Reblog: Against Their Will: Our Duty to Respond to Fellow Polytheists in Distress

There’s a lot to chew on in this post by Thenea, and I’m still chewing.

I agree with the overall goals for our community that I see presented here. I don’t agree with all of the underlying theology regarding what exactly the gods are or what They want, but I am not sure how much that actually affects our overall ability to implement these ideas.

Overall this conversation is a very important one that I believe we do need to be having, not just about our relationships with the gods, but in our relationships with each other ABOUT the gods.


P.S. Apparently I’m wearing “overalls” today…

Magick From Scratch

11140123_10153135382268705_6716534346276535975_nAs I am watching people crawl out of the woodworks,voicing their support for a theology of consent in the Polytheist community, a question has come up.

“This is all well and good, but how do we make the gods participate?”

For those of us, who, like me, certainly couldn’t just will a harmful manifestation of deity away with positive-thinking and pixie-dust, what is the actual path forward?

It’s hard to say for sure. While there are a sizable number of people with experiences similar to mine, where a deity was simply intent on grinding the mortal in question into the dirt until they relented, there is precious little, right now, being said about how to compassionately respond to the suffering of people going through something like this. There is even less being said about how to make it stop.I can’t answer this question all by myself, but I have…

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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.
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6 Responses to Reblog: Against Their Will: Our Duty to Respond to Fellow Polytheists in Distress

  1. I have sooo much to say about this. Crafting a response today.


    • I would be in a much different/worse place without the support of the polytheist community. I agree with not setting non-consentual relationships as an example or valuing them more highly, but at least check if it’s for real before assuming it’s not.


      • EmberVoices says:

        Yes. And talking with Thenea directly in a variety of contexts, I know she does have respect for both consentual power dynamics between gods and devotees, and an awareness that sometimes the situation really is with the god, and it’s just fucking complicated.

        What she’s primarily concerned with is not treating painful situations as though they are or should be the status quo, or blaming the godsmacked for our smackedness instead of helping us actually gain some measure of control over the situation.

        You… well you know from experience with me that my answers are somewhere in-between. And over time, the more I learn, my answers change, and beyond that are personal and specialized to whoever I am dealing with because no two situations are identical.

        I have seen pretty well all of the above – I’ve seen people well and truly godhounded by a god who isn’t taking no for an answer when IMHO They damned well should have been. I have seen people godhounded by a god who is just being overly enthusiastic, and they both want a relationship, they just need to negotiate better parameters. I have seen people experiencing nasty godhounding that is not really about the god behaving badly, so much as the god’s presence triggering severe PTSD flashbacks and panic attacks that are ultimately unrelated to anything the god is actually doing – but that the god is also at a loss to prevent.

        None of these qualify as imaginary problems. They are all very, very real. They’re also very, very *different* problems and have totally different *solutions*.

        I’m not sure what Thenea is proposing covers all the ground it would need to cover, but I’m glad she brought it up, because it’s a good *start*.

        …. And the more I dig into how I feel about all this, what I know about it, where I stand on it, the more overwhelmed I feel, because it’s just… too much of my life has been about this, helping people through it, learning every tool I can get my hands on to help with it, navigating my own examples, etc. etc. and I can’t tell yet, honestly, if what Thenea is proposing will help or hinder my existing efforts.



        • You do a lot of valuable work, and both you and Thenea both are much more central to this issue than I am jsut in terms of being better connected with other spirit workers.

          I was just very troubled by the statement that messages coming from media in forced relationships should be discounted out of hand because 1. That’s not going to make the message come in a consensual way and 2. Odds are high you’re never going to see that medium again.

          I know you take a more nuanced position in these situations than that and its obviously a much more complicated and work-intensive one.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It’s a good idea, it just comes with a lot of red flags.


          • EmberVoices says:

            I totally understand, and have related concerns. The main reason I haven’t jumped into all of this in more detail is that it’s been so tangled I haven’t been able to sift through it all into something coherent.

            There are several historical reasons why ignoring messages from involuntary and “negative” possessions would be contributing to oppression rather than alleviating it. I am wary of cultivating a religious culture that is so grounded in privilege that we overlook some of those factors.

            Thenea does very good work, and is approaching this topic from a very specific point of view which is grounded in her own direct experience. It’s going to take a long time and a lot of conversation in order to broaden that into something that incorporates a wide range of perspectives and experiences without undermining the fundamental goal of supporting people who are having negative trance-related deity experiences and cultivating a religious culture of consent.



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