Deity and the Divine (Pagan Experience Project week 3)

I’ve tried to start this post four different times. I’ve read the responses to this topic by friends and strangers hoping for some clue that would get me started in a fruitful direction. After several hundred aborted words mostly about my pissy attitude, I gave up. Maybe this stupid project was a dumb idea. Maybe I should just quit. But no. My practice and a significant share of my spiritual experience relates quite specifically to the divine. Leaving them out of a blog specifically intended as an platform for writing and thinking about my spiritual life leaves me without a whole lot to say. Ultimately I decided to go with a Q and A format. We’ll see how this goes.

So: God, huh?

Gods plural. The Gods. Those Gods, them Gods, my Gods, your Gods. Plural. Distinct and recognizable, but not necessarily known in their entirety by the human race. Possessed of their own priorities, motivations, ambitions, and desires. Vulnerable to their own mistakes and failings. Frequently interested in the advancement of human concerns, but not necessarily so. Occasionally injurious but again, not necessarily so. They have an elaborate system of interactivity set up that allows people (and non-people, why not?) to connect in reasonably safe and meaningful ways. Getting the Gods to actually show up and party is best left to experienced and/or ambitious weirdoes with an irrational taste for standing right close to spiritual radioactivity.

So, like, you believe in God?

Gods plural. The Gods. Those Gods, them Gods, my Gods, etc. I believe that my belief in Them is entirely irrelevant to their existence or reality. To use an example of an old friend, I don’t need to believe in the letter carrier to receive packages mailed to me. The existence of both the letter carrier and the mail system relies on my acknowledgement not at all.

So, like, is God just one thing or lots of things or no things at all?

Gods plural. The gods. Those gods, them gods, my gods, gods with big Gs and little gs and all the rest. I really have very little interest in contemplating, let alone discussing, the theological underpinnings of polytheistic assumptions. Advancing different theories of divine existence doesn’t actually change the fact of their interactions with me.

Interactions? So, like, visions?

Not exactly. I cannot doubt the existence or influence of the Gods because I cannot deny my physical embodied reality. The fact that I sense and move and think and sparkle is Their doing. I had a full psychic and spiritual death and came back a different person. I had to relearn the finer points of embodiment and I still have trouble accessing memories beyond a certain point. I cannot doubt the existence of the Gods because I cannot doubt the consensus reality of my physical being and sensory character. When I talk about interactions, yes I include dreams and visions and scent and sound and psychic input and divination and spontaneous confirmation and revelatory experiences as well as the interaction with the world made possible by the permeating senses.

So, uh, Loki, huh?

Back in the bad old days when I was trying to network with various groups in the Heathen community, I’d get people confronting me about venerating Loki. They’d do this in lots of different ways, some constructive and meaningful, others considerably less so. Always the conversation came down to, “Why would you worship Loki? What is worshipful about Him?”

The answer is quite simple: I worship Him because He is worthy of worship. He has proven Himself worthy of my love, attention, consideration, faith, and endurance. My worship is an expression of these things.

But it’s not just Loki, right? What about all the others?

I have a surprisingly diverse spiritual household. In addition to My Lord there’s Santa Muerte and the ancestors (a collection of unnamed spirits that include mostly old women and impressively built transsexual sex workers), a grumpy Ice Age shaman, a certain Father of the Graveyard, the Dashamahavidyas (specifically Kali and Lalita/Kamakhya), and an assortment of other Powers contacted on a less regular basis (primarily Norse and Subcontinent types and lots and lots of plants and plant Grandparents).

Wow, so, like, how’d that happen?

For the most part, they all kind of wandered into my life with the opportunity to pursue more focused forms of interaction. Some, like the Baron, arrived entirely without warning or prior indication of interest. Some, like the shaman, were sick of watching me behave ineffectually and stepped in to provide some assistance. Some, like Sri Lalita Tripura Sundari Sodashi Kamakhya, were sought for more specific reasons. But for one exception, they’ve all stuck around. They haven’t given up on me though I’ve given up on myself more times than I can count or even remember.

So, like, relationship, huh?

Relationship is a matrix of interaction that makes connecting with divine powers possible. Articulating and magnifying relationship provides avenues of deeper and more nuanced interactions. I have focused on the language of relationship because I find it most adept at describing my experiences (and because it is the language used by my teachers in this subject). I hope that divine interaction can be framed in terms of relationship just as it is in terms of obligation, duty, psychology, social cohesion, or whatever. This new language is what I desire to give to pagans and polytheists.

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