Working With the Gods When You Have ADHD
I recently took Jack Grayle’s online course Godsong, which is a year-long study of Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey and the spiritual takeaways that can still be made in today’s world (and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is into mythology and/or classical literature!). One of my key learnings from this course, and particularly from the Odyssey, is how powerful the goddess Athena can be as an ally to those who have ADHD, like myself.
First of all, Athena is a great shapeshifter who takes on the form of birds and humans as a method of persuasion and she always takes the form that will spark the most appropriate response from whomever she’s trying to persuade. In other words, she alters her appearance and behavior to get her goals accomplished. Those of us with ADHD do something similar when we mask, or hide our neurodivergent traits and struggles from other people. Though, we aren’t masking to persuade others, we are more looking to get our needs met. Athena is chameleon-like as she moves through the Iliad and Odyssey, and I feel like I have been very chameleon-like in my own life, but instead of doing such purposefully and strategically, I did it unintentionally and as a response to trauma. While I don’t want to intentionally mask on purpose because of how draining it is to be anything other than my authentic self, I do recognize my ability to adapt to different situations and understand the perspectives of different people, which I feel is very Athena-like.
But what if we did want to present ourselves in a different way to help get our needs met? Then we can call upon Athena to pour grace and courage upon us! These moments when we are intentionally and strategically presenting a version of ourselves can be anything from giving a presentation at work to dealing with the chaos and overwhelm that is just inherent with existing in 2022. We don’t have to abandon ourselves and our authenticity, we can stand firm and strong in who we are; these aspects of strength exist in every single one of us. We can then ask Athena to pour some grace and courage on top of what we already have to give us an extra boost. Below are some examples from the Odyssey when Athena poured some grace and courage on someone to help them out to use as inspiration:
- “And wonderful was the grace that Athena caused to fall upon him, and all the people marveled at him as he came.” 2.12
- “Then wise Telemachus took courage, and made answer, for Athena herself put courage in his heart,” 3.76
- “Alone the daughter of Alcinous kept her place, for in her heart Athena put courage, and took fear from her limbs.” 6.140
- “But then Ares and Athena gave me courage, and strength that breaks the ranks of men.”14.216
- “And wonderful was the grace that Athena shed upon him, and all the people marveled at him as he came.“ 17.60
- “Then the Goddess, bright-eyed Athena, put it in the heart of the daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, to show herself to the suitors, that she might set their hearts a-flutter and win greater honor from her husband and her son than before this time.” 18.158
It can be as simple as asking, “Athena, please put courage in my heart to have this difficult conversation with my friend as you put courage in Telemachus’ heart to ask King Nestor about his father.” After the conversation, thank Athena, give her an offering of some wine or olives, and take some time to process what you did! Notice how you survived that difficult conversation and declare that victory in Athena’s name as you feel that sense of victory resonate throughout your body. Even if the conversation didn’t go the way you wanted it, or if it still ended up feeling terrible, it’s still a victory that you had it in the first place.
Finally, one of my favorite epithets of Athena is her Roman aspect of Minerva Ergane – “Worker” or “Minerva of Tasks” – an aspect of the deity involved with what was then deemed “women’s work” and domestic tasks such as spinning and weaving, though I feel confident that the tasks can expand far beyond those two in today’s world. A frieze with Minerva Ergane still stands in Rome today and I like to invoke this version of Athena at the beginning of a work day or any other day when I have a lot of tasks to do.
About the Author:
Montine is an astrologer, tarot reader, and occultist living on unceded Duwamish land that some call Seattle. A forever student, journalist, and queer gender-nonconforming femme, she spends her time listening to the stories people tell with the hope of understanding many more perspectives than her own. Recently diagnosed with ADHD and self-diagnosed as autistic, she is rediscovering the world through a neurodivergent lens and transforming her life to work smarter and not harder. She writes an annual called Book of My Shadows which explores different ways to use the energy of New and Full Moons for personal growth and exploration and one of her current hyperfixations is studying the Greek Magical Papyri.