This means, of course, that I serve the Gods.
Like other religions, we have the concept of Deity.
Unlike many of the religions in this country, however, we have more than one. Most of the Wicca worship two Gods, with many aspects. This is known as Polytheism.
I am more of a Pantheist. I find aspects of the Godhead in everything, everywhere.
We call our Goddess The Lady. She is the Great Mother, the Creatrix, the Queen of the Stars, Maiden, Mother, and Crone, who gives Life, and Joy, and Knowledge, and Wisdom, who has many aspects and many faces. She is very dear to me. She is the well spring of my life. I talk with her daily. I see her shining out brave and beautiful and strong in women everywhere. (And bravery, beauty and strength are not defined by narrow societal standards, for me. Going into a crowded mall may be an act of great bravery. All bodies lived in fully are beautiful. Simply saying no or yes may show enormous strength.)
Our God is called The Laughing Lord, the Horned God (strong stag antlers here, not silly little kid-goat horns and goatee,) the Green Man, the Consort of the Lady, the Lord of Death and Resurrection, the God of the Witches. I love him dearly as well. He has many names and many aspects, too. And I see him radiant in the faces of loving fathers, tender husbands, strong, and beautiful, and brave men everywhere.
And that's not all. If you read the section containing my Creation Myth, you will find that I think that we are all infant Gods, as well.
Think about it.
What does a God do?
Well, Gods create, right? We do that. I'm creating this website now. You may have created dinner, or a computer program, or a dance, or song, or new dress, or a moment of joy for someone. I'm sure you have created something. You probably create something every day. (My cats create a mess, but you may not want to count that.)
Gods judge things.* We do that, too. You are judging the truth of my words this very moment. We all constantly hold up the things we know (that's a God-thing) and the things we imagine (another God-thing) about our actions, and decide if they are good things to do, or if the possible consequences are things we would like to avoid. We all make judgments. Cats decide what to eat. Spiders decide where to build their webs. Trees decide where to spread their limbs. God stuff, all.
Gods are eternal. So are we. Most of the Wiccae recognize reincarnation. (I certainly do. I kind of have to. I remember far too much from far too many lives not to.)
Gods are powerful. We are too. A lot of the time we don't realize it; but every single one of us has enough power to do everything we need to do. The problem is that often we give it away, or are afraid to use it, or just plain don't realize that we can use it. Just think of the last time that you found the strength to go on when you wanted to quit. You were tapping your own power.
In fact, the only things that Gods are generally believed to do that we don't habitually do is the omnipotent and omnipresent stuff. Well, I did say infant Gods. Adults do all kinds of things infants can't do yet. None the less, infants are still their parent's children. They are the same species, whether they are wolves or humans.
And all of us, I believe, have that spark of God inside us. It's what animates us, and gives us life. When that leaves, the only thing left is carrion.
But this isn't to say we should get cocky about it. It's something we all have, after all. You are no less a God than I am. I don't have any more Deity in me than you do. We are all in this together.
OK. This is all well and good. But what does it imply? What difference does it make that I think that everything is made of God-Stuff?
Well, to begin with, it means that everything is sacred. Everything. There isn't anything, from Nobel prize winner to ant to weed, that is worthless, and can be taken for granted or for garbage. Even garbage is sacred, and has it's place in the Universe, which nothing else can fill quite the same way.
Do you see what I mean? Because all things partake of divinity, nothing should be destroyed out of hand, nothing should be thoughtlessly wasted, nothing should be discounted.
Every act is holy, because I am full of God-Stuff, acting on, or with, other things that are full of God-Stuff. This is true, whether I realize it or not. But because I realize it, and am aware of it, I deliberatly act with reverence and joy no matter what I am doing.
Or, at least, I try to. Sometimes, like anyone else, I get distracted, or tired, or hurt; and then I am likely to just react reflexively, instead of acting with forethought and planning. When this happens, I forgive myself (not the same as making excuses for myself**) and go on. But I try not to let it happen.
If you want to see how this would work in your own life, try it for an hour or two. Pretend that you are a God, living in a place inhabited entirely by other Gods, where everything that you see is a God, and everything that you do is sacred. I think you will find yourself looking at the world a bit differently.
So; if everything in the Universe is an infant God, then obviously there is more than one God.
Some of the Wicca seem to think that there are only two, and all the names and things that we have are just different aspects of the one (or two) Gods. Sort of like your mother being Mom, and Wife, and Sister, and Boss. She is the same person, but each name carries different connotations, and she behaves differently depending on which name you call her by.
I think that there is some of that; but that there are really different Gods and Goddesses as well. Different people forming different pantheons, with different personalities and goals.
You can learn about them by studying the different myths from different cultures.
And as you do, you may find that some of these stories are remarkably similar, with Gods who have very much the same sort of natures doing the same things. Only the names seem to be different.
I suspect that those stories are really about the same Gods. I suspect it for the same reason that if I heard two stories being told, and one started, One day my Mom and one began One day my Boss, but the things that happened and the words that were spoken were the same I would suspect that it was really the same story, and the first storyteller's Mom was the other storyteller's boss.
Because of this, I think that it's important to know as much as possible about the Gods and Goddesses, especially if you are going to be invoking them.
After all, if you pay attention to the myths, you will find that some of them don't get along too well with others. And you may not want to invite two sets who aren't fond of each other to the same party.
In the same vein, if you look at the myths, some of them aren't friends to us; their job is to try us, and goad us, and weed out the people who aren't up to snuff.
Unless you really want to learn a bunch about adversity, it might not be a good idea to invite one of them, either!
Now, there is a common practice lately, to assume that any Goddess who is seen in less than a glamourous light has just gotten a bad rap from the Patriarchy, and really is a nurturing mother, in spite of what the myths will tell you. People are trying to reclaim these Goddesses, and doing all kinds of ceremonies calling on them and asking them for help and so on.
I advise you to take a look at the number of Goddesses who wound up with this sort of reputation compared with the number of Gods who did. When I did this, I found that there are a lot more Gods. So having this kind of notoriety is probably not something that the Patriarchy did. If the mythology that we have had really all been rewritten by the Patriarchy, all Goddesses would be either evil or very weak. And all of the Gods would be strong and viril, brawling with each other in great good humor. That is the kind of view that Patriarchy has of the world.
Instead, we have a whole host of Goddesses, in all kinds of cultures, who are strong indeed. Many of them save the lives of the Gods regularly. A number are even Goddesses of war; and they aren't seen as some kind of freak, either, but as a Goddess worthy of worship by anyone.
So I am left with the conclusion that these Goddesses (and Gods for that matter) are exactly who the myths say they are. And you call them at your peril.
Now, I can hear some of you asking if that means that the Gods are as unevolved as we are; having petty jealosies and nasty tempers, and all of the other ills of the human race.
When we are children, it seems that adults have supernatural control of the world. They go away, and come back with all kinds of good things. They always have money; more than we can really imagine. They know everything. They can wait patiently practically forever for things ten whole minutes or even longer!
But when we become adults, we realize that they are just like kids, but with lots more experience and (hopefully) maturity.
And even as children, it becomes apparent that some of them are more together than others.
Maybe the Gods are like that.
Maybe they aren't perfect yet either. Maybe they are still learning and growing; and they aren't all wise, or all powerful, or all loving, or all anything any more than we, their children, are.
It's possible that the Gods have evolved far past the problems that face us, just as an adult has grown far past crying over the hair color of dolls. Perhaps these are just roles that they are playing because people have been demanding that they play them for many millenia. (I, personally, think that is more likely; based on my experience of Gods.)
But they are still playing them. They still act just the way they do in the myths, for whatever reason they act that way.
I think that the Universe gives us exactly what we expect. There is more about that in the section about The Universe.
In the same way, I think that the Gods themselves give us what we expect, in order for us to experience the things that we need to experience so that we can grow and learn.
Which, I think, means that they take the shapes and forms that we need them to take.
Which doesn't mean for a minute that they don't have their own shapes and forms and natures.
It just means that they are willing to show us what we need to see.
So if, in order to feel that you are really speaking to God you need a voice of thunder and majesty from a man seated on a throne, with so much glory and power around that you have to fall to your knees and cover your face, that is what you will see.
And if you just want Mom, then that is what you will get.
And if you expect a purple hippopotomous with bright blue spots, then you will find that you are speaking to a purple hippo, spots all aglow.
The Gods don't care as much what they look like, I think, as they do that we listen to them.
So they will look like anything we expect, in the hopes that we will be comfortable enough with their appearance that we will be able to pay attention to what they are saying to us.
Part of the reason that I think this is because, all over the world, down through time, so much of the message is the same:
Now, of course, there are lots of other things which have been attributed to them, as well. Lots of stuff about listening to the clergy, and allowing them to control your life and things like that. But I can't help but wonder.
How much of that is what the Gods said?
And how much is what the men (and women) speaking for the Gods said?
After all, if it has already been established that an individual, by virtue of their rank, speaks for the Gods, then whatever that person says is treated as the Word of God.
And if that person isn't listening to the Gods at all, or has decided that there really are no Gods, then that one can say whatever they like, and no one can argue with it. Especially if no one else is supposed to have the same kind of communication with the Gods. And that word becomes law.
In such a postion, it can be very tempting to advance your own agenda. Especially if you begin to believe your own press, and to agree with your congregation that you are more important, special, and holy than anyone else. To accept as given that you are the one who should be deciding the fate of the people, since you are the only one who can do the job well. And, after all, you have their best interests in mind. You know what is best for them.
From my point of view, it's a trap!
No one knows what is best for anyone except that person themselves. Because the thing that will cause the least pain, or the most advantage in any aspect that we value, may not be the thing that will cause them to learn what they need to know.
And since learning is the point of the exercise, if they don't learn it now, they have to learn it later. And who knows how much pain they will have to go through then?
It does no good to force people to do what is right, even if it were possible for you to know what that is.
It only slows down their learning.
They must choose for themselves what is right.
If you are trying to teach a young child to eat with a spoon, it is counterproductive to roughly force her hand to curl around it, and to jam it into the bowl and then into her mouth. If you do it that way, she will grow to hate spoons, and bowls, and you. If you stand over her, threatening and glowering, she may repeat the action while you watch. But she will throw the spoon away the moment she thinks she can. And she is likely to avoid using spoons her whole life, maybe without even knowing why.
You won't have taught her how to use a spoon.
You will have taught her how to eat without ever going near one.
Far from learning the lesson, you will have made it very hard for her to ever really learn it. You will have insured that she will have to unlearn her aversion before she can even start.
If, on the other hand, you show her what spoons are for by using one yourself, and praising and encouraging her once she picks the spoon up, and allowing her to mirror you, you will much more successful.
She will use spoons with no problem, and without much thought, for the rest of her life.
Because she will have chosen herself to take the spoon up, and to use it the way that you do.
In just that way, people must choose for themselves to be honest, or caring, or loyal, or trustworthy, or any other thing.
Forcing them to make that choice, no matter how you do it, will only insure that they will build resentment. And that resentment will stand in the way of their progress for years; perhaps for lifetimes.
Now, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't have laws about things like murder and child molestation. We should. Those people are harming others a lot; and to let them think that there is no consequence for their action won't help anyone, least of all them. Making it impossible for them to commit such an act again in this lifetime is better, I think, for them and for the rest of us.
I'm talking about things that don't hurt others.
Things like where to live, and what religion to follow. Things like whom to choose for a life partner. Things like whether or not to recycle, or staying to help after the function is over, or which organizations to lend support to. Things like being honest with your spouse, or facing up to your boss, or standing by your friends when they come out of the closet. Things like coming out of the closet yourself.
Things which a whole lot of people seem to think they should have some say in; but which, ultimately, are entirely up to you. No matter what people say you should do, what you really should do is choose the course that your heart, your head, and your body tell you to follow.
That way, you will be doing what you need to be doing in order to learn the lessons that you need to learn, and to arrive at the destination you need to arrive at.
There is a school of thought that seems to think that the Gods set things up as tests and trials for us. That they offer us a choice between things that we have always wanted, or working for them. Sort of like the passage in Jane Eyre, where the nasty minister tells Jane that he askes children whether they would rather have a ginger nut, or a passage of scripture to memorize. The pious child, of course, chooses the passage of scripture, and then gets two ginger nuts to reward him for his piety.
(The sly child, or the one who knows the ways of the minister, also chooses the scripture, of course, because he knows that there are two ginger nuts waiting along that route; but the minister doesn't seem to realize that.)
This, I think, casts the Gods in the role of fairly abusive parents, who constantly ask a child to give up the things they want in order to serve the parent.
If we knew of someone who was raised by such parents, who was asked as a child, Would you rather go to the park, or vacuum the house? and then was punished for choosing the park, I think most of us would agree that the child had been mentally abused. We would expect such a person to view any good thing with suspicion, because in their experience, such things were traps.
No good thing would ever turn out to be really good. All of it would be a trick, trying to get the kid to choose the hard, joyless way over what is delightful.
Well, my Gods aren't abusive.
They don't show me good things, and tell me I can have them, and then take them away and punish me if I reach for them.
They don't expect me to live a joyless, miserable, melancholy existance just to serve them better.
In fact, I believe that I serve them better when I am joyful and contented. When I have everything that I need in my life.
Think about it.
If there is someone in need, can you help them better if you, too, are in need? Or is it better if you have plenty?
Being miserable requires a great deal of energy. Being happy generates energy. You can tell by deciding in which condition you feel energized, and in which you feel drained. Are you full of energy when you are depressed, or when you are lighthearted? Lighthearted? Then it must take less energy to be happy than to be sad. When I am sad, if something happens to change my mood, I go from being ready for a nap to being ready to go out. You too? Then being happy must generate energy. After all, it had to come from somewhere!
If you are happy, you are going to be able to do more for the Gods, for yourself, and for everyone else than you are if you are wretched.
The only God I know of who wants everyone to drag around being morbid and unhappy, and who wants folk to suffer all of the time for him, is the God of the JudeoChrisLams. You know, the one who cornered Abraham way back when.
I don't worship him, so I don't have to follow his laws.
(And there was much rejoicing!)
I know someone who is forever going on about everything she has had to give up to follow her path.
I feel really sorry for her.
Know what I've had to give up?
Feeling depressed, friendless, and suicidal all of the time. Poverty. Hunger. Loneliness. Insecurity. The fear of abandonment. Guilt. Disempowerment. Dread. Worry. Stuff like that.
I don't miss it!
Want to know why I was able to give it up?
Because I was told that I didn't have to keep it.
In this religion, in my philosophy, the Gods really love us. They aren't abusive. They aren't testing and trying, and hoping to see us fall flat on our faces so that they can point out that we were not living sacrifices and didn't do things for their greater glory.
They want us to be happy, and to succeed in the things that we do.
They want us to be empowered.
And, as we become empowered, we find that we can go back into our childhoods, and figure out what happened to cause the feelings that we don't want. And knowing what happened gives us the tools, now that we are adults and can look at things from an adult perpective, to reassess what was actually going on. And that allows us to fix the damage, and overcome the patterns of thought that are holding us back.
Empowerment allows us to act in our own lives, instead of simply reacting to the things that happen around us.
We have no control over many of those things. Other people will do whatever they do, whether we want them to or not, whether we know what they are doing or not, whether we see where that pattern of behaviour leads or not. And there is nothing at all that we can do about it.
What we can control, however, is our reactions to what they are doing.
We can control what we are doing.
When my boys were young, I couldn't control them. I could bribe, or threaten, or reason, or use any other technique I could think of to try to shape their behaviour, and get them to make what I saw as wise choices. (Or at least not to do stuff that was likely to get them killed.) But, in the final call, they were the ones who made the choices. I could not control them. They had to control themselves.
I could control how I behaved when they made choices that I did not approve of, however. That was when I decided whether to yell at them, or ground them, or take away their privledges, or lecture them until their eyes glazed over, or what to do to encourage them to choose differently next time.
I could also control what I did before they made the choices.
I could not only react, I could act.
And I learned that often the scene that any sort of punishment caused could be completely avoided by my behaviour ahead of time. If I offered them a reward of some kind, or praised them ahead of time for the good job I just knew they were going to do, or let them know that I thought this task was well within their capablitites and they would find it kind of fun, or showed them where the fun was, or offered to give them a hand, or stayed out of it entirely, they would often make the choice I was trying to teach them to make. They would, by themselves, choose the course that did not harm anyone, and that did allow them to grow and excell.
And I found that acting beat reacting every time.
But in order to act wisely myself, I had to be aware of what was going on. And I had to trust my own judgement. I had to believe that I was good enough to guage the situation wisely, and act appropriatly.
I had to be empowered.
And with that sense of empowerment, gradually, came all of the other things that I needed in my life. Because I was no longer sabotaging myself, and undermining my own efforts because I thought, deep down, that I didn't deserve good things. I no longer needed to suffer in order to be a good person.
You see, it is my philosophy that the Universe gives us all of the things we need. Not just subsistance. It gives us everything we require to be completely happy, if we just let it. If we just accept what is offered, instead of looking for the trap in the gift.
There is no trap.
There is just a gift.
If you are a parent, you know how glad you are when your children are happy.
Why do you think the Gods are any different?
Do you think you are a better parent than they are?
Of course they want us to be happy!
Now, the Universe doesn't always give us what we want, any more than a good parent gives her kids everything they want. Some of the things that kids think they want wouldn't be good for them at all. Some would hurt them quite a lot. Some would break almost at once. Some would set them up as targets for other kids, and possibly get them killed. Some they would simply loose interest in within a few days. Parents don't get all that stuff. Not if they love their children.
In just that way, the Gods don't give us everything that we ask for. Some of it would be very painful if we really had it. Some would cause us to forget what we were here for. Some would make us bitter and angry. There are lots of reasons not to have stuff.
And, just to make it simple, those things won't be offered.
If you want to go to Hollywood, and try to get into films, you can try for it. It would be a hard life, I think. Long hours, no privacy, people saying all kinds of mean things about you (true or not.) Not to mention the incredible boredom "extras" and "background people" expierence while sitting through the very same action again and again as take after take is filmed from all kinds of angles for hours and hours. And most people start in those tiny roles. But some folks want it. If you think you do, try it. If it isn't for you, you simply won't get a part.
Which doesn't mean that if you do, and you get a part, that all the things connected with it will be wonderful. It depends on which lessons you want to learn.
If a child tells his mother that he wants to get a paper route, she is likely to let him do it. She may point out that it means getting up very early every morning, no matter how he feels. She may talk to him about responsibility, and the neccessity of keeping track of who has paid, and who hasn't. She may warn him about the hazards that she knows of along the route.
But if he really wants to do it, and she knows that it will be safe for him, she will probably let him.
Because, even if he only does it for a little while, the things he can learn from the job will stand him in good stead for the rest of his life.
She may know that it's always a chore to get him out of bed, and be pretty sure that he is going to just hate getting up at 4 am.
But she will let him find that out himself.
Because if she tells him, he will never quite believe it. He will always be sure that he could have done it.
But if he realizes it himself, he will know it. And he will be able to take it into account in the other things he plans for himself for the rest of his life. Or he will be able to do the work necessary to overcome it. But it will be real for him.
His discomfort won't be a punishment for choosing the paper route, which he really wanted to do, instead of choosing to stay home and help his mom. It won't have anything to do with that. She will have been happy to let him try it. It will simply be the natural consequence of taking the route. If he had thought it through, and been honest with himself, he would have known it was likely to be a problem. Knowing that he hates to get up, and that he would have to be out of bed every single morning way before it got light, he could have seen this coming.
In just that way, if you are honest with yourself about the things you are asking for, you will be able to see the possible problems ahead. If you are intent on being a Hollywood Star, to return to that scenario, but you are still in the broomcloset, this is going to be a problem.
When people reach Star stature, the public is hungry for every bit of information that they can get. (Stars are the Royalty of this country, after all.) And, once the people who dig into backgrounds begin to dig, there is nothing that won't come out. If you have ever attended any public gatherings, or purchased a book about Wicca using a check or credit card, or keep your Book of Shadows on your hard drive and visit the Web, or have done anything that can be traced at all, it will be. And that information will come out.
If you know this ahead of time, and are ready for it, it is likely to be fine.
If you are blindsided by it, it may not be.
And there is no reason to be blindsided.
Part of being empowered is to stop hindering yourself. And that means that you allow yourself to think everything through honestly, and be prepared for any possible outcome. Especially the ones that are certain!
But don't think of failure in any venture as punishment for trying. Think of it as a chance to learn something valuable about yourself or the situation.
If the paper route was really risky, and took the boy through heavy traffic, or dangerous neighborhoods, or past an open construction site, his mother would probably not allow him to take it.
So the Gods won't allow us to do things that would be really bad for us. The parts just won't show up, no matter how long you hang out in Hollywood, working in a café during the night and auditioning all day. I believe that if it's not something you are supposed to be doing, you won't get the chance.
So, if you get the chance, go for it. Enjoy it!
Allow yourself to be happy.
I think that gives the Gods great pleasure.
*I have a friend who says we should never use the word judge; that it has bad connotations. He thinks it means to make moral decisions about other peoples actions based on a set of rules, and to condone or condemn them. I think that other peoples actions are their business, and none of mine. But I like the word. I think it means to make thoughtful decisions about a course of action to take based on past knowledge and experience. But if you don't want to use it, then please substitute the phrase Gauge the truth and wisdom of instead. Back
**Forgiving oneself involves recognizing that you were responsible for the action, but not beating yourself up about it. Making excuses for yourself pretends that you weren't responsible in the first place. You can learn from actions you regret if you forgive yourself. All you can learn from making excuses for yourself is how to rationalize. (And many of us already know how to do that from watching Star Trek! <g>) Back