The Polytheist Devotional Arts Challenge

Michelle Simkins

I don’t do as much as I’d like for the Gods. Sometimes it’s related to my depression, the chemical imbalance that manifests as a desire to sleep through my life or numb myself with YouTube and the same twelve songs on repeat on Spotify. Sometimes, to be honest, it’s just busying myself to the point of exhaustion. And while I know the Gods love me and understand, there are times when I yearn to honor Them properly and thoroughly. Enter, the Polytheist Devotional Arts Challenge (#DevotionalArts2021 on Twitter), begun by Michelle Simkins!

In her own words, Michelle Simkins “is a queer polytheist, devotee/priest of The Mórrigan, tree hugging religious witch, devotional writer, haphazard gardener, and aspiring necromancer based in the Pacific Northwest.” You may know her from her work at Hagstone Publishing, Spiral Nature Magazine, or her website. Beyond her talent with the written word, she’s also a master of artistic expression, manifested in her knitting, embroidery, talismans, and Spirit Dolls.

I asked Simkins about what drove her to begin this challenge, and she had this to say:

“Lately I’ve been feeling urged by The Mórrigan and some other Gods I have less serious connections with to write poetry for Them. I’ve always been a writer but haven’t written a lot of poetry, so it’s a little intimidating for me. I thought a month long challenge would help me approach the work in a more curious, lighthearted way so I wouldn’t get so tangled up about it. And doing something like this with a group of friends always helps me feel more excited and inspired, so here we are.”

Though covid-restrictions are easing up in some places, many of us are still choosing to self-isolate, so finding ways of connecting to our Gods and community at the same time are rare and valuable experiences. I knew immediately I wanted to participate in this, to challenge myself to make holy icons for Them through the use of magazine collages (inspired in part by the terrific work being done by Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa over at Icons of Kmt). I like to think I’m good at it, but more, this is a way of expressing my love and gratitude for Them in a beautiful, tangible way.

It’s the work itself and what it represents that’s important to Michelle. “I want people to know that the most important thing about this challenge is getting closer to our Gods through our creative work. It’s not about making perfect things, it’s about giving Them the best we have to give. That means there will be rough drafts and first tries that don’t turn out as perfectly as we’d like and that’s okay! It’s about DOING THE THINGS, for Them.”

What can you make this month to show your love for Them? Whether you write or make something every day, once a week, or just one big piece for this month, I hope you join in this challenge and show the Gods the love that burns within you for Them.

[Written by Ashley Nicole Hunter.]

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