For Balance: The Benefits of Devotion

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I know I just wrote a post that sounded like, “the more religious you get, the less the gods want to do with you.” That is, in point of fact, NOT what I was saying. Rather, the thesis was, “the more invested you become in the gods being a certain way, the less of them you will see.”

Devotion is not, nor should it be construed as being, for the purpose of bringing the gods into the world. It would be really nice, I think, if they would be welcome here, but they aren’t, for reasons I delved into in quite some depth. It’s why, even in the ancient myths, they showed up in mortal guise.

The merit of the gods has always been their wisdom. It is difficult to juggle emotional investment with detachment from self, but emotional investment in the gods and prayer elevate the soul and deepen our connection to that wisdom.

Never has this been clearer to me than over the past few days, dealing with my social media. It is the nature of blogging and having something resembling a pagan public persona that two things will inevitably happen:

  1. Pagans will get mad (always)
  2. Jesus-people will show up and say things

Actually, these two types of people are the same type of person. They need to push their particular views on people, and really can’t stand living in a world where there are people who don’t think and believe as they do. They aren’t there to debate. If they’re charitable, they’ll assume that the problem is ignorance and try to teach you. If they’re not charitable, they’ll assume that your difference of opinion means that you are evil and need to be castigated, cursed, or destroyed. Or they’ll warn you about what their deity will do to you.

There was a time when that probably would have bothered me. I stopped writing for a while because of it. But for once, I looked at it and thought, “huh, that’s weird.” And in one case I was like, “yeah, fair, my dude. The ideas I’m exploring are really challenging, and I accept that this is a basically normal human reaction to encountering ideas that challenge your worldview.”

That emotional poise, empathy, and understanding are the benefits of devotion to Hermes and Apollon. The one has taught me patience and empathy, the other has deepened my respect for truth and helped me stay perched on curiosity, rather than jumping to an emotional reaction.

When I pray, it is inevitable that I fix my mind on the specific thing that makes the deity worthy of worship. In fixing my mind on the goodness that is in them, it becomes a part of me, and I grow in that direction.

This is the power of Polytheism. Goodness, for us, need not remain elusive or abstract. It is arrayed for us like a banquet, each dish clear to see, smell, and partake of. Whatever goodness we need to develop in ourselves, there is a deity who specializes in it, and who can help us deepen our understanding of how to pursue it.

Rather than turning back from this sort of practice, I mean to broaden it, and to that end, will finally return to my work with Dionysos.

12 comments

  1. The way that Set explains it is, the helpful kind of devotion and religion for producing capital-R Results is genuine devotion to the principles, ideas, stories, and mannerisms represented by a god. Like, if this god was “just” a person, would you still want to be around them? If this god is just a mental construct representing their ideas, would you still be willing to fight, struggle, work, and die for those ideals? It needs to be something you do regardless of what people say or think, regardless of what kind of afterlife you want to get to, regardless of the fact that you know there’s a good possibility this “god” you love so much may just be a part of yourself, or of the “collective consciousness”. That’s where the magical power of a human/god relationship comes from; that is why I’m able to witness this sort of weird shit, even though by most kemetics’ standards, I’m just a loudmouthed, disrespectful, uppity brat. (All of those are direct quotes from various people I’ve run into over the years, btw :P)

    1. “Like, if this god was “just” a person, would you still want to be around them?” OMFGS THIS!!

      There is, at the end of the day, benefit to adoration of a deity and appreciation of what they stand for.

      But let’s be real. My main form of “invocation” with Hermes is doing sexytimes. I assure you, if the universe turned inside out and he was no longer a deity, I would still want that. Though. Being patient and kind and wise to the degree he is, which is the thing about him that has transformed me, is so much a part of who he is and what I love about him that I honestly cannot imagine him without those qualities.

      He says god-dick is inherently transformative. I’m inclined to think that I have learned by his example. Potato? Po-tah-to?

  2. Also, idk if I’m jumping to conclusions or not, but just in case: Hermes, can I PLEASE have my notebook and coffee mug back??? Like the mug isn’t that big of a deal, I can use other ones for a while (it was cheap but I don’t know if I’ll be able to buy another like it), but that notebook has a bunch of stories and poems and stuff I need to type up! You can have it once I’m done doing that, I guess, but also it’s a gift from my mom and I wanted to fill it up and have it as a keepsake.
    Also, WHY.

  3. Huhm. What did you do to get Hermes-agro?

    I’m sure he didn’t mean to steal the notebook and that he will return it just as soon as the veil thins enough to pop it back over. *looks at Hermes* right?

    I’m hearing him say he needed a coffee mug, and one just showed up for him.

  4. akxkskskskks I apologize, I just left my mug in the microwave again, lol.
    Although now that I think about it, I had already looked in the place I found my notebook…uh, thanks for the help???

    1. Yeah. When he returns things, it has to be in a plausible location, and not one that violates people’s expectations of how physical reality works.

      Ok, it doesn’t *have to* but I guess there is nominal blowback of some kind when those expectations are violated.

      But the “I swear I just fucking looked there!” — yup

      1. ADHD is such a great cover for actually teleporting objects. It gives them such excellent plausible deniability

      2. Just read this comment and got an image of Apollon singing the “Put that thing back where you found it or so help me!” song from Monsters, Inc.

  5. About a month later, so… a few things:
    1. Apparently we (either me by accident, or Set on purpose) trapped Hermes in some kind of weird horny psychopomp purgatory, because I assumed he would just take whichever souls wanted to go to the Greek afterlife and leave, but since I kept thinking “oh yeah well Hermes will be in and out taking whatever souls that want to go” (and Set was being a douche and not letting him take anyone), he was here even when he wanted to leave (???). I’m not very confident in my ability to “hear” and interpret Hermes, but right now it seems like he was more annoyed with me for not asking him specifically what he needed to do his job, than anything else.
    2. Athena snuck onto my altar in between Set and Isis through a couple owl knick-knacks. I thought she was just a very Loud and Grumpy spirit who liked owls and wanted to hang out with Set for some reason, so I didn’t think anything of it until a few days later when I was like “wait….only gods go on the god altar…..HEY WHAT THE HELL?!”. I’m relieved to have her help in any capacity, except that Heru is being a big baby about it.
    3. Speaking of which, I think I accidentally syncretized the Kemetic pantheon I work with, with the pantheons of Greece and Rome, and I uh…have never heard of anyone doing that. Like…can you even DO that? Like am I good, here? How am I supposed to tell bitchy Egyptian gods they have to share with (no of fins) stuck-up Greek and Roman deities who are, APPARENTLY, always talking shit to each other about some historical events that I only vaguely know about (because Texas doesn’t teach goddamn world history D:<)? And why is everyone pantheon-racist????

    ?????

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