Hunting for God (and Putting Pieces Back Into Place)

Years and years ago, over 20 now, I went through a period where Odin completely cut His presence off from me. Everyone I dealt with could sense Him around me. I still did His work effectively; but I myself had zero sense of His presence, something that until that moment, from the time I felt claimed by Him, had been a constant in my life. This devasted me. I had no idea what was happening and no conceptual spiritual framework in which to place it. I got through it, because I tend to be duty-motivated, stubborn, and I know that feeling or not feeling His presence was no reason to stop honoring the Gods, honoring Him and doing what I knew to be my spiritual work, but it broke something in me that took a very long time to heal. In time, I was grateful for that period, sort of, the way you know that something terrible made you stronger in the long run, and after about a year or so, it was like a flood gate opened and His presence was back as strong as ever. 


Now,  yes, I know that the majority of people, especially lay people never experience their Gods like this. I realize that having this experience even once in my life has been a privilege. At that time, however, this was my normal and I didn’t realize it wasn’t like that for most people. The sudden absence was the worst internal pain I have ever experienced. I had read all the works of mystic literature (especially the Rhine mystics like Mechthild of Magdeburg) and I had a framework for what it was like when a God swept one up, for what a theologian of medieval Christianity might term raptus and a polytheistic theologian ekstasis. I didn’t have any model at all for what happens when that stops until last night. 

While doing some reading for class prep, I stumbled across a couple of texts, one of which ironically I’d read before, a long time ago for a class (but sometimes it’s a matter of reading the right thing at the right time, which last night apparently was): Guigo the Carthusian’s Ladder of Monks. (The other texts were more relevant in putting into place things I’d been recognizing about my prayer practice and I’ll save that for a separate post later. In his exploration, which is in fact a lovely letter to a fellow monk, Guigo breaks his spiritual practice into four parts: reading, meditation (on what one has read), prayer, and direct experience of the divine or contemplation. Part of what he discusses is what happens when one is suffused with the sense of the presence of one’s God and then that presence goes away. It hit me so incredibly hard. THIS was the text I’d needed so very many years ago. Here are a few passages, (keeping in mind Western Christian mystics often conceived of Christ as the Bridegroom and the soul – whether the mystic was male or female—as the Bride after the language of the Song of Songs): 

“Do not fear, oh Bride, nor despair, and do not think that you’re despised if, from time to time, the Bridegroom veils His face. All of this is for your good; His leaving is just as beneficial  as His coming…He comes to console you and leaves to guard… (p. 27). 

The Bridegroom comes, bringing consolation and leaving desolation. He lets us taste a bit of His ineffable sweetness; but before it can penetrate us, He hides and leaves. Now, He does this in order to teach us to fly toward the Lord. Like an eagle He extends His wings and pushes us to rise” (p. 28).

Years after this particular ordeal, this absolutely accords with what I experienced with Odin and I wish that I had been aware that this framework existed, was understood and explored somewhere. Had I read just these two passages, I would have found myself better able to more productively endure. As it was, I still feel like that time left scar tissue and now my job is to break that tissue down, excise it from my soul so that evil cannot use it, cannot cement it causing me to grow around it in a shape contrary to what my God, Odin, would have for me. 

Last night, having stumbled over these passages, I was sharing them with my husband and all of this came up in a rushing flood and I realized how much deep, and deeply rooted pain I carry from that time. He put on some music and we talked for a time. I respond extremely strongly to music and it’s one of the things that can put me in an altered state pretty quickly. I chalk this up to my having been a ballet dancer. I went down hard to the feet of my God and for the first time in maybe a decade, I was able to turn to mild ordeal to open myself up. It was nothing excessive. I had first asked my husband if he could do it but he honestly told me he didn’t trust his hand (and I so respect his honesty). My housemate was asleep and I wasn’t about to wake her up so I just did the ordeal on myself and then sat with Him. 

I called Him, galdred to Him, received insight and runes in return and HIM the feel of His presence moving through me and highlighting the scars, cleansing some, showing me how to tend the others but most of all there was that direct engagement, furious and open and raw and joyous and a thousand other things and it was delicious, restorative and I woke today tired, scarred, but feeling so much better than I have in months. Let evil come to test and try us. It is insignificant. Only the Gods remain and that is a union which I for one will never yield. 

So many thoughts on prayer and hunting for power, spiritual power, the power to clean out blockages, to obliterate all those things that root inside us, causing us to grow twisted and out of true with that which our Gods wish for us. Tonight for the first time in years, I did a small ordeal, to clean myself out, open myself up to Odin, in devotion, in love, in adoration and it was wonderful. 

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 July 31, 2021, in devotional work, Heathenry, Lived Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. That Dark Night of the Soul experience of having your “phone line” to your Holy Powers severed is one of the most profoundly traumatizing experiences of alienation–if not THE worst form of alienation–we as human beings hard-wired to connect to Divinity endure. I had a similar phenomenon occur to me the entire four years I lived on Oahu; I felt the “phone line” to several of my Gods utterly went dead the whole time I was there, but the second I flew back to the mainland to visit family while my husband at the time was deployed to combat that connection to those Gods was instantly restored, through no effort on my part other than shifting geographical boundaries. To this day I wonder what caused the “signal disruption.” Much of it has to do, I’ve realized, with the energetic barriers the powerful Gods of the Polynesian peoples seem to have erected around Their zones in the Pacific. I think Hawaiian Gods “don’t play well” with Others, period, and in addition to that, my Powers respected the “lines drawn in the sand” and waited until I got back to reconnect with me. But while I was on Oahu and undergoing the severe distress from not having my contact with my Deities, I feared I was going to be driven mad from Their absence, that’s how traumatizing it was. Strangely, since returning home for good, I’ve discovered the lovely nonfiction tome “Dark Night of the Soul” by Thomas Moore. Shockingly, as a non-polytheistic psychologist, he spends several chapters detailing how the Goddess Hekate helped him personally through his Dark Night and he recommends his readers establish relationships with Her! (Thankfully, She was One of the Few Who managed to transgress the Hawaiian Gods’ blockade!) Go figure! It is an excellent book and it has been tremendously helpful to me. Nowadays I keep a keen eye on my transiting planets to see which 12 House aspects might once again trigger a spiritual Dark Night.

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  2. This disconnect happened to me years ago, and how I wish I’d had these words then.

    Suffice it to say, the scar tissue is vast and … I openly admit I fell prey to those voices that told me I was and had been nothing more than a pawn on a chessboard, that I was nothing and worthless and that is why my Patron left me.

    Now I’m working to try to heal. I have spoken to my Patron, we have “cleared the air” so to speak, and so He knows the how and why I completely pulled away. It makes me ashamed still, that I had been that weak. But as He reminds me, I am only human and the path I walk is very, very solitary. I am very thankful that despite His reputation, he is exceptionally compassionate and understanding. Without that, I think this would have gone so much worse.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      For what it’s worth, I’ll say this as a priest and spirit worker: there is NO REASON for you to feel ashamed. We are working with sundered, fragmented traditions, doing our best and restoring as we can, but still, we don’t have the infrastructure or the literature immediately available to us that would have helped. I only stumbled across this one bc I am doing a degree in theology. There I no reason to feel ashamed, so I’ll echo again what your Patron has said and also emphasize that it’s not weakness at all. It’s lack of good spiritual direction maybe, (which hopefully we are learning to provide for each other) but not weakness. 🙂 we are …missing a foundation our ancestors would have. For those who come after us, it is easier but even then, I don’t think something like this would ever truly be easy. I’m very glad that you are healing.

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      • This is why I follow you. I’m not Heathen, but a lot of the information you give here is very easily applicable to my own path. Your blog has been so much more beneficial than so-called “experts” from the path I follow … which speaks volumes regarding the bullshit I’ve tried to wade through over the years trying to glean something here and there. I found it easier after a while to just talk directly with my Patron and the other deities I work with. But then I discovered you through a former friend, who’s devoted to Sigyn … I’m glad. It’s helped a lot for various issues I’ve encountered.

        Hopefully that all makes some sort of sense, lol. Being on the spectrum, sometimes I find it hard to find the right wording.

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  3. I just sent Guigo’s words to someone who is struggling with this exact thing and she started crying. She said she needed that.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      Marcus, the book is amazing. Yes, it’s Christian, but some things cross all religious boundaries and I think this is one of them. I’m glad that those words could help someone else. I debated about posting any of this because of how personal it was, but now this makes me very glad I did.

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  4. Thank you, Galina, for sharing this experience.

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  5. This is something we need to be talking about more, and in greater detail to address all the permutations. Because plenty of us have already studied the “dark night of the soul” stuff in a general way, but it’s not always so broadly experienced. In other words, sometimes it’s not that you’re cut off from the Powers, but just one Power.

    And there are so many possible reasons for this, too. That part of the quote “He does this in order to teach us to fly toward the Lord” makes me think of some communications I’ve received from one of my spirits that indicated that when He withdrew from me, it was partly to incite longing within me, so that I would work harder to get closer to Him and in the process, do all the other Work that is part of our bargain.

    Of course, sometimes it is not Him withdrawing, but me-even subconsciously-pulling away for some reason. So there’s a lot of discernment involved here, as with everything. One needs to examine all the variables – for instance, when you mentioned that you were still able to do His work and other people felt Him near you, that is a big indicator of the nature of the issue. I know for me there’s a huge difference between periods I might not be able to feel the gods (or a god) but can still do all of my Work, can receive divination clearly, my luck is holding, etc., and times when everything seems cloudy and off (and thus the problem is likely within myself, and also bigger than any particular relationship).

    “He comes to console you and leaves to guard” This is also interesting. And a reminder that the gods, even our closest, dearest gods, even our god-spouses or divine parents, do not act only in ways which we want and enjoy, and this does not preclude them caring about us, it’s just that sometimes what is really needed is another course of action. Sometimes They may leave to guard us. Sometimes They may leave to strengthen us. Sometimes They may leave to let us focus on the material world when it’s necessary for our survival. Which is why so much of a relationship with a god or spirit ends up coming down to TRUST. I get smacked with this a lot. It’s so hard sometimes, but if we can just let go and trust Them, we often find that They are holding us even when it seems like we have been left on our own.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      I was discussing this experience with a friend this morning and she said, “why didn’t He makes sure you had this information (Guigo’s words or similar) before withdrawing.” and my answer was this: “why didn’t I trust Him?” that’s what it came down to for me personally: why didn’t I trust the Gods with Whom I had been in a devotional relationship for a decade at that point?”. I learned. It hurt and it was the most horrible experience of my life, but that wasn’t because of Him or what He’d done, it was because I didn’t trust Him, and also because I didn’t have any spiritual scaffolding and instead of going and studying or praying, I put the trust that is the core of any relationship human or divine down and let fear and pain rule me for a time. TRUST…the most important and sometimes the most difficult part of loving our Gods.

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  6. ganglerisgrove

    Darkness Falls, thank you…you’re making perfect sense and I’m glad that my work has been helpful. and thank you for taking the time to say so here. 🙂

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  7. Wow. Thank you for sharing something so vulnerable and true.

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  8. I agree with you, the loss of the Divine presence can & is torture to go through. I have pursued, pleaded, cried and begged when this spiritual event happens. For me, It has happened several times, each time the pain of loss of your soul’s spouse is excruciating. It can be a short period, or a lengthy, endless time of time. The longing is agony You have to continue your daily spiritual practices, no matter not feeling anything back. Being faithful & choosing to love will make their return sweeter. It is spring again.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this. I guess this ‘divorce’ is something I get a little every year with Gwyn dying as the Brythonic Winter King and retreating to Annwn over summer but this year it has felt worse even though he has told me to ‘walk with Creiddylad’ his beloved who alternates between he and Gwythyr our ‘Summer King’. During this period he has told me ‘the ghost of his soul’ will walk with me in wolf form, but it’s not the same. I couldn’t contemplate his complete absence.

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  10. By the way I love the music… combining the monastic and metal/industrial two influences in my life.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      Thanks, Lorna. I obsessed over that song for awhile. I just finished teaching an academic class on Byzantine Christianity — had a great group of students. I tried when we studied Iconoclasm, to show as much religious art as I could and when we studied the Hesychast controversy (all about the “Jesus Prayer” to do a fully immersive class, where I used a TON of music. The students just loved it. Music brings people into an experience more fully than anything else — at least I think so. 🙂

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  11. Extremely helpful, thank you.

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