Deity: You seem to be in a good situation, with respect to your household. Which of your gods set you up?

Me: I… Actually you can’t credit my gods with this one. Every last one of them told me to stay away from him. I married him anyway. So that’s all me.

I got to thinking about where I’d be today if I had obeyed the gods on this issue.

I never would have finished college. I’d be living in a place isolated from any sort of suitable pagan community. I never would have learned Kabalah, or Ceremonial Magic. I would have been unable to bring those exegetical techniques to Hellenismos.

I would be struggling with poverty. I might not have access to suitable doctors to manage my health conditions. I would be in pain most of the time, and possibly not even know why.

A core tenet of Consent Culture is that each individual knows their own needs best. The gods may be wise with respect to the world, but they do not know me as I know myself. They don’t suffer what I suffer, they don’t live in my body, or drink my water or breathe my air.

It’s clear to me why they didn’t want me with my current mortal husband: he’s in the way of their aims. In order to spend my time or money on any spiritual undertaking, I need to negotiate with him. He’s an obstruction to them.

I must balance what he costs them with what a lack of him would cost me. When I made the decision to stay with him, I did, in point of fact, ask Hermes what he thought. Though every other deity said my disobedience was hubris, Hermes said, “No. If you think this is right, do it.”

Was he completely pleased? No. But he always defers to my sense of what is best for my situation. That is love: a commitment to do right by the beloved. And for this, I will honor him until I die with the highest of honors.

A core tenet of Rape Culture is that those with power have the right to inflict their will on others. If I was an adherent of rape culture, I would be very comfortable saying that what I need means nothing, and that the gods may do what they like with me, to my detriment or not, because they are gods and I am mortal. It would be no more complicated than that. I would accept that saying no to them invites a risk of violence against my person. If it is what men do to women who say no, I should certainly expect no less from my deities. I should be quieter. I should be less noticeable, if I don’t want this sort of treatment. I should make my offerings when they are due, and never when they are not. I should be no more and no less pure than anyone else around me so I don’t stand out. If pursued, I should demure, give unclear and indistinct answers to avoid their rage at being told no.

THIS. IS. RAPE. CULTURE.

And nothing about it is sacred to me.

Instead, I look out for myself. I take care of myself. Instead of living in poverty, I am financially stable. I have the best medical care money can afford. I live where Pantheacon happens. I have access to large spaces for classes and ritual. I have money to give other Pagans and Polytheists a hand up when they need it. I have vitality and energy, and most importantly of all, time, to do their work. Because the god who loves me committed to working with me, rather than establishing his dominance over me by working against me.

If I had obeyed them, I would have done them no service. Hermes knew enough to trust my sense of myself. But, then again, he has and –I believe– will always go to bat for me. And that investment he made in my personal sovereignty and my right to self determination has paid off for him and his entire pantheon a hundred fold.

The gods have profited because of his commitment to consent culture. They have profited because I disobeyed them.

Remember that the next time someone says, “We don’t have the right to say no.” We always have the right to say no to power. Sometimes, saying no to the gods and following through actually helps them in the long run. Sometimes, resisting the government benefits the entire country in the long run.

Disobedience is sacred.