On faith, the gods, and the nature of reality

Those of us who have fairly consistent communication with the gods, in whatever form that takes, can sometimes take for granted our rather astonishing level of interaction with the divine, relying too much on our ability to experience entities that are – for many sincere worshippers – more often than not silent, invisible and mysterious. So when we enter those times (be it days, weeks or even much longer stretches) when we can no longer sense Them, we begin to despair. If it goes on long enough, or becomes a total lack of any communication, we may even begin to question Their existence – were we just fooling ourselves all along? Some polytheists will say, that is when you need to have faith. Others will say, faith has no place in our religions of praxis, and (to paraphrase Terry Pratchett) one no more needs to believe in gods than believe in the postman.

But here’s the thing. During those times, we are not really doubting the gods, we are doubting ourselves. We don’t need faith in the gods – it’s true, They exist no matter what we think – we need faith in our own experiences. We know (rather than believe) that the postman exists, even if we are not currently looking at him or talking to him, because we have seen him before, we have talked with him before, and we can see the evidence of his passing (the mail in our mailbox). This is, ultimately, the only way we know the gods exist, too. Not just because someone told us about Them – that might put the idea in our mind, but it’s certainly not proof. No, we know about the gods the same way we know about anything else – we experience it in some way, directly or indirectly.

When we are connected and open (and the gods are interested in communicating with us, which They aren’t always, as we are not the center of the universe), we receive evidence of the gods through a variety of means. Sometimes we use the same five basic senses through which we interface with the physical world: sight, sound, touch, smell, taste. Sometimes we use other senses –  sense of temperature, sense of pain, sense of time. Sometimes we simply know or understand something in a sudden manner that we have learned, through much practice and after many confirmatory tests, comes from Them. And sometimes we see the marks of Their presence – the answered prayers, the omens, the gifts.

These divine encounters are just as real as any mundane ones. Moreover, our means of experiencing them are the only way we experience anything. We tend to forget this because our culture has this story it tells about consensus reality as if it’s this provable, objective fact, when actually we can only ever measure and observe what we receive through our senses. This is as much true for everyday life as it is for complex quantum experiments that aim to explore the nature of reality. How do you know that table over there exists? Because you can see it, touch it. In other words, because your brain has interpreted signals as the familiar object “table”. If you went blind, would you doubt the existence of all tables? No, you would trust that since you once saw a table, it exists even if you’re not currently seeing it. So if you doubt the existence of the gods because you can’t see/hear/etc. Them, really you are doubting your own previous experiences, back when you knew you were encountering gods, clear as day. The immediacy has faded, and it’s easy to start questioning.

So when I’m going through one of those distant periods, this is what I remember. I know that if my partner were to go on a trip to the wilderness and I could not reach him in any way for weeks, he would still exist, we still had real interactions when he was near me, and will do so again once communication is possible. It’s really as simple as that. Maybe the gods have gone off to do other things, maybe I’m just not tuned into Their frequency for whatever reason, but that’s all it is. If I am going to accept the reality of anything at all, and not descend into a solipsistic nightmare where everything is the creation of my own mind, then I must treat the existence of the gods like I do the existence of any other person, place or thing that I know to be real because I experienced it.

~ by Dver on January 27, 2016.

17 Responses to “On faith, the gods, and the nature of reality”

  1. I cannot begin to tell you what a relief it is to accept this.

  2. A very insightful article. Thank you.

  3. the doubty periods were absolute agony earlier on. then the insane relief when i was able to get back in contact.
    it’s easier to endure the silent phases now, but i sure don’t enjoy ’em.

  4. In my very long life I have had so many signs and visions – I have found that no matter what the Gods are always there –
    I so often lose faith in my own capabilities to communicate with them that I wonder and just then something will happen that lets me know they are there and they hear me. I swear sometimes they are playing games like Hide and Seek lol – but every time I go down into that dark Pit of my depressions – the little light at the Tunnel comes on and gets brighter every day. Why I still wonder sometimes if they have forsaken me I don’t know – it is like you said – doubt in myself and my own being – and that’s a very hard Path to stay on without tripping and falling –
    Your post touched me – it is like you wrote it for me – I so many times doubt what I can not see – and yet I have seen and felt and known the Gods –

    Our own mistakes and often our self doubt does that – that’s why we are only Humans and not Gods. But aren’t we truly blessed to know that they ARE there? And should we not feel special by having heard them and I know there were times they made something possible that I could not have done with my own tiny bit of power –

    Thank you for a wonderful article that is so true.

  5. Well said.

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  7. […] Source: On faith, the gods, and the nature of reality […]

  8. I think one of the biggest mistakes I make is that I tend to get silent periods that are deity specific rather than altogether at once….and then I will start thinking Ok well I guess that deity is done with me (*cough* Aphrodite for instance..although this was some time ago) and so I stop giving offerings and ritual observances which end up backfiring and I end up having to do extra offerings in appeasement. So whenever in doubt anymore I just keep plugging away unless there is a clear sign. I tend do this anymore with all the gods that are regular divine household members so to speak (gods who receive regular worship in my home) regardless of whether I have had any clear interaction with them or not. With Apollon I haven’t yet been there (knock on wood) but I have definitely noticed periods where he doesn’t seem as accessible or as near and that alone is disconcerting enough for me.

    • Yes – thank you – it is so helpful to read that others might have those silent moments in time – and suddenly realize that you can’t just sit and wait for the Gods or one particular one to come knocking on your door – or send you signs – you have to remember that they are there and if you work at it then you might not feels so empty when those moments hit.

  9. This came at a time when I’ve been doubting myself too. I really appreciate your words, they are so true and appropriate. Thank you for your excellent timing.

  10. “We don’t need faith in the gods – it’s true, They exist no matter what we think – we need faith in our own experiences.”

    Thank you from my heart. I needed to hear that.

  11. Thank you.

  12. I’m one of Loki’s and so, there was a day I thought, Loki’s godspouse or not, He ditched me.
    I also have mortal husband and it came a day he didn’t show up from the work and I was worry he had car accident on the way home.
    Now why I didn’t think my mortal spouse ditched me and Loki had an accident.
    I was worry about mortal but when it came to the god I was sorry and worry about myself.
    When I don’t hear from Loki now, I’m worry about Him as much, if not more, as I would about all I love.

  13. How strange when someone says they can not feel the Gods around them – in forests or by Streams or in Nature period. I can feel them wherever I go – and Nature is the best place too communicate with them – I sure do feel them all around – maybe some others don’t – but I sure would never be able to only believe in one united God at the end – sorry – that is if I was a Christian – there is ONE God right? So why would we that believe otherwise turn away from that ONE God?
    There is nothing more spiritual than going out and lose the noise of the City and other people – sit quietly and talk too the Gods –

    • I reread my last post – and realize I also got off the original post of when we feel the absence of the Gods – I said I feel them all around me in Nature – and that is a true statement – but I do have those moments of silence and quiet and feel like the Gods have now forsaken me. I want to apologize for even replying any further to the ONE GOD thing – I got off the original Post and will no longer reply to that particular post.
      It’s just a good thing to know that others feel those quiet moments and worry – and then are eventually rewarded with the knowledge that the Gods are there – whatever might happen to bring back that comfort of knowing it was just your own self doubt.
      Got a bit carried away with that other post – I am done now.

  14. This, times a million billion. I can’t begin to describe all my moments of doubt and the dark nights I figuratively went through wondering if I was fooling myself or making it all up. The idea that I need to trust myself and past experiences and have faith in myself vs the Gods, Who are always there anyway, is a huge relief. And an eye opener. I love the analogy between going blind but knowing that tables still exist, even if you can’t see them. Very apt! Thank you for writing and sharing.🙂

  15. I think that I needed to read something like this. Thanks!
    I have to put a lot of efford lately in all my spiritual stuff. I haven’t celebrated or doing anything for a long time, waiting for some kind of response from the Gods/Goddesses (I suppose that I have been a little childish in this matter). But I guess that this is my (their) answer in some way😛 .

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