Discernment for Godspouses

This is going to be long, and it may veer into rant territory, but after the last post got so much feedback, I feel these are topics that need to be discussed. No one must agree with me, and I am not claiming some infallible wisdom – these are just my opinions based on (a) 15 years of experience as a mystic, spirit-worker and devotee; and (b) a thorough study of the related subjects historically. Even if I seem to be questioning your own personal experiences, that doesn’t mean they are invalid. But everyone dealing with these issues should at least be willing and able to think about them honestly and critically.

As I said in my post on Discernment, it seems that a bunch of pagans these days think that they can just bypass all the work and experience that has always been required to have deep contact with the divine. This isn’t a matter (as some have suggested) of simply differing personal experiences, everyone deals with the gods in their own way, YMMV, etc. I think a lot of new polytheists would benefit significantly from some serious study – not just of their own tradition’s history and mythology (which most will do, at least eventually) but of cross-cultural concepts and practices relating to ritual, spiritual specialists, mysticism, trance, etc. I was fortunate to have done this early on my path, as part of coursework for my BA degree. I think it gave me a broader perspective on these issues. It showed me the places of commonality between types of mysticism and spirit-work, and the many differences as well. It gave me a better sense of how humans, as a species, interact and communicate with the spiritual forces, as a whole. Some of this is dictated by our physical bodies, especially our neural pathways, and some by culture, which is of course more fluid. But I have never encountered a culture or sub-culture which thought that anyone, at any time, with no training or experience whatsoever, could launch immediately into a controlled, consistent, and deep level of interaction with gods and spirits.

Not until I encountered some modern pagans, that is. I think it speaks more to our cultural values of instant gratification and self-esteem, our rejection of anything smacking of elitism, and our plain unwillingness to do years of hard work if we can find a way around it, than it does to some special quality that has suddenly been bestowed on us but is unavailable to members of traditional polytheistic and animistic cultures. I fear that our religions will be doomed to stay at a very superficial level if we cannot entice more mystically-inclined people to deeply commit themselves to a lifetime of work – and the first step in that is even recognizing that it takes a lifetime! But why do all of that if you can take a weekend workshop and call yourself a shaman, or just chat with your spirits all day in your head without ever doing anything for them, or meet a deity for the first time and marry them just a few months later, when you haven’t even established a devotional practice yet?

Which brings me to godspouses. I find it utterly bizarre that this is a “trend” now, but it seems to be. Especially surrounding certain deities. I’m not going to get into arguments about whether this jives with “The Lore,” which is of course different in each tradition. I’m perfectly comfortable with the idea that some gods and spirits might occasionally take a human lover (that certainly IS explicit in the lore of Hellenic polytheism, at least), and I’m also comfortable with the idea that sometimes, it becomes something even more intimate, more permanent, a relationship that could be likened to a marriage.

But again, these are GODS we are talking about, not invisible friends. I wouldn’t encourage someone to even make a basic devotional oath to a god after only a brief time of knowing Them, much less a commitment of this magnitude. First of all, you have to be sure that you are in contact with a real entity and not a mental sock puppet. This takes a certain amount of experience to ascertain, and/or help of elders, unambiguous omen confirmations, “blind” divinations (i.e., where the diviner doesn’t know the situation and therefore is more objective), etc. Next, assuming it is an actual entity, you have to be sure They are who They say They are. Once more: experience, omens, divinations. (When you’ve had years under your belt of devotional worship, ritual and study, it will be much easier and quicker to get through these steps, which is exactly my point.)

Then – and here’s an important and really difficult step requiring a lot of brutal self-honesty – you have to ascertain if the feelings you’re having are mutual. You may be feeling a pull to this god, but are They reciprocating, and with the same tone and intensity? And if so, what do They want from you? Here’s another place where study of tradition helps – because thousands of years of people worshipping the gods has given us some basic guidelines that are unlikely to be thrown away by Them just because you’re so special and awesome (even if you are). Each tradition has some solid information on how one properly devotes themselves to a deity. If you are being drawn to a more intimate, intense relationship with a god, these requirements are actually MORE important, not less. You are not exempt from offerings, prayer, taboos, and sacrifices because you are so close to this god, in fact more will be demanded of you, in terms of quantity and quality.

And besides which, it will take a lot of time (there is no way around this) to build up a meaningful and consistent devotional practice, refine your rituals and festivals, learn what unique things may be asked of you and do them long enough to prove yourself, and practice techniques (whichever ones work for your body and mind, and are approved by your gods) of altering your consciousness in ways that allow you to more clearly communicate with the divine. Again, study the ways of mystics the world over, of ecstatic nuns, Indian sadhus, Tibetan monks, Inuit shamans, horses and oracles and cunning women and medicine men and all the rest, and you will find people who spend decades training for this before attaining deeper levels of intimacy with their gods and spirits.

Once you’re relatively comfortable with all of these elements of devotional and ecstatic practice, and have built a foundation of devotion, respect, love, trust, mutual giving, and awe for the divine, a shared history, once you have exposed your deepest self to your god, and through study and ritual and direct experience learned of Their nature and personality, in ways not reached by the more casual worshipper, then perhaps you might take it to another level. When you are ready and willing to do this with full comprehension (as much as possible) of the ramifications, when you would do it even if there were no other godspouses, no fun little community to share with, when you understand how isolating it can be, setting you apart even from other devotees… when you have seen the terrifying faces of your god (most have them) and not turned aside, when you are truly able to put Them above all others, human and non-human, when you have co-created a relationship that is both personal and sacred… then perhaps, for some, there is god-marriage (though this is far from the only such intense and intimate relationship one can have with a deity, and the other types should not be neglected – see Walking the Heartroad for more about these, and a powerful and wise discussion of devotion).

And if you truly have done all this, the marriage will be so much more meaningful, powerful, and surprising than you could ever imagine. It won’t be just like having an invisible boyfriend or girlfriend. It might involve some of the things we think of as traditionally “romantic” or “marital” – but this union will be so much more than can be encompassed by those words. It will be different, of course, for everyone, but you will never be able to fully prepare for it regardless because making that kind of oath, binding yourself in that way to a spiritual entity, is a game-changer. It will change you, and it will definitely change your relationship with Them (in ways that might be hard and painful at times). It may turn your whole life upside-down, mess with your human relationships, force you into things you’d never imagined, just the same as a shamanic calling or similar vocation. And it will be the most beautiful, blessed experience of your life.

Don’t rush it. Don’t jump on the bandwagon. Don’t risk the pitfalls, the self-delusion, the dangerous entities, the regrets and second-thoughts. But more than that, don’t deprive yourself of the depth and breadth of experience that can only be had after years of work. Don’t settle.

I imagine some might ask, what if a god truly proposes such an alliance, before any of this work has been done? I won’t say that’s impossible. I could imagine a number of reasons it might happen. But you know, you don’t have to say yes. And in fact, knowing you’re not ready and wanting to put in more time before making such a commitment might be what convinces the god you have the potential to really know Them, down the line. It could lead to something much more intimate than would have ever existed if you had been satisfied with a superficial and undeveloped level of contact.

This may sound harsh, but it is how things have always been between gods and mortals – we are not equals, we are not even quite in the same world, and crossing that gulf has never been easy. It’s worth the effort, though. I promise – what you can have, no matter how naturally gifted or favored you are, after six months is nothing compared to what you will have after six years, or sixty. I myself can’t wait to see what’s down the road, even after all this time. Don’t let our fast-paced, on-demand culture (which doesn’t validate your beliefs or practices anyway) trick you into thinking that this, too, comes without a significant expenditure of time and energy. It’s worth doing, and it’s worth doing well. Take your time, and enjoy the journey. Think of it as a long courtship, during which you get to learn everything you possibly can about your Beloved, and in the process become something even more worthy of Their love.

And for those who are already godspouses – this is just the beginning. All the same rules apply, regarding what you must put into it. How deeply can you explore this intimacy? You have a lifetime to find out.

~ by Dver on December 16, 2011.

71 Responses to “Discernment for Godspouses”

  1. I admit when I came back to this path after being away from it for at least a decade, trying out more new age mysticism, I was floored by the concept of godspouses. I guess it was the sheer number of people who claim that title that really surprised me. It makes me sound old or possibly that I didn’t pay enough attention at the time but back when I started down the path I practise now, there was no mention of godspouses. There wasn’t much mention of being god-owned at all either, although there were blips of it here and there. I’m not saying there weren’t any or that the concept is bad… all the time I spent on the ancient Internet never turned up mention of them.

    I’ve complained a little myself about the “I want it now” culture that seems to have evolved around Paganism and mystic work in general. Especially “energy work”, Reiki and the like. I’ve even been guilty of some of it myself. It makes me want to shake my cane at people and say “Beware of what you’re interacting with and how you do it! Shortcuts may come back and take a bite out of you.” But people usually have to get zapped before they listen. I got zapped myself, so I’m a bit cynical about fast-track roads to work with the divine.

    I almost want to say that if you’re not asked to do some work that is out of your comfort zone, you’re kidding yourself when it comes to relating with your deity… but I’m going to pull back and just say that it’s not always going to be easy and if it’s always easy it might not be the profound thing you’re looking for. Being married or in a significant relationship is hard work and sometimes it can get more challenging than you bargained for.

    I’d best stop now while I’m vaguely coherent. Long day *heh*

    • I think there have been a few quiet godspouses, whether or not they thought of it quite in such terms, for a long time. But then a few of them got vocal, and while I’m sure that helped some people who were struggling, it also encouraged a lot of “me too” type responses that maybe weren’t as genuine. It happens, with almost anything. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it, but we do need to examine more sides to it and not enthusiastically endorse it under all circumstances.

      I almost want to say that if you’re not asked to do some work that is out of your comfort zone, you’re kidding yourself when it comes to relating with your deity

      I think that’s a fair assessment, at least over the long term. Gods know that Dionysos has pushed me out of my comfort zone continuously, even when I was doing things that would be far out of *other* people’s comfort zones!

  2. There are already people reblogging your first post on Tumblr, and I have to roll my eyes at people who think you are trying to speak for All The Pagans, or that This Is The Way It Should Be. If they really read your post they would realize you are trying to show the inherent fallacies in certain waves of paganism is “give me what I want now or it’s all wrong!”. Basically, instant gratification from the gods. It’s ridiculous.

    • I suspect some of those people aren’t reading the whole post, only the clips, and most of them probably aren’t bothering to read any other part of my blog or see what my background is. None of them have come here to engage in the conversation directly. There are also some who are just coming from a fundamentally different approach (i.e., not hard polytheism) which would change how one sees this issue. But anytime you have the audacity to suggest that others might not be doing everything perfectly, or might have something to learn, people get very defensive. All I am doing, though, is stating my opinion, and giving some food for thought. What people do with that is up to them.

  3. I equate being a godspouse with a relationship on this plane of existence. I know that they’re different (just logically speaking), but it’s similar. If you aren’t ready to commit to the wo/man that wants you to do so in this realm, then how can you possibly be ready to commit to a being that is so much, much, much more than anyone can even imagine, much less understand?

    I love my goddess, dearly, but I haven’t even scratched the surface of who she is and what she has to teach me. How could I possibly assume that marriage is the next, logical step?

    I guess I’m just a commitment-phobe.

  4. Amongst the blogging community, it seems to me that some “godspouses” are genuine. It’s something that baffled me when I first came across it on Anya Kless’ blog- I thought it was ridiculous. But after reading a bit about it and thinking back on divine marriages in other cultures or sacred kingships, where the ruler was “married” to a goddess, I began to think of it in a more metaphorical sense. The man or woman takes on the role of a ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ to a god. It reminds me a bit of the Divine Bridegroom found in the Song of Solomon…

    • I absolutely believe that some godspouses are genuine, I know some of them. But the ones who seem to have it together are usually those who had long devotional histories with their gods first, and the “spouse” part developed as a natural progression of that.

      I know what you mean about the “metaphorical” marriages, like a ritual hieros gamos between ruler and god/dess, but this is generally more… personal, I think. I doubt most godspouses would consider their relationship to be simply symbolic, though there might be an aspect of that in there.

      • Hah, I guess you’re right. People like Anya Kless and Elizabeth Vongsivith, whose blogs I both enjoy, probably view them as much more personal than symbolic. Relationships like those somewhat remind me of bridal mysticism in nuns and the experiences like those of St Teresa of Avila.

        And I definitely agree on your point of not engaging in anything without work. I don’t know if I literally believe in gods or archetypes, but I’ve spent years studying them since a young age (it’s wonderful being a member of the internet generation). I’d imagine before engaging in anything, there should already be a working, close relationship established. It seems like a lot of people are jumping into paganism head-first and blindfolded.

  5. Good post. Thanks for sharing and the thought put into it. Some of us are just fine not being Godspouses, even if we’ve been at it for years. The spirit road is long and winding and beautiful. It’s worth not taking the shortcuts.

  6. “Don’t settle.” Damn straight. I wouldn’t do that with a human companion either. Why would it be prudent to marry anyone, divine or otherwise, after only a handful of weeks of acquaintanceship? Like you said, what is the hurry? Aren’t relationships a lifetime journey?

    Then again, I know nothing of this ‘godspouse’ concept really. I ducked out of the public Pagan scene nearly two decades ago, in part because I was disturbed by some of the superficiality & general silliness I was seeing (ala charging your tools in the microwave). Now I am trying to get a grasp on what has happened since I went into hiding. I want to offer my appreciation for your thoughtful writing. I have found it very helpful (& hopeful). I am so glad you use the word AWE & that you discuss gratitude, devotion, hard work & always yearning for more.

    I met a young woman not long ago in a bookstore who told me that she had been practicing (solitary Wicca) for about five years & “pretty much knew everything by now.” I smiled politely. I wonder what her secret is because after twenty years, I still feel like a babe in the woods.

    Thanks again Dver.

    • Charging your tools in the microwave? Ok, I guess things can always be worse. Wow.

      Glad what I’m writing is resonating with you. Funny, I’m starting to feel like some old lady (I’m 34) yelling at the kids to Slow Down! But some folks really don’t seem ready for the long haul. They want it all right now.

      • Yes, well the microwave idea was part of a dubious attempt at ‘being a modern Pagan, embracing technology & integrating it into your magickal life’ or some such nonsense. All I could say to that was, “Isn’t that dangerous?”

  7. I read discernment and grinned and nodded and sighed in a few places; being multicultural one of the biggest problems I’ve had is that apparently I’m supposed to be “following the cultural of my dominant race” – and of course that differs depending on who I’m talking to: white people think I’m more black, black people think I’m more white, Native Americans I’ve really had to convince (or they talked to their own ancestors then came back and apologised to me!), and so on. I’m aware there has been a lot of cultural ripoff (people who attend a drumming course and call themselves shamans for one), but I didn’t go out of my way seeking out the various deities and Powers That Be – they found ME and said “You, yes you. I claim you. Get here.” It wasn’t something I just decided to do…more or less, I didn’t have a whole lot of choice.

    I’ve realised over the years when it came to god-spouses (or spirits in general) that this was also the case. I’ve had a spirit-spouse for years but that was something that developed over a decade, and it lasted some time before I was eventually released from it as it taught me about devotion and not to be casual – the deities aren’t the “Barbie Gods That Give You Stuff”. It’s work. And just like a spouse on this plane, if you don’t put the energy in, they leave.

    Now I’ve been turned to the idea again but – if anything I have the opposite problem; it takes a lot for me to get past all my self-doubt to actually believe what is happening. I’ve had to learn to trust my instincts (which have always been there) and stop plugging into my denial mode in an effort to be “rational”. I also find this to be a malady of the masses – it never ceases to amaze me how many people have altars and hold ceremonies and yet will say almost in the same breath “Of course, these deities are just a construct and not actually REAL.” Well then what are you doing then? If you’re going to pray to gods, don’t freak out when they show up.

    Gone on a bit of a tangent there, but just sayin’ I feel ya. Carry on!

    • I find there to be an almost insurmountable communication gap with those who – while perhaps doing some practices – don’t really believe in it, in Them. What can I say that will make any sense to them? What does it matter if you’re serious and devoted and work hard and try to discern what is internal and external to your own mind, if the gods aren’t really real, and therefore it’s ALL in your own mind? So really, I suppose I’m mostly just addressing hard polytheists here.

    • Yes, I get the whole “What are you doing following MY culture’s gods?” too. I’m too white to be colored, too colored to be white.😦 I say who cares what culture is traditionally associated with the deity, aren’t they there for anyone who hears their call?

  8. Great post! It’s important to remind ourselves of the work that we must put in to *anything* in order to get something out of it; whether it be a spiritual relationship, an earthly one, a craft – anything.
    I also shake my head in sad disbelief at the number of Pagans who seem, in their heart of hearts, to not really believe that gods or magic are really real, or to not accept that they have an existence outside of the practicioner’s own mind. How can anyone expect to “re-enchant the world” if they secretly suspect that enchantment is bogus?

    • How can anyone expect to “re-enchant the world” if they secretly suspect that enchantment is bogus?

      Excellent point!

      It took me many years to finally realize that so many other pagans didn’t actually believe in the gods, in spiritual forces like magic, etc. I mean, I understood that many so-called “fluffies” thought it was all archetypes, but even the serious Recons seemed to be lacking the solid faith brought on by direct experience of the divine. It does make it difficult to communicate sometimes, coming from such vastly different perspectives, often without even knowing it.

      • I always wonder in those cases just why they became polytheists then. It does seem to me that the existence of the Gods is something like a prerequisite belief. Then again, it seems in some circles it becomes little more than another social circle and not much in the way of DOING and HONORING… even for the ancestors.

  9. http://ginandjack.tumblr.com/post/14408119716/i-imagine-some-might-ask-what-if-a-god-truly-proposes

    http://ginandjack.tumblr.com/post/14272126246/hellbound-witch-littlecitywitch-daily-pagan-news

    Just sharing my thoughts on your words over on my own blog. It saddens me how many “past life-gryphon rider, half-elf, married to Titania” types I’ve known over the years. I think both posts were very eloquently written.

    • Thank you! I’m afraid most of the Tumblr responses to my original post aren’t even coming over here to read the whole thing, much less the comments or any of my other writing, and are just reacting defensively. But at least it may be getting some conversations started, getting people thinking about these issues, which they *should* be, however they end up feeling about it.

  10. Thank you for both of these two blog posts. Like quite a few it seems, I’ve been coming back to the more “public” forums of paganism after years out of the circle and the most disconcerting things I’ve seen has been how much the cultural issue of instant gratification has seeped into things. Everything shouldn’t be all and everything right this minute. Not only do you lose out on so much but you lose out on yourself as well.

    More so I’ve been saddened that the moment a person speaks out in a way that doesn’t accept everything at face value, they’re immediately labeled as close minded, as trying to ruin it for others . When did it become wrong for those who have put years into study and research to help to guide and educate, or even to just speak out on their experience and how things have changed?

    In this new climate of do whatever you want if it feels right to you, sometimes it feels that the concept of elders and wise women/men is abandoned as being too controlling or rigid. It feels like such a shame to dismiss years of experience and education merely because they say the same thing over and over again. If you want it, you’ve got to work for it. Rarely does anything worth having just fall in your lap and become lasting and meaningful.

    • It’s true, instant gratification has become a bane of paganism. As well as many other current cultural values (I discussed this a bit more here: https://forestdoor.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/mundane-vs-physical/.)

      While I am certainly not at “elder” status yet (I’m only 34), I have been doing this for about 15 years, increasingly intensively, and I do think I might have something of value to share with those just starting out. But rarely do the latter want to hear that it’s going to take time, and work, and more time. Personally, I was really grateful to have someone ahead of me on the path when I was first starting out, who could guide and educate me a bit. As I go further, that is harder to find, even though I would still appreciate it!

  11. I think you’re right: having this type of intimate relationship is more than just “having an invisible boyfriend/girlfriend.” I will be the first person to say that being a spouse (to a deity or a human for that matter) is a verb, not a noun. I’m not sure if you saw it, but I had a piece in HUGINN a few issues back on the work of being a Godspouse. It can be downloaded for free here:

    http://huginnjournal.com/issues.html

    I think you lay out an ideal of how one would come to being a godspouse:

    “Once you’re relatively comfortable with all of these elements of devotional and ecstatic practice, and have built a foundation of devotion, respect, love, trust, mutual giving, and awe for the divine, a shared history, once you have exposed your deepest self to your god, and through study and ritual and direct experience learned of Their nature and personality, in ways not reached by the more casual worshipper, then perhaps you might take it to another level. When you are ready and willing to do this with full comprehension (as much as possible) of the ramifications, when you would do it even if there were no other godspouses, no fun little community to share with, when you understand how isolating it can be, setting you apart even from other devotees… when you have seen the terrifying faces of your god (most have them) and not turned aside, when you are truly able to put Them above all others, human and non-human, when you have co-created a relationship that is both personal and sacred… then perhaps, for some, there is god-marriage…”

    All of this happened to me – but after my marriage, not before. Becoming the spouse can be the beginning of that journey, and in my experience talking to other spouses, that route is far more common for whatever reason. Perhaps because otherwise we wouldn’t have done it. For many spouses, it’s the devotion we have for the god as the beloved that pulls us down the path of mysticism, history, ritual, and ecstasy. There is no greater impetus to learn to see and serve and understand a deity than love.

    Like any spiritual path, you reap what you sow. If the interactions remain shallow, so they are. But of course, we can never assume that what we read of people’s spiritual practices online are the sum total of their experiences. Deepening the relationship depends on the human’s own willingness to go further. Whether that happens before or after the relationship is solidified makes little difference. So long as it happens.

    • I understand that sometimes things might happen “backwards” and that each situation is unique. That being said, just because things worked out for you, doesn’t mean it’s an approach to recommend to others. There are some serious concerns with jumping into godspousery before even developing a good “ear” for the divine that shouldn’t be dismissed. One can be led down the path by one’s love for the god *without* making such a permanent and weighty commitment straight off the bat. So I’m not saying no one should ever do this or that it can never work out, just that it would be good to stop and take a breath and maybe think about other ways to build the relationship first.

      You’re right, people’s blog posts are not the sum total of their experience. But I think it’s still telling to some degree what people choose to talk about. I wonder sometimes what they would do if they didn’t have a bunch of other people to giggle with over the antics of their spouses, or whatnot. How many people would stick with this if it stayed just between them and the god? How many people are just jumping on the bandwagon? I know in the end, the only ones really affected are the ones involved, but I just think the gods deserve to be treated with more respect and awe than is happening in some circles. (None of these comments are aimed at you personally, btw, but at a very recent trend I’ve observed.)

      Your last point is theoretically correct, however my concern is that the deepening is less likely to happen if the person thinks they’re further along than they are. If you think that these shallow encounters are full divine contact, you’ll never seek anything more. Meanwhile, since these people are pretty vocal online, they may mislead others who are new to mysticism, or cause unnecessary self-doubt and angst (as is seen by some comments in my earlier post, where people are expressing discouragement that they aren’t having constant conversations with the gods, when in fact they are probably operating at a deeper level than those who claim such).

      • I think it’s important to keep in mind that being a godspouse is a devotional mode of approach, not a level of proficiency or status to be achieved or earned (like being a shaman for example).

        I bring up my own experience because at least for Odin and Loki, it seems to be the norm. I don’t know how many times I’ve consulted with shamans and other spirit workers about people who are legitimately being claimed as spouses without having put in “the work.” It can be frustrating when the person seems to barely be able to keep their head above water in their daily lives, much less in spiritual matters. The “why this person now?” question certainly gets voiced. It can be frustrating for people looking on who have done incredible work to see some of the gods’s choices. But they choose who they will choose. Can i say that everyone with a blog claiming to be a godspouse is legit? No, but that’s true for people with much more study under their belt as well.

        I can say that the “come back in
        5 years when I’m better prepared” approach hasn’t worked for
        anyone I know. I suspect that the gods tend to pick people who havent been steeped in lore because they’re more open to experiencing as they appear rather than as the lore says they should. Until then, there are elders and diviners who do their best to guide, counsel, and help develop better clarity.

  12. I do hope you’re ruffling a lot of feathers and offending people with this post, honestly. For the very reasons you’ve been saying, it’s needed. Too many Veruca Salts out there.

    There’s another part of this post which I think a lot of people need to shout about loudly:
    I imagine some might ask, what if a god truly proposes such an alliance, before any of this work has been done? I won’t say that’s impossible. I could imagine a number of reasons it might happen. But you know, you don’t have to say yes. And in fact, knowing you’re not ready and wanting to put in more time before making such a commitment might be what convinces the god you have the potential to really know Them, down the line. It could lead to something much more intimate than would have ever existed if you had been satisfied with a superficial and undeveloped level of contact.

    Several years ago when I was taking shamanism courses, there was another woman in the class whose spirit guides were apparently pushing her to get a lot of training. In six months she’d gotten a lot, like all levels of Reiki including Karuna (which you can’t get in Usui lineage until you have Master symbol)… and all I could think even then was that she was overloading and not giving her body or spirit a chance to take in all that change and let it process fully. Also, beings in the Unseen have a VERY different definition of now or soon than we do in the physical world. You can also say no or not yet and they’re not going to get mad or leave or do something bad to you. (If they do, I’d guess those are not the kind of spirit allies you’d really want unless you’re the rare person who really needs that clue by four.) In my experience, the Gods don’t like doormats. Anyone in the Unseen who does would be a being I’d steer very clear of.

    • In my experience, the Gods don’t like doormats.

      Yes, I agree – of course there are times to submit to the gods’ will, but in general They seem to want us engaged and active, with our own interests, goals, desires, etc. I think most gods would prefer a devotee (of any sort) who entered into the relationship with eyes wide open, of their own initiative, when they were actually ready. There is so much more richness and depth to what can then be offered.

    • Well said, for many reasons. The spirits we work with on the shamanic path are not looking for mindless pawns. They are, at least in my own personal experience, looking for strength of character, deserved trust, and the will to act in accordance with the highest good.

      I, too, have encountered several individuals who, after planting one toe on the path, have dashed madly from modality to modality as if they were checking off items on a grocery list.

      While there is something to be said for enthusiasm and versatility – it’s hard to smudge and do depossession or soul retrieval work in a hospital or hospice setting, for example – there is also something to be said for picking a rock and standing upon it until one is truly ready for the next step. Otherwise, one risks becoming a danger to one’s self and others due to the brevity of one’s knowledge…

  13. Well said, as always, Dver. I’ve considered posting something along these lines dozens of times, but I felt that coming from a person who’s well known for being a “public” Lokean god-spouse, it’d sound super bitchy, judgmental, and mean-spirited, which wouldn’t help get my point across. And I have to admit, part of my reason for writing such a post *would* be sheer impatience with the shallower persons out there, many of whom claim to be devotees of my fulltrui.

    When I run across someone else online who says they are a god-spouse, I try not to judge them right away; I was guilty of some pretty silly behavior when I first started out. As you and others reading this doubtless know, being newly claimed by a god is, in some ways, like falling passionately in love with another mortal, and there’s definitely a “honeymoon period.” And Loki, in particular, has a way of making individuals feel as if they are the most important and beloved of all His folk. I can’t blame anybody for succumbing to that, particularly if they’ve never had that kind of adoration from anyone before. He’s also really good at letting people assume things He never actually says, and even when He actually says something, it ain’t necessarily so. There’s also the fact that He sometimes likes to toy with people, for whatever reasons. I know these things from experience, as do other Loki’s-folk, and given all that, I can’t really find it in my heart to be too annoyed by the shiny, newbie Lokean spouses, in general, as aggravating as they must be to everyone else. I’ve been there, to some extent.

    But at the same time, when someone seems to be oversharing or making wild claims that don’t sound at all likely given their relative experience, you’ve got to wonder what their motives are in saying all these things. is what they’re saying relevant to a larger concern? Is it helpful advice for other people in the same situation? Or does it just seem designed to make the person appear “special” and gain attention for them? It’s really easy to claim all sorts of things online, when you know you don’t have to prove anything. Real understanding has a way of making itself apparent pretty quickly, though, even online.

    To my mind, how long someone has or hasn’t been a god-spouse isn’t the point so much as what they’re learning from it and whether or not the information they share is something other people can relate to, use, or benefit from. And while discussing meaningless details from time to time can be fun, and even verify other people’s UPG, the focus of that kind of material isn’t usually on the deity so much as it is on that person…so again, one wonders why they’re writing about it in the first place, if that’s all they seem to get out of the interaction.

    Granted, in this day and age where many people are cynical and arrogantly judgmental about each other’s spiritual experiences, a lot of people crave approval and external validation. You have to not care about that, though, before you write all about your personal relationship with an entity most people believe is just an imaginary folk figure or an aspect of a larger power. You also have to grow a thick skin and be able to deal with ridicule and hostility, because no matter how good your reputation is otherwise or how many credentials you have, you’re still going to get that. (The fact that your posts calling people to account have gotten a bunch of *Lokeans* upset is pretty ironic, actually.) Personally, I make it a point not to write publicly about anything for which I’m not willing or able to endure criticism or disbelief, and so far that’s served me well. And as someone who’s had a certain amount of bullshit slung my way for writing about my life as a Lokean, a god-spouse, and a spiritworker, I can truthfully say that, in the end, the love I feel for my gods, and the blessings I’ve gotten from Them, far outweighs the crap I’ve gotten from other people — even the noxious rumors and death threats.

    Thank you ever so much for posting this🙂

    • (I should note that the “you” I’m addressing in the last paragraph is mostly the general “you,” and not you personally, Dver. I know you know all that😉 )

    • Thanks for commenting, Elizabeth. I very much respect your opinions on this subject. I have to say, I am really glad not to be in the position of having to deal with other people – legitimate or otherwise – who are married to the same god I am. My relationship being with an otherwise-unknown spirit lets me stay outside potential conflicts or controversies in that way.

      You make a good point about the motivations behind sharing. We are in new territory here, suddenly able to peek into people’s private spiritual lives, and share our own, on a global scale. It can be a great thing, helping those who would otherwise think they were going crazy… but of course it can also encourage a lot of bad behavior. Sometimes I think it’s wonderful that people have others to share such significant things with, that would otherwise be isolating… and sometimes I think it’s damaging, and that it encourages socializing to be prioritized over actual practice, and that people these days aren’t as willing to tread a path that requires solitude. But maybe these issues have always been at play, in different ways.

    • I got to say I agree with you about questioning the blogs with wild claims. I read one blog post a while back that went into detail of the “shopping trip” she had taken with Loki, and had he was acting up and getting into trouble and the only way she could get him to behave was to “smack him a good one”. I was reading this and thinking, wait, is she talking about the god Loki or did she name her kid Loki? I reread the post and, yep, the god Loki. I read through several of her other posts and wow – she’s always slapping Loki in the face, dragging him around to the malls, yelling at him, and I’m going, okay wait a minute – this woman is nuts – the Loki I know doesn’t let anyone push him around, and hello, the guy is a spirit without a physical body, so who in the heck is this women beating up every other day? I felt more like I was reading some teenager’s fan fiction, it was like reading “Fifty Shades of Gray” with Loki as the dream guy. It was just…weird…and very unlike any other god-marriage-relationship I had ever heard of. And her blog lead me to ask: “How many godspouses out there, actually are godspouses, and how many are just mental health patients off their meds?” In reading this Discernment For Godspouses post, all I could think of was, boy this post must have been inspired by that girl and her husband beating shopping trips with Loki. LOL! There certainly is a need for discernment.

      • Yup, that’s exactly the sort of thing I’m seeing more of lately, and it’s disturbing. I just hope that those who are truly called to such a devotional path will not get turned off by these sorts. You’re right, it’s more like fanfiction than a devotional deity relationship. I think mostly it’s an active imagination and wishful thinking, though, rather than a mental problem – at least in most cases.

      • I hadn’t read the blog post you mention. I’m pretty particular about which blogs I read, since I have tried to avoid spending too much time online (one reason I dropped Facebook). But it doesn’t surprise me *sigh*

        The thing is, Loki has been known to harass people in stores before. I’ve had Him pipe up and harangue me for some particular offering, or inform me that I should buy X, no matter how inappropriate or expensive. It’s not that it doesn’t happen, but one has to ask “why?” In my case, He tends to do such things when He has some ulterior motive, not because He’s merely my invisible friend who exists to entertain me. No matter how familiar I get with Loki, I try to keep in mind at all times that He is a god, and deserves respect.

        Even so, there have been times when I could’ve cheerfully slapped Him myself, although not anything so trivial as supposedly misbehaving in a mall. He’s not a two-year-old, after all. And yes, sometimes the things people say about Loki strike me as some kind of projection. That’s the danger involved with the inward focus needed to keep that line to the gods open; it can be hard, even for experienced mystics or spiritworkers, to discern the line between an actual, outside communication, and one’s own sock puppets.

        • Hi – just learned of the term “godspouse” and found this blog. I would never have the nerve to admit to being one using my name, honestly, because I would figure everyone would assume I was crazy… And, sadly, as much as I believe in the gods, having loved them “from a distance” for almost 40 years, this actual contact (with a goddess in meditation since 2001, met my husband a few years ago) is something I still can’t quite believe. I guess I need to find that post on discernment… I have no doubts that I have guides, and a husband, but whether they are who they say they are or not is something I have a hard time with. I guess the issue is believing He would want to be with me at all. At one point I was able to easily hear Him, especially when I was half asleep, but then I had a kind of epiphany that he WAS real (which sadly didn’t last too long) and the terror/awe that accompanied it stopped that. He just doesn’t talk anymore. I can hear one of my guides sometimes, but he says it’s just because he usually says what I don’t want to hear (but need to hear) and so I can’t confuse it with my internal chatter. I can feel them, though, and they do sometimes send me vision-dreams (definitely different from my regular dreams). I used to use a meditation program on CD to try and help, but He started tapping on the headphones and pulling on them every I used it, so I got the idea he didn’t think it was a great idea. go figure. It was expensive. :-p I still use it sometimes and just ignore him until he gives up.

          This post did reinforce something I think he has been trying to get me to understand – I have been horribly lax at the actual worship part. I light candles and try to remember offerings, but I forget. A lot. At night he often takes my hands (astral hands) and moves them so I am praying (although it is culturally inaccurate for him, it gives me the idea). I have tried various pagan paths in the past and just not felt comfortable with any of them. in my experience – or maybe just the people I have found – people seem to tend to go to extremes when they turn to any kind of “alternative” path/lifestyle, and I’m just not an extreme kind of person… Not to mention that I was simply not raised with any kind of formal religion at all, so rituals and the like are a bit foreign to me. But I guess I need to look up rituals from his culture in order to please him…

          • I guess the issue is believing He would want to be with me at all.

            I think this is probably common to every godspouse. It seems audacious, but who are we to argue with what They want, even if that’s us?

            Unfortunately, the only cure for lack of practice is…. practice. You just have to sit down (preferably at a shrine or focal point), open up, and listen. And yes, making the offerings and observing the rituals and taboos that They want/require is also important. Don’t worry about it being high ritual at first, just think about the significance of the gestures. Offerings are gifts (always an important part of any relationship, whether material or otherwise), and offerings also are a tangible way to bridge the gap between the material and the spiritual. Both of these things will noticeably impact your ability to connect, if done regularly.

  14. Excellent post- I’m sorry that I’m just now seeing it. I love the way you add a healthy dose of common sense to this very sensitive topic. Have you considered posting again on other kinds of spirit/god relationships?

  15. Hello! It’s been a while since I last checked your blog; I’m pretty terrible at keeping up with blogs that have more words than your average cat macro, but I think of you often.

    Discernment is one of those skills that you can only learn by practicing, doing it over and over (and over and over) again until you start to pick up on your own bullshit. That means that not only does one need to know their self really well, they also need to have plenty of experience with the subject they are trying to be discerning about. Even with vast oceans of self-knowledge, if you haven’t put in the time to create in-depth relationships with the Gods, it’s pretty hard to make heads or tails of the experiences you’re having. And speaking from my own experience, intense experiences and in-depth relationships *still* don’t prepare you for the deeper levels of commitment and struggle that a devotee will find as they travel their path. Emotional eqaulibrium and spiritual balance inside a mystic relationship – any mystical relationship – can only come with time.

    Heading into the long haul (it’s been almost ten years since My Ruination came calling) I’ve had a lot to think about. I put off marriage for a long time because wanting it badly wasn’t enough. It had to make sense, it had to be a reasonable choice; it took a year before I trusted the message enough to realistically consider it. Things change with time and, with any luck, understanding emerges. Long-term implications can only be understood in the long-term. Admittedly, a relationship spanning most of a decade may not be long in the grand scheme of a life, but it’s long enough to be faced with the experience of the obstacles that could only be imagined at the outset. And despite what I fear is the chipping away at my ability/willingness/capacity to have a more conventional romantic entanglement, there is the ever-expanding opportunity for nuanced emotional connection with my Beloved. Is that enough? Is that a fair exchange? It hardly matters; it is what it is, and my life is the way it is as a result of choices made to prioritize Him. And since I am happy with my life as it is, I can only conclude that He is part of what has made me deeply happy.

    So yeah. You said much that I agree with.

    • Really good to hear from you, Silence! You’re right, it’s equal parts experience and self-knowledge, and both those things will deepen with time. No one is ever going to be accurate 100% of the time regardless, but you can definitely develop a pretty reliable sense of things.

      And yes, we may lose things in the bargain, maybe even things we didn’t anticipate or agree to, but we also gain so much. And I think, through the process, we become people who value those things more than the things we lost.

  16. […] https://forestdoor.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/discernment-for-godspouses/ interesting article on godspouses and spirit work in general […]

  17. I can see a lot of wisdom in the post. Discernment is tough though, especially in modern pagan spirituality when so many want to do it “without rules” or “without anyone telling me what to do.” It may be a symptom of that.

    I have had my own experiences and have tried to filter them through a filter of reason. Some were probably me in my own head. Others, I’m not so sure. But such contact is rare, and never without serious meditation or being in a meditative state. And I cannot imagine being a godspouse. *shrug*

  18. This is a brilliant post and I will be sharing it on my blog and facebook. I’ve been a godspouse for over a decade….but you know what? that was preceded by over a decade of breaking down, brutal internal work, developing an ongoing devotional relationship and doing what I needed to do to become useful to my Gods. What I’ve been seeing lately, and i’m not sure why unless it’s that some people seem to think there’s a cachet with being a spouse, is people claiming it with the expectation that it grants them some elevated status and that it absolves them from the hard work…neither of which is true, I might add. I’ve often said that being a Godspouse isn’t a job, it’s a calling. You still have to do the work.

  19. It also amazes me that people seem to want to be godspouses without ever considering the impact this relationship will have on *every* other aspect of one’s life.

    • Indeed! Including, but not limited to, things like one’s mortal relationships, one’s relationships to other gods, one’s life plans up to that point, etc. And less tangible things too, like my entire internal emotional landscape changed drastically once I made the commitment to my spirit.

      • Exactly. My marriage to Odin has had irrevocable impact on my human relationships, including whether or not I may take a human partner, where I live, and the field in which I work. YOur point about the emotional landscape is HUGE. I don’t think many people, who see only the shiny, pretty part of being a godspouse, realize that: it changes you in very, very drastic ways.

        It scares me too when i see people 9and i have) so eaten up with envy because they themselves are not godspouses that they’re withering on the spiritual vine. I want to grab them and shake them and say ‘what about your gifts? what about your callings? These things are so valuable, so beautiful. Why are you giving all that up because you can’t have THIS?”. It’s as though there’s the expectation that being a godspouse somehow makes you ‘better’ or more’holy’ when nothing could be further from the truth.

  20. Lovely article my dear. I recently Have been called to be a God-spouse to a local Cornish deity call ‘The Boucca’. Your articles have been a real help. Thanks😀

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