Tuesday, April 29, 2014

[Religion] On Believing in Gods

[Mirrored from LiveJournal]

I've been asked several times lately "Why don't you believe in God?"

My answer is always the same. "It would be like believing in the postman." (Hattip to Terry Prachett)

They don't get it. They never get it. All they hear is that I'm not a Christian, so of COURSE I don't believe in God.

For me, the gods are real. All the gods from Ahura-Mazda to Zeus. They aren't physical realities. They aren't people. They are useful metaphors and ways of thinking about the world, much like archetypes, TV tropes or even tarot cards.

I read tarot. I ALWAYS preface my reading with "The cards know nothing. What they are is a reframing device to allow you to organize the knowledge you already have." This is why my cards never lie. Because they only tell you what you already know. But much as est wraps up your bad personality traits and hands them back with confidence and a shiny bow on top (does anyone still do est? Or did that die in 1983?), the cards clarify things.

Gods do the same thing for me.

They're someone to talk to when I can't explain to my human friends and family. They're a way of focusing my will when my own focus seems distracted. (and since magic is just applied will, this focus is vital) I work more closely with some gods than with others. I don't get along with some deities at all.

Those who know me, know I have a running quarrel with Loki. This has lessened considerably since Hermes laid claim to me, saying, "This writer, this traveler, this one who engages in commerce, she is MINE." Trickster gods are never dull, if never quite cozy and comfortable. Coyote is not my patron, but I catch him keeping an eye on me now and then.

The Egyptian gods have not called me to worship their pantheon. Ma'at in particular has no use at all for me.

Oddly, the Celts aren't all that interested in me either. The Green Man loves me madly, and in spring, when he laughs from every tree and bush, he makes me feel young and desirable. The rest, not so much.

The Norse pantheon and I are well acquainted, but they have let me know I am not theirs. Frigga offers the occasional aid, as does Freya. Odin is more rare. Loki just messes with me. And Thor is not my bestest buddy.

The Greeks, well, no one was more surprised than I when Hera took me up. And Hermes was another shock. I had always thought of myself as possibly Athena's girl, but she is uninterested in me.

I do not appropriate gods from outside my culture. No Kali or Shiva, no Amaterasu or Tlaloc.

YHWH does not like me. He doesn't like any of us who walk away from worshiping him. People get offended when I say he tried killing my daughters, making them mentally ill so they would commit suicide, when I walked away. I was told numerous times, from numerous sources (including dreams) that they would get better and live if I came back. People say God doesn't work that way. I raise one eyebrow and say "Tell it to the mothers of Egypt." (This is why I find Passover a problematic holiday. It boils down to "Please, God, don't kill us. We'll feed you sheep's blood. Go kill the goyim kids next door.") I would say, in a way, having confronted this deity and stood up to him, he is more real for me than he is for those who simply sing and pray on Sundays.

Jesus loves me, but I can't live with him. He's that one ex. That ex you still love, and still bump into occasionally. You have a couple hugs and a laugh or two, and then you remember why you broke up. (and I find, oddly, a lot of Christians don't get the "Jesus as boyfriend" metaphor. I tend to ask "What rock have you been under for 30 years?") He's sweet, and he says he loves me, but he wants me to change everything to show how much I love him. I can't do that.

Believing in gods is silly, for me.
It's like believing in screwdrivers or dentures.

And yeah, I can talk all I want about how they're just metaphors and useful ones. But at the end of the day?
I talk about them like they're people. Then again, I talk about everyone, real and metaphorical and fictional, the same way. Anita Blake has the same reality to me as Kali, and they're both as real as my neighbors down the street.

Edit to add a footnote: the last est seminar was in 1984.

No comments: