Beloved of the Gods

Who would not choose to be loved by the divine? It’s the ultimate validation, the proof of worth that none can challenge, the proof of rightness and righteousness and whatever else you want it to be, to go forth into the world confident that a deity, or deities, love you.

There’s a vast array of perspectives within Paganism about what deities are, and how you might interact with them. How much scope to pick and choose the deity has can vary – in people’s minds at least. For some (based on what I’ve read) it’s enough to show up interested, your relationship with the divine will flow from this. This is often the Christian perspective – when they postulate their God as one of unconditional love, all you have to do is show up for Jesus and that love will flow towards you. My understanding is that when Christianity came along, this was one of its more unusual features and that historical Paganism viewed its deities as a fussier and more demanding lot.

In my teens I was drawn to the idea of deity for a while, and there were moments, but nothing clear aside from a couple of very intense dreams. In my twenties I lost all sense of divinity, and in my thirties, as part of a deliberate project (When a Pagan Prays) I set out to try and reconnect. The gods do not talk to me, I do not feel called to work for, or be lead by, or blessed by any deity in particular, and no matter what I do or how I do it, nothing much happens. And I know, because I’ve faced the sentiments repeatedly, how much of a validation it would be to be picked. Special. Chosen. Wanted by a deity for some purpose that I alone can serve. It’s not happening. My wanting it does not make it happen. Either what I’m doing is sufficient and requires no interference, or there’s nothing I could do, or I’m irrelevant or combinations thereof.

It raises some interesting questions about the idea of equality within spirituality. Are we all on an even footing, or are some of us more spiritually advanced than others? If you think we’re reincarnating towards perfection, then it’s a given that some are doing better at this than others. While there’s something tempting about the idea that we’re all good enough and loved by the gods, there’s also something bland and limiting about that idea. The heroic cultures of our ancestors were all about standing out, being memorable, and myth-worthy. But taken too far, the urge to specialness becomes a way to put down those you see as less special. To speak for the deity is to have power, importance and status. For fallible humans, there’s a lot of risk to your spiritual wellbeing involved in buying into the idea of your own importance. It’s so often the case in organised religion that worldly power becomes more important than personal spirituality. For some people people to be special, others of us have to get our heads round not being special, and I’m increasingly inclined to think that’s ok.

Perhaps the gods speak to me in ways that I remain too ignorant, fearful or closed to hear. Perhaps there are right things I could do that I’m not doing. Perhaps I’m not good enough. Perhaps it isn’t my path. On the whole though, it may be as well for me that I have nothing of this in my life. I watch the debates go by on blogs and social media about fashions in deities, and who really knows what, and who really is in a relationship with their god… and I am glad to have nothing to say. There’s a certain relief in having nothing to contribute. There’s nothing of mine that can be hurt by other people believing or not believing me. There’s nothing in my spiritual experience that gives me any entitlement to claim authority.

Of course there are times when the security of being loved by the divine would be a welcome, encouraging thing, a balm for my troubled soul perhaps. There is no one to do the work for me, and whatever is broken inside me is mine to fix, and only mine. On the plus side it makes me easier to be around for other people who do not get miracle cures, magical insights and demands for action. I think the days when I am jealous of those who have a personal experience of deity, is outweighed by the days when I’m glad of not having to deal with that, and not having to navigate my all too fragile ego through the many traps spiritual authority has to offer a person. I’m just a scruffy Druid, muddling along, and learning how to be ok with that has been an important part of my personal journey.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Beloved of the Gods

  • witchinsuburbia

    I’ve met a lot of Pagans that have a personal Goddess or God, but it isn’t something we all see as necessary. I personally don’t. People like us work with many Deities, even when we have one or two we feel particularly drawn toward.
    I believe they are all around us, though we may not sense their presence. If you aren’t experiencing that, I think it may be more that the Deities present in your life have decided that you don’t need much intervention from them. You are spiritually/intellectually and physically strong enough to carve your own way in the world.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    I too have no special relationship with my gods. They have a right to make use of me, I told them that, and sometimes I see oddities that suggest that they do make use of me. But apparently they have no special need to talk with me. We will never share cups of tea, and have deep philosophic conversations about our mutual plans. I will leave to to others and continue on my simpler path and be content. If they decide to handle me in a different way, I will be open to that as well. I demand nothing of them and learn what I can from my own life and experience.

  • angharadlois

    In my experience it’s less about validation and the attainment of perfection, and more about doing the work, having found myself in a situation where the effort I put in seems to make an all-round difference. Not in becoming a ‘better’ or more spiritual person, but in making the most of what I am and what I can do right here and now, however little that might be.

  • druishbuddhist

    Reblogged this on Betwixt the Trees and commented:
    I’ve been sitting with this sort of thing myself recently. I am a Buddhist Druid, married to a Hellenic devotional polytheist (DP) of Poseiden, we are living with a (Heathen? Hellen? Not sure at the moment) DP of Loki (and others), who is dating a Heathen DP of Freya, who is also good friends with my wife. I tell my wife that it can get a little lonely, not being part of “the club” that they all seem to be involved in.

    I’m about 10-years further than Nimue is, but seemingly in the same place. I was spiritually devout in my 20s, lost it in my 30s (along with my mental health. Diagnosed major depression, anxiety, and OCD) , and in my 40s I’m trying to regain some sense of spirit in myself. I very much enjoyed “When a Pagan Prays” and am grateful that Nimue wrote it, and especially HOW she wrote it, with so much raw openness. I saw much of my own doubts there.

    I’m not sure if I can call myself a polytheist, but Kristen calls me more than an animist. I’m certain that I’m not a Devotional, though. I feel no pull to dedicate myself to any gods even though I currently feel an affinity for Hecate and Hades, and choose to recognize them in my own way, along with my Buddhist faith.

    But, like Nimue says, I feel no pull, hear no call, and some days wish I did, because it would be no small relief and validation. Instead, I muddle along and try to be OK with what is, as it is. “Non-attachment” the Buddhists say, is the way to remove dukkah. I’m still attached.

  • lornasmithers

    I am deity-focused and have always been called to gods and fairies and otherworlds, although it’s only within the past five years I’ve found the confirmation some of my past experiences had a basis in a valid ‘reality’. I don’t think having a relationship with a deity makes anyone more or less ‘special’. It’s just a different path alongside different co-walkers within that infinite and magical forest we’re all a part of.

  • 24/7 Priest | The Catbox

    […] wrote a thought-provoking piece that’s been in my head relating to this topic this week, on Gods. As with the title of Priest, being a Priest of [Insert Deity Here] can be used as a bludgeon […]

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