Alright. So I finally decided to share some of my UPG here. Those of you who know me probably know that my religious practice (mostly) consists of mainstream Hinduism with some other things, mostly Christian, tossed in as well. You may also have seen me refer to having a lot of UPG on occasion.
Well, I do have a lot of UPG, and I have been threatening to share it for a while now; here I am actually doing that. I decided to start with one of the bigger and more… out there, pieces of UPG I have. Something totally unsupported by historical practices and, as far as I know, not shared by any other modern pagans.
So, what is this piece of UPG? Well, there is a deity in my religious practice who I have heretofore never mentioned or alluded to having a relationship with. This deity is one who has a historical basis and a widespread modern following. There is literally zero chance that you haven’t heard of him; not sure of I am going to name him here or not, so just bear with me for now. He is a very well known god with a strong pop-culture presence.
This deity revealed himself to me when I was a kid; no older than eight, but I think it was considerably earlier than that. He came to me while I was daydreaming, recurringly for a long while. I recognized him immediately both from his mythological similarities (my parents raised me with a lot of mythology) and from popular culture. In many ways, he presented himself almost identically to what you might expect; he was tall, strong, muscular, hairy, boisterous, and warrior-like. Unlike you might expect, however, he was black – African American. That obviously didn’t keep me from recognizing him because he was otherwise archetypically like himself, down to the smallest detail of his symbolism and regalia. At some point, this deity drifted from my daydreams into my actual dreams, before disappearing around the time I started middle-school, around when I reached puberty. Incidentally, this was around the time I started to experience gender dysphoria.
So, for about three years I was basically totally christian, with no other outside elements, before I began to drift into atheism in my early teens. I lost all connection to any religious powers of any kind, christian or otherwise. So, to cut the long story of my atheist trials and tribulations short, around the junior year of high school, I started to seek out religious beliefs and practices again. There was no ‘thwapping’ or UPG, it was just me, an atheist, consciously looking for theism: I found it, in the form of esoteric, Tantric Hinduism. I felt drawn to the Godess Kali, who is still my Ista-devata, as well as to many aspects of Hindu cosmology and theology.
Well, around this time, once I had started practicing religion again, I felt a feminine deity reaching out to me, and offering me support. A deity who felt kinda familiar but who I didn’t immediately recognize. She was very adamantly clear that she was not Kali or any other manifestation of Shakti. She appeared as a muscular dark-skinned woman of seemingly west-African descent, wearing modern athletic wear, with her hair in a long braid and with short sideburns on her face.
So, this deity kinda hung around the edges of my practice for several years, never asking for worship or prayer, just offering me support and motivation, especially with issues that were related to my transitioning and dysphoria. I didn’t know who she was, I just knew who was was not – not Isis, not Mary, not any of the Hindu goddesses, not Amaterasu, not… any goddess I knew by name. I just knew her as my “transgender godess” – because I got distinctly trans* vibes from her.
Well, about two or three years ago, for reasons I don’t exactly understand, she decided to reveal her true identity to me. I was having a rough time with life when she did, so maybe she wanted to let me know “Hey. Guess what? I went through this shit too. Yeah, me – your childhood idol.” I had a dream where I saw her shrouded in storm-clouds and lightning, and she dramatically announced her name, when she did, for a moment I saw the male deity who I had seen as a child – the same deity – and I realized that this woman was that deity. It made sense to me. I never questioned it, because it just sorta clicked internally.
I have had a relationship with this female deity by name for a couple of years now. I still don’t worship her, and she is still more adjacent to my pantheon than an actual member of it, but I know who she is now. Something has made me kinda wanna actually include her in my worship now, though – maybe it’s the fact I am now out of the closet with a lot of people about my gender, or maybe it’s just the fact that I have felt a stronger pull toward her as an object of worship due to pop-culture having recently shown a lot of stuff featuring her traditional (white, male) representation.
See, I still feel like this deity fundamentally represents the same thing they always represented; they’re just female now. (I happen to think they were always black, and that representations of them as white were merely historical mistakes). Those things being strength, bravery, merriment, self confidence, and self-sacrifice.
My other Goddess… is Thor. Cue dramatic lighting and thunder.(Incidentally, that is precisely how she revealed it to me, too – “I am THOR!” with dramatic lighting and thunder swirling around her while she hoisted Mjolnir.)
…specifically an African-American, female Thor. I don’t think that’s just something she came up with for my benefit either, I am convinced that Thor, as a divine being, is actually feminine, and that her male aspects are just a facade. Thor is transgender.
So, there. Your first piece of my UPG puzzle. I assure you that most of the rest of it is just as weird. I am not remotely orthodox as I might outwardly appear. I have seen some strange things, and I tend to believe my own UPG over anything else.