Seeking Together (Pagan Experience Project March wk3)

Though this week’s original prompt, “What do you seek from the divine?” has been switched to a prompt about the types of relationships shared with the divine, I’m actually choosing to write about the first one. I’m doing this because I think being honest about our motivations within relationship, whatever configuration that relationship might be, is part of what helps that relationship develop in a healthy and productive manner.

While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the magico-religious theory that holds a specific action or petition is going to have an automatic result simply for having asked (aka, the cosmic vending machine theory), I am a fairly ends-oriented practitioner in many regards. That is, various religious and magical practices are engaged in with a particular desire in mind. These practices are chosen, in part, because they seem to offer what I hope to achieve and because the process seems compatible with my magical skill, my style of practice, the web of commitments I’m part of, and so forth. It’s the second part that sometimes gets left out in ends-oriented planning.

There’s the cliché story about the teen girl who wants to do a love spell and so heads off to the local witch shop with a shopping list culled from a love spell printed in a book. The proprietor suggests simply making an apple pie instead since all the same ingredients are used (and when I tell the story, I like to add that even if the protagonist is rejected, she still has consolation pie). The girl throws up her hands – that’s too much work! Baking is hard! Can’t I just do a spell for love instead? Yes, this story is a cliché and yes this actually does happen from time to time (witch shop proprietors can certainly tell you a few stories), but there’s more than one lesson to take away from this. First, of course, is the lesson that magick is work and takes effort and skill, just like baking a pie.

The second lesson in this story is about choosing between two paths that lead (ostensibly) to the same outcome. The teenager in the story might be quite terrible at baking and so knows that her efforts are likely to fail and alienate the object of her affection. The teen might also have also engaged in some personal magickal practice and already has a little skill built up. The point is that you have to choose the processes that are most compatible with your skills, aptitudes, experiences, and so forth.

Of course, if I were in this situation, I’d do both. I’d make a love pie and do a love spell. There’s nothing wrong with addressing a problem with multiple strategies to best leverage their respective advantages. This is why I meditate *and* cultivate a consciously more compassionate mindset. This is why I live quietly *and* petition Santa Muerte for a peaceful life. And you know what? The Powers are much more willing to lend a hand if you’re actually making an effort on your own. You will find that their blessings flow more freely and obviously when you make an accounting of what you’re going to do with those blessings.

Like some other magicians, I was never very good at money magick. I could magick up an extra $20 now and then but my success was sporadic and not really dependable. Then a while back I hit on the idea of actually saying what I wanted the money for. What exactly am I doing with the prosperity I’m asking to receive? What are my precise monetary goals? Once I started included this information in my petitions, the magick started working better. I still struggle financially and I’m frequently on a real knife edge of need but when the money flows, it flows – and it flows from me to many other ends that help further the Powers’ presence in this world.

Ultimately I guess I seek a partnership with the Divine that helps me become a better person. I seek to be more capable of helping others and serving the world because thereby do I serve Them. If they are present, here, now, in this world (and they are!), then expanding my efforts towards improving and serving this world is going to help Them. And it does.

But past that ultimate desire is something else, an arching vault of emotional resonance that keeps pulling me up and up. Relationship is not outcome. Relationship is not ends-oriented. Relationship is process, experience, the present moment. Losing sight of that is losing sight of the real power of sacred relationship. Relationship should not be forced into a value-oriented paradigm; we should not have to prove our emotional priorities by holding up the outcomes of our divine relationships. Once again: we should not have to prove our emotional priorities by holding up the outcomes of our divine relationships.

Sometimes – not frequently, but occasionally – there’s an effort in greater pagan and polytheist dialogue to make devotional relationship mean something. And this is fine because devotional relationships can and do have very positive outcomes – but that’s not really the point. It is, however, a place to start. Srila Prapupada replied to a question about the appropriateness of praying to Krishna for money by replying that any prayer was good prayer (I summarize; I can’t recall the precise quote. I believe it’s from a little book called Perfect Answers to Perfect Questions).

Faith is not necessarily automatic. We don’t generally offer our whole hearts to the divine without some indication that they’re there and that they are responsive to us. (There are of, course, major exceptions to this but we’ll set those aside for a moment.) This happens through an exchange of attention, gifts, and so forth. We seek their attention and blessing, which is recognized as evidence of their love and affection. We celebrate their power and presence, which in turn helps endear us to them. Eventually this exchange of energy (rather nicely typified by the rune Gebo) is less about any possible future outcome and more about a present saturated by sharing.

A relationship with the Gods generally begins with desire. We seek something – proximity, affection, refined awareness, knowledge, aid in magick, or the satisfaction of curiosity. Being honest about the fact of desire and trying to identify precisely what is desired is a good thing, a very good thing. Many of Them desire something of us – proximity, affection, refined awareness, knowledge, aid in magick, or the satisfaction of curiosity. Relationship helps achieve these and many, many other desired outcomes. But sooner or later, at some point, all parties of the relationship are participating in something much, much more.

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Why We Need Love Goddesses

I’ve said plenty of times that the deities in my life are all chaos and death. Chaos n death, that’s the pattern.  It’s not a matter of me being especially chaotic or deadly, but something about the way I fit into the giant clockwork jigsaw of the universe makes me especially compatible with these Powers. We fit well together. It’s always been chaos n death.

Many polytheist and pagan types find themselves aligned with Powers that share very similar domains or characteristics. A person might find themselves surrounded by liminal characters, lots of gatekeepers and crossroads types; another might find frequent allies in watery deities, deities related to animals, or deities concerned with health and healing. And of course, some people find themselves surrounded by Love Goddesses(TM).

I never “got” love goddesses. (And yes, I know there are male-type Powers associated with love and the broad category of concerns that love goddesses are also concerned with, but this actually isn’t important to the point I’m going to be eventually making.) I didn’t understand these love emotions or the beauty, art, or luxury that typically went along with love. I knew it was important, I just didn’t understand it on a personal level. I didn’t see how these things related to me.

A lot of this was very likely because I had a rock-bottom opinion of myself. I have always thought of myself as a fundamentally unloveable person – despite any evidence to the contrary. Not that I wasn’t worthy of love; I just felt that at some point, eventually, without a doubt, the people who loved me would discover that underneath the good stuff was a whole lot of garbage that wasn’t worth the effort. I have done considerable work on this front but it is still a mental stumbling block that needs constantly negotiated.

I also didn’t like myself. I thought I was ugly. I thought I was unattractive. I thought that I was repellent to others. I thought that luxury and pleasure were a waste, that they were a pacifying comfort against the reality of entropy and pain. I thought beauty was a waste because everything crumbles to dust sooner or later. Freya-norse-mythology-21934274-300-427

Freya was the first Power to step in and start to change all this. She was my first ally, in a way. She was the first Power to just up and offer to help when I was struggling with the emerging realities of life as a spirit worker and maturing devotionalist. To my mind, She had nothing to gain from this. Her compassion went straight down into me and rattled my emotional basement like nothing else had. I started to understand, very vaguely, that love was beauty and that beauty was healing.

A couple years ago I came across a Power that shook me right down to the emotional basement all over again. At the time I had resumed some very old work with Kali (like, stuff that I had started when I was 16) and was feeling it struggle to resolve. It wasn’t the wrong work, but it wasn’t quite right on some level, either. I persisted, hoping it would level out. I was puzzling over a very direct encounter of Her in an unfamiliar form. I fell into the research rabbit hole and came out the other side staring into the eyes of Kamakhya.

Shakta theology and philosophy is distinctive in the context of subcontinent religious traditions and global religious traditions. Encountering a radically different form of Kali was not actually a problem in the way such a thing might be in a different tradition or context. It was merely unexpected. That Kamakhya was identified with the yoni Shakti pitha, with Sri Lalita, with Tripura Sundari, and with the very Earth Herself was more surprising.

Sri Lalita

Sri Lalita

Sri Lalita had fascinated me for a long time but I hadn’t really done much about it (chaos n death, remember? I was busy). In her hands She holds a noose and goad, two minuscule instruments capable of exerting force wildly disproportionate to their size; a goad is intended to move an elephant. One instrument propels while the other restrains. Her other two hands hold arrows made of flowers (or flowers used as arrows) and a bow made of sugarcane (or a stalk of sugarcane used as a bow). The sugarcane bow is said to be strung with a string of beads. Imagine!

 

 

 

I called this goddess of plenitude forms Sri Lalita Tripura Sundari Sodashi Kamakhya – because She was. She was all these things and all these things are the same entity (you know, more or less. That’s just how Shakta theology works). Through Her divine grace I learned about love. I learned about just how powerful love actually is and how it can accomplish things that other emotions simply cannot. Her grace accompanied me at every step as I dove deep back into the bhakti current that had nurtured me so long ago.  No longer content with redigesting the lessons I had absorbed as a teenager, I set about trying to learn the deeper truths of this path and She helped me gain a fuller understanding of the power of devotional practice. And this is finally the point I want to make.

Devotionalists need Love Goddesses(TM). We need the Powers associated with love, beauty, joy, compassion, and companionship. We need to have these things in our lives because our path is completely saturated in a very particular sort of love. Petitioning a beloved Power who’s already on our side *because they have chosen love and power and beauty and compassion as their domain* is one of the most effective and profound things you could ever do on this path.

Devotionalists need Love Deities. We are already in Their precious and sacred domain. They already care about us. They already love our relationships. They already love our love.

My work with Sri Kamakhya is done – at least, this stage of it is. I was going to gently put away Her blessed altar because there is another Power that I am resuming work with and I have used up the very last bit of available horizontal space currently accessible. My little heart broke. My cold nasty cynical Lokean heart just broke. My beautiful, compassionate, luminous Goddess – how could I remove her visage?

And there it was – permission. Permission to keep the altar in place, permission given by a Power who has no sentimentality, but who does have compassion. Even She has to acknowledge the most blessed patron of my spiritual love.

We need Love Deities, you guys. We already have them.

My Life’s Top Priority

Almost fifteen years ago I gave oaths of loyalty, service, and affection to My Lord. This undertaking had more steps than I anticipated. When I first decided, “Yes, this is something I’m going to do”, He stopped me. My heart wasn’t in the right place. My motivation wasn’t right.

But isn’t this right? I asked. This is what you wanted from me. I’m just doing what you asked me to.

That was the problem and that was my very first lesson.

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Making Relationship Available

As you probably know, various traditions within the Hindu religious complex are very near and dear to my heart. These traditions have taught and nurtured me, and played a formative role in getting me to where I am today. Before there was Kali, before I was introduced to Wicca, before I even had any witchy friends, there was Krishna. Why wouldn’t there be? He’s become a global presence precisely because He’s so darn lovable. His name means “all attractive”; He possesses all attractive qualities and attracts all intelligences towards Him.

krishna-731To use spirit work terms, Krishna has one hell of a call center. He’s got an answering service that can do just about anything. In my experience, He’s intensely difficult to actually get on the line. But really, He doesn’t need to take His own calls. As the cause of causes, He can just sit back and hang out. His heavenly realm is one of eternal springtime, dancing girls, and happy animals. As far as His doctrine is concerned, He doesn’t need to do anything; He causes other causes, and those emanations do the rest.

Everything I know about Krishna, including my own experience with His call center, tells me that He’s a benevolent, easy-going guy who loves to have His friends around. So when I did finally encounter Him, the conversation didn’t go like I was expecting.

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The Feminine Loki

Any discussion about Loki is going to bring up His parentage of Sleipnir. This particular bit of tricky business is praised by some, sneered at by others. A rather more detailed discussion about Loki will bring up the accusation made by Odin that Loki spent winters under the earth as a woman either milking cows or nursing babies. A more in depth discussion of Loki may mention that He became pregnant after eating the heart of an unnamed woman burned for unknown reasons. A quite detailed discussion of Loki will mention in passing that He’s known to have given birth to a race of ogre-like female creatures or witch women. This is why those who love Him exalt His title of Mother of Witches.

All this lore-based information collects to form a distinctly complex picture of Loki’s gendered identity. People who love and worship Him are generally familiar with His penchant for flamboyant appearance, glam-rock attitude, and occasional crossdressing. This is all part of Him. Not all of Him, not even most of Him, but it is part of Him.

I want to talk about the feminine Loki. I can’t say the female Loki because Loki is not female, no more than She is male. These two designations are simplistic categories intended to sort biological life forms (though they frequently fail to do so in any meaningful way). Not being biological in a way we understand, Loki is therefore neither male or female (or anything else in particular). I feel it’s important to emphasize that no Power is male or female (or anything else in particular). I realize I may step on some toes by making this assertion and I know that that these terms are quite central to the understanding that many people have of their Gods. Though I don’t wish to diminish that understanding, this particular belief has certainly not been kind to many people and (I feel) rather limits the ways in which we as human worshipers are willing to engage with the Powers we love. Please realize I mean no disrespect. Moving on.

The feminine Loki is not the masculine Loki in drag, not the masculine Loki’s alternative identity, not the masculine Loki’s feminine persona. She is Her own being, as distinctive a character as Her masculine face. He and She are the same creature and neither is more central or default or superior to the other. They are, however, somewhat different in personality and attitude and therefore deserve rather different approaches on our parts. I’ll talk about that at another time. First though, I want to talk about who She is.

She’s lots of things. She is a swinging hippie chick with tight jeans who kisses you hard in a field full of wildflowers and stale incense smoke. She is a pale leggy transsexual with beautiful tits. She’s a witch woman, hot and red and drenched in magick. She is an exiled queen keeping court in a cave embedded with crystals, dressed in rags and tatters because Her crimes negate Her tributes. She is an impoverished, lonely mother bent on survival at all costs. She is a tender, loving embrace to a monster who has known no family but Her.

She is mother, lover, sister, sweetheart, witch, queen, companion, heartmate, helpmeet. She is a trickster beauty, Bonnie to my Clyde. She is a bold and arresting presence, Sheila Franklin to my Claude Bukowski. She is sorcerous, Morgana le Fae to my Mordred. She is the hot red control of focused attraction, a vision in cherry red vinyl.

She is protective, loving, fierce, powerful, regal, scrappy, poor, lonely, forgotten, heavy, rich, deep, and lusty. She is red roses, fire-lit bronze, the sound of bells, the scent of incense, the rock wall of a cave, deep bioluminescence, the treasures deep beneath the earth. She is heat and pressure and the close spaces where magick is born.

She is beautiful and I love Her.

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Though my darling mylar-clad B-movie cosplay goddess is as brilliant as they come, She is also rather shy. He protects Her closely and She doesn’t come out to play with everyone (except when She does). In Her is much of the damage He carries. You have to be gentle and exceptionally loving when asking Her to visit. The best thing to do is to simply ask Him. She might show up, She might not. She might show up without even being asked (since She is Loki, after all). Offer Her light. Offer Her comfort. Offer Her a blanket and a soft place to sit. You can coax Her with compassion but be patient. Her blessed presence is shared on Her own terms. Let Her take the lead and She will show you many wonderful things.

Worshiping With Beauty

Beauty is a subject I have found myself confronting within my devotional and magickal practice for a few years now. I came to this topic unexpectedly and without many road signs telling me where I was headed.

I came to beauty via pleasure, when I discovered that certain beautiful forms gave me a pleasurable experience like nothing else really had before. Various sexual complications and nearly a decade of committed sacred marriage had all but snuffed out my libido; I have never gotten a great deal of pleasure from that particular aspect of my humanity. I’m aware of my weakness when it comes to drugs and alcohol so I limit my consumption. These things don’t get me high like they do other people (a physical high sure, but not, you know, HIGH). Food, perhaps, sometimes, takes me to that place. Not even fine or exotic food, just food that is good and perfectly prepared with love and attention. Sometimes I go to that place where sound drops away and pain recedes and I am suspended in a perfect novel moment.

Then I discovered that books, beautiful, unique, unusual, peculiar books gave me that same intense and sublime hit of pleasure. That’s dangerous since the law of diminishing returns provides sound insight into the psychology of pleasure gained through consumption. (Basically, you’re always going to be chasing that first perfect high and will never ever regain it again.) Plus, good books – like other fine sources of pleasure – can get expensive. For my psychological and financial well-being, it was important to understand exactly what it was I was after when I sought pleasure through this particular avenue of beauty.

I discovered that my desire for these high hits of pleasure had several names. It was named Desire for Knowledge and Desire for Pain Relief. It was also named Desire for a Higher Harmony. I wanted to experience a higher kind of beauty, one that I didn’t encounter in my daily life. I (like many spirit worker and devotional mystic types) struggle with deep dissatisfaction with the world and a tendency to reject it in its imperfection. I wanted a glimpse of celestial, transcendent beauty.

My Gods have never been highly aesthetic Gods. Loki has tended towards spare altars for the past several  years and a gradual  move towards symmetry has occurred. Hela was also rather stark; even her pretty things had sharp edges and hard lines. Odin, Kali, Shiva, Skadi – everyone who had shared a long- or short-term devotional relationship with me had tended towards spare, limited tastes.

I developed a craving for beauty in worship when My Lord appeared in feminine form for an extended period of time. I got to know Her fairly well during this period (as much as anyone can claim to know Her, I suppose; She can be fairly secretive). I feel in love with Her aesthetic expression and I responded to Her inspiration towards beauty. I see My Lord in red, hot, bloody goddesses, the same ones that are surrounded by lots of bronze and roses. She changed the way I approach the Gods and the way I worship.

Sri Lalita Tripura Sundari Sodashi Kamakhya also significantly transformed my spiritual life. She is the Goddess Who Plays, the Beauty of the Three Worlds, In Her Fullness, the Form and Fulfillment of Desire. She is the engagement of the soul through beauty. She is the enchantment of the mind through pleasure. She isn’t a Goddess of love; She is a Goddess of fulfillment, which means She is a Goddess of desire.

These two Goddesses have changed the way I think about beauty. Beauty is as seductive and dangerous and addictive as any drug and it can inspire all kinds of bad choices. It can also be a balm and healing power. It can also be the draw of the sacred and a key that perfectly unlocks our emotional nature to the power of the divine. I have changed the way I approach beauty within my spiritual life and it’s all been for the better.

rajarajeswari

Do we need ritual tools? Do our gods need them?

If you had come to me three or four years ago and asked, “Are tools a necessary part of worship? Do the Gods need them? Is it important that we use them?” I would have said, “Eh, not so much.” I would have said that tools are useful when helping focus attention (and thus energy) and play a key role in helping create a ritual mood for us to experience during worship or workings. I would have certainly acknowledged that even though our intent is the gasoline that fuels the engine of our spiritual art and craft, tools are a very helpful way to help stir that intention – but not perhaps strictly necessary.

I also would have said that no, the Gods don’t *need* these tools, not in any realistic sense. Objects don’t much serve the Gods – but objects can serve the people that serve the Gods and therefore the Gods may sometimes desire them. Gods might desire objects for functional reasons, for aesthetic reasons, as vehicles to interact with their people, as points of power to become established in this world – all very important but not perhaps a need, exactly.

Today I have a slightly different answer. I hold all the above statements to still be true and valid and helpful answers but I have come to learn two additional answers that go along with these questions.

Yes, sometimes tools are necessary. Tools are frequently used as education and training within spiritual traditions. This is especially true of spirit work though I’m sure you can think of other examples where the tool *is* the lesson and without the object, the lesson is just simply not going to happen and you’re going to end up with an incomplete education. Some examples that come to my mind include various stages of ceremonial magic systems. Sometimes you just need the sigils and the wand and the candles and maybe someday you will put them aside and work only with their astral counterparts but until then, you will use the tool. The tool has things to teach you and you can show up for the lesson or you can fail to learn something very important.

Yes, sometimes the Gods need tools. Well, I should qualify that by saying that we’re not always 100% sure what the Gods need. If we are open to the possibility that They are Their own personalities with their own independent agencies and agendas (or even if we’re a little softline on the matter), then we have to accept the possibility that They’re going to express a need or desire that seems illogical, nonsensical, or confusing to us. Certain deities – My Lord included – are rather notorious for having a hands-on approach to the world. Usually He can be negotiated with: “You don’t really need that thing, do you?” And frequently no, He doesn’t need that thing. He would like it or He would like to share it with me, or He would like to have me hold and play with it and stick it on the altar and keep it around for a while.

Sometimes, just sometimes, a need is expressed. So far it’s never been a “I need this thing or I’ll DIE” because that’s not really the way it works with Gods (thus it’s not a terribly helpful metric to apply to their needs and wants). Simply put, I’m not in a position to judge exactly what His needs are from an objective, rational point of view. Thus I’m required to trust His assessment of His own well-being. If there is something that He needs in order to fulfill His point and purpose in this world and if that something is a thing that I can provide, then I will attempt to do so. Accepting our ignorance and deferring to Their expressions when it comes to Their specific needs and desires is part of what is meant when we take up the effort to displace our individual cosmologies from a human-centric perspective.

And no, naturally I’m not advocating violence or theft or injury or harmful sacrifice or anything like that. Negotiation remains a possibility though it is helpful if you have a history of actually negotiating and not just saying, “I want to hear your reasons and I’m not going to do it anyway.” Basically I’m trying to say that we should not dismiss Their expressions of need and desire out of hand simply because the metric of need that we apply to ourselves and our world doesn’t seem to apply. We can take Them at Their word, with faith and love and trust and a willingness to explore together. Though I can’t speak to the needs and wants of all the Powers at every time in every place, I can say that my experience with a great number of them suggests that faith and love and trust and willingness are all needful to them. Sometimes tools and objects have a role in these achievements.

I hate that I have to make this post.

By popular definition, an earth religion holds as inherently sacred and intrinsically valuable all manifest creation on this planet. In the imagination of earth religionists this typically includes trees, rocks, fluffy animals, bugs, water, wildfires, and all the rest. All this rest includes, yes, human beings (we are animals, after all; we have our own scientific name and everything). Human being is a category that includes everyone. If one segregates this category into subgroups that dilute, minimize, or otherwise alter or put conditions upon the inherent and intrinsic properties that are a central part of earth religion belief, such a one is not – by definition – an earth religionist. Or, if they insist that they are, they are not a very good one.

If your particular brand of earth religion involves the honoring of personalities and processes that grant life, liberty, happiness, and agency to trees, rocks, fluffy animals, bugs, water, wildfires, and all the rest then any conditions placed upon the expression of these personalities and processes within the bodies and lives of human beings is not – by definition – honoring of those personalities and processes. If, if you insist that it is, it is not a very good way of doing so.

In either case you may continue to willfully, consciously, and with the knowledge that we’re all laughing at you continue to Do It Wrong. You may also choose to make a change.

Name changes?

Taking up the grateful weight of a new name is a glorious and terrifying thing. It is also a cause for celebration and a reminder that rebirth occurs continually.

(I thought perhaps to share my own naming story but it turns out I’m still quite upset about the whole thing. Though a story of failure on this path is worth telling I don’t want it to be part of this reblog. I am happy for my friend and that’s what this is about.)

Cat Hair and Coffee

This is, I am sure, only a big deal to me. But, I’d like to share my wonderful brain’s twisted thought processes, because . . . well, it’s exhausting, and its a very clever brain, and maybe the sharing can help other people not feel alone or not feel weird or not feel . . . whatever. Something.

Way, way, way back in 2006 – possibly as early as 2005 – I adopted the name Naiadis. I’d wanted it to be my spiritual name, and I was trying to use it as an initiation-point sort of thing. My relationship with Poseidon was in a rough patch, and choosing the name Naiadis was an attempt on my part to convince myself that despite everything, I was serious about this path, about my life decisions, etc. I’d been with Poseidon since I was 16 (though in the beginning it was not the…

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A few thoughts on faith

Faith in paganism doesn’t have any highly clarified definition. Like with many other religious concepts, we’re left to our own devices to figure out exactly what terms like faith mean and how the definitions relate to our life and practice.

My experience is that faith is not the absence of doubt, but the acceptance of doubt while going forward with whatever endeavor is in front of you. Often I’d even go so far as to say that I don’t have faith but that I trust the Gods to behave as my experience leads me to expect they will; I expect them to be true to type, so to speak, even if I don’t always know what They’re up to.

If I’m being exceptionally honest I might even say that I don’t want to have faith because I don’t want to be let down or disappointed. I also don’t want to constrain my vision out of an expectant hope that the Gods will act in a manner that I find beneficial or advantageous.

See, faith can be a lovely and noble thing but it can also be a rather naive expectation that circumstances, especially spiritual ones, will work out the way we want them to. When people say, “I have faith,” they often mean, “I feel confident that circumstances will turn out in my favor because the Gods love me and I love them.” But that’s not really faith (unless your personal definition includes that, I suppose). That’s just a narrow field of vision that generally includes putting constraints on what actions you are likely to recognize the Gods as taking. (And I’ve been victim of this thinking too, so don’t feel like I’m not including myself.)

I have faith in the sense that I trust the Gods to act as they will. I hold my confidence in Them quite delicately and I try very hard not to feel attached to any particular emanation that proceeds from the circumstance about which I am trying to feel comforted and confident. I hold this trust lightly because I don’t want to be hurt, like I said. I also hold it lightly because clinging to faith that arrests my ability to proceed (since I’m so busy trusting Them in uncertain circumstances) is not really part of my path. I don’t think I’m supposed to hold on to faith instead of doing something relevant and productive. Perhaps I can do both? Perhaps I can trust Him and also act in my own self-interest?

Hiccups happen on this path; the devotional path is not smooth and without interruption. It raises questions and not just as a result of the work being done. The questions arise because I am embedded in a polytheistic universe that accepts the presence of unexpected things and unknown Powers. But since faith can be a false gloss covering simple familiarity, it is fitting that such a mistaken be corrected.

And My Lord’s ability to correct a mistake? Well – that’s something I do have faith in.