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Posts Tagged ‘Gods’

I am only becoming more and more certain that the spot we call our shrine, that I have mentioned and described in this blog several times already, really is a powerful spot. Even my atheist husband feels it, and strongly. The four big rocks, almost as tall as I am, cradling a fifth “altar” stone, about half the size. And underneath the altar stone, a natural cavity.

That cavity under there. It feels like a gateway. A portal. I still haven’t explored it fully but I just know what it is, what it means.

Offerings I normally place on the altar stone. I bring food, mead, beer. I light candles. I meditate, pray and just listen. The gateway underneath is not for offerings. Not normal ones, anyway, I think. Without anyone telling me, I just know, that I should leave an item in there to infuse it with power. I just know that if I need communicate with the other side, that gateway can carry a message. This I just know.

There is something twirling around the back of my head, this feeling I can’t shake. I think I shouldn’t be hogging this for my own use only. Not all have the luxuary of an open portal in their back yard. I have a hard time writing this because I do not wish to sound arrogant or self aggrandising but

I can’t even finish that sentence. It still isn’t clear.

Ancestors, embrace me.

Spirits, guide me.

Gods, be with me.

You who listen, help me find my voice. 

You who speak, help me understand.

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Change

Today has been a day of both sadness and strength. I have been closing one chapter, left an era of my life behind, and opened up for a new one. There have been tears, many tears, but they have felt good because I knew it was the right decision.

It was right on time. My darling husband cracked, tonight. All the stress got to him, all the exhaustion. He cried, and he fell. I am so glad I was here to hold him and pick him up. It’s time for me to be the strong one now.

When he was broken, crying and drunk, we sat outside and talked. For a long while, just talked. Remembered and felt. Talked about our home. Our connection to the land. And let me tell you, no one listening would ever think him a “cold” atheist. He spoke with such passion about the land, this piece of land, how we belong here, how it is a part of us. It was deeply spiritual in nature.

Before we went inside we went by our little shrine, and offered some beer for the ancestors. Husband poured it onto the altar stone and asked for help.

And then let’s not talk about how he started talking about the four chaos gods from 40k. *cough* I literally had to stop him from calling on Khorne, Slaanesh, Nurgle and Tzeentch. >.> Let’s blame the beer, alright?

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It is something I come across so very often in the online polytheistic “community”. Blog posts describing chit chat with the this or that God, in which the God is portrayed as well, the writer’s best buddy. Where the God is said to chat in a very human way, and one pretty much gets the impression that the writer has a direct casual chat line with the Divine, and the Divine speaks to them just like how a human buddy would.

I try very hard not to judge. It is not my place, and it is not like I can judge what is true, what is false, what is imagination, what is spot on exact and what is creative interpretations anyway. There is no way I can tell anyone that their experiences are wrong. I can only look to myself, to my beliefs and my experiences.

Part of me thinks I shouldn’t even write this, since I know that some might take offense. But it is a recurring thought that I finally decided to be worth a little blog post. So first, let me apologize if this ruffles any feathers. Know that I am speaking in rather general terms, and I know very well that I can not say anything about your experiences specifically, and I do not claim that you are wrong.

But this is what I think.

The Gods are not like us. They are not our incorporeal buddies hanging out with us, ready whenever for casual chit chat. They are powers beyond our comprehension and we should be careful about humanizing them to the degree that we lose touch of reality.

Humans have an amazing ability to interpret input in ways that are familiar to us. We make sense of what we see, hear and feel by subconsciously translating it into words and sights that are compatible with our expectations and comprehension. This is not limited to spiritual life, this is very much present in our mundane and physical existence too. We see with out eyes, but only really see some – while the rest is filled in by our brains in our interpretation of the input. We are bombarded with input, signals from the world around us, which our minds make sense of. We work constantly at interpreting and translating the signals into something understandable, whether or not we are talking about what we see, hear, smell, taste or feel.

It is the same with our spiritual experiences, whether we are talking about divination, communication with spirits, communication with the Divine, and so on. There is input, and there is our interpretation of the signal. Never forget that last bit, our interpretation of the signal.

To make up a completely fictive example of a conversation between a human (let’s call her Anna) and a God (pick a God, any God)….

Anna: Are you there?

God: Hey! Yeah I’m here, just keeping an eye on you. 

Anna: I’m trying to figure out what kind of offering to bring you. Would you like meat or fruit? Or flowers maybe?

God: I’m in the mood for meat. A rare steak, please!

Reading polytheists blogs, these kinds of conversations with the Divine is actually relatively common. Some experience actually hearing the words of the God, some feel them. For some the signal seems clear, for some it is more fuzzy. Either way, we can’t forget that our perception of the experience is filtered through our minds, and while a person may perceive actual words being spoken by the God, it is entirely possible that the word never was spoken by the God in the first place, that the God doesn’t speak in words at all but that the words are our interpretation of the Divine signal.

So look at that example above. What did the God actually say? It’s pretty much impossible for an outsider to judge. But potentially it really went something like this:

Anna: Are you there?

The God doesn’t speak, but is present and Anna is able to pick up on His energy. 

Anna: I’m trying to figure out what kind of offering to bring you. Would you like meat or fruit? Or flowers maybe?

The God again doesn’t speak, but there is a slight signal indicating meat. Anna’s linguistic sense, combined with her perception of the God’s personality, combined with her skill (or lack of skill) in interpreting a non-physical signal, translates this into the dinner order: rare steak.

So what do I see, when someone retells a conversation they have had with a God, is this. At the core there may be an actual signal, but it is filtered and reshaped through the human’s mind. I personally am not too fond of interpretations of the signal that humanizes the God too much, because while it still may be true, it is also very coloured by the human picking up the signal. Anna may be completely right in her interpretation of her conversation with the Divine even though the words are her own. And while I respect Anna, I am more interested in the signal she is picking up on, than her human interpretations/additions of that signal.

I see how this has a very practical function. The Gods can be hard to understand, even if you do manage to pick up the signal. Translating the signal to our human way of communicating is probably a coping mechanism we need to even be able to understand them. But there is also a risk in it. It can easily lead us to humanize the Gods, to forget that they are not in fact like us only more powerful and without physical bodies, which in turn can lead to false expectations and heart break when reality doesn’t match what our perception – since the perception is so very connected to our interpretation.

I am not claiming that anyone’s experiences are false. But I do claim that us humans interpret the signal in ways that make sense to us, and the way we interpret it can cause a true message to be warped. Or misunderstood. Or perhaps picked up picked up spot on. But the more of the human I see in the words of the Gods, the more layers of humanity I expect to have to peel away in order to get to the true core.

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Well now I am embarrassed.

I sat down to read the runes for another Journey, who was kind to let me practice with a runic reading for her.

I am sorry, Journey. I don’t have an answer yet. *shuffles awkwardly*

I sat down, lit Odin’s candle and asked for his presence and guidance. I am just learning to understand the runes, and I asked as humbly as I could for his help.

The offerings I brought to him were all wrong, I felt it the moment I put them down. Taking simply what I myself thought tasted nice, and not really thinking about what HE would like… I gave him strawberries. And cocoa. And dried dates.

Yes, I am embarrassed now. As I offered the oh so sweet food it felt as though I could hear him.

Beer. Sausages. Beer. Offer me what you would have offered your man. Beer. 

I stared at the strawberries and I quite possibly blushed. It was so silly, all wrong.

I am a MAN.

Beer and sausages, I promised him. I’m sorry, I will bring you beer and sausages next time. A vague sense of amusement trickled my way but I carried on.

I cast the runes. All while I was doing it, a deer stood maybe 30 meters away from me, barking like crazy. I cast the runes. Gibberish. It didn’t make sense. I don’t think I have ever cast the runes and so clearly felt that it didn’t mean anything.

That vague amusement.

Beer.

*sigh* I will need offer him beer. Beer and that particular kind of sausage that my husband likes. I feel silly now, I am sorry Odin. I knew it as soon as I pulled the strawberries out of the fridge, that it wasn’t what you wanted, but lazy me couldn’t be arsed with getting something else. Thank you, though, for being there. I felt your presence, and that means more to me than whether or not I could manage to read the runes or not.

Journey, I will try to answer your question as soon as I have brought Odin some proper offerings!

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We went out for a private summer solstice blot, me and my husband. I had been thinking about a good location, a spot we can return to again and again, here on our little plot of land. There were possibilities but I hadn’t decided. My husband, who isn’t of my faith but respects it, came with me out to look. And he said, “What about those rocks up there?” He pointed out towards the wild ground just outside our land, towards the woods. “There is a spot up there that I think would be just right.”

He showed me to a large rock. It wasn’t flat, didn’t have the qualities of an altar, but it just felt right. We both stood there and looked, and both said that yes, this is right, this location.

Just as we had decided, I realized we should look at it from the other side. The ground is wild and overgrown, we could from where we stood only see a little bit. So we walked around it, and it felt as though it just clicked. There. The first rock was only one of several, there were four large rocks close to each other, reaching up to my chest at least. They stood in a slight arch, and in front of them stood a sightly lower, fifth rock. This was it.

We lit Mother’s and Father’s candles. We offered potent raspberry mead. To Father, to Mother, to any other God watching over us, and to the ancestors. For a good summer. For our family. For a child. For us to stand strong together even if no child comes.

It was beautiful. There are many words words to say and write but I believe I should leave it at that, for tonight. I wish you all a happy summer solstice, and a brilliant summer.

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