Recently the question came up in one of the discussion forums I am in as to whether or not we need Divine and vice versa.
Inevitably, we get the well-considered answers, and then we get the children who think that the profundity of the entire Universe is somehow in that precious treasure trove between their ears, and that everyone else is dying to find out what it is that the rest of humanity has somehow missed.
Does the scientific reality of photosynthesis cease if plants don’t pay attention to it or believe in it? No. It still exists. I think humans like to console themselves on the arrogant notion that somehow the Divine would be somehow gone or irrelevant without our participation in the equation.
In my not-so-humble opinion: Bullshit.
I’ve been referred to all sorts of arguments by anyone and anything from the penned opinions of the late Isaac Bonnewitz to Terry Pratchett’s books and frankly none of it has any relevance whatsoever to my personal practice or praxis on the matter. I am Kemetic; Kemetic Orthodox to be exact. I have been at this as a practitioner of the Kemetic religion in some form or another for 30+ years. I think I know by now what it is that I am doing and are pretty secure in what I believe without the compare and contrast inserted by others into the equation, thank you very much. Purity, piety and fear of Netjer is a part of Kemetic religious devotion and practice, and that exact phrase goes back to antiquity and carries a lot of weight. However, that idea is not as dogmatic as that might sound. Nature IS. Netjer IS. It will be there – as a constant. Our participation is not necessary in either case. Both Netjer and humanity get something out of the deal and I believe that love on both sides of the equation has a great deal to do with why it works to this day. That is, I know, my opinion. Y’all are entitled to your own.
Which brings me to this: The God(s) are not our bitches. Add to that the notion that He/She /They is/ are not necessarily our “buddies” either. We don’t get to haul them out and play with them like Celestial Barbies or G.I. Jove. It is not all fun, or warm or fuzzy. It is hard WORK and sometimes that is necessarily difficult and frustrating. You will probably shed tears from time to time.
Get over it.
The relationship between humans and the Divine is just that….a relationship. All relationships if they are worth a damn at all, take work on both sides or it is just superficial and has no sort of depth or intimacy to it. To really know another, be it a person or a Deity, there has to be deep levels of insight on both sides. That is the hard part.
God / the Gods (the One in the Many or the Many in the One) Netjer is/are not here as the Eternal Wish Grantor(s) to be approached only “when we need something” or to be blamed when stuff goes wrong. It fascinates me just how many people become suddenly religious when they are faced with a crisis of some sort of another. We need money, we need a Divine pep talk, we need to see what lies beyond the bend in the road and we suddenly go into “religious mode”. We light a candle, or bow our heads, or get suddenly reflective or we scream to the sky, “Why me?!” Some of us may choose to perform magical rites and do heka or authoritative utterances, demanding to get our way. Sometimes we might think that resorting to threats and having a temper tantrum to get our way is the approach. We need a sign. We need reassurance we need something, and in the darkest reaches of our hearts, we know if we just get a teeny, tiny glimmer of hope, everything will be ok.
However, just as soon as some of us get that, and the crisis is seemingly over, too many simply skip along our merry way after saying, “Thanks, God! That was mighty cool of you!” And then quickly and ever-so-conveniently forget. That is they forget until the next crisis rolls around and the whole process begins all over again.
Is this any way to live our spiritual or even our day-to-day lives? Is this any way to navigate our way through the things that keep us motivated and moving? Does this give us any real connection to the Divine or even to our deepest selves? I personally don’t believe so.
I recently read a wonderful blog post by Adam Sicinski, God Does Not Grant Wishes but rather Opportunities to Make Wishes Come True that was written almost seven years ago but I found to be both lucid and insightful. Beyond the fact that Adam did not try to ram Christian-themed belief down the throat of the reader, he rather neutral on the subject; the post contained some real gems, such as this one:
“There are so many of us out there who rely on God or an Infinite Power to heal them, to make them rich, and to make their dreams come true. What these people fail to understand is that God will not fulfill their desires. It is rather up to the person asking for these things to keep an eye out for opportunities coming their way that may possibly enable them to fulfill their needs and wants.”
Even when you practice magic, or the Craft of the Cunning folk, heka. spells or whatever you want to call it, things can go wrong. Sometimes the answer is,”No.” Or it is, “Not now.” Sometimes the things we ask for or the things we think we want are better left unfulfilled. Being prepared to take on the responsibility of the thing or situation desired is important.
I have seen far too many people, Neopagans especially, pick up specific deities or entire pantheons because they think that going to that Deity or that set of Deities will get them the results that they want. If Deity has the least little bit of intelligence that we believe that it does, do you think maybe that it is possible to determine when someone is hanging out in their shrine or making alms and prayers that the person is after something? Sincerity, or lack thereof, does have a certain air to it. Most people can discern whether or not someone likes us, or is talking to us or saying complimentary things out of sincerity, and when someone is trying to get something out of the person that they are making overtures to.
The Divine is not so insecure as to need to be flattered, or plied with copious amounts of food and drink in the guise of “offerings”. It’s not unlike the husband who takes his wife out to dinner and plies her with candy and flowers and wine and maybe even some bling in order to get something or make nice. She’s no fool. She knows that this is all a part of the negotiation for whatever it is that he is after – sex, forgiveness, telling her that they are moving to South Dakota in the middle of nowhere – whatever it is. He wants something. Or the televangelist who tells viewers to send in $100 and God will “press it down and multiply it and turn it into $1,000!” In return, that viewer gets a special “prayer cloth” made of 100% polyester, cut with pinking shears to prevent ravellng and to be kept in your wallet as a reminder of your faithful covenant with God. Why do people do that? Does it have to do with faith as much as it has to do with wanting something in return?
I am fairly certain that the Divine is smart enough to figure that sort of thing out, too.
So why do we do any of this stuff? Why do we erect shrines in our homes? Why do we make offerings, why do we even bother with all the ritual and the reflection and everything that goes with it?
Speaking only for myself and my relationship that I have with the Netjeru, I do it because I want to. I enjoy spending time in my shrine with the perceived presence of Sekhmet, or Amun, or Aset or Heka – or Melek Taus or Durga or even with my akhu (ancestors). It’s a relationship. Relationships take work. I am willing to do the work, make the effort, not just because I want something, or that I hope to get anything out of it except a clearer sense of myself and where I am going, the world and how I can be in it and assist others, not just myself. That has nothing to do with being a priestess or a retired priestess. That has everything to do with humanity needing to work with our environment, with the people and even the experiences that seem to be ordinary, and yet there are inexplicable things that are extraordinary. Power or Sekhem comes in many forms. It exists deep within us, but it also can be found in the ordinary. Seeing the power of a rainstorm or seeing the blood red sky in the morning both remind me of Set. Such a simple thing was not something I asked for, but it is no less a gift for which I am thankful. Seeing the vultures fly overhead remind me of Mut and Nekhbet. The cry of a hawk outside my door reminds me of Heru and that His Eye is always upon me. The herbs that I harvest and the power to heal with them reminds me of Sekhmet. Those are the big things in all of the “little things” that make a difference in our lives. When we remember that, what part of our lives does not, therefore, become a prayer?
The gratitude for each and every day and the countless experiences we can find to remind us that we are not alone, that we are a part of a greater whole. God is not here to grant wishes, necessarily. I do not foresee Yinepu going into the kitchen any time soon to fetch a chicken pot pie. What the Divine does do is provide us the inspiration and the sense of accomplishment in creating things for ourselves. In that, lies the true gift.
12 responses to “God Is Not Your ‘B*tch’!”
I agree with this completely. It’s funny, actually, as I often state that I am essentially non-religious. But that statement is only true in one way. What I really mean if I take the time to go there, is that my experience keeps me on a path without a specifically system of Gods, without a specific, definable tradition. I don’t do what seems to me to be ‘worship’. But I am in pretty constant contact with the entities and spirits that fill my world. This contact and communication does indeed make my life work better, but that isn’t really the goal. The do otherwise would be like living in a house full of people and never giving them the time of day. It would be incredibly rude as well as ethically not acceptable…
Thanks for your comment, Aidan! I appreciate it very much! (This is my second attempt at a response, btw – WordPress ATE the last one! *growl*) I would agree definitely with what you are saying. My spouse is Norse /Asatru and so the sort of amalgamation we come up with between us is incredibly integrated. We live on land that was part of an ancient Indian settlement,there are some burial grounds in these hills. Paying attention and acknowledging the other beings in the area is just plain polite. You have to have a good relationship with your dead people just as surely as you do with your neighbors – otherwise problems arise.
I think I agree to a point.
The NTR can exist without us, but they certainly don’t exist as much in this realm, or to the same capacity without us (imo). Egyptians seemed to share that view- that gods wanted what we had to offer, otherwise the threats that Hekau would enact wouldn’t have any weight to them, etc.
And while I think that yes, the gods can *survive* without offerings in their coffers, I question how much they will actually *thrive* without the offerings. I think that was part of my original like of Kemeticism- there is a necessity on both ends to make things run smoothly. It’s a duality that is often missing in a lot of other religions where humans are just pawns on a gods’ chess board.
That being said, I do think that for the relationship with the gods to go anywhere, you’ve got to be willing to put the time in. But then again, I don’t know that everyone is necessarily meant to be a daily worshiper type person. There are multiple ways to cause good things to happen for teh NTR- and not all of them are in a kar shrine. To some extent, getting up and going to work helps to promote order and therefore, in some contexts, ma’at… etc etc So I think it’s all about how you look at things.
So yeah. Thoughts.
I think that threats and the part they play in heka definitely have their place.. I tried to stay away from that deeper Kemetic stuff, at least for this post. I will probably delve in a bit deeper later. (I haven’t been at this nearly as long as you, Helms or Aubs have!) . I think my main point in this essay are those who only tend to wander into their shrine or have a relationship with Netjer on an “as needed basis”. That, IMO, is superficial and rather hollow. If it is satisfying that is ok, but I don’t think optimum results can be achieved in that fashion. . No one says it has to be daily, I think that is a bit dogmatic. However, I think that each of us and the things we do as being representative of the Divine in action on Earth, is kind of an ideal – that ties into Ma’at,…which can get really deep into the thought department, too!
Pingback: Link: God is Not Your B*tch | Fiercely Bright One
Thank you for this essay.
It is disheartening to see the trend in modern occult and new-age ‘wiccan’ literature that the Good Gods are just waiting to serve us at our beck-and-call. (Although, I do admit enjoying sitting back and watching them whilst thinking, “Let’s see how that works for you.” I generally count it as a success if they don’t get burnt fingers and singed hair for their presumption.)
Thankfully, there are devoted people like yourself out in the world doing the work and willing to discuss it. It is cause for hope.
Reblogged this on Notes from the Underground.
I wish I could hit like on your comment, my friend. I have long viewed you as a spiritual sister and you often inspire me by what you write and what you do and that you are so willing to share the ups and downs and the twists and turns in your own spiritual pathworking. I wish I had half of your clarity! *g*
The trend is disturbing. There has been a definite dumbing down in occult circles and a pervading assumption that anyone can do this stuff, all it takes is the right magic words during the right moon phase, click, your heels three times, and recite the requisite phrase from “The Secret” and all shall be revealed.
The wonderful thing that you and I are both aware of, I am sure, d is that the Mysteries can and do protect themselves. You may very well get those wishes you ask for by plying the chosen deity with food and drink and flattery of one kind or another. However, those become very much like a monkey’s paw, and the uninformed and unprepared pay a high price to be sure.
I have learning disabilities, I’m abuse survivor (from a parent), I chronic illnesses. I learnt by the time I was eight, that asking ‘Why me?’ is pointless.
I didn’t choose the Netjeru, the netjeru and particularly Bast and Hethert chose me. I’m ex-Christian which has as much to do with my parents as the Church. When I left, I was dating a kitchen witch and a druid. After about a year I realised the divine still had a place in my life. I spent sometime seeking, then Bast demanded attention. I started seeing cats everywhere until I gave her attention.
Thank you for writing this. It’s great food for thought.
Pingback: On the Path | Per Bastemhet