I had a great conversation at PCon this year with a friend in the Hellenic community. (By “conversation”, I mean that she talked and I hacked away and occasionally inserted comments as a could. Damn strep throat, ruining most of my Con.) Anyway, I came away from that conversation with a few ideas that I’ve been chewing on.
Much of the conversation centered around my under-employed status, and my continuing frustration with my primary Gods, who are ostensibly deities of prosperity and abundance. Now, I know that my Gods love me. They tell me this, and people who can hear Them also tell me that they say this. So, Their love is not in doubt. And I have in fact received numerous (usually short-term or one-off) gifts of abundance throughout my life, many of which I can ascribe to Their influence. The reality of my current situation, however, is that They have apparently not come through in a big, sustaining way for me yet, and this insecurity has really been wearing down my belief in Then as well as in myself.
My friend brought up two main points relevant to this issue:
- If they Gods want to be known and loved, honored, and worshiped, a good way to do it is to give their devotees blessings, so that all in the physical world can see the good results of their dedication.
The AA program, being at heart a very spiritual program, has a similar concept. Their third step prayer sets this out clearly. (The third step, if you are unfamiliar with 2-step programs, is the step in which members turn their will and their life over to the care of a deity as they understand that deity–italics in the original text.) The prayer goes:
God, I offer myself to Thee To build with me & to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love & Thy way of life.
May I do Thy will always.
“Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, The love, and They way of life.” To me, this reads just like any prayer to any deity anywhere, particularly in pre-Christian times. Give me something, so that other people can see how wonderful You are, and will give You praise and honor. It seems simple, but if so, where are all of the wealthy (or at least financially secure) Pagans and Polytheists? I knew a few, but honestly, I can only point to about 20-30% of the pagans I know who have a safe, secure job that pays a decent rate. It doesn’t speak well for the strength of our deities, nor make us look good to the wider spiritual communities. Many of us also have physical or emotional disabilities of one kind or another as well, and, if so, having a God or Goddess or spirit to help us to overcome part or all of these disabilities would also be a great way for Them to show Their strength as well. (And yes, I know a number of people for whom the intervention of their Gods is what keeps them as safe and healthy as they are.)
Since I joined a 12-step program over 8 years ago, my perspective on this issue has shifted considerably. Now, when bad things happen, I don’t blame my Gods for hurting or punishing me (or otherwise not being on the ball). Now I try to see it as, “Bad things happen, and my Gods will help me get through it”. I know deities do intentionally send us challenging circumstances occasionally, but I don’t believe my deities are sadistic enough to send down all of the difficulties I’ve had to go through, particularly since many were results of my own decisions, not theirs. What the Gods want us to endure or go through is not always what actually happens in our lives.
But even so–what gives with my long underemployed/unemployed patch? My friend’s gentle suggestion–and Hekate’s not-at-all gentle rant earlier at Con–was to look to other deities who will get the job done for me. If my Gods are not getting the job done, turn to Someone who will. None of our deities are omnipotent; each has His, Her, or Their own area of strength and expertise–true. But it’s a painful realization none-the-less.
(And yes, lest someone goes on a rant about how people in 12-step programs or in certain religions just pray for their problems to be resolved instead of actually doing anything to help themselves, let me point out that in 12-step programs, the idea is to “Pray to your Higher Power, and do the footwork. Pray to your HP, and do the footwork.” Etc. And for Heathens, it’s common to hear “The Gods help those who help themselves.” Meaning that there’s a part that we humans do have power over, but there’s a part that we have to take it on faith and hope that the Gods will see us through.)
2. Another suggestion that was brought up (by my friend, not by Hekate) was to “follow the love”. See Who’s active in your life now. If you feel love, follow that love, and find out where it’s coming from–it may not be from who you think it is. Maybe some of the Gods or spirits that you thought were always there for you may be on a break; and new ones may have joined whom you’re ignoring, or whom or haven’t made their presence known yet. If you hang out with polytheists from other trads, or do spiritual work in the public sphere, or really spent time digging into your ancestry, it’s quite possible that you’ve caught the eye of deities and spirits other than your usual ones. Find their love (or other influence), and follow it. See who’s sending it to you and why. Maybe there’s gifts, blessings, or challenges to be found that you did not see. We usually only see what we expect to see.
So, for me, that means to follow the love. Who’s giving me enough to help me get financial stability?
Wish me luck.