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Author Topic: How much god-bothering is "normal"?  (Read 3063 times)

Lykaios

How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« on: September 09, 2012, 11:14:30 pm »
I think it’s been pretty well established that not being god-bothered is completely okay and probably the default for most people. But…at what point does the pendulum swing too far in the other direction?

It occurred to me lately that I’m practicing my faith outside any living cultural context and that without that I have no one to check these things against and no clearly defined standards for what is the "norm". So when I read people saying things to the effect of “well, even the god-bothered aren’t god-bothered all the time” , even when they don't follow the same path I do... I'll be honest, it makes me feel really insecure about just how often I hear from them.

Are there any general guidelines here or is it so path-specific that guidelines are impossible? Is there a maximum acceptable level of god-bothered-ness in the community at large? In general, is there a line between “wow, you get a lot of contact” and “wow, you should see a therapist”? And if there is, is there any way to know when you’ve crossed it?
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Annie Roonie

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Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2012, 11:29:07 pm »
Quote from: Lykaios;73278

Are there any general guidelines here or is it so path-specific that guidelines are impossible? Is there a maximum acceptable level of god-bothered-ness in the community at large? In general, is there a line between “wow, you get a lot of contact” and “wow, you should see a therapist”? And if there is, is there any way to know when you’ve crossed it?

 
I have wondered about this too and was looking for a way to evaluate my experiences. I tend to question myself about them because I figure in reading about the experiences of others, I could be projecting some sort of wish and not be aware of it.

This thread, Evaluating Your Gnosis, was very helpful to me and I think you will find it interesting.

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Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2012, 11:44:42 pm »
Quote from: Lykaios;73278
Are there any general guidelines here or is it so path-specific that guidelines are impossible? Is there a maximum acceptable level of god-bothered-ness in the community at large? In general, is there a line between “wow, you get a lot of contact” and “wow, you should see a therapist”? And if there is, is there any way to know when you’ve crossed it?

 
Fuck path-specific, it's person-specific.

Honestly, there's something valuable in DSM criteria here: is this impacting quality of life?  Is it preventing the person from getting the rest of their shit done in ways that cause them distress?

This stuff is actively hard to talk about, and it's not just because it's culturally normal to giggle at the kind of people who see the Virgin Mary in their cornflakes.

Consider: if I talk about conversations I've had with one god or another, there will be people who assume that having those conversations is a normal and default set of my practices/experiences, that it happens every day or all the time.  That, in fact, those sorts of conversations are foundational to how I conduct religion, build my practices, set my priorities.

(I have actually gotten a bit into the habit of downplaying the stuff that I do have along those lines - not only because it's not central to much of what I do (and where it is, it's not central because of ongoing conversations, but rather because I have been set particular problems to solve and I am busy solving them).  But also because I don't want to encourage by false example people who feel the need to be oh-so-special and talk about all the gods and spirits who are chattering away to them all the time and deeply involved in the minutiae of how they butter their bread and how every pecan in their trail mix bag is specifically requested by some power and I just JESUS CHRIST PEOPLE WHAT.  ....Sorry.  

And because a lot of the personal stuff I'm dealing with is ... well, personal.  I'm working through the edges of a new divine relationship at the moment, which is not only dealing with stuff that's oathbound material within my training but the matters that are of specific concern only have relevance within my bloodline.  Nobody else has any reason to give a shit, and if they did it's probably not their business anyway.)

I tend to be concerned by people who give a lot of evidence of being way more interested in the unseen world than the seen one.  A healthy give and take is one thing, and some people are more involved in the, hrrr, call it border patrols than others.  But once it gets to "you're not really living in your body, you just get your mail there", or "you don't know how to talk to people because you're too busy talking to spirits", I think there's reason to worry.  We are embodied people with residence in the seen world; forgetting that strikes me as partaking of the perilous road towards "the only real world that matters is the spiritual world" which is, I tend to believe, the first and grandest of sins.

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Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2012, 12:41:57 am »
Quote from: Lykaios;73278
It occurred to me lately that I’m practicing my faith outside any living cultural context and that without that I have no one to check these things against and no clearly defined standards for what is the "norm".

[snip]

Are there any general guidelines here or is it so path-specific that guidelines are impossible? Is there a maximum acceptable level of god-bothered-ness in the community at large? In general, is there a line between “wow, you get a lot of contact” and “wow, you should see a therapist”? And if there is, is there any way to know when you’ve crossed it?


I would say the line is when you've stopped being "god-bothered," and the gods become "you-bothered." Basically, you'd cross the line when you become a nuisance to them.

I had a crapload of confusing god-contact earlier this year, and when I started looking for a therapist due to the very logical possibility that I was subconsciously making it up to cope with my life, Ogma showed up. He told me that everything I'd been doing was genuine, but I REALLY needed a teacher to help me handle it all.

Because since my home is California in the year 2012 as opposed to pre-Christian Ireland, things like "cultural context" or "finding a mortal teacher" aren't going to be very easy. Especially since MY cultural context ends up more "warning signs of various mental illnesses" than "spiritual experiences."

Quote from: Darkhawk;73283
Fuck path-specific, it's person-specific.


Just quoting that for truth.

Quote
This stuff is actively hard to talk about, and it's not just because it's culturally normal to giggle at the kind of people who see the Virgin Mary in their cornflakes.


It's even worse when people don't even know what religion you practice. When the main reason you're afraid of telling people is because you have genuine cause to fear you'll be sent to a psych ward, pagans have the REALLY short end of the stick.
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Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2012, 04:36:01 am »
Quote from: Lykaios;73278
I think it’s been pretty well established that not being god-bothered is completely okay and probably the default for most people. But…at what point does the pendulum swing too far in the other direction?

I think it would be good to have a FAQ or article on TC written by someone with psychological expertise and identifying as pagan...

I've seen some of the books on shamanic techniques giving some guidelines on how to discern shamanic experiences from psychotic experiences or with a list of contraindications to judge one's own mental stability before going on otherworldly journeys. (I've recently seen this in Matthews' 'Singing the Soul Back Home' and in a German book called 'Seelenfade' by Anderson/Williams).

I think there should also be some information like this in books dealing with mystical experiences and the like, but often there isn't.

(The criteria from Matthews is a list of 11 lines, not sure if I violate the quoting regulations by quoting the whole thing.)

Lykaios

Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2012, 01:53:09 am »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;73282

This thread, Evaluating Your Gnosis, was very helpful to me and I think you will find it interesting.

 
*eagerly reads thread and then bookmarks for future reference*

That is extremely helpful. Thank you. :)
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Lykaios

Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2012, 02:08:25 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;73283

Hrm.  You seem to have gotten my ranty pants.  I'm sorry?  (They're freshly laundered though.)

 
I always like your ranty pants XD

That actually makes me feel better. The contact I get is a lot of things, but mostly it empowers me to carry out my normal day to day life and serves more to give me perspective so I can make sense of things (and remind me of what I'm supposed to be doing for them). They certainly never comment on my breakfast. :P

I guess where I get all insecure is when I start making decisions in the seen world based on stuff I've experienced/heard in the unseen one. I don't let the other side rule my life, but some overlap seems unavoidable and I constantly worry if I'm chasing illusions or feeling something *real*, because decisions have consequences--sometimes really big ones. I guess I just find it hard to tell sometimes if this is interfering with my life or just changing it in ways I didn't expect when I first signed on for this. :/
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Lykaios

Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2012, 02:17:02 am »
Quote from: Sharysa;73287

It's even worse when people don't even know what religion you practice. When the main reason you're afraid of telling people is because you have genuine cause to fear you'll be sent to a psych ward, pagans have the REALLY short end of the stick.


This.

I have a therapist that I work with on other assorted things (a couple of lingering OCD stuffs), but I wouldn't dare bring any of this up with her because she's made a couple of comments that made me feel very uncomfortable sharing any *religious* based stuff with her--there is a real danger that she'd badly misinterpret what I said. I'd go to someone else, but I live in a small town and she's the only therapist within 200miles of me (literally) that my insurance will pay for.

(On a related note...just tossing this out there: how does one even broach these sorts of topics with a therapist? Even one who is pagan-friendly... Is there a good or bad way to go about it?)
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Lykaios

Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2012, 02:26:20 am »
Quote from: Waldhexe;73302
I think it would be good to have a FAQ or article on TC written by someone with psychological expertise and identifying as pagan...


That would be very cool. I'd love to see the pagan mental health issue get some more press.

Also, thanks for the note about the Matthews' book. It was already on my list to get so I bumped it up a level in priority. :)
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SkySamuelle

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Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2012, 02:44:49 am »
Quote from: Lykaios;73492
This.

I have a therapist that I work with on other assorted things (a couple of lingering OCD stuffs), but I wouldn't dare bring any of this up with her because she's made a couple of comments that made me feel very uncomfortable sharing any *religious* based stuff with her--there is a real danger that she'd badly misinterpret what I said. I'd go to someone else, but I live in a small town and she's the only therapist within 200miles of me (literally) that my insurance will pay for.

(On a related note...just tossing this out there: how does one even broach these sorts of topics with a therapist? Even one who is pagan-friendly... Is there a good or bad way to go about it?)


I operate under a need-to-know-policy.
My therapist knows I was uncomfortable with Christianity and that to turn to polytheism helped me to be more guilt-free me. We even agreed that being being raised as Catholic compounded certain old issues but... I always specified that I think all religions are 'true', Christianity included, even if the latter just wasn't for me. I find  people are generally more receptive to other beliefs if you don't attack/criticize too sharply theirs.

But, for what concerns the ritualistic aspect, be it oracular work or shamanic work, I do prefer  to keep it to myself because explaining would require time and effort better focused otherwise.
Plus I find it is not really useful to talk about those things unless it relates to my family relationships, and in that case I talk about it, but bringing the focus on the problem, not the religion .

I believe, even for those more involved in spirit-related homework, if all you feel the need to talk about to other people is the gods and how they can or cannot interact with you, that is a red erring that you might be losing your capacity to balance out.

No relationship should fall into obsession-like patterns and that includes spiritual relationships too.
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Faemon

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Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2012, 08:47:10 am »
Quote from: Lykaios;73492
how does one even broach these sorts of topics with a therapist?
Eh, I just threw it in there as it happened because therapy is expensive and lies (even lies of omission) eat up time. They can only do their job if you give them info, so I figured the more info the better they can do their job.


content note: suicide, gender essentialism, religious supremacy

My shrink was a Jungian, so when I said about this undine that had gone all "don't do that!" in a dream about killing myself, their reaction was, "Oh, that's Poseidon!" (meaning the psychological archetype) And I was like, "No it wasn't, it was just a dude-undine. Poseidon's busy with something else right now." And my doc was cool with that for a while, I guess because they'd be out of a gig if I did off myself, so.

Eventually my doctor just gave me a rosary because I was, apparently, getting too bothered by invisible people and caught up in synchronicities. And had to, um, pray about it?

And then some other therapy-going friends of mine were all, "That's unprofessional, doctors shouldn't be shoving their religions down the throats of people who already have fragile and impressionable psyches!" But I'm like, ehh I just never used the rosary so no big. I just get it, you know? That my doc was concerned that, you know, this was not normal god-bothering. Or that this was not normal-god bothering. But, you know, I was fortunate enough to have already developed a strong enough core that, at least in those matters, I... remain very confident as to my own point of view and the decisions that I make with it? I just decided I needed help with the physiological stuff. Also, yay, free rosary!
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 08:57:08 am by Faemon »
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Neteruhemta RaShuSet

Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2012, 11:57:22 am »
Quote from: Lykaios;73492
This.

I have a therapist that I work with on other assorted things (a couple of lingering OCD stuffs), but I wouldn't dare bring any of this up with her because she's made a couple of comments that made me feel very uncomfortable sharing any *religious* based stuff with her--there is a real danger that she'd badly misinterpret what I said. I'd go to someone else, but I live in a small town and she's the only therapist within 200miles of me (literally) that my insurance will pay for.

(On a related note...just tossing this out there: how does one even broach these sorts of topics with a therapist? Even one who is pagan-friendly... Is there a good or bad way to go about it?)

 
There was a lecture at Paganicon in March I went to called "Paganism and Mental Health". The whole topic was about what you are asking. If I remember correctly, the best way is to approach it as you experience a connection with something above you. I think a major part of a therapist's job is to discuss actively with their patients. I think it's sad when we have to fear what the people trained to "help" us will do if they don't necessarily understand. As long as it's not interfering with daily functions in a negative sense, it shouldn't be a negative issue.

The lecturer also informed us that there is a project going on to get a list of doctor's who are at least open and familiar to Paganism. I don't where they are on the project. We were also told that we can call doctor's up and ask them how familiar they are with Paganism and decide doctor's from there. If we find one that isn't covered by our insurance we can go back to the insurance and explain that they are the only doctor in your area who has the correct expertise to assist you.

I don't know if that helps at all.

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Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2012, 01:25:48 pm »
Quote from: Neteruhemta RaShuSet;73535
There was a lecture at Paganicon in March I went to called "Paganism and Mental Health". The whole topic was about what you are asking. If I remember correctly, the best way is to approach it as you experience a connection with something above you. I think a major part of a therapist's job is to discuss actively with their patients. I think it's sad when we have to fear what the people trained to "help" us will do if they don't necessarily understand. As long as it's not interfering with daily functions in a negative sense, it shouldn't be a negative issue.


Sherry - the person doing the presentation - is awesome, yes.

One of the other things is that you can feel someone out, carefully. A conversation like "I feel like talking about some of the religious aspects of my life might help, but I don't know how you feel about that." can give you an idea of their approach. (go from there to a "I don't follow a mainstream religion: would you be willing to read some material/keep an open mind while we explore it?")
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Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2012, 01:50:44 pm »
Quote from: Lykaios;73492
This.

I have a therapist that I work with on other assorted things (a couple of lingering OCD stuffs), but I wouldn't dare bring any of this up with her because she's made a couple of comments that made me feel very uncomfortable sharing any *religious* based stuff with her--there is a real danger that she'd badly misinterpret what I said. I'd go to someone else, but I live in a small town and she's the only therapist within 200miles of me (literally) that my insurance will pay for.

(On a related note...just tossing this out there: how does one even broach these sorts of topics with a therapist? Even one who is pagan-friendly... Is there a good or bad way to go about it?)

 
I didn't bring up religion with my therapist until it came up on its own (I had an epic issue with my mother and Christianity and other things, but that's for another post).  She didn't even blink when I told her about following a non-JCI path; had she, I would have found another therapist.  Then again, we're inundated with them here.

IMO, a good therapist should be able to treat people with whom they don't completely match up without allowing their biases to get in the way.
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Lynx

Re: How much god-bothering is "normal"?
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 01:38:44 pm »
Quote from: veggiewolf;73662
I didn't bring up religion with my therapist until it came up on its own (I had an epic issue with my mother and Christianity and other things, but that's for another post).  She didn't even blink when I told her about following a non-JCI path; had she, I would have found another therapist.  Then again, we're inundated with them here.

IMO, a good therapist should be able to treat people with whom they don't completely match up without allowing their biases to get in the way.

 
I know this is a kind of old thread, but just popping in to say I completely agree with this and similar posts being expressed!

I have only just recently begun working with a god who revealed Himself to me, but I know already that my therapist will not have a problem with this and that it's probably healthiest that I feel like I CAN talk about this stuff with her. It's important to have a therapist without that bias because if they make an effort to understand your religion/your experiences with the gods/spirits/divine/magick/etc, they will be ABLE to help you distinguish what's your UPG and what might be other, non-UPG mental health issues.
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