Our Communities Make Me Tired

Today I was checking my Facebook and I came across this gem:

“Notice to my friends-I will not be taking part in or hosting or organizing any [Pagan denomination name’s] rituals or [name of Heathen denomination]’s rituals until I start getting the things I have coming from the Gods and Goddesses. I have grown weary of communing with them, giving them offerings etc to have nothing in return for my connection to them. In my world there is suppose (sic) to be reward or at least confirmation that what I do for them is being put on the balance sheet. So until the scales get balanced in my favor I am withdrawing from all ritual work to honor the Gods until they start to fucking recognize and reward what I have done for them over the years. I will honor my class obligations but beyond that I will be ignoring the Gods.” [I am omitting the name of the author as well as his denoms.]

I’m sure the Gods can hardly contain Their upset at this guy’s decision. SarcasmI sincerely hope this person gets the things he “has coming” from the Gods. Oh, I sincerely do. The level of obtuseness here irritates me but also makes me very sad. Someone hasn’t had very good spiritual direction, at the very least. Now I’m not posting this to shame the poster (If I were, I would have included his name) but because I think this attitude permeates, to varying and lesser degrees, large swaths of our community (especially Heathenry). I rarely see it as clearly articulated as the above, but it’s there coloring, all too often, our devotional lives. I probably should have more compassion but I’ll be honest, I don’t. We should be well beyond this by now and one of the biggest issues with Heathenry today is that we have zero structures in place to provide proper spiritual guidance, to provide good, devout models of how one should engage with the Gods, and most of all, we have zero infrastructures that challenge this outlook. We allow atheists to claim community privilege, we shit on the very idea of proper clergy and specialists, we reify the lore as though we were bible thumping Protestants, mock and spit at devotion, and at every turn we give our Gods nothing. While it’s marginally better than when I first became Heathen thirty years ago, there’s still a terribly long way to go and there shouldn’t be.

We all have our peevish moments before our Gods. Those momentary lapses are not a bad thing. We’re human and our Gods’ awareness and understanding must encompass that, given that They made us. The problems arise when this is a default spiritual setting. WHO THE FUCK ARE WE TO ASSUME THAT THE GODS OWE US ANYTHING?  This guy whines about all the things he’s done for the Gods. What? What have you done that possibly abrogates your responsibility as an adult for venerating Them? We do not honor the Gods and ancestors because we want things in return – not unless we’re shallow, selfish, underdeveloped, pathetic human beings. We honor them because it is the right thing to do, because it is our privilege to do so, because establishing and maintaining right relationship with the Powers transforms everything. It elevates us and brings us into balance with the cosmological order that the Gods Themselves established. The Gods OWE us? No, on the contrary: we owe Them EVERYTHING.

Attitudes like those expressed in the quote above are poison. They corrode the health of any spiritual relationship. Devotion shouldn’t happen only when it’s convenient to us. It shouldn’t be predicated on getting our way or getting rewarded in some way – it is not our place to dictate to the Gods. I can hardly believe that I’m having to write this. It is not our place to dictate anything to the Holy Powers. We can ask. We can beg. We can even have our occasional temper tantrums but in the end as adults we must realize that They do not operate according to our whims and whining. I can only imagine what this person’s life is like if this is the attitude he takes with those in it. Our Gods are patient and wait for us to come to Them properly. They wait and encourage us to order our minds and hearts in healthy ways and if we allow ourselves to recognize it, often provide us with everything we possibly might need in order to do so.

The Gods do not require our devotion. We, however, are the better for it. Attitudes like the above, even when one is going through the outward motions of ritual and respect automatically close the door to any blessings They might bestow. And really? Why should They bother? That They so often do is one of the most profound graces of our lives. The least we can do in return it learn to center ourselves rightly before Them. Let us know, now and always, our proper place before the Gods. We’re only hurting ourselves otherwise.

I suppose all examples are valuable, even the negative ones and here we most certainly have a perfect example of how NOT to engage with the Gods, how not to position ourselves vis-à-vis our devotional work, and the attitudes and behaviors not to encourage …if we give a shit that is about our Gods, our traditions, our ancestors, our communities, and our faith.

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on November 8, 2018, in Heathenry, Lived Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Wow, I can imagine how crappy this person’s circles or spiritual gatherings would have been, like a teenager badgering a parent for an allowance–

    Liked by 3 people

  2. **claps wholeheartedly**

    I’ve seen this a lot myself where devotion for some people becomes about transaction. It’s a mindset very reminiscent of current times as well as that attitude many younger people have of being used to instant gratification and ‘participation trophies’ simply for showing up.

    I’m also amazed at the number of people I see who assume things like:
    1) The Gods owe us jack shit (comes with very human centric ideas)
    2) Devotion is transactional
    3) The Gods are left wing hippy vegans who share the person’s political views. 😆

    These are just a few of the examples of things I regularly see and there aren’t really enough facepalms in the world..

    Thanks again for posting this.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I KNOW I’ve been guilty of this false sense of pride, arrogance, and self-entitlement. It’s never been about the gods, but about my own shit, abandonment issues, etc…
    The key is to realize and acknowledge this, ask for forgiveness, and do your best to be better than you are.
    A quote from a series I enjoy: “I recognize my failing, and will be sure to correct it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello, yes, I have done terribly impious stuff out of pain and misery… Back in January this year I had a terrible personal crisis (still unfolding to the day) and I was really mad at humanity. I had the recurring idea that I was going to misbehave and be really bad because people had been bad with me… And I had this dream in which my Patron very sarcastically said: “So, I’ve heard you are going to be a bad person from now on” and I nodded defiantly. He continued: “Well… I’m intrigued… Tell me your plans, what are you going to do?” And my mind went blank… I could not come with any idea of how I was going to misbehave. Really. Not-a-single-idea. And it’s not that I am spotless and out of imperfections… I couldn’t come out with a mischievous plan ahead of circumstances. And there is something there: there are times when you screw things up and you are sorry and you try to mend and go on… It’s very very different if you do screw up on purpose. Seriously, it’s different, and it does have to do with who you are. So, I was being impious to my Gods and They took it quite well, so to say (I think He still laughs at that joke), but I sincerely hope to never defy my Gods again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Having done something carelessly, you will thereafter blame the gods.”

    Like

  6. I didn’t realize we had “prosperity Gospel polytheists/pagans,” and those who are resentful that their devotion isn’t leading to those things like someone apparently told them…!?!

    Deities can and have historically been contractual in their dealings with humans, as we know from various examples, and that can appear to have a transactional basis from a certain jaundiced view…but it isn’t the same thing as what is being talked about here, nor is it as “modern” as some people might think. Humans do have recourse in certain situations where the Deities are not fulfilling their obligations, but there’s a process involved, and I can’t recall “throwing a tantrum on BaceFook” being a prescribed part of any of these.

    There is nothing more powerful, but also more challenging, than having a relationship with a Deity who then tells one, “This is an area where I cannot help you, for reasons that can’t be explained or revealed currently,” and then still continuing in a devoted relationship with them. This isn’t “codependence with an abusive partner” or anything of the sort, any more than having a friend with whom one asks for advice or a favor and is told “I’m sorry I can’t help you with this” for impersonal reasons and then deciding that one doesn’t want to see that friend any longer…if it is all ONLY about the transactions and the benefits of a relationship, then it’s not really a relationship of anything other than utilitarian and even mechanistic/materialistic merit.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Sadly, it happens all too often within the various communities. Among Northern Tradition polytheists you see them quoting the Havamal as “justification” for their Scrooge-like attitudes. Which is why I wrote on that at my blog: https://wyrddesigns.wordpress.com/2018/11/09/miserly-attitudes-in-our-religious-communities/#more-1731

    In a nutshell it comes down to: stop being a miserly bastard.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I hope this person gets EVERYTHING they deserve, especially that swift kick to the backside the Holy Powers like to deliver to entitled morons.

    Like

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