I have a friend who is fairly sick, as of right now and fairly ill on a regular basis. She mentioned to me that she doesn’t even sit in shrine anymore because she feels like she has nothing useful or productive to say. She doesn’t feel moved to pray, give offerings, or anything because all she’ll feel is the desire to ask for healing, for strength, for help. She considers this point a “blah” phase in her relationship with her gods. And I can understand that: depression has a very unique ability to destroy everything you’ve ever thought, felt, or worked toward in a single stroke. As she said, what’s the point in maintaining all of this since she’s always so depressive? And I replied, “Since when is a relationship with the gods supposed to be all about them?”
One of the things that I’ve blogged about often, or mentioned in passing, is that we have to focus on the intent in what we do when we are with our gods. However, I don’t tend to mean that as sacrificing one part of ourselves, or our lives, in the name of the gods. The relationship isn’t one-sided. They get something out of it just as much as we do, which is something that should be taken into consideration. I’ve mentioned this a time or two: they need us as much as we need them. Now, I know that this isn’t a very popular view in a lot of pagans’ paths. But, it’s pretty central to mine. Just because we work with the gods doesn’t mean that we should only be working on things in an effort to forge a relationship with them, to make things better and happy for them, to get on things in an effort to make it all unicorn farts and rainbow gold at the end of all of this.
I’ll post an example.
My work with Hekate is almost entirely about me. I do not do very much for her her or with her outside of my shadow work. Now, while I am a follower of hers and by worshiping her, I’m sure I am giving her my energy so that she can manifest more in my life. So, in that regard, she gets something out of it. However, aside from that aspect, what else does she get out of helping me to fix my past hurts and the past lives that got mucked up because I couldn’t learn a simple lesson? Perhaps she has some big, huge plan or something. Perhaps all of this work has a final result, aside from fixing me and aside from getting my head block against witchy stuff out of the way. But, the real big end result to all of this is a bigger, better, badder, awesome-r, new me. And while I’m sure she’ll take a lot of joy and happiness out of that – pointing to all her friends over a beer and saying, “that’s my work, right there,” all proudly – but I cannot say that the relationship really benefits her in much more than an added dose to the energy or chi that gods need (or I think they need, anyway).
But, it still comes down to our head getting in the way of things. It’s how it is; it’s how life is. I tend to let my head get in the way of my own shit. And there are times where I’ve felt very much like my friend is now. What’s the point? Why does it matter? Who cares? They’re not listening. It’s not like they care. Why should I fill them up with my shit? Oh, I’ve had those moments. And I’ve passed through that tunnel because, after a while, the tunnel lightens. The tunnel ends.
I’ve often remarked that I feel like I’m running towards a cliff with points and razors and sharp implements pointing in my direction. And I’m running towards all of those icky, horrible things, knowing implicitly that if I change direction then I can avert the disaster. But, sometimes, like I said, our head gets in the way. And we can’t make just the tiny trajectory change necessary to get out of our own shit. And that, I think, is when we need the gods the most.
This friend of mine mentioned that she’s tired of asking for help and filling up her shrine with all of the negative thoughts going on inside of her head. She also mentioned that she doesn’t feel comfortable in asking the gods for help, anyway. She says it makes her feel selfish. And I get that, too. More often than not, whenever someone tells me to “turn to the gods” when things are shit, I scoff. It’s not that I don’t turn to them in my own way – I have faith and I’ve been told that I’m rich in it. (I guess someone has to be?) The thing is that I don’t tend to ask them for help with my shit for the same reason. Isn’t that selfish? Isn’t that silly? Why am I bothering a being such as a god or a lwa or a spirit with my own head shit or my own health shit or my own inability to find a job? Maybe I’m taking that time and energy away from someone else or maybe I just feel like my own wants and desires don’t figure into this. But again, at this point, I have to come back to the question I asked her, “since when is a relationship with the gods supposed to be all about them?”
I will admit that I find it funny that me, Miss Bossy Boots who doesn’t ask the gods for anything, is blogging about this. But, I’m going to fill you in on something.
I honestly believe that the gods are here to help us. And it’s not just to help us forge paths, get down with magic and/or heka, give us faith, and to make our lives richer. I think they are around to help us. Hundreds of Christians ask and beg their deity for things on a regular basis. I know this for a fact; my best friend who is Christian tells me that she prays for things often. And she also tells me that her deity will answer her prayers on a regular basis, but it’s a matter of figuring out what the answer is… and that’s faith. She knows the answer will come and she knows the answer may not be something she wants, desires, thinks she needs, or any of that jazz, but she believes a response will come. And in like fashion, I believe similarly.
The thing is that turning to your gods and your spirits when you’re in the thick of shit and unable to get your head out of your own butt is pretty much ingrained in us. I often think certain people fight against it for various reasons. I have the same issue as my friend here: it feels like some selfish douchebaggery to beg for healing or a job or things like that. I also tend to think of it as rationality and logic: pshaw, the gods will deliver. Insert snarky, snotty eyeroll. But, conversely or ironically or what have you, I also believe that they will deliver. It’s all a matter of asking.
I’ll talk about another example.
My friend, Devo, and I have had a lot of conversations in recent months when I’ve been in the thick of my own shit, head up my butt, and sobbing with pain leaking out of my eyes and snot all over the place. Things have been hard. Things have been shit. And she’s always done the back-pat thing that we love and hate at the same time. She seems to know what to say and when to say it and how to say it. She reminds me that, while things may look like they are easy for her right now, things weren’t always that way. She reminds me that she had times where she broke down in shrine on a daily basis, screaming and crying and raging that things were so bad and so awful. And she’s come out of those times and so, in that, I have to have faith that I will. And that our mutual friend will.
It’s a matter of asking and deciding how much intent you put into the asking.
Yet another example.
Tonight, I did my first real, live petition. I’ve never done a major one before. I did a minor one in January or February for some healing for both myself and my son when we were down and out with chest colds. (Also, interesting tidbit on that, since I petitioned both Sekhmet and the Ghede for help with that, I have not been hit with a new chest cold. And I get them at every season change because I’m super special like that.) There were herbs and candles and I got rid of the offerings in proper order. Tonight, I did a new working with Ogun for employment. I won’t get into the specifics of the working, but I finally have broken to the point where I know that no matter what I try and do, my head is in the middle of this job search and it’s fucking me up. I need bigger, badder, and more powerful guns to help me out of this unemployment shit. So, I turned to someone who can help me: Ogun. I would like to say that I put a lot of motherfucking intent into this petition and will for the next week until, next Wednesday, I finish the candle I have for the job and take care of the offerings in proper manner.
Intent, intent, intent.
It keeps coming down to that.
But, really, the big point is that we can turn to our gods just as easily and just as willingly as we see Christians doing. They pray in church. They pray before bed. They pray before they fly. They pray when things are tough and when things are not touch. As much as I have a negative feeling for Christianity, we can at least look to them as an example in this. While not all Christians are “good” Christians and some of them are the kinds that only do things on certain holidays, we have seen similar examples in our pagan paths. But, we should look to the “good” Christians as a good example to follow. And that means praying when things are good and when things are bad. Giving offerings when things are good and when things are bad. Asking for help when things are good and when things are bad.
The example is there, we just have to figure out how to use it in our non-Christian lives.