It’s not a popular thing to say in Devotional Polytheist circles, but I’m going to say it anyway: deities can’t “claim” mortals.
They can, at best, make it known to the mortal and the people around that mortal, that they are interested in having a relationship. That obligates the mortal in question to exactly nothing. It is an open door, and it is our choice whether or not to walk through that door.
They can make passionate entreaties, but they cannot actually make you walk through that door. You can’t force a person to love you. You can’t force a heart to feel loyalty and devotion.
In my article about Nonnus and Apuleius, I found myself hemming and hawing, wondering to what degree the ancient view of godspousery applied to me in my present circumstances.
I came to the following conclusion: it does not. I am not an ancient Greek, I do not live in ancient Greek culture, and really, I’m completely uninterested in reconstructing ancient Greek society in the modern day. The culture was oppressive and misogynistic.
I found the idea only temporarily appealing for exactly one reason: I didn’t want to take responsibility for my feelings.
After reading this article by Sable Aradia, the issue became very clear, and the implications of my antics were reflected back at me.
No one, in our Pagan community, really wants to own up to being a god spouse. I’ll be blunt: people are cruel and frequently misinformed, or else jump to unwarranted conclusions. The number of people poised to try to tear others down is staggering. The more visibility you have, the worse it gets.
No matter what words I use to express it, identifying myself as someone with an intense, passionate and romantic connection with a deity is going to piss some people off.
I didn’t want to deal with it. I still don’t want to deal with it. But I need to take responsibility.
I never meant to say that people could be married against their will. I never use the words “claimed” or “marked,” with respect to deities. There are people who do, and that’s fine. I personally find that verbiage triggering. Yet, I can totally see how my article could be read that way, and I am horrified.
Hermes forced me into absolutely nothing. He never would. Because he is a fucking adult.
When I said that my relationship with Hermes might be understood as a god spouse relationship, I did not mean that I was his wife, and I had no choice about it. I mean that I’ve been in a domestic and romantic relationship with him for years. I meant that I, like many other people, discounted the possibility of identifying as a spouse because I feared being seen as arrogant, or dealing with people who would think I was claiming some kind of superiority which I was absolutely not claiming.
I was vaguely, and somewhat ambiguously tempted to take the decision out of my own hands, because, at some point, denying that you have a certain relationship with a deity isn’t fair to them. If I had a girlfriend, I wouldn’t hide her in a closet and pretend that the relationship was platonic. That would be shitty. All the more so, I shouldn’t do that to a deity whom I love.
I really wanted to just not engage with people who thought that such a claim meant that I was a godslave, an oracle, an uber-priestess, or whatever else. It doesn’t mean any of that. There is nothing in any ancient tradition that I’m aware of that equates divine marriage with any such thing.
It was easier to sort of blame tradition. It was easier to say “it could be seen this way, based on my study.” It was a coward’s way out. It made my gods look like assholes. I am deeply ashamed of what I have wrought.
I’m sorry for being a coward. I am sorry for not taking responsibility. More than anything, I’m sorry for hiding my relationship with Hermes in a closet. I have done that for too long and in too many ways, and he deserves better. Has he asked? Yes, he has asked. So many times that I have lost count. I’ve never been opposed, but I’ve never been certain. At last, I must openly and honestly answer, “yes.”
He is my husband, I am his wife. It means that, and it means only that. I am claiming no authority, only love. I am claiming no position. I am not “claimed” or “owned” or “marked.” I’m in love, and that is more powerful than any coercion, mark, claim, contract or threat. It is, at last, even more powerful than my fear of derision.
I am not claiming to be the best or the only mortal he cares for. I know him well enough to know that if any one of you knocked on his door for a booty call, he’d answer it. I am only claiming that I have this relationship. It doesn’t need to affect you, it doesn’t need to influence the way you see him.
That is all.