Happily Heathen: My Journey to Devotional Polytheism

My newest post at Patheos’ Agora Column is up!

My Journey to Devotional Polytheism–The path I took from Christianity to Devotional Polytheism was guided by a need for direct interaction with deity and a desire to connect more with my ancestry. Heathenry gave me both. #WhyIAmHappilyHeathen

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2015/08/happily-heathen-my-journey-to-devotional-polytheism/

Feeling restless, irritable, and discontent? Make your Gods bigger.

(revised version of a post from earlier this year)

Along with everything else I do, I’m a member of a 12-step program. No, it’s not AA; there are many more 12-step programs out there. No, you don’t need to know which one I’m in. It’s anonymous; that’s the point. What you do need to know is that my experience in this program has helped to re-sculpt a lot of my underlying assumptions and beliefs about the nature of Deity and how I shape my relationship with Her (and Them).

I’ve struggled for years now in making my hard polytheistic worldview work with the 12-step concept of a higher power. Sometimes I can make it work, sometimes I can’t. Even so, one of the most useful concepts I have about working with the deity comes from my program: the idea that if my Goddess is not working for me–if She is limiting me or critiquing me or undermining me or whatever–I can (and should) make my understanding of Her bigger.

Before I landed in my 12-step program, I had what amounted to a superhero understanding of the Gods. The Gods were like us, just a bit bigger. They could do a bit more than we could and could help us out a little. They had the same idiosyncrasies as humans, and were bitchy, fallible, and easily bored. My understanding of them, and how I experienced them–while interesting and exciting–did not bring me a whole lot of serenity or peace in times of crisis. While intellectually I knew that I should be able to rely on them, I did not actually feel like they would help me through tough times. After all, they were barely bigger than us humans. But then, what is the point of having a relationship with a deity if He or She is not there to help you through tough times?

I remember thinking, when I landed in my program and found out what the 12 steps were and our overall plan of attack, that this should be easy. I’ve already spent my entire adult life finding my own spirituality and delving deeper into it, often at odds with my family or the larger culture around me. Not a problem. I’m halfway there!

Or not. It’s a lot harder, it turns out. I had spent a a great deal of time and effort learning about and working with my gods, but in all that time and work, I hadn’t learned what I’ve come to consider to be the most important part of any belief system: I hadn’t learned to trust my gods.

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What it is and what it is not.

Currently, my personal theology comes down to this: I know that Freya is not omnipotent (none of the Gods are, in the polytheistic worldview), but in my life, she might as well be.

And perhaps that’s what it really comes down to: in my life, She has that much power. (And uses it, boy howdy. cf. the move to the Midwest that I’m currently engaged in.)

……….

My main essential question, the one that has powered my life and guided my choices, has always been “What  can we know about the Divine?” And the smaller attendant questions: “Who is God (however it is defined)? What does it mean to understand Him/Her/It? Does this experience help me understand the Divine better? Where should I go to learn more about the Divine? Will I ever fully know what it means to be divine, and to be a human in relationship with the Divine?” And so on and so forth.

So it will probably not come as that much of a surprise to hear that, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a monk when I grew up (granted I’m female, but being a nun just did not seem nearly as interesting). Because, really–sitting around praying, meditating, discussing God, and living in service to that God all day, every day? Without having to worry about mundane things like bills and dishes and such? What could be more awesome?

Yes, I am a religious geek.

I have a lot to process regarding theology, most of which will probably make it to the blog. What does Freya think about my preoccupation with theological discussions at the moment? From what I can gather, She thinks it’s interesting but redirects my attention to the natural beauty outside my window and bids me to go join it. There’s always time for theology later. 🙂

Mission Statement (Gently Used)

Yep 🙂 I’m so glad that polytheism is really delving into creating/finding its theology. Finally! This was what I had hoped to get (but never got) from Greater Pagandom twenty years ago as a newbie pagan.

Drinking From the Cup of Life

While reading the discussion prompted by Morpheus’s post on Theurgic Binding, I found this post by John Beckett.

In that post, Beckett says:

I want everyone to know Paganism exists, and I want them to know what it is and what it isn’t. I want those who feel the call to this path to be able to find it in minutes, not years. I want those who have started on this path to learn the difference between crap and not-crap.

I want those who are well down this path to know that deeper experiences are possible. I want those who have had those deeper experiences to know they’re not alone and they’re not delusional.

Beyond that, we’re debating the future of Pagan religion here and now. Our version of the Council of Nicaea is taking place every day on blogs, websites, and social media. I want to be a…

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