As a polytheist, keeping a schedule is probably the most important tool in my arsenal of things which keep my spirituality running smoothly. It's not that I am obsessive/compulsive, it's just that when one has obligations to so many spirits and deities, it is important to keep everyone satiated... otherwise there can be problems. For example, I give sacrificial offerings to Hekate at certain times of the month of different reason, such as at the true Dark of Moon (the 'deipnon') is when I feed Her and the restless dead outside, but at the Full Moon I give thanks and offerings of gratitude for my blessings at Her shrine indoors. Thursdays are all about Santisimo Muerte, Fridays are dedicated to Hathor and now Aphrodite (since I have recently incorporated Her into these devotionals), Wednesdays are for Hermes and the other tricksters, whilst Monday and Saturdays are always dedicated to my matron Hekate. My ancestors and Beloved Dead get favourite drinks and coffee on most Sundays whilst the genius locci are happy with the fruit, honey and milk given sporadically through the year. There is also the agathos daemon, our household guardian and spirit, who gets offerings of bay leaves almost daily.
As stated before, things can go VERY wrong if we don't pay attention to what our Kindred are asking for, or more than likely an obligation is not being met, a complete imbalance can take place. A very good example of this was when I began to include Ancestor worship into my devotionals a few years ago, which was heavily influenced by the integration of ADF into my personal spiritual praxis. At my Ancestor altar I include spirits of nature and those I knew in this lifetime who I wish to honor. Everything was going fine until my father's younger brother died in a rather tragic car accident. The thing is my uncle was a bit of a conman, a minister who'd been in jail, addicted to pain meds after burning nearly 70% of his body; the kind of guy you hide jewelry from when he comes to visit. So when he passed, it wasn't too much of a surprise but it was hard for my family, especially his children. He was my 'godfather', the person who stood and pledge my spiritual life in the Catholic Church I was baptized in. This man who, even though was always trying to get me to convert or be 'saved', would smoke a joint with me on the back porch at Gramma's house. I lit a candle and sang “Amazing Grace”, asking our Beloved Dead to come and help my Uncle find his way, to give him the peace he never knew in life. It was about this time, a few days after, that the candles began to explode.
The first one was a tall, fat, hand-poured jar-candle dedicated to Cernunnos. Halfway through the burn it cracked, spilling grey-green hot wax all over my plants and altar, leaving a permanent scent of bayberry on everything. I figured it was a bad pour, so didn't think much of it. A few months later, another jar candle cracked, this one being purchased at the local dollar store... I chalked it up to cheap wax or glass and decided to be extra careful where I acquired my next candles.
On and on it went, spread so far apart in the events that it took me almost two years of increased frequency that I finally realized “I've got a problem here”. After discussing the issue with some experts, they suggested I buy several different ones, dedicate to different deities, and without dressing or anything, see what happens. They all assumed I was purchasing cheap candles... when in fact several came from different proprietors who were advising me on the matter! After me showing pictures and explaining what I was experiencing I was advised to seek out counsel from my spirit allies or some other divination to discover the root of the problem. Well I tried Hekate but She is so cryptic, then I asked my tarot cards... still nothing. Even my close psychic friend wasn't getting any 'hits' on the issue at hand. We decided it might be best to bust out the Ouija board... see if anyone floating around might have something to say since the regular routes were not helping.
Immediately, my deceased Uncle came forward to be the Godparent he was not in life. He informed me that the damaged candles were HIS doing because he wished for me to return to a Christian path. This surprised me because he knew I was a witch, and had been for 20 years... most of my family gave up on 'talking sense' to me some years ago. I stood my ground and firmly stated “I'm sorry, but that isn't going to happen. Is there something else you want?” He gave clues to indicate, after verification with one of my cousins, he wanted offerings too with the rest of the Ancestors … specifically Pepsi and a Mr. Goodbar. I consulted with my father on this as well, and he surprised me with the following advice, “Don't put him to work... Your Uncle never did like having a job so you better 'wheel and deal' with him to get what you want”. So I did... and the candles have since stopped exploding and the man who I would never have invited into my home as a living person, is now a welcome addition to the Ancestor Shrine. I don't worry about him getting out of line again, now that he understands the rules of MY house.
Making adjustments, evolving praxis and coming up with new solutions to surprising problems are all ways in which our path riches and deepens. We discover who we are being looking to our Ancestors; especially the ones who knew us in life. They watch, learn and see how to manipulate energy, enjoy themselves again and feel part of a family when they come to visit. The Deities are not always there as my Ancestors, although sometimes they get called away for some reason or another. The Deities are only present when I call them... or sometimes not even then, but when they feel like it. I find having a schedule not only benefits me, but the Kindred as well... it gives them a true devotional, a dependable and reliable resource they can enjoy or not. This is true service.