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Author Topic: Gods as Spirit Guides  (Read 2366 times)

Wheynet

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Gods as Spirit Guides
« on: July 19, 2017, 12:57:35 pm »
   I have never been able to worship deities. I feel like “worship” and related words puts them on this high pedestal  ‘above’ us and making them better than us when I believe that they are simply more like mentors or friends, guides on another plane of existence. I’m not talking about trying to be besties with Thor or anything, but working with them as- well like I just said: mentors, etc. But it occurs to me that maybe this is the general way people think of the gods but it’s never said. Let me give an example of what I mean:

   A being I see and meet with in meditations and dreams regularly I consider my spirit guide. He’s a mentor and friend. I have inklings that he could be a pre-existing god that is merely in a simple form and using a different name, but he’s content to not have that kind of fall to your knees worship I see in my head when I think of “worship”.

   Is this how people generally view the gods anyway and I’ve just had the wrong thought process? I’m trying to find others who view them the same, because I wonder about how rituals and “worship” may change because of it.

        Let me know if this is confusing, because I can easily confuse myself. I’m trying to get my stuff together so I can continue practicing and learning without going back to the beginning and questioning every single time. There's also a thread on Reddit that may explain better than I can: https://www.reddit.com/r/pagan/comments/2dx2ec/what_if_our_primary_chosen_deity_is_really_our/

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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2017, 06:53:34 pm »
he’s content to not have that kind of fall to your knees worship I see in my head when I think of “worship”.

   Is this how people generally view the gods anyway and I’ve just had the wrong thought process? I’m trying to find others who view them the same, because I wonder about how rituals and “worship” may change because of it.

As with all pagan matters, there is no general view about this and no 'wrong' way to think about it. I know of many pagans who relate to their deities as equals, and I know many pagans who view their deities as their superiors in some fashion. It's highly individual. Personally I'm at the farther end of the 'fall on your knees' scale (I literally kiss the ground at times) because that is the sort of deity relationship that I want/need.

Here is an old thread about kneeling, bowing and peoples reasons for using or not using them.

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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2017, 07:52:20 pm »
   Is this how people generally view the gods anyway and I’ve just had the wrong thought process? I’m trying to find others who view them the same, because I wonder about how rituals and “worship” may change because of it.

As Sefiru says, there's no one way to do this.

Darkhawk and Valentine, two long-time posters here, collaborated on a great list of ways people have historically (and currently) viewed their relationships with deity. As you can see from that long and varied list, some of the options are mutually contradictory, and others might fit in the same relationship with a deity, but definitely not at the same moment in time. (At least from our perspective.)

That approach has always made a lot of sense to me - after all, our relationships with family members, with teachers, with mentors, with friends, with romantic partners, those all change over time. And sometimes they vary situation to situation - I'm different with my boss or my coworkers in a large public meeting when our CEO is there than I am when it's just the two of us.

My personal work is with two specific deities: my relationship to them (as a romantic pairing) is different: I'm very much M'Lady's handmaiden, and I'm his because I'm working for her. Some of the things I do for them both I refer to as worship, but I'm more likely to use 'working with' most of the time because that's how that relationship goes. I do things in the physical world she can't. (Sometimes it's specific tasks, sometimes it's a "Go make there be more of that." general thing.)

I've definitely had moments of awe and amazement and 'there is no part of me that is not worshipping right now', but that's, y'know, maybe 5% of the relationship. Probably less. Otherwise I'm respectful and thoughtful (but I try to do that with everyone) but it's much more a 'how do we get these things done' sort of thing.
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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2017, 11:23:43 pm »
   I have never been able to worship deities. I feel like “worship” and related words puts them on this high pedestal  ‘above’ us and making them better than us when I believe that they are simply more like mentors or friends, guides on another plane of existence. I’m not talking about trying to be besties with Thor or anything, but working with them as- well like I just said: mentors, etc. But it occurs to me that maybe this is the general way people think of the gods but it’s never said. Let me give an example of what I mean:

I know what you mean and I think, like the previous poster pointed out, that it's personal to you. I have a little different way of viewing the gods. I would describe my relationship as worship, but I do think they are "above" humans. Not better than or perfect, just capable of divine wisdom if that makes sense. I also see some gods as mentor-like.



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Wheynet

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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2017, 12:44:46 am »
As with all pagan matters, there is no general view about this and no 'wrong' way to think about it. I know of many pagans who relate to their deities as equals, and I know many pagans who view their deities as their superiors in some fashion. It's highly individual. Personally I'm at the farther end of the 'fall on your knees' scale (I literally kiss the ground at times) because that is the sort of deity relationship that I want/need.

Here is an old thread about kneeling, bowing and peoples reasons for using or not using them.

Very interesting! Does your patron ask that of you, or do you do it because it feels right? I hope I haven't come off as rude with my wording of "fall to your knees", I could have just said kneel. Sorry about that. Thanks for the thread, by the way.

Wheynet

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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2017, 12:53:54 am »
As Sefiru says, there's no one way to do this.

Darkhawk and Valentine, two long-time posters here, collaborated on a great list of ways people have historically (and currently) viewed their relationships with deity. As you can see from that long and varied list, some of the options are mutually contradictory, and others might fit in the same relationship with a deity, but definitely not at the same moment in time. (At least from our perspective.)

The list definitely makes me feel better, so have all of you guys (I've been skulking around here for a little while before posting). This all helped me finalize my thoughts on what I need and feel. I've been so sucked into feeling like I had to fit in with many other peoples way of belief (because I've been reading on Reddit too long and too many people there left a bad taste in my mouth) that I lost that notion of doing what is right for me. Thank you.

Wheynet

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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2017, 12:57:26 am »
I know what you mean and I think, like the previous poster pointed out, that it's personal to you. I have a little different way of viewing the gods. I would describe my relationship as worship, but I do think they are "above" humans. Not better than or perfect, just capable of divine wisdom if that makes sense. I also see some gods as mentor-like.

Yes, not better or perfect, because their stories tell of them making blunders and succumbing to our vices too, but further along in wisdom. Knowing things that many humans, if not all, are just not capable of yet. I guess I've been thinking about them too strictly as some unattainable holier-than-thou...master. I don't think master is the word I'm looking for, but ja. Thanks for that!

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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2017, 01:02:51 am »
   Is this how people generally view the gods anyway and I’ve just had the wrong thought process? I’m trying to find others who view them the same, because I wonder about how rituals and “worship” may change because of it.

As Jenett and Sefiru have already noted, there is no singular 'how people generally view the gods'. (I found some more possibly-relevant threads and posts for you; there are probably more that I didn't find quickly.) But the perspective you describe as your own preferred position isn't all that unusual.

One issue here is the way 'worship', in the sense that refers to the entity in question being worthy of honor/reverence, has become entangled with the idea of the unworthiness of the one doing the honoring/revering. As you can see from that link, the latter isn't an inherent connotation of the word, but one it has picked up along the way.

Me, I completely suck at conventional reverence. So 'don't expect conventional reverence' is pretty much Condition #1 for any deity who's taking an interest in me, or that I'm approaching to see if we can work together - any deity that requires regular and frequent acknowledgement of inequality can go elsewhere, because they won't get it here. For quite a lot of years now, I've referred to my approach as 'irreverent reverence'.

Possibly because of that hard boundary ensuring that deities who want that sort of worship don't bother to interact with me, or possibly because most deities don't require constant reassurance of their superiority, I generally experience deities as tutelary entities (mentors, as you say) and/or collaborators on things, and can interact as if we were equals or near-equals. Sure, there are things they can do that I can't (f'ex, though I don't believe they're omnipresent, they're more multipresent than I am; I can only be one place at a time), but OTOH there are things I can do that they can't, or anyway not without difficulty, effort, and unwanted consequence, like having a physical presence in this world.

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Wheynet

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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2017, 01:47:25 am »
Quote
As Jenett and Sefiru have already noted, there is no singular 'how people generally view the gods'. (I found some more possibly-relevant threads and posts for you; there are probably more that I didn't find quickly.) But the perspective you describe as your own preferred position isn't all that unusual.

One issue here is the way 'worship', in the sense that refers to the entity in question being worthy of honor/reverence, has become entangled with the idea of the unworthiness of the one doing the honoring/revering. As you can see from that link, the latter isn't an inherent connotation of the word, but one it has picked up along the way.

Yes, thank you! Those links are just what I need. I can see that I should have looked harder before making a post. Embarrassing. Anyways- that is definitely a problem I have (or maybe now only 'had' because I've been schooled, thank you) with the word 'worship'... All of this makes me see that I've been ignoring the details while trying to see the scope of the big picture- how am I supposed to paint a picture of my belief when I haven't drawn the outline? Thank you so much for your help!

Jenett

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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2017, 12:23:30 pm »
Yes, thank you! Those links are just what I need. I can see that I should have looked harder before making a post. Embarrassing.

Please don't worry too much about that - we haven't had a thread on this particular topic in the recent past, and it's a topic where it's a lot easier to find things if you vaguely remember parts of the conversation, or who might have been in it.

(In other words, having a look for past threads is a fine thing, but please feel free to bring up topics again. There are times a little caution helps - like if there's a conversation on the same topic in the past month or so that got heated or difficult, in which case people may be burned out on it - but most of those are pretty obvious.)

Quote
All of this makes me see that I've been ignoring the details while trying to see the scope of the big picture- how am I supposed to paint a picture of my belief when I haven't drawn the outline? Thank you so much for your help!

There's all sorts of ways to approach new religious practices (and beliefs, but a bunch of Pagan religions and paths are more about shared practices). It's not surprising it takes a while to figure out the details, and I think most of us had to go through that back and forth of trying a thing, having it be in the right direction but not the right thing, running into people with really strong opinions that didn't work for us, etc.

So, please ask questions! Start conversations! Those are great.
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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2017, 06:29:24 pm »

Darkhawk and Valentine, two long-time posters here, collaborated on a great list of ways people have historically (and currently) viewed their relationships with deity. As you can see from that long and varied list, some of the options are mutually contradictory, and others might fit in the same relationship with a deity, but definitely not at the same moment in time. (At least from our perspective.)


I was looking for that list to link to, but I couldn't remember where it was!

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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2017, 06:50:12 pm »
Very interesting! Does your patron ask that of you, or do you do it because it feels right?

Kind of both? Talking about different types of deity relationships, what I've got is a lot like a BDSM partnership, where my deity is the 'top' and I'm the 'bottom'. There's also aspects of lord-and-knight in there, and a couple of other things I have trouble articulating. Also, as Sunflower said:

 
One issue here is the way 'worship', in the sense that refers to the entity in question being worthy of honor/reverence, has become entangled with the idea of the unworthiness of the one doing the honoring/revering.

Intersecting with this is the idea that subordinate means weak. In my experience that's far from being the case. It takes a certain sort of inner strength to choose to be vulnerable to someone.

Quote
Me, I completely suck at conventional reverence.

Whereas I find it rather satisfying. Which is not to say that every interaction I have with my deity is super-formal. Far from it, especially considering one of his characteristics is defying convention.

As the saying goes, 'whatever floats your boat' -- but figuring out what that is can be complicated.

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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2017, 10:49:41 pm »
Intersecting with this is the idea that subordinate means weak. In my experience that's far from being the case. It takes a certain sort of inner strength to choose to be vulnerable to someone.

To quote a set of books which have inspired me religiously in so many ways...

"That which yields is not always weak."
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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2017, 05:52:51 am »
To quote a set of books which have inspired me religiously in so many ways...

"That which yields is not always weak."

Oh my God I never thought I'd ever find anyone else referencing to those books. I loved those. Thanks for bringing them to my attention again.

As for me, I'm somewhere between Sefiru and Sunflower. I have a hard time yielding to just about anybody but when I do its mind, body and soul. I think the reference to a bdsm relationship is very accurate. Its a certain kind of trust you need to be able to do that and I only have that with my main deity. I have very different relationships with others. 
Reading A song of Fire and Ice lately I thought the worship and dedication Brienne has towards Renly is very fitting too.
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Re: Gods as Spirit Guides
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2017, 06:24:15 am »
A being I see and meet with in meditations and dreams regularly I consider my spirit guide. He’s a mentor and friend. I have inklings that he could be a pre-existing god that is merely in a simple form and using a different name, but he’s content to not have that kind of fall to your knees worship I see in my head when I think of “worship”.

   Is this how people generally view the gods anyway and I’ve just had the wrong thought process?

I haven't checked the Reddit link, but...mulling over what I'd picked up from New Age spirit guides or familiar spirits, they tend to not like forms or names, so human psychics who contact them give them cutesy ones, or parse them as Archetypes, or because the work with a guide is often so very personal such a guide is not often introduced or explained.

So, when I read somewhere else here that, I think it was, Norse gods that pay attention to nations rather than individuals, and the often forgotten ancestral beings and land wights or elves that have any care for the common low-born people...That totally made sense to me, despite the way I had previously understood or explained my spiritual experiences. ("Thor" dropping by for a beer libation and barbecue during a rainstorm...could not be the Thor of that other poster's religious context, though the name was the same.) I can't cite anything in this paragraph, but I think Aristotle mentioned something about a tragic hero had to be very privileged, because those were the only types of people that the gods would bother to mess up the lives of. (Or was it Aristophanes? Sorry, the top of my head is all muggy today.)

I've tended to prefer those (new age, newfangled abstract animistic and private spiritual guides) as well as ones of the sort of folklore where...there's a type or kind of a being that comes up in stories but is mostly description by osmosis...not so much a venerable prestigious well-known folkloric or mythic figure who's done stuff. The latter I get the sense adds to, "This is a big important heroic Person who is concerned with big important things."

But I guess it depends on whether the focus is on relationship role or the other's interiority. Whether it's as personal as a...well, as a personal spirit guide, or shared mythic understanding of a community, maybe also has something to do with it.

Like, a lot of my offline friends who are not polytheists or pagans still make a casual expression of thanking or grumbling at "the traffic gods" (we're urbanites). Among us, it had never developed beyond that avenue for drivers or commuters to voice gratitude for good timing or fortune, or frustration at the opposite. We don't develop superstitions to act out, don't set up shrines, don't even put names to individual gods that could preside over any influence or factor to traffic.

I did dream of an anthropomorphism of a specific road, though. I have visited that specific road and considered leaving discreet libation offerings as an expression of my being open to continuing our relationship beyond a dream encounter.

The road is very much a part of this small "god", and public property, so not really mine. It's for anyone to mythologize...or just, like, walk on. Usually. Which, you know, duh. But—even after getting a name, a face, and some of this spirit's story—I wouldn't put this forward to my offline friends (even the ones who talk about traffic gods), to raise this one to some urban polytheist pantheon for commuter's...Neither would I say this god/spirit is a personal guide, because again, I don't own the road. I'd be open to wherever this leads, though.

HarpingHawke somewhere here does a more public and formal presentation of roadwork, though, and I think GoldenTrail on WordPress wrote about lares via...so, there's precedence, however that fits into what you're asking, if my example made any sense...I hope it did!
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