Of all the questions I receive from readers, this one is by far the most common: is it a sign?
By “sign,” I don’t mean stock market predictions or an indicator of disease. We’re talking about religious signs--messages that deities send when They’re reaching out to someone. Signs could be a dream, or a vision, or a suggestion brought up through divination.
Before we continue, I want to define what “sign” means in a religious sense.
What Is A Sign?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a sign is an object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else. Or, it could be a miracle regarded as evidence of a supernatural power.
When I receive questions about signs, they don’t usually indicate a miracle in the biblical sense. Most of them are, at first glance, everyday occurrences. A person could be followed by a certain animal, encounter a myth about the deity, or hear a song that reminds them of the God/dess.
I’m not trying to suggest that these are “wrong” interpretations. In modern religions, many believe that deities don’t have to miraculously heal people or turn water into wine to prove that They exist. And I agree. When Gods send a sign, They usually aren’t trying to prove Their existence. They’re attempting to reach out to someone personally, which leads into my next point.
I can’t confirm or deny your signs for two reasons. First, signs are inherently personal to the individual. A dream could have profound significance to you, but when you relay it to someone else, they don’t understand the impact because they haven’t had your experiences. Second, “casual” signs--ones that aren’t miracles or otherwise unexplainable--are far too easy to debunk. Seeing a raven on your porch could be a message from The Morrigan, or it could be that a raven decided to land on your porch.
It's Okay to Doubt
In the Pagan sphere, many say that “If you doubt it, it’s not a sign.” I heavily disagree.
I would never, under any circumstances, discourage doubt. Especially in religion, doubt is healthy. It forces you to double-check your experience and ensure that this religion/deity is for you. New practitioners, in particular, don’t know what to look for when it comes to deities. Who could blame them for remaining a bit skeptical?
In my mind, a sign will remain a sign whether or not you doubt it. If you aren’t sure whether your experience is a sign, keep reading. We’ll figure it out together.
Strategically Doubting the Sign
Let’s return to the original question: is it a sign? While I can’t answer this question for you, I will give you techniques to decide for yourself.
Contrary to popular belief, if you want to confirm the sign, you need to doubt it. You’ll have to test it. When deities reach out, They tend to be obvious and persistent. They’ve been doing this for thousands of years, after all. They know how to grab someone’s attention.
My strategies can be broken down into two questions:
To illustrate what I mean, I’ll include examples of my signs from Ninhursag (Sumerian Goddess) back in November 2019.
Is It Specific?
“I’ve been running into dogs multiple times a day for the past week. Is this a sign from Hades?” This is an example of a generic occurrence, not a specific one. Why? For one, it’s common. A lot of people own dogs, and it’s likely that people encounter dogs every day without realizing it.
More importantly, this isn’t specific to Hades. Yes, dogs are one of Hades’ symbols. But they’re also a symbol of Ares, Bau, The Morrigan, Set, and Fenrir. If it is a sign, how do you know that it’s Hades? Why wouldn’t it be any of these other deities?
In my early years, I may have defended this by saying it’s the worshipper’s intuition. Yes, intuition plays a strong role in deity contact. But during my path, I’ve mistaken my strong emotions for intuition. I interpreted common animals and flowers as signs from a God because I wanted them to be signs. That’s not intuition; that’s confirmation bias. Our desire to work with deities and connect with Them could cloud our judgement.
As you begin to work with a deity, you’ll understand Their language. You may pick up on signs that you missed before after you know how They communicate. Usually, deities send multiple signs to a worshipper They really want to work with. That’s why it’s okay to wait--or even ask for--a specific sign.
Here’s an example of specificity. During a scrying session, I saw my spirit guide take the form of a fox. My spirit guide is not a fox, so this is unusual. The fox ran through a marshland of reeds, which is a vision I had seen before with this spirit guide. It represented the Sumerian underworld.
Afterward, I researched any connection between a fox and the Sumerian afterlife. In one myth, Ninhursag’s lover, Enki, lay dying. Their child asked a fox to fetch Ninhursag and bring Her to Enki. This story connected death, the fox, and Ninhursag in such a specific way that I thought it had to be Her delivering a message or my spirit guide leading me to Her.
Can It Be Repeated?
At this point, I wouldn’t blame some readers for thinking that I’m treating this more like a science experiment than faith. This step is where faith comes into play. To confirm a sign, you have to trust that a deity can repeat the sign--and will repeat it if you ask Them to.
Why do deities send signs in the first place? It’s to catch a person’s attention. If you wanted to talk to someone, would you shoot them a text, or would you place a specific plant along their route to work? Probably the former. Unless you knew someone really well and established the whole plant code beforehand, they probably wouldn’t pick up on the randomly-placed hydrangeas.
Although deities don’t text, They’re usually just as obvious while trying to gain someone’s attention. With some exceptions, most won’t drop one sign and say “take it or leave it.” They want you to notice. They want you to reach out to Them. That’s why signs can be duplicated.
Here are two methods to do so.
If you’ve ever wondered why divination is so prevalent in the Pagan community--this is why. Divination is designed to answer your questions. If you experienced what might be a sign, confirm it through divination. If you received a possible sign through one form of divination, use another method.
Once your sign is repeated through divination, it’s a fairly safe bet. This is especially true if you use more than one method to back up your experience.
After my scrying experience, I tested Ninhursag’s message with my rune set. I received the rune algiz (sometimes called elhaz) that looks like someone stretching their arms upward. Algiz portrays Yggdrasil, a tree that connects the divine to worshippers in Norse mythology, and it mirrors how priests called down the Gods. Those were both convincing symbols to reach out to Ninhursag.
If you have a divination tool, use it. Ask if X deity is reaching out to you. Ask if your sign was divine. Ask if you have any other responses from said deity. If nothing else, having another source confirm your experience will be reassuring.
Respectfully Asking for More
“Have you tried talking to the God/dess?” is something I’ve written a surprising number of times. If you have little experience in speaking to Pagan Gods, this probably isn’t your first instinct. Throughout the community, we hear so many stories about Gods “choosing” people or calling to them through dreams and symbols. But those stories aren’t’ rules. You don’t have to be “chosen” or receive a grand vision to have a fulfilling relationship with the Gods.
Think of it this way: If a God wants to talk, They’ll be pleased that you responded. If you texted a friend, would you ignore their answer once they responded? Probably not! Trust that the Gods want to communicate. This is what faith is all about.
So how do you politely ask for more? Begin by opening up about your struggle. Perhaps you want Them to choose you, but you want to be absolutely sure. Perhaps you never considered this deity before and want more clarity for why They sent signs. If you’re respectful, I doubt the Gods will be disappointed about your honesty.
Afterward, you may politely ask for another sign. Make it something reasonable and specific. For instance, you may ask for a similar dream to the one you had before. Maybe you’ll ask for a certain song to come on the radio or something to come up in your research. Just something that’ll say that the deity heard you.
Also, give the Gods a time limit. My recommendation is a couple of weeks. It’ll alleviate anxiety on your part.
Here’s an example with Ninhursag. After my scrying and rune reading, I asked Her for another sign. I requested that someone would bring a non-breakfast pastry into work by Thanksgiving. Since the holiday was coming up, few people would want to bring pastries into work because they’d be busy cooking for their families. It was possible, specific, and give Her a reasonable time frame.
I asked this on November 24th. On the 29th, my coworker brought in cookies. I had forgotten about it in the meantime, but when I saw those cookies come in two days before Thanksgiving, I knew it was Ninhursag.
What happens if the deity doesn’t follow through? It’s not the end of the world. Review your request; was it too specific? Did you have the right deity? Did you allow for a wide enough time frame? Was that deity disappointed? Remember: a deity’s disappointment is not the end of the world. You can always right a wrong by putting more care into your practice.
I hope this article has helped you. Have you ever received a sign from a deity? If so, what was it? Tell me your experience in the comments below! I’d love to read them!