Most Pagans are NOT god-touched or godspouses

Heather Freysdottir posted:

“I think on some level it’s starting to become a goal to be god-touched, and that stifles creativity and openness in spiritual practice. If you’re looking for a particular carrot, you may be missing a rich experience of your own that someone else could learn from, and even if it’s for no one but yourself, it’s still valuable to you.”

This can’t be stressed often enough, in my opinion: despite the impression you’d get from all of the godspouse and spirit worker blogs online, the vast majority of Heathens and other Pagans, are NOT god-touched, “god-bothered,” or married to gods.  Not only that, but the vast majority of them wouldn’t even want to be, because they are happily leading fulfilled devotional lives either in community with other Pagans or on their own.  While some of them they may have had mystical experiences (I’ve known a number of mainstream Heathens who have, for example, though they tend not to share them online), they are not desperately reading godspouse blogs and wondering when Loki (just to pull a name off the top of my head) is going to finally show some serious  interest in them the way He does for all of their friends, because they’re too busy leading their religious lives. In fact, the bulk of Pagan religious activity happens offline (shocking, I know), although there are also plenty of non-spirit worker pagan blogs online, along with many pagan forums where an assortment of pagans from different paths and levels of experience can be found if you’re looking for online community.  (I first met Jolene online at one of these forums, when I was just starting to put out feelers for Pagan and Heathen contacts ten years ago, and although both of us are god-touched the majority of people posting there were not.)

The reason the internet gives this false impression is simple: if you are experiencing these things, you are very likely going to feel driven to write about them, if not for the purpose of sharing them with others then simply as an aid to puzzling through them for yourself.  And often you do end up wanting to share them to see whether or not you’re alone, and to compare notes with others; while  no one should be seeking validation from others per se, it is comforting to find out that others have experienced similar things.  There has been, lately, quite a bit of criticism aimed at the current flock of newbies and the time they spend squeezing over their gods, but as Lykeia comments here, this is only natural and a phase we all go through when we’re new.  (If we’re lucky, like those of us in the older crowd, we did it on LiveJournal behind filters rather than on the public internet, but I recently read some of my own filtered posts about Odin from 2002–nope, I’m not sharing them, so don’t ask–and they nearly as bad as some of the things the current newbies are excitedly sharing.)

However, you don’t need a “god-phone” or even a “god-radio” to love the gods, to offer to Them, to learn about Them, to write poems and stories about Them or make things inspired by Them, or (if you are–unlike me–a community-minded person) t0 share the joy of that love with others.  Devotion can be a rich and rewarding practice in its own right, because even when you’re not getting specific messages and input back from the gods on a regular basis (or even at all), once you have established a devotional practice you will get a sense of joy from Them at the fact that you are doing these things, that you are remembering Them.  Or, the joy your practice brings you may be all within your own heart, and not traceable back to Them at all, and, you know what?  That’s also okay.  After all, it doesn’t all have to look the same.

Author: Beth

Artist + spirit worker on a mission to inspire you to walk your own path with audacity.

13 thoughts on “Most Pagans are NOT god-touched or godspouses”

  1. You know, it took me a long time (I mean, in terms of how long I’ve been a polytheist, which is only something like … 6 or 7 years?) before I really fully understood that not being god-touched or -bothered or married/in some sort of relationship beyond devotee/god can and is a good thing. Not that being the opposite is a bad thing (not what I’m trying to imply at all!), but rather that I have a lot of freedom to do what I will with my devotional life. I used to take that for granted, and I kind of wish I hadn’t taken me so long. I don’t NEED to get into a marriage or a full blown TPE relationship with a god just to have a relationship with a god!

    (Which isn’t to say I don’t have a god currently knocking at my door; which I might, but I sure as hell am going to take my time in figuring things out rather than jumping in and putting frameworks or other labels on it that don’t NEED to be there. It isn’t a competition, damnit.)

    1. Yes, exactly! I think the most damaging thing about the flood of godpouse blogs on Tumblr (of which I am, thankfully, blissfully ignorant except through hearsay, since I tend to avoid going there at all) and the godspouse communities on Facebook, is that people who are new (or even new-ish) to Paganism/Heathenism in general look at that and are tempted to think they need to be a godspouse in order to be a “real” devotee of their god. And then they get depressed when they aren’t having all of the shiny experiences their friends brag about, and it becomes a situation where everyone feels pressured to “up” what other people say is happening to them. Honestly, many of these people are spending so much of their time online talking about their relationships that I have to wonder what time they have left over for the relationship itself. Not that I am saying they should stop talking about their experiences; that can be an important part of the process too. But it’s really vital to let the relationship grow organically without trying to force things just because of what your friends are saying.

      And it’s also very true that even if you are god-touched, you can have a close relationship with a god that is not at all sexual; my relationship with Bragi is a good example of that.

  2. I am continually grateful that I do not care what other people’s opinions or thoughts about my . . . well, anything, really . . . do not matter to me. I poke at it from time to time, because it’s pretty awesome, so awesome as to be suspected of being false, but, no. If you become part of my tribe, or part of that layer that is not-quite-tribe-but-not-completely-unrelated-too, then, yes, your opinion gets weight, but if not? Then, you know, not so much.

    ‘Course, I’m also grateful that I wasn’t not online in theformative years as much as I am now. I can’t imagine what it must be like, to have the pressure to be connected all the time. ::shudder::

    1. Yes, me too! I am especially very, very glad that I only discovered other Odin’s folk (both woo and non) online after our relationship had become pretty well established. I was in my mid-thirties before I began using the internet regularly. I think it first became available sometime in my teens, but it held no attraction for me at that time, and in my twenties I had other issues to deal with…

  3. I didn’t even know there was something called godspouses until… well, until I read your first post on the W&P blog! I have been on the pagan path for almost a decade now, going long periods without any connection to other pagan groups and only rarely connecting with any in real life. I am still blissfully unaware of Tumblr (I don’t get it) and I don’t use Facebook for socializing in this way, so I’m a bit behind with all the “newest developments”.

    But I’m happy that I wasn’t aware of the role of godspouses until recently, as I was very (/even more) impressionable when I was a teen. And admittedly, I did have a few unhappy thoughts about “Why not me? Am I not special enough?” – in my case, I have my own personal demons of not-being-good-enough-ness that I need to deal with, but after thinking about it for a long time, I’m not sure I’d even *want* to be god-touched, and not being so is not because I’m not good enough. I’ve long held the belief that all gods exist, but few, if any, really impact directly on my life. Since I feel a shift coming in the way I approach my spirituality (more active practice instead of passively observing) this may change, but honoring the local spirits, my ancestors and a few deities is enough for me.

    It seems to almost have become a competition of whom the gods love more… and I’m certain that can’t be healthy.

    1. Thank you for the wonderfully sane comment! We all have our demons of “not being good enough,” or at least I know I do; many of us godspouses have had to continually ask “why me?” at the same time as you were asking “why not me?”, and the answers we get almost never satisfy us. Which, I suppose, is what gives rise to the competition, but it is not healthy; in fact, I would argue that making it a competition kind of defeats the whole point, and borders on blasphemy, as this is supposed to be, above all, a sacred relationship. There are many different ways in which we can share our love with the gods (and vice versa) and this is only one of them. Taking the time to discover your path among these many ways is a mark of wisdom.

      1. I think that has been one of the reasons why I haven’t spent that much time socializing with other pagans, except on the Internet. While it is wonderful and nourishing to meet like-minded people, or people who challenge your own beliefs (in the good way) and make you think about why you are doing the things you are, I got tired of the “You should all be doing XYZ, otherwise you’re doing it wrong. You can’t mix pantheons, you can’t honour the Gods from X pantheon if you’re not of that culture/ethnic origin; you must use the right candle colour/crystal/wand/symbol for your magical workings, otherwise your spell will backfire and kill your pet turtle.” And so on and on.

        Now that I’m older and a bit more accustomed to, well, bullshit, I’ve started sending out feelers again. This time on druid forums, which seems a bit more accepting of the many ways one can approach spirituality. There are doubtlessly still those who think you should only honour the Celtic gods, or be of Celtic origin, or that you must learn to play the harp, but those are more easily ignored now that you’re not wondering if you’re doing it right.

        I always find your posts enlightening and interesting (especially the latest one as well). It’s a bit sad that it needs repeating that everyone’s path is individual and their own, and no one can walk it for them, but I wonder if the cookie-cutter, on-demand culture we have in the some Western countries is fueling this kind of behaviour and thought processes. My younger brother’s generation all seem to think that they are hugely unique and deserve praise for being so. Except they’re all expecting it, and then crashing and burning when they are met by real life and no one is waiting with a high-paying job on a silver platter. I see it in my peers as well, and even some older people. Perhaps this is also stimulating the “my God loves me more than yours!” or “there can only be ONE Odins-wife!” – because people like, or need, feeling special.

        I’m going on and on…. the topic of how contemporary approaches to religion are influenced by (post-)modern culture fascinates me!

  4. As a relatively new Heathen with a Lover-type situation with Loki, I absolutely agree with this post and with what’s been said here in the comments. Being Godtouched has its perks. I love Him, I am forever grateful for what He has done for me, and wouldn’t truly want it any other way…but life was much easier when I was a passive polytheist. I have serious responsibilities to not only Loki and His Family but to myself and others that I really can’t skimp on without consequences. I do constantly wonder “Why the !?#$ did You choose ME of all people?!”

    And ugh, I cannot stand the competition between newer female Lokeans over who He pays attention to more. It’s like I’m back in high school and the girls are fighting over the most popular lacrosse player.

  5. And then there is the other thing: you can hear your Gods and spirits without it becoming “God bothered” or a “God phone.” This is rather common in African traditional religions and it’s not as much seen as something other/isolated/speshul. In the House of Netjer it is very common for people actively involved to talk about messages they get in shrine. And during the New Year’s celebration some of the Names (Gods) will come and talk with us.

    1. Yes, exactly! Interaction with the Lwa/spirits is rather common in the ATRs; it’s part and parcel of the religion.

  6. Good post, while my relations to my Gods are touched, it doesn’t mean it’s sexual, or a marriage. I’m boggled by the flood of blogs about that – because mine is more Kin, than anything else. Besides, it’s not like being a spirit worker is all cheetoes and violins playing either.

  7. I wish I had established my relationship with Loki better before finding out about Godspouses, and just let it happen naturally without the drama and competition. And yes, I’m sick of the competition of who He loves more, and who is most special, whether literally spoken or implied. This is one reason I have decided not to give into those fears and just concentrate on my own path. This is something I should have done a year ago, when Loki started re-introducing Himself.

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