Respecting Flawed Gods

Galina Krasskova has a new post addressing the problem of disrespecting the gods with our choices of how to describe Them.

I agree with Galina that calling the gods – or anyone – “petty” and “whiny” is diminishing, and that’s disrespectful. There are much more appropriate ways to describe whatever behavior was being observed that don’t include those kinds of inappropriate judgements. As do many polytheists, I’m sure, I often find myself offended when academic and religious writers write about our gods as if They are merely human characters in old novels, and not even terribly mature characters for that matter.

I understand that many ancient writers effectively used their pantheons of gods as a set of stock characters for storytelling about human issues, and that’s fine as far as it goes, but when modern writers derive their understanding of the historical gods only from those dramas without any consideration for context, and totally ignoring any potential for modern worshippers, I start gritting my teeth. At the absolute least, it’s terrible scholarship to simultaneously generalize the gods outside of those stories while ignoring the rest of the context defining Them. At worst it’s erasive and invalidating of modern polytheists everywhere.

Still, I have several problems with Galina’s overall assertions. I brought up one of them in response to her post, but I wanted to explore my thoughts more thoroughly here.
First of all, I think there’s actually a difference between irreverence and disrespect, especially for people who work regularly with Tricksters. Granted, mirth is not actually in opposition to reverence, but in modern usage “irreverence” frequently refers to facetious humor. I think it’s actually a highly functional aspect of our relationships with the gods that companionable teasing enters into our relationships. Honestly, I think one of the easiest ways to detect whether someone takes the gods seriously as real, independent entities with whom they have deep personal relationships is by listening to their sense of humor on the topic.

After all, who cracks a joke about “that Old Bastard always wanting more” if they don’t actually attribute power, agency, personality, and significance to the “Old Bastard” in question?

Second of all, I just can’t get behind saying that “Emotional” is a bad trait in general, but especially where gods of love and passion are concerned. Damned right Freyja is emotional! It’s Her JOB. The gods don’t just encompass what a sub-set of the human community happens to admire, They encompass all of reality. Emotions are absolutely part of our reality. But even more, I think it’s one of the most deeply unhealthy aspects of our culture that we think being an emotional person is a flaw. Amongst other things, it creates a false dichotomy that says intense emotions preclude making rational choices, and vice versa. We write off people who are experiencing or expressing strong emotions on the assumption that their emotions invalidate whatever they’re talking about, and teach people that if they feel strong emotions, they necessarily lack self-control. That’s bullshit, and dangerous bullshit to boot.

Third, I think it’s also a bit of an issue to say that the stories historical Pagans told about our Gods are the same as the gods Themselves, such that noticing and describing the often-fictionalized behaviors of those gods within the stories must never be observed as petty, selfish, immature, or otherwise less-than-admirable. The stories recorded by pre-Christian Pagans about Pagan gods are absolutely full of petty human behaviors. This makes sense both because the Gods are Themselves not entirely above such conflicts, but even more so because these stories were written by ordinary human beings. Are we to turn a blind eye to what is written in all our Lore if what the Lore says about our gods doesn’t describe Them idealistically enough?

Last, and perhaps most importantly, I find it very problematic to say that it’s disrespectful to point out that our gods have faults and flaws. The fact that our gods are limited and imperfect is part of how Polytheism functions. I think, in this case, it’s partially a function of the difference between how Galina views authority and how I view authority. Galina and I already know we don’t work the same way in this regard, and that’s fine. But this is another place where it comes up: I believe it’s part of my job to speak Truth to and about Power, and one of those truths is that flaws are real, important, and need to be called out and addressed. If we label it disrespectful and impious to point out that our gods aren’t always admirable and perfect just because They’re older, usually wiser, and more powerful than we are, we’re abdicating our responsibility for critical thinking.

It’s also getting cause and effect swapped where instructions from the gods are concerned. Advice isn’t guaranteed to be good because it comes from an admirable god. Gods are admirable because They usually give good advice.

By all means, respect the gods! Respect the gods because They have long since earned it. Admire Them because They have shown They deserve it. Don’t just hand over respect and admiration without thought and then turn a blind eye to any evidence that it wasn’t earned. All that does is render any respect you do pay meaningless, because it fails to signify any value.

–Ember–

P.S. Because this is a processing post, I may edit this post to add more thoughts as they percolate, but I won’t remove or significantly edit what’s already here without making a note of it.

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About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
This entry was posted in Gnosis, Lore, Personal, Politics, Polytheistic Theology, Praxis and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

76 Responses to Respecting Flawed Gods

  1. Pingback: Flaws, Perfections, and the Gods | Sarenth Odinsson's Blog

  2. Oh wow, I was going to comment on this post but saw your comment here at the end! I started a forum for Lokeans and we’ve been discussing this issue of being tested. Now, I’m pretty new to Heathenism and come from a Christian upbringing but when I weigh in on the whole testing business, it’s to express my pissed-offedness. I think the hugest resentment stems from my Christian upbringing. The Heavenly Father is big on testing. Then he turns around and says he actually doesn’t test anyone, then he turns around and says it’s the devil testing you, then he says we’re each enticed and drawn out by our own desires! I think from a Christian standpoint, all of these things are true but the one glaring thing in all of this is The Father’s refusal to own any responsibility for his part. If he allows the devil to test, he’s passively participating. [Passive-aggressive much?] So my reaction when I heard about the gods testing was, “Awww…HELL nah!!”

    No sir. And no ma’am.

    I don’t tolerate it from human beings and I wont tolerate it from gods. My opinion is that the gods are not always right, they don’t always have our best interests in mind and they do need to hear a good, solid, resounding ‘No’. And if the persist and make life hell because they don’t like to hear no, well, I endure it but with arms folded and feet planted….and my bottom lip sticking out if I have a mind to kick it up a notch in the stubborn and childish dept.

    Children can wear their parents down to a nub. My most effective method is spiritual passive resistance, like when protesters lay on the ground and just, you know, refuse to move? That would be me.

    The thing is, I only behave like that to the gods I love the most-Odin being my Numero Uno. I may not win those particular rounds [there’s only been a couple and it wasn’t terribly important stuff] but I give him a good run! 😀 I have found that Odin will win no matter what. He can be passively resistant too. He’s just more patient than I am. But we laugh when it’s done. He’s my Buddy Poppy. ^__^

    THAT being said, what was the original topic? Oh! Yes. Odin has some pretty glaring flaws and so does Loki, the two I came into Heathenism with. Actually I was drawn to Loki and he ended up directing me to Odin, who, as it turns out, has been in my life for the past 15 years! So now I finally know Who He Is.

    I was un-thrilled when I learned I was going to be working with Odin. Anything but THAT! What a tirade that was! My disrespectful name for Odin was “Mean, Shitty Old Man.” As time went on, that name didn’t change, but my tone did. Now it’s “Dammit! I love you, you mean shitty old man” 🙂

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    • EmberVoices says:

      I’m actually surprised to hear that someone belonging to Loki is so set against the typical Trickster behavior of testing someone’s limits, and using reverse psychology or other unclear methods to push someone towards particular realizations.

      I’m wondering if you’re carrying an assumption that by “Testing” we mean specifically testing your loyalty or faith?

      Far more often, in my experience, it’s testing boundaries or assumptions, or sometimes abilities.

      I do question whether it’s God who refuses to take responsibility, or the human pastors who don’t like to think of their God that way. You’re right, of course, that having The Adversary be the one to carry out the testing of faith does NOT mean God isn’t responsible. And it’s clear that in the Old Testament, that connection was well accepted – The Adversary acted on God’s orders, or at least His permission.

      I don’t think it’s usually God who is passive aggressive, in those cases, but the humans who work for Him. But there are at this point quite a few different paths…. aspects… of both Jesus and His Father, not even counting the various names He’s collected, so there isn’t necessarily only one answer there.

      -E-

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      • Wow. You actually have me wondering too. I guess the most honest answer is I really don’t know for sure. At any rate you’ve given me some food for thought. It’s really a challenge to build up one religious belief system while deconstructing another. Although the Christian upbringing I had was more dysfunctional than most {Jehovah’s Witnesses] Odin still has to gently remind me to not throw out the baby with the bathwater, that it’s senseless to throw away useful teachings just because they’re part of something that’s by and large, a real dysfunctionpalooza. Not to mention drenched in mind-control techniques. To me, testing = someone trying to control me. I may know better at the level of my mind, but i have decades of conditioning-including my formative years-I’m struggling with as well.

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        • EmberVoices says:

          Hm. It may help to look at it from the perspective of the tester, then.

          When I teach, I need to have some idea what my students already know. More to the point, I need to have some idea what they actually know, regardless of what they *think* they know.

          In my experience, the gods test us not because They are trying to control us – there are far more direct and effective ways to do that, frankly – but because They want us to learn something that we can’t or won’t learn directly.

          Coyote taught me to question my assumptions about what someone else is telling me by refusing to clarify. Ultimately, I suppose what He tested was mostly my patience, but it was VERY clear I was being tested. It was equally clear that I wouldn’t have learned anything about what kind of assumptions I was making if He had just explained up front what He had in mind.

          -E-

          Like

  3. aeddubh says:

    Reblogged this on The Words Swim, Waiting and commented:
    A *really* good post on flawed deities and the difference between irreverence and disrespect.

    Like

  4. Jolene Poseidonae says:

    I’ve found reading Galina’s original post (and subsequent comments) and your post (not yet the subsequent comments) to be very thought-provoking. For myself, reverent irreverence is absolutely part of my devotional relationship with Pops and with Poseidon. That relaxed teasing, the pushing just a bit further than maybe I should across the line of what is proper, is a huge part of the love/trust/affection that w/We share. My understanding is, I get to do that because it can be a stress reliever, it is certainly a trust-builder (e.g., I can X and W and not get struck down ded because of love/affection) and because, damn it, They push in Their way, why can’t I push in my, albeit limited, way?

    I understand the desire to say things like, “the gods deserve respect and for us to remember that they’re not human.” I certainly have come across people talking about their relationship with their gods in ways that strike me as uncomfortable making. (I use phrases like, lacking humility, or, showing no respect, or, oversharing too much of the personal with the public) but at the end of the day these broad statements said while at the same time saying our relationships with our gods are between us and our gods is problematic, to my mind. We only get to see what people share with us and at the end of the day their interactions with their gods and spirits are not our business. Yes, I wish people would interact with their gods in the manner that *I* understand as being right and proper and all that — because it makes it easier to find common ground, and to communicate and reach consensus. Still, I recognize that want as misguided at best and wrong — it’s wrong of me to expect that/want that, and so I try not to.

    Which is why, though I do enjoy thought-provoking topics, I really think we are best serve by showing examples of how we do things and how we think, etc., and are less served by broad statements of should-do, should-be.

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    • Jolene Poseidonae says:

      * to be clear: my ‘irreverence’ does spill over onto Others from time to time, but it’s always in a good-natured way. And, I’ve had my ass handed back to me when it’s been appropriate to do so. Just because Someone is near and dear to one of my Someones does not mean I get freedom to be all informal and familiar.

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    • ganglerisgrove says:

      See, I would call that familiarity, not irreverence. I’m pretty literal in my use of language when I can be….I wouldn’t term that easy going familiarity and/or mirthful playfulness “irreverence.’ That latter term linguistically implies something else all together. But yes, this has been a good discussion and very thought provoking. I have lots of comments to which to respond, which I’ll do later on tonight when I have more time at the computer. 🙂

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      • Jolene Poseidonae says:

        It’s funny: I was musing over this today on one of my (many) errand-running bus rides, because after I commented I actually read the other comments, and it brought me back to my thoughts of language being the dance of storytelling. We harp — okay, *I* harp, and I know others do, but I want to talk only for me — on words meaning things. There’s two extreme ends of that spectrum that we as polytheists deal with — words being so inclusive so as to be rendered meaningless (many of our gripes with ‘pagan’) but the opposite end allows for no nuanced understandings, or no alternative understandings and, in the end, this makes communicating — telling the stories of our experiences in the world and our pasts that have shaped us — extremely difficult.

        Erg. This has very little to do with the actual conversation. I’m just captivated at idea of language being a dance of storytelling . . .

        When it comes to irreverence that isn’t coming from a place of respect . . . I don’t concern myself with whatever other pagans/polytheists are doing or saying (or, let’s be honest. I endeavor not to concern myself with it) because I cannot know their hearts, I cannot know their intimate relationships, and since I’m not involved it’s not my business nor my place; with those who are not pagans or polytheists, I don’t expect them to *be* reverent to our gods — though it would fucking be nice if, in interfaith conversations and places we could be treated like equals.

        I appreciate that you move in different circles than I do, and that outsiders being irreverent towards our gods and spirits is more on your radar and thus an annoyance that is hit a lot. I’m still grateful for the conversations I’m getting to “eavesdrop” on.

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        • ganglerisgrove says:

          i’m a linguist, a philologist…the worst kind of philologist: a classicist. lol. words mean things and I think it crucial to preserve their meaning. ..otherwise language is useless for it’s sole purpose: communication. One of the things that’s really jumped out at me in this conversation is how difficult it is to find proper, clear, and un-charged terminology. Words are troubling at times. We don’t always have words for our experiences and approaches of and to the Gods. We’re restoring vocabulary too.

          I love the idea of language as ‘a dance of storytelling’ though. that is lovely.

          Liked by 1 person

          • EmberVoices says:

            *Laughs* That says a lot, actually.

            I’m descriptive rather than prescriptive where it comes to language. I *want* to take things literally according to their roots, but it’s too obvious that usage shifts over time, and that if we fail to account for that, we’re failing to communicate.

            I don’t actually believe that language becomes useless for communication if words drift, because that drift is a product of communication. More to the point, I think prioritizing things we think lead to communication over communication itself actually interferes with the very thing we’re trying to promote.

            I do often wish it was always clear from the roots of words exactly what the word means, but English has *never* worked that way.

            -E-

            Like

          • Jolene Poseidonae says:

            That explains a lot where you’re coming from! 😉 I’m not, but I am a writer, and I often find myself stuck in a weird middle place, because I tend toward being pedantic over the use of words . . . but I also acknowledge that our pinning down of words — their spellings, their exact meanings — is an exercise in futility, at least as far as preserving the language as it is in order to keep it being spoken the same way and understood the same way goes. I’m the sort who mourns (deeply) the passage of languages from the world, while holding that it’s most likely inevitable.

            This whole conversation has me poking at the nuances of irreverence as I use it, and that’s never a bad things. Words are awesome.

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      • EmberVoices says:

        A lot of people consider it irreverent to address those above one in a hierarchy in familiar terms, which I think is where that conflation comes in.

        -E-

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        • ganglerisgrove says:

          Yes, i very much do. I find it very disconcerting. I actually have quite a bit of trouble doing it.

          Nothing pisses me off more than people addressing me in familiar terms when I don’t know them personally. I much prefer the Swiss way where you don’t even use first names until invited to…and that takes awhile.

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          • ganglerisgrove says:

            also, it’s precisely FOR the purposes of communication that I think we should be very, very clear about the meaning of words. Linguistic discipline is important otherwise we’re talking over each other and at cross purposes. I think half the issues that crop up in online debates and in our communities are due to sloppy or faulty use of language. Words mean things and that’s important. We can play around with it in poetry, or privately but when talking about concepts and ideas and theologies, especially as we’re still very early on in restoration, i think it’s important to be very, very careful and crystal clear with language. As a teacher i’ve found that American students are not taught generally to be consistent and clear in their use of language. We don’t think about the analytical structure of what we’re saying, or the nuances of the words we use and we really should. I think as a group we’re very sloppy in our use of language. (not you and i per se, but people in this country in general). also, we tend to be oblivious to different registers when interaction. …i.e. the way I speak to my close friend or my partner isn’t the way I’ll speak to my advisor or professor, and likewise neither is the way I will speak when with my students. This hierarchy of words is there — especially in print where we don’t have the benefit of body language, tone, etc.–to aid communication. It’s important. Also, words define and definitions provide boundaries and boundaries are oh so important.

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            I think that’s not just Americans, I think that’s actually build into English as a language, being the World’s Biggest Creole ™.

            Having been raised by engineering types, I’m arguably precise to a fault. I’ve actually had to learn how to relax that a little, because my urge to extreme precision was *interfering* with communication more often than not.

            -E-

            Like

          • ganglerisgrove says:

            re. language and formality (because for some reason, wordpress is making me reply here rather than to the comment itself): i don’t think it’s something specific to English (we used to have formal and informal modes of address in the language) so much as to our culture and society now. English is a flexible language….weird too if you study Old English and Middle English (weird as in seriously fucked up lol). i have to think about this…maybe you are on to something, at least as one of several social factors….i’m thinking about the syntactical and morphological structures of the other languages i know….that would make an interesting research paper….

            Liked by 1 person

          • EmberVoices says:

            English is a very messed up language, yeah. I kind of love that about it, but it does complicate our attempts at both precision and consistence. :/ -E-

            Like

          • ganglerisgrove says:

            re. English and communication: i think in general a lot of people are just sloppy thinkers. Given the state of education these days in the States, that’s not surprising. i find way too many people were just never taught in school how to engage with language. It contributes to the problem.

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          • EmberVoices says:

            True. But again, not sure it’s just the US, per se. -E-

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            Ha! Whereas I really hate being addressed by my last name, as if I’m not an individual rather than just a placeholder for my whole family. Not that I don’t love my family…

            I also come from the kind of family culture that gets more upright and formal when we’re pissed, so I often parse people being very formal and correct as being deliberately condescending. Obviously if they don’t know me and their sincerity is reflected in their tone, it goes a long way towards countering that.

            One year when my older Sister was away during the winter holidays, and I had to face my extended family for the first time without her support, I ended up settling into acting like I was doing my restaurant hostess job. I was absolutely *horrified* when the members of the family who didn’t know me personally as well thought it was wonderful and spent the whole time telling me how horrible they’d thought I was before I started treating them like total strangers.

            -E-

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  5. Teka Lynn says:

    Thank you, Galina and Ember, for this respectful and enlightening conversation. I’m learning a lot from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Following up on my post on irreverence. | Gangleri's Grove

  7. Boneweaver (aka pjvj) says:

    Reblogged this on Lean in to Joy (transition priestess, spiritual midwife) and commented:
    REBLOG: Yyyyyaaaaassssssss!!!!!! Mirth and [ir]reverence in all things! Yes, the Gods, too.

    Like

  8. Amanda says:

    I agree with you about the emotions thing. And I’m a person who often has a hard time with my emotions and suppresses them a lot. I get the sense that both Freyr and Freya don’t think that’s very healthy.

    I’ve read some psychology books about emotional intelligence that put forth a convincing argument that emotion and reason are not in opposition to each other, but quite the opposite. People who have brain damage in the emotional centers of their brains have a very hard time making decisions, it turns out. I thought that was very interesting.

    Also, I’ve noticed that often when people discuss emotions vs. reason, often with a bit of sexism thrown in (that females are the emotional ones and males are the reasonable ones), they seem to forget that ANGER is an emotion. It’s acceptable in our society for men to feel anger, but not any other emotions, and the inverse is true with women.

    Anger seems to be an emotion that Galina Krasskova is completely OK with. That post of hers, and many of her other posts, is full of anger. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, because sometimes anger is warranted, but anger is an emotion too.

    Like

    • EmberVoices says:

      Freyr is fond of saying “Any emotion can be ecstatic if you let it.” so, yeah.

      I think a lot of people underestimate which experiences are emotions. But more importantly, where reason is concerned, emotions are *data*. Making decisions without accounting for all the data leads to bad decisions.

      -E-

      Like

    • ganglerisgrove says:

      Actually I was rather sad when I wrote it. Just because you may not agree with something I’ve written, or it makes you uncomfortable, or evokes whatever response does not mean I was angry when I wrote it. I rarely am angry when I write…perplexed, disgusted, sad…sometimes angry yes, but not here.

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      • EmberVoices says:

        You do frequently come across to most readers as angry, though. Even me, and I’ve had the chance to hear you speak in person, which was very enlightening.

        I mostly parse it as vehemence these days.

        -E-

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        • ganglerisgrove says:

          I find most people think it “anger” if a woman speaks decidedly and without apology. I am a forceful speaker. I will not qualify my words to make others comfortable. Many read that as anger. *shrugs*. If I’m angry, I’ll come out usually in my writing and say it. I also find that when I write very critically or analytically it gets read as ‘angry.’ There is a gendered component to this.

          Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            There is, but I think in writing your style and vehemence are forceful enough to come across as angry even if someone thinks you’re male.

            Not that this means I think you should change what you’re writing, mind you. My point is simply that any given individual parsing anger in your words is not a strange anomaly. It’s a fair, if inaccurate, interpretation of words that, had someone *else* written them, quite possibly *would* indicate anger. If the reader doesn’t know you personally well enough to take your characteristic vehemence into account, they’re downright *likely* to get that wrong.

            -E-

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          • ganglerisgrove says:

            Actually, Ember, i think it is largely gender. I did an experiment about two years back with two male colleagues. We all posted almost *exactly* the same thing. We each changed a few minor points (nothing that altered tone, and I had written the original text). I got hammered for it, they got praised and/or at the very least, engaged with respectfully. A couple of times, just in general, i’ve noticed that when my male and female colleagues come down on the same side of an issue, our opponents will attack the women but engage with the issues when engaging with the men.

            that being said, i don’t soften my words for anyone. I have a job to do and part of that work involves the specific language I use.

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            Hmm. I wonder if coast is also a factor, then…

            Were all the collegues and responders over on the East Coast?

            I know West Coast tends to be… softer?

            -E-

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          • ganglerisgrove says:

            re. east/west coast responders: ember, I don’t remember. It was awhile back.

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            I am very curious how much of a factor that is, because of course most of the people I talk to are out here in California, and I know we often find East Coast writers *in general* to be harsher in writing style. -E-

            Like

          • ganglerisgrove says:

            I’ve found Californian writers disclaim a lot. That’s not an East coast thing. I never thought to track it that way (though having dealt with east coast heathens i suspect it doesn’t factor in as much as we might think. lol)

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            I’m not sure (there’s an example right there, eh? LOL), but I suspect it’s part of the liberal social justice culture out here cultivating an obligation to caveat so as not to accidentally erase anybody… Then, also, there’s that geeky drive for precision, and caveats and disclaimers are ways to make a statement narrower, and thus more precise in scope.

            But yeah, it can also undermine a statement as a side effect, and there are people – women, as you pointed out – who are *expected* to disclaim for that reason as well.

            I’ve learned to disclaim a great deal in order to make sure that I am not giving offense for things I wasn’t actually trying to say. It’s one thing for someone to disagree and even be offended by things I actually said and actually believe. It’s quite another for them to parse my words inaccurately because I chose them poorly or didn’t account for likely factors. -E-

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  9. Lithel says:

    I’m just chiming in with a wholehearted agreement on your thoughts, Ember. Thank you for sharing!

    While I believe that the gods do deserve our respect and honor when earned, I’ve also experienced some of the negative effects of blind worship. Advice from a god isn’t always good advice. Gods don’t always care about our wellbeing. Gods make mistakes and do selfish things. So do humans, and I think that particular knowledge should help make us a little more understanding — and careful — of them. I don’t believe it’s judgmental, irreverent, or disrespectful to assert that gods can and do make mistakes, or that gods can misbehave. It’s present in lore. For some people, it’s present in current experiences.

    And on that note, not participating in blind worship or unquenchable, unquestioned reverence for the gods does not make a person a piece of shit devotee or lacking in faith. I’ve noticed a sad trait within the communities of shaming people for not showing a certain kind of devotion, or people being pinpointed as the cause of all the trouble if something goes wrong.

    That is another important point to remember: things can go wrong.

    While it’s more often the failures and faults of both parties, and the miscommunications of all involved, it’s dismissive and destructive to blame it all on the human member of the equation — the one with the most limited scope of the situation and the smallest vantage point within the relationship, in fact — all to continue promoting the belief that a god is infallible and knows best, no matter what.

    On the subject of emotions, I couldn’t agree more that it’s dangerous to quench them or wall them off, all for the sake of appearing controlled and rational. Feeling emotions and being emotional does not equate an irrational or uncontrolled mindset. I believe it’s the choices we make within our emotions, and sometimes despite our emotions, that define us.

    Like

    • EmberVoices says:

      > I’ve noticed a sad trait within the communities of shaming people for not showing a certain kind of devotion, or people being pinpointed as the cause of all the trouble if something goes wrong.

      Hm. Shame is a sometimes useful social tool for enforcing group ethics, but blame is, I find, nearly useless.

      I’m very much not interested in returning to a society that focuses more on the appearance of piety than on values like compassion and honesty, but I don’t think Galina is advocating for that either. If anything, I think she’s trying to reclaim the entire concept of “piety” from that appearances-based history. But that doesn’t stop me from wincing when it comes around again, because we’re nowhere near critical mass on shaking off the existing implications.

      -E-

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      • ganglerisgrove says:

        I don’t think piety should be only appearance. If you really don’t respect the Gods and want to do right by Them, then why are any of us doing this? Nor should it rule out compassion and honesty. We do have a very negative idea of “piety” and yes, I very much think it needs to be reclaimed. Honest piety was at the heart of ancient polytheisms. It’s such a difficult thing for us today. 😦

        Like

        • EmberVoices says:

          I’m not sure honest piety is necessarily what’s difficult, so much as the conversation around it. I think there are plenty of people who are quite honestly pious, but don’t realize that’s a suitable word for it.

          -E-

          Like

          • ganglerisgrove says:

            I think that language is very charged here. I was talking to a friend about irreverence and hierarchy and all the things we’ve been discussing just today, and we both had a moment where we realized “we’ve no proper language for this.” there simply aren’t terms that aren’t already sometimes painfully charged. It complicates things.

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            Yep. It’s *very* frustrating. Reclaiming old language doesn’t always work very well. Sometimes it’s easier to coin new words than to try and shake off the baggage on existing words :/

            Like

        • EmberVoices says:

          Of course, I also think we have very different ideas of what *constitutes* piety, in certain areas. But I think our ideas line up reasonably well outside of how we conceptualize authority.

          -E-

          Like

          • ganglerisgrove says:

            quite possibly. 🙂

            and there has to be flexibility with piety…different gods want different things of different people. Still, I think there can be some over-arching guidelines like ‘don’t be an asshole’ , you know?

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            Yes, be honest, be sincere, be present, etc. Critical thinking can, of course, include the conclusion that you need to take and follow orders, if that’s your role.

            Like

  10. I take your side rather than Galina’s on Emotional. I think that goes all the way to Greco/Roman assumptions about Reason as part of self control and, while I study them, I strongly blame the Stoics. We need to accept emotions as legitimate while also holding people accountable for actions that harm under their influence. That lesson is sometimes more important for men than women but we also have to give women the right to be angry.

    Like

    • EmberVoices says:

      And we have to give men the right to be sad, or frightened, or vulnerable, yes.

      (We also have to give non-binary genders the right to exist, but that’s not within the point of this particular argument).

      Part of what concerns me about Galina’s argument, though, is that it teaches us to fear our own emotions. That’s counterproductive to the very self-control she wants to prioritize.

      -E-

      Like

      • ganglerisgrove says:

        I don’t think we should fear our emotions, Ember. Emotions happen. I just don’t necessarily think we should fetishize them. One of the things I find most disturbing about our contemporary communities is just that: the valuation of feelings over our obligations. I don’t put a judgment on feelings–you feel what you feel. I don’t think they should necessarily dictate action though. There’s what we feel, and what is right and proper to do. The two don’t always coincide. I don’t hold feelings as some objective truth. Self control doesn’t happen by fearing one’s emotions or ignoring them. It happens by working through them and making good choices. Instead of prioritizing feelings, which can be fleeting and false, I’d rather prioritize duty. I look at it this way: I can feel horrible or angry or sad or xyz about a particular religious obligation, but if it is something that I promised my Gods, then what i feel is utterly irrelevant. Those feelings are for me to work through in my own time and should in no way impact my action or non-action.

        Like

        • EmberVoices says:

          I did try to be precise in my phrasing, in that I didn’t say (at least I don’t *think* I said) that you fear your emotions, or that you think we should.

          Rather, I think what you said in your initial post and first few responses (which was the timing of that particular reply), when taken as a way of life, sets up those patterns for other people.

          To be clear, while I care about you, I by and large don’t worry about you personally, because you seem to have your life more or less the way you want it. I worry how people who *aren’t* you will handle trying to follow your example. I worry about the implications of such structures when in the hands of people who *aren’t* you.

          Does that make sense?

          -E-

          Like

          • ganglerisgrove says:

            lol likewise i worry about the implications especially for newcomers of the way you would approach emotion. we’re very much on opposites sides of this (which is probably good…different students will need different things). I don’t worry about people trying to follow my example. I worry about them never developing any kind of devotional relationship with their Gods. I worry about our traditions never being properly restored. I worry that we will continually fail our Gods and our traditions over and over gain because we can’t get our collective shit together. I worry that we do not have enough people focused, ready, willing, and able…eager to give the Gods Their due and to put their all into the process of restoration. I worry that there are too few people who *get* it who have the wherewithal to work through the breaking points to become component, hard, focused, dedicated mystics, devotees, clergy, spirit workers, shamans, technicians of the sacred, committed laity and everything in between. No matter how much I care about someone, the Gods and the needs of restoring our traditions—work—always, always comes first.

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            > we’re very much on opposites sides of this (which is probably good…different students will need different things).

            Ha! Yes. I know I’ve commented wryly to friends that if the Gods send you to both me AND Galina, Something Is VERY Wrong.

            I get what you’re saying about the rest of it, and yes, we’re at opposite ends of this one. I worry less than you do about how long it will take for the Gods to get enough hands motivated to get the work done.
            -E-

            Like

          • ganglerisgrove says:

            when the Gods send someone to both of us they’re really in trouble: ROFLMAO that made my night. *G*

            Like

  11. Lon Sarver says:

    Admiration plus a blind eye to faults is the kind of thing that frauds and abusers use to keep themselves hidden in the communities they prey upon. It’s a bad habit to get into.

    Like

    • ganglerisgrove says:

      Save that to say that the Gods are subject to our correction is to place ourselves above the Gods and that is not something that should ever stand. These are not people that we’re talking about. We’re talking about Gods and They are not subject to our approval, disapproval, or correction.

      Like

      • EmberVoices says:

        There’s a difference, I think, between saying They’re subject to our *correction* and saying They’re subject to our *analysis* and interested in our *feedback*.

        I am NOT claiming we have the power to treat Them like They’re our children, or subordinate to us in some way.

        But this is, as usual, an area in which how I understand the nature of authority and how you understand it don’t really match. 😉

        –Ember–

        Like

        • ganglerisgrove says:

          I think it does come down to how we relate to authority. I would NOT say this about any *human* authority, mind you but where the Gods are concerned, that cosmic authority, I think it part of piety to know and respect our place. I’m comfortable with hierarchies though. I view them as very natural and necessary.

          also, in some of the conversations I’m seeing mirth being made synonymous with irreverence and they’re not. I really want to avoid using “irreverence’ for the familiar playfulness and mirth that we can express with our Gods appropriately. or at least qualify it as ‘playful irreverence.’ that’s far different from the irreverence of disrespect.

          Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            > I would NOT say this about any *human* authority, mind you but where the Gods are concerned, that cosmic authority, I think it part of piety to know and respect our place.

            Well, I may disagree as to what our place necessarily IS, of course, but also, we need to have critical thinking about the effects on the human world we’re to have, right? We *can’t* have a religious tradition that requires obedience to the gods without having human filters on it somehow. In *organized* religions, obedience to god quickly becomes obedience to human authority, which is half of why I find it so problematic to say we mustn’t question. The vast majority of humans have *no way to know* what are orders coming from gods vs. humans. If we teach them not to question orders they think might be from the gods, they will be hobbled in the process of discerning *whether or not* they’re from the gods.

            It is not *remotely* functional to build religious traditions that presume everyone will have a fully functional god phone when we KNOW that it’s actually rare.

            > I really want to avoid using “irreverence’ for the familiar playfulness and mirth

            Sure. Honestly, that’s why I avoid speaking at all in terms of irreverence, in favor of Disrespect vs. Mirth.

            -E-

            Like

      • Lon Sarver says:

        I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to imply that we should correct the gods. Trying to correct them is rather like yelling at the sun for burning your skin. If you’re going to go out, wear sunscreen or cover up, but you can’t shame the sun into not shining.

        That said, while we can’t correct the gods, we can look at their behavior (in the lore and as shown in our UPG and such) and decide how intimate a relationship we want with which of them. Well, in cases where they give us a choice, anyway.

        So, no, I’m not talking about whether or not the gods are worthy of our approval. I’m talking about whether or not we take habits we learn from dealing with one kind of relationship and apply them elsewhere. One could argue that gods are gods and humans are humans and we shouldn’t transfer the habits learned with one to the other.

        One would be arguing against how the human brain usually works, though. Keeping a solid wall between how one regards the gods and how one regards mortal authorities is a learned skill, not an instinct, and it’s one that’s not generally taught outside certain institutions.

        Like

    • EmberVoices says:

      Good point. And at least as worrying as what I’d already considered.

      Lack of critical thinking and the willingness to speak truth to power is exactly what makes it all too easy for dangerous and corrupt powers to take over.

      Granted, Galina isn’t advocating treating humans as infallible. But given some of the harms I’ve seen come from the mistakes some of our gods make, I’m not willing to treat Them as infallible any time soon.

      And honestly, that was *terrifying* to confront. “Shit, you mean even the GODS aren’t perfectly trustworthy and in-control?! Who am I supposed to depend on now?!?!”

      The idea that a world without an absolutely trustworthy authority, where we really are each individually responsible for all our own decisions and consequences, is more comfortable than a world where we can abdicate that responsibility kind of boggles my mind.

      To quote “Wicked” “There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities, so we act as though they don’t exist!”

      I don’t believe most people WANT to believe the gods are flawed. Yes, Galina has a point that it’s easier to project than it is to accept our own flaws. But I’m not sure it’s actually easier to accept that the gods are both flawed AND *still gods* for most people. It’s much, much easier for most people to treat Their authority as a yes/no question.

      -E-

      Like

      • ganglerisgrove says:

        I also tend to think that in many cases what we call ‘flaws’ are really just those aspects of interaction that make us uncomfortable.

        You bring up a good point here in that it’s not easy for most people to accept that ambiguity. I think that pre-christian polytheists may have had an easier time with this…when it was just the way people looked at the world. You can have several diametrically opposed realities and hold them all sacred at once and that’s ok. We’re not in that position. We’re coming out of two thousand years of christianity in which questions of religion were seldom allows to rest comfortably in such ambiguity. We’re entrained, by that and the currents of the scientific revolution to very much want things to be clearcut and black and white, and they’re not.

        I said to sannion today that it’s funny: as I’m writing various bits on theology and tradition building, I very strongly hold to the “letter of the law” so to speak, but in dealing with clients and my own students, I let the spirit of compassion guide me. apples and oranges. and when you’re dealing with individuals one on one, it’s much easier to tune into what the Gods and ancestors want, than when discussing protocols on a page.

        Like

  12. ganglerisgrove says:

    and therein lies a huge difference in our approach: i believe it is potentially disrespectful to think that it is our place to point out what we perceive as ‘flaws’ in the Gods. I don’t even think it’s our place to categorize Them that way. it diminishes the very real hierarchy that exists and places us in a position of judgement over our Gods…something that is against the natural order of things. That being said, yes, there’s a difference between irreverence and disrespect…..maybe two kinds of irreverence: the playful kind that comes from decades of interaction and that’s rooted in deep affection and respect…and the type that is just disrespectful in the extreme. The women giving the presentation were the latter, but it wasn’t even thoughtful …they never considered that these figures they were writing about were worthy of respect. It wasn’t part and parcel of their approach.

    we’ll never agree on emotion. lol. but that’s ok. i’m glad you joined in the discussion. Even if we don’t agree, it’s making me think more about piety and respect, and how I approach the Gods and that’s good. 🙂

    Like

    • EmberVoices says:

      Oh it’s clear from your description that the women presenting were being disrespectful. Although it sounds like they’re not polytheists themselves, so I see it more as disrespect towards polytheistic humans, who they have no reason or right to expect *don’t* exist.

      I have a high tolerance for people who don’t believe in our gods accidentally offering Them disrespect, because I believe the gods can handle Their own smiting without my help. But I fully expect humans to behave well towards *each other*, and there’s little excuse for failing in that regard in any faith.

      Honestly, I find your take on emotion kind of alarming. But you probably find my take on authority alarming, so *Shrug*
      -E-

      Like

      • ganglerisgrove says:

        LOl I find your take on emotion equally alarming.

        Like

        • EmberVoices says:

          There are days I’m mildly amazed we get along as well as we do… -E-

          Like

        • EmberVoices says:

          Part of what baffles me, though, is that I see you very much as a person who is very powerful in her emotions. To me you seem absolutely driven by your passion, and that’s a very positive thing. I see you experience intense emotion and retain self control. I watched you present exactly that at the Festival. But I guess your self-perception and my perception of you don’t match on some level.

          I also experience and perceive many things as emotions that it sounds like you don’t parse that way at all.

          Also, it was very much Odin who taught me to accept and not fear the loss of control. So it seriously boggles my mind that He would come across to you as teaching that relinquishing control is a necessarily a fault.

          But I think part of the difference, aside from my hypersensitivity, is that as a dreamworker, I relinquish control every night when I go to work. I do sometimes lucid dream, but that’s not the core of my work by any means, and frankly, it interferes with the process if I retain too much direct control. Being willing to NOT be in control is part of my JOB. Similarly understanding and accepting intense, even overwhelming emotions is part of my job – that’s something Freyja and Freyr work with me on constantly, because I, too, tend to want to stay calm, rational, and controlled all the time, and that doesn’t work.

          -E-

          Like

          • ganglerisgrove says:

            I am forceful and often filled with His wod. I think that translates to many people as ’emotion,’ when it’s not. I know I often get told that I’m angry, when I am speaking forcefully when I may be perfectly placid inside. So I think part of what might be causing the disconnect here is perception vs. my own internal reality, which I’m unlikely to share in public. When I am dealing with Gods and the dead, I do get emotional on a personal level. The dead especially evoke that in me, because of the way they share their experiences and sufferings. I’m not in any way emotionally motivated though (and tend to distrust this in people in general). I’m duty motivated.

            What you saw at that festival, was the dead coming through me, and Odin coming through me, the force of Their presence shaking me. That is what spurred my emotions there, and the fight you saw in me to retain control was a fight not to have the dead or Odin (I forget which workshops you and I were both at?) take me over completely. It was a fight to retain language, and with some of the dead who are very angry or very hurt, not to simply allow them my voice to scream.

            I’m also very, very sensitive to other people’s emotions. empathic on a psychic level and it sucks. It’s very useful for work, but not so useful for having a peaceful stroll through the city. I tend to be uber-sensitive to my surroundings as well. It doesn’t take much external stimuli (particularly strong emotions in others that are unregulated, with poor boundaries) to make me ill. I’ve learned the necessity of having good boundaries.

            Here’s how I view it: Relinquishing control is not a fault. Being excessively emotional, imo, is. they’re two different things. one can accomplish much by choosing the right time to cede control and certainly I would never suggested one get into a pissing contest for control with one’s Gods. But emotions are fallible, subjective, and if one does not temper them, can lead to an abrogation of duty, honor, and loyalty. I value those things more than I value free expression of every emotional impulse. Anything can cause an emotional state. I could have indigestion and it might affect how I feel emotionally. that doesn’t mean that it is the true state of things.

            Ironically, I don’t do dream work. I hate it. When I have to do it, I always wake up physically ill. But I can hold the line against anything as a spirit worker, because that is often my job, and it doesn’t matter if it hurts, if it makes me feel bad, if i’m sick, if if if…the work and duty come first. I can deal with my emotional response to it all later, in privacy, at an appropriate time.

            I was a professional ballet dancer until I was in my twenties. You may be in severe pain, depressed, hungry, a thousand other things but it does not matter. It’s completely irrelevant. You get up and go to class and do barre, and practice, rehearse, perform and do it all again the next day. whatever you might be feeling or suffering physically simply does not matter in light of the work at hand. That was my conditioning for spirit work and it was good training.

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            > I am forceful and often filled with His wod. I think that translates to many people as ’emotion,’ when it’s not.

            See now I’m baffled, because the definition of emotion you’re using doesn’t make sense to me. Loyalty is an emotion that I feel towards a group or individual, for example. Ecstacy is an emotion. Wod I’m not prepared to address, but everything I know about it is as an emotional influence and experience.

            > I’m duty motivated.

            Which I parse as an emotion, and am thus baffled by how being emotionally motivated is a problem.

            > What you saw at that festival, was the dead coming through me, and Odin coming through me, the force of Their presence shaking me. That is what spurred my emotions there, and the fight you saw in me to retain control was a fight not to have the dead or Odin (I forget which workshops you and I were both at?) take me over completely. It was a fight to retain language, and with some of the dead who are very angry or very hurt, not to simply allow them my voice to scream.

            I wasn’t parsing a fight at all. I was parsing what Lon refers to as Enthusiasmos – you seemed empassioned, very moved by Their presence.

            > I’m also very, very sensitive to other people’s emotions. empathic on a psychic level and it sucks. It’s very useful for work, but not so useful for having a peaceful stroll through the city. I tend to be uber-sensitive to my surroundings as well.

            As am I, but I woudln’t have guessed that about you. We clearly handle it very differently, but maybe having that in common is part of why we DO get along?

            > Here’s how I view it: Relinquishing control is not a fault. Being excessively emotional, imo, is.

            Perhaps part of the difficulty, then, is how we define “excessive”.

            > I would never suggested one get into a pissing contest for control with one’s Gods.

            > But emotions are fallible, subjective,

            Well of course they’re subjective. Fallible implies they’re decisions in their own right, though, which doesn’t make sense to me. Emotions are *data*, they’re *experiences*. Mistaking our emotions for some kind of external event would be a fallacy of perception, but that’s not the emotion being fallible, that’s our self-perception being fallible.

            > I value those things more than I value free expression of every emotional impulse

            Ah, see, that’s taking what I’m getting at to an unrealistic extreme. If you take “Emotional” to indicate “unrestrained expression of every little whim”, then I can totally see why that would be negative. But that’s a really polarized idea of what emotions are or what being an emotional entity entails.

            > Ironically, I don’t do dream work. I hate it. When I have to do it, I always wake up physically ill.

            I don’t have much choice, it’s one of the few truly innate abilities I have that I was never taught by another human. But I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

            > the work and duty come first. I can deal with my emotional response to it all later, in privacy, at an appropriate time.

            I agree for the most part, but it’s also my job to uphold boundaries that when I’m not in a healthy place, I don’t try to serve, because that will undermine the quality of my work.

            > I was a professional ballet dancer

            Ah, that’s a rather extreme form of performance training yeah. I do have that attitude towards presenting major public rituals. I’ve gone up on stage with the flu, and sung my way through migrain-level headaches, etc.

            But I gauge any given instances of The Show Must Go On according to how badly I, specifically am needed, how much damage I will do (and thus care from others I will need) if I push through instead of stopping to take care of myself, and what kind of example to others I am setting if I place self care lower than whatever else is on the plate, as well as how important the work itself is, how unique the event is, and so on.

            Which is what you’d expect, I’m sure.

            –Ember–

            Like

          • ganglerisgrove says:

            See i don’t see either loyalty or ecstasy as an emotion, esp. not ecstasy. One is a set of chosen, committed actions, (though emotion may attend it) and the other an *experience* that is…so far beyond emotion or even words that I’m not quite sure how to describe it. Nor is duty an emotion. There is duty and then there’s how I may feel about that duty lol. Either way, duty ‘s gonna get done. It has nothing for me at all to do with emotion. My emotional responses may be completely separate or opposite loyalty or duty. I’m not loyal because I feel loyal, I’m loyal because i’ve chosen to be, even when I’m angry or sad, or happy, or what have you.

            I am very, very moved by their presence….they often pour their emotions into me. It leaves me pretty wrung out. I’m often made a container for experiences and emotions and energy that all aren’t necessarily mine during work like that. If i’m ever going to share emotions in the midst of the work, it’ll be when the dead are around me, or Odin…though often when He takes me up, it’s beyond “feeling”. to do that work and do it cleanly (and it’s so important to be clean), i work to empty myself out of all the bits of *me* that might get in the way. I have many conflicting emotions over preparing, the experience itself, and immediately after that have little to do with what happens when i’m THERE, holding what They want me to hold, or what my dead want me to hold and share.

            One of the earliest and hardest lessons with empathy that i learned is to ground, center, and shield. and how important it is. There is never, ever a time, even shielded that I’m not acutely aware of what everyone in my vicinity is feeling (and if the emotions are strong enough, thinking), and often why. Emotions have so many nuances and threads too. Sometimes it’s very much like being bombarded with it. it helps in the work, esp. as I have more cleanliness taboos placed on me (miasma is becoming a real thing in my work0 but it is also personally very inconvenient.

            I would make a distinction between “i’m feeling emotional, or i’m in an emotional place today” and “she is emotional.” the latter linguistically is defining self-hood (i’m a philologist by training, it comes out when I fixate on language like this). “she is feeling emotional today” is different. It’s “emotional” as a defining characteristic that I find so negative. i’ve seen way too many clients fracture because they couldn’t handle having to discipline their emotions and look beyond the immediacy of the moment to long term goals. Any emotion that might overtake them at any moment became their entire world and the results were horrible. I’ve seen how it interferes with work, leads to poor boundaries, drama seeking, putting oneself and one’s ego first in the work. I’ve always very much believed that we must empty ourselves out of anything that interferes with the work, distracts from the work, renders the work unclean. while we shouldn’t empty ourselves of emotions (that would be awful and not healthy at all on any level), I do think understanding them, learning to engage with them, parse them out, read them, and then prioritize them accordingly is important. people aren’t generally getting that today. The emotion of the moment is everything. That is very, very disturbing to me.

            If i can’t be clean in my work, i won’t do it. But it’s my job to make sure that I don’t let my own personal crap interfere. I learn as a dancer to just tuck it away and deal with it later. It’s rather as you intuited above, professional standards. The work isn’t about me. my crap can just wait until i’m home. (if it IS something, that for some reason will interfere — if for some reason i’m not capable of compartmentalizing, then I would step back from whatever work I’m to be doing. this is one of the reasons why certain types of work require such intensive prep). what the Gods require They get. I gauge how much i’m willing to put myself out for the humans that come to me, case by case. My job is to make sure my emotional stuff doesn’t undermine the quality of my work. If i have to hold the emotions of the dead, and His wod, and pour that forth, I can’t afford to focus on my emotions until well away from the work at hand. They’re simply not relevant. (the exception would be if i picked up something wrong wyrd-wise, or with someone in the ritual, or something like that where there may be impending crisis…i think part of good ritual work is minding every iota of the space, including being acutely aware of those in it).

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            > See i don’t see either loyalty or ecstasy as an emotion, esp. not ecstasy. One is a set of chosen, committed actions, (though emotion may attend it) and the other an *experience* that is…so far beyond emotion or even words that I’m not quite sure how to describe it.

            Well that’s what we have the word “ecstasy” for, I suppose.

            That said… “It’s an experience…” Well, yes, that’s what ALL emotions are – experiences.

            As for Loyalty and Duty being emotions to me, what you describe – the actions and decisions – those are my *response* to the experience of feeling duty or loyalty towards a group or individual.

            I don’t know if you’re into programming at all, but the phrase that came to mind again talking with Lon was “Emotions are variables, not operators”.

            But part of what you’re objecting to, that I object to as well, is when people treat them as operators. Whether they treat them as operators, USE them as such, and then fail to take responsibility for the results, or else treat them as operators and then proceed to try and avoid them entirely because they are not functional as operators, either way, that’s bad.

            I, too, have seen this:

            > i’ve seen way too many clients fracture because they couldn’t handle having to discipline their emotions and look beyond the immediacy of the moment to long term goals. Any emotion that might overtake them at any moment became their entire world and the results were horrible.

            I just percieve the nature of the problem differently.

            I mean, I do get it – being hypersensitive, empathic, and having panic attack triggers means sometimes I’m the one dealing with sudden, overwhelming emotions. But knowing that my emotions are experiences, not states of reality, goes a long way towards managing my resulting decisions and judgements. If I don’t account for my emotions in my decisions, that’s just as much a problem as if I ONLY account for my emotions in my decisions. Either way, I’m making decisions with inappropriately limited data when I have access to much more information.

            I think in practice we actually have most of the same values. Where we seem to be in the biggest conflict (not fight, per se, but seemingly mutually exclusive perspectives) is that I see “Duty” all too often being used to excuse onesself from Responsibility for one’s own actions and consequences: “I was just following orders, it wasn’t MY idea.” Whereas I gather you see people citing “Responsibility” as an excuse for dodging their duty.

            Realistically there always needs to be a balance between our responsibility as individuals and our duty to others. Hopefully more often than not, they’re aligned. But I tend to err on the side of the individual responsibility factor, because to my perception, a duty requires I first claim an allegiance, whereas the responsibilities of being a mature adult are there regardless of which path I’m on.

            -E-

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            Oops, missed one:
            > I would never suggested one get into a pissing contest for control with one’s Gods.

            Heh, well, I don’t think all struggles to hold boundaries are pissing contests per se, but yes, by all means, that struggle should never be arbitrary or pride-fueled.

            -E-

            Like

          • ganglerisgrove says:

            I often think that when we struggle, it’s because we’re choosing to, not because we have to and then the question is ‘what does one gain from that?” i’ve found that many people would rather have the option to be impious or irreverent or disrespectful than to be held accountable, or to know that they are accountable for better behavior. I tend to think it’s about half and half where struggles with the Gods are concerned. Some of it is just pain and flailing around, and some is pure ego: pissing contests. I’ve deep compassion for the first, and none at all for the second. There are other cases where a Deity will set a challenge and use the struggle to hone the devotee and that’s a different thing again.

            Like

          • EmberVoices says:

            No kidding. And THEN we get the glorious job of figuring out whether we’re being deliberately tested, just need to suck it up, or have the unenviable position of having to say “No” to a GOD.

            Really, when a god asks you for something you think is a problem, you’re kind of screwed no matter which way it goes.

            -E-

            P.S. I’m loving this conversation. Thank you 🙂

            Like

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