There are many things that are buzzing about the wider pagan blogosphere at the moment…I’m sure many of you can guess what they involve, but I’m not going to mention them here, because I have bigger theological fish to fry, so to speak…I’ve joined in conversations in other places about these matters, but I’ll keep them free from the present blog for the time being.
However, an interesting discussion elsewhere in the world of bloggity-blogginess has had me thinking about other things, and brings me to one of Alan Moore’s favorite quotes of–strangely enough!–Alan Moore, specifically the section of From Hell in which Dr. Gull says:
The one place Gods inarguably exist is in our minds where they are real beyond refute, in all their grandeur and monstrosity.
And, while I’m certainly not of the school of “it’s all in your head,” as some might assume of a quote like this (especially because the shared information and personalities of these various gods, often known to two different people who have never met nor read the same sources, etc.), nonetheless I think it is very true. Not everyone can see the gods as they move about (in fact, very few do), but all of us can potentially see them when we’re in dreams or visions or ecstatic states.
I think the same thing might be the case when it comes to asking them to help us with situations in the material world. You can ask a god for something, but they often can’t do it–and not because they bear us ill will (though they sometimes can, for varying reasons), or they’re not all-powerful (though the latter is usually true), but simply because it isn’t possible for them to do so, and it’s not in their realm of power to do so. (And, I don’t mean “don’t pray to the wine god for love, or don’t pray to the war god for healing…!?!)
Maybe this is one of the great misunderstandings of religions all over the place: confusing the realm in which the deities’ sovereignty is unquestioned, unchallenged, and irrefutable (i.e. ideas, energies, emotions, experiences, etc.; and, the various otherworlds we visit in dreams, trances, etc.), and the everyday realm. Yes, when the gods inspire us, it can lead to amazing things being created in the everyday material world; but, no matter how much we love the gods and they love us, they may not be able to get you that raise at your job, or get the attention and incite the desires you’d prefer in that lover you so desperately want, or to make it that the mortgage bid you gave to go through rather than having the bid of that other schmuck be accepted, and so forth.
No, the gods are not apart from this world–they often arise from or within it (like Antinous did), and are deeply influenced and impacted by it and what happens in it, and certainly take some of their characteristics from it and can be felt through the things of the world. (And, the latter is especially true of land spirits of all types–a mountain goddess/nymph can be felt on the mountain, when looking at the mountain, and from a rock from the mountain most powerfully, but nowhere near as powerfully simply in a picture of it or the thought and memory of it, etc.) But, the thing about them which makes them at present indetectable to science and thus “unproven” objectively (as if such a thing truly exists, though!) is that they are apart from the world. Destroying a particular image of them, or an object or even area of land associated with them, does not destroy them…and while that is true of humans as well, nonetheless it makes it a lot more difficult for the destroyed humans concerned to interact with the material world afterwards…unless they’re Jedis, but how many of us are?
But, all kidding aside, there is a very definitely transcendent element to most forms of spirituality, whether we like it or not. It is, quite literally, the nature of the beast. And, even though some of our gods have grown to have a very powerful and tangible presence in certain physical locations through a variety of devotional acts, the natural energies of a given place and the materials in it, and so forth, nonetheless the power and presence and spirit of that god is also entirely unbounded by it as a result of their divine nature. It’s easy for a god to appear more tangibly in such an area; but, how many of us invoke our gods that frequently in our cars, at the doctor’s office, at work, and in other places where we might be seeking the gods’ direct intervention?
Sure, it does happen from time to time that our gods send us a message out of the blue in some unexpected context. Or, that thing we prayed for comes to pass…but, it’s not often without some effort on our part, and some combination of factors that may be unknown to us (some of which might include “direct intervention of a deity”). But, at the same time, it doesn’t quite work that way, I don’t think, on every occasion.
As much as Antinous is in my life and gives me wonderful things by his presence and blessings and favor, the things I can most count on him for in prayer are strength and peace–no, not strength enough to lift train cars, nor peace great enough to make everyone be nice to me at all times and calm barking dogs on sight; but, the strength to keep going through difficulties, and the peace to have my worst moments of desolation lightened just enough to make it possible to continue living as well. And, that’s enough.
But, at the same time, I do wish that the gods could come through with money, jobs, and hot significant others at the drop of a hat, too…I’ve lost innumerable hats in hoping that such would work, I might add. 😉