.

There is an art--a skill--to interpreting signs, and it comes with a lot of practice. Many of us perform at least one type of divination, and all of us keep our feelers out to maybe find out what the Gods want from us--be it sacrifice, taking or not taking a job, going or not going somewhere, etc. I remember starting out with Paganism many, many, years ago and thinking everything was a sign while doubting every sign I got. over the years, I have discovered a few things about interpreting signs:
  • Almost always, that sign you think you have gotten is either some random occurrence without meaning or your inner sockpuppets talking to you
  • It doesn't matter if it's the inner sockpuppets or a true sign; if you feel you must or must not do (or buy) something in your gut, then do or do not do it--the opinions of the Gods matter, but yours do as well
  • Don't be afraid to interpret (or misinterpret) signs; the Gods will steer you right eventually if you got it wrong, and most likely you won't even notice
  • Go with your gut; always go with your gut--and always be respectful to the Gods
The Gods can contact you in any way you can think of, and probably a few that you can't. They are in the split second decision that prevents a car crash, They are in the count to ten you do before lashing out, They are in the job that finally comes your way after a long, long, time searching for one. Believing the truth of this is the difference between having faith and not having faith: I choose to see the Gods in all of these things, while an atheist will see only coincidence. Religion is a matter of perspective.

So, could your greaves be a sign from Athena? Sure. Could they not be sign from Athena? Yeah, that's possible, too. Look inside of yourself, though: has this experience made you feel closer to Athena? Are you more motivated to worship Her and perhaps some of the other Theoi? Then that's all that matters. Enjoy your beautiful greaves and think of Her whenever you wear them. Oh--and for future reference, olive oil libations are perfect for Athena, and red wine is also traditional. What matters is that you give thanks for aid, guidance, and possessions you feel you have received from the Gods; what, exactly, you should do will become second nature soon enough. Good luck!