Monday, February 27, 2012

The Whims of Gods

People don't talk all that much about their gods and goddesses. A lot of that interaction is private, personal, and decidedly weird. So what you see are declarations that someone works with X, or that they were doing something and Y made themselves known, and let's not forget people who pick a deity like they're ordering off a menu. Even in long running, happy relationships, the status always reads "It's Complicated". Do you ever truly know where you stand?

I think about this a fair bit. There's much warning to think critically, with some skepticism, because our minds can play tricks on us at best and we can go mad at worst. It's good to have your eyes open and ask questions. When not that many people talk openly about something personal, weird, and most definitely in the realm of Woo Stuff, it's hard to ask questions. You don't want people slowly backing away from you... There's the odd anthology or brief mention of something in a book that confirms the Not Actually Crazy hope I carry when it comes to weird experiences. It's not like there's a convenient repository of the weird stuff that happens so you can check out what happened.

How far will a god go to make a point or get your attention? A smack upside the head could be a warning or a sign of being favored enough to be corrected. These are not the same as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. A theoretical understanding of the differences and an operational understanding are very different things. All-knowing, all-loving, omnipresent beings of goodness they are not. Forgetting that can be dangerous. It is not a place to be timid or trust too freely, nor is it a place to hedge your bets until you're scarcely committing. I'm sure that has different nuances and degrees for each individual deity, but the more ancient, atavistic powers have these ways that are sometimes ruthless, though it's clear they're not meant to be unkind. It scrambles my ingrained Southern ladylike sensibilities and habit of thinking in terms of modern diplomacy.

It's easy to be somewhat unprepared for the reality, when so much of what you hear about people's personal relationships with deity are those of the Pagan laity who don't delve into things like hedgecrossing, ecstatic worship, ritual possession, and such. It's one thing to appreciate warrior qualities or an emphasis on sex or death - akin to finding beauty in both the light and the dark. It's another thing altogether to have an intense, up close encounter with the more visceral expressions of those things. It means that you either have to step off the path or proceed while you sort out hard questions that aren't the sort we usually encounter. It's decidedly uncomfortable.

There are times when I know so many people would trade a great deal for the strength of experiences some of us have, and I am grateful. Then there are the other days, where the burden of what is asked is great, and the cost seems very high. Those days are hard. The burdens and tasks are squarely on your shoulders - no savior is coming to carry them for you or save you from the consequences of your actions. It's just you and some capricious gods...

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