Hitting a nerve

Welllll… I clearly hit a nerve with this post. Good.

Here’s the thing. I’m not saying that art can’t be deeply meaningful and influential in one’s spiritual life. I’m not even saying that some art can’t, in certain special circumstances, take on a spirit of its own in a variety of ways. But that’s sort of a secondary issue. Here’s what I am saying. (And really, before I even start, go read this. She says it much better.)

We human beings are not the center of the universe. We did not create the world, and we did not create the gods. The thing with fandoms, when it comes down to it, is that they’re really more about the fans than the art. They are a social phenomenon. And therefore this sort of fandom paganism we’re seeing ends up, not surprisingly, being more about the pagans than the gods.

If we are the ultimate creators of the gods, then religion, like everything else, gets to be about us! We’re essentially just worshipping ourselves. Don’t we do enough of that?

I am making the daring suggestion that the gods are NOT our creation, and religion is NOT all about us. It’s about a relationship – not with ourselves, not with our imaginations (however personally beneficial that may be for some people), but with the powerful, awesome beings that move the world around us. The whole human race, in fact, desperately needs to get back into right relationship with these gods and spirits. I am suggesting that we not only acknowledge and honor those beings, but that we get down on our knees before Them – not because we must grovel for being pathetic and small, but because Their presence should bring us to our knees.

I know, I’m a terrible meany-pants. Feel free to go rant about me on Tumblr. But I refuse to shut my mouth and silently watch the revival of European polytheisms, which seemed so full of potential 15-20 years ago, become nothing more than solipsistic mutual masturbation.

~ by Dver on May 17, 2013.

13 Responses to “Hitting a nerve”

  1. i’ll go one better on the meany pants scale: not only should Their presence bring you to your knees if it doesn’t, you’re DOING IT WRONG.

    • I have to admit that there have been times when, in awe, I’ve fallen on my knees in front of my gods. But, my gods don’t necessarily want me there. They want me to be able to stand up, to walk forward, to walk beside them as we work on “the bigger picture” together and ultimately, forge the connection that they’ve always anticipated with me.

      Do I think I’m doing it wrong because I don’t necessarily go subservient every moment when in their presence? Occasionally. When I compare myself to other people who are probably more pious-seeming than myself, yeah. I absolutely think, “I suck.”

      However, the problem there is that I’m comparing my relationship with the gods to other people and their relationships to those same gods. And the relationship I have with Sekhmet is not the same as anyone else’s. So, really. There’s no right or wrong way in my religion, there is only living in ma’at and whatever that entails for each Kemetic out there.

      • I actually think comparing one’s spiritual relationships to those of others is very dangerous. I’ve seen that lead to such tremendous spiritual corrosion and pain, so much pain for the devotee and it can damage one’s relationships with the Powers.

        to be fair, i was speaking emphatically above. While yes the Gods have often driven me to my knees with the awe and terror, it doesn’t happen every time. But what does happen is my respect, and my willingness to acknowledge that sometimes going to my knees is the right and proper thing to do ( and sometimes it’s going to happen by sheer force of Their presence).

  2. Thank the Gods!!!! Finally, it is said out loud. If that makes you a meany-pants, so be it and so what. Well said.

  3. “The whole human race, in fact, desperately needs to get back into right relationship with these gods and spirits.”

    Absolutely true and if anybody reads, “The Archdruid Report”, will know that we’re don’t have much choice in the matter.
    Excellent post!

  4. Hear hear!

  5. You may be conflating shallow versions of “the gods are our creation” with more sophisticated ones from a mystical perspective (for example, Blake’s “All deities reside in the human breast”). Certainly there are humanists out there who understand the gods as fictions that allow us to relate to our (much more real) selves. But there are other traditions that see both human beings and the gods as equally real manifestations of an ever-evolving Self. In this way of thinking, when we relate to the gods, other human beings, the spirits of the land, etc., we encounter ourselves, because all things are related and interdependent; and when the gods, other human beings, spirits of the land, etc. relate to us, they also encounter themselves in our being. In that kind of theology, narrative is the fabric of reality and the gods are not understood as being truly outside of us–but neither are we truly outside of them.

    You can find this kind of theology in the western occult tradition, Jung’s writings, etc., and also more recently in the work of writers like Alan Moore. I am sure there are people in the world who are taking this kind of theology to mean that religion is really all about humans in their smallest sense (about their egos, not about themselves as a reflection of divine manifestation), and that they then use that theology as an excuse to disrespect other beings. But there are others for whom sacred relationships with other beings are very much about relationship with the self in a much more mystical sense (in intimate relationship, each being encounters hirself within the other).

    I hate to see this conversation going to a polemical place where these kinds of subtleties are not discussed. It’s polarizing, and it also doesn’t allow for curiosity about others’ experiences or the opportunity for finding common ground.

    • I get where you’re coming from, and you’re right that there are vast areas of subtlety that are being overlooked on all sides here. On the other hand, I feel like sometimes there is cause to make a strong statement even if it generalizes a bit too much. Because I feel we are fighting a war sometimes against pernicious atheism within paganism – I mean, the fact that we even have to say “the gods are real independent beings and I worship them” and that can be widely controversial, says to me there is something deeply wrong within modern polytheism, something broken in the line of transmission from the many ancient traditions on a fundamental level. If we can’t even agree that we should be in right relationship with our gods, spirits and ancestors (which does actually require believing that those entities exist, and that how we relate to them has real effects in the real world), I’m not sure we’re at a point where we *can* address the subtleties of theology that you’re talking about.

  6. I love you for writing this post. I think you really hit the nail on the head when you pointed out that fandoms are about the fans. From my experience, coming from an atheist/agnostic background to paganism, spiritual practice should eventually lead to dissolution of the ego into the Whole, or a merging with Oneness. (This is a simplification, but I mean that you can’t see truth without setting yourself aside.) That necessarily means forgetting all the trappings of our personalities and seeing beneath to the mystery.

  7. Woot! You, are pure awesome!!

  8. Yes!

  9. […] to the extent that it seems to imply a surrender of our reason or our critical faculties.  In a follow-up to his post “Worship Them”, Dver argues that worship is the appropriate response to a genuine encounter with the […]

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