My monthly column has just been posted at The Wild Hunt. It’s called, “Something Wet Came Padding In.”
What the priests told me of the gods didn’t make sense anymore, but the gods didn’t seem to care whether I believed the right thing or wrong thing. And worst of all, they didn’t seem to care that I had said no to them. They seemed to have actually appreciated it.”
It’s the shortest piece I’ve ever written for The Wild Hunt (2000 words, about 1/3 the usual), and certainly the most personal.
There isn’t much commentary required for it, but it’s worth noting that my experience of the gods is not quite in alignment with an increasingly dogmatic orthodoxy for which this piece is hopefully a death-knell.
When I first met gods, a friend I’d just met taught me some quick magic and a little theory. And he also kept telling me that I didn’t want to work with gods, because they will ‘fuck you up’ if you say no to them. He’d had an awful experience of his own, I think, and warned me against the idea that you should ever submit yourself to something else.
Several years in, I did indeed reach a point where I thought the gods would ‘fuck me up’ if I ever said no to them. This idea, though, was hardly coming from the gods at all, but from an ever-smaller and ever-more-vocal group of people for whom ‘submission’ and ‘authority’ and ‘obedience’ are defining characteristics of an authentic relationship with gods.
This is actually a mechanism of abuse, though. Exchange the word ‘god’ for ‘spouse’ or ‘boss’ or ‘president’ and you start to notice there’s something awful happening.
We would never accept the idea that ‘no’ in a love relationship is a sign that the relationship is flawed. If a person were to tell us, “I do everything he says because I am in love with him,” we’d worry for them greatly, and maybe consider an intervention.
“I do everything my boss demands” is more accepted, only because we’re all living in a condition of subservience to Capital. In most cases we’d probably grumble along with the person, nodding and saying, “yeah, fuck bosses.”
And of course, “the president/leader/general/king/nation is always to be obeyed” gets us in some awful wars.
Try saying ‘no’ to a god. Actually, try saying no to anyone. If they get angry, if they withdraw their love or support or kindness from you because you asserted your own desire, than you’ll learn some really informative things about your relationship to them. And you might not like what you learn.
And if that ‘no’ doesn’t result in repercussions but instead (as in my experience detailed in that piece), a really pleased laughter, than you’ll learn something even more crucial about where our fear of saying ‘no’ really comes from.