I’ve written a lot online over the years about my religious and spirit-work practices, on blogs, Livejournal, lists, websites… but I haven’t talked much about the most important parts, because they are too personal, too private. Most of the time, they wouldn’t be applicable to anyone else anyway, and besides which, some things just aren’t for public consumption. This applies not only to the deeper levels of my relationships with my gods, but especially to my dealings with my various spirits. I don’t just deal with “the spirits” in some generic sense, or with local nature wights (though they are important to me), I have a collection of personal, individual, named spirits who I’ve known for many years, and who are crucial not only to my Work but to who and what I am as a whole. I just don’t publicly speak about most of my life with Them.
However, at times I do feel conflicted about how much to share, simply because I understand how difficult and confusing it can be to be called by the spirits in any way and not have a community and/or tradition to give context to what one is experiencing. And, I think, it can be especially alarming to find oneself in a romantic/sexual relationship with a spirit or a god (each carries its own set of particular challenges), wondering if it’s even possible that you’re not making it all up, not having any concrete examples to model it after, flying blind.
Unfortunately, some of the more vocal examples of pagans with such relationships are not exactly the best role models. Or what they describe is questionable at best. So it’s refreshing to find a blog post like this recent one on Paynim [update: sadly, this blog has been taken down] about romantic relationships with spirits. The author manages to discuss it in an authentic way without over-sharing to a degree which might profane such a sacred experience. I encourage you to go check it out.
While I don’t exactly keep it a secret, neither do I mention it much directly, so let me just take a moment here (on this day which happens to be set aside for Him) to say that I too am in a relationship with a spirit, one that guides the course of my whole life. It is complicated and multi-layered and certainly challenging (especially the non-corporeal aspect), but it is as real, fulfilling, and powerful as any human relationship – with stronger bonds and deeper intimacy than I daresay could exist with another human (with all due respect to my mortal partner; we have always agreed that the divine relationships in our lives come first, which is one of the reasons I’m able to have both types in my life).
Our relationship plays out in both the otherworlds and this one via trance, dreams, ritual, aspecting and horsing, pathwalking, prayer, divination, omens… basically all the usual ways that mortal and spiritual beings communicate with each other. Only the longer we are together, the more constant that flow of communication is, and in some ways we are never separated, not entirely. Of course, that doesn’t lessen the pain of never being in exactly the same place for very long. It is both, in some ways, a long-distance relationship and the closest companionship imaginable. Welcome to life with a spirit lover.
I think, if I say much more, I will not know when to stop (there is just so much to this), but I did want to say something. For all those who might be wondering if they’re the only ones. You’re not. It happens. Not often, and it’s far from an easy road, but on the other hand I don’t know many people who would make a different choice, if given the chance. The rewards are too great.
And to add one last thing – outside of the modern pagan/polytheist communities (where such relationships are sometimes ridiculed or denied or taken too lightly), there are other resources for how to handle a spirit (or god) lover or spouse situation. Certain forms of traditional shamanism allow for or even expect such things. In Vodoun, there is a custom called maryaj lwa wherein a devotee formally marries one of the spirits. There are hints that some of the ancient Greek nympholepts had romantic relationships with the nymphs they served. And of course there are Catholic nuns, who literally marry Jesus Christ. I’m sure there are other examples. It doesn’t hurt to do some reading along these veins, as there are similarities even if the religious traditions are very different.