Continuing on from Yesterday’s Post, one of the things that drew my attention was this.
I’ve talked about human ethics and the Divine will before, most recently in this post. One of the growing issues in Paganism is the whole “political ideologies informing spiritual moralities.” As you can see in the break down of that post, pretty much every God I know or have dealt with doesn’t go with the issues of those “moralities.” So when a God is asking you or telling you to “break your morality” it’s probably because your morality or ethics is running counter to the ethics They Legislate.
Because when we get down to it, Ethical Behavior is little more than Divine Law, and we obey Religious Ethics the same way and for the same reasons we obey mortal laws. Now, certainly, each God and Goddess has their own specific views, though Pantheons do tend to agree.
Generally, Hel has been one to council me to peace, rather than violence. As Gang points out:
When I say “don’t put your ethics before your devotion to your Gods,” I don’t mean be a brainless son of a bitch and fly a plane into a building. I mean stop, just stop assuming that you have the whole picture, and that you yourself are in control of this relationship. You are not the top here. This is NOT a relationship of equals and it’s NOT a relationship with a human being. That the Gods may take human form, or that we may anthropomorphize them in our devotion and consciousness is a grace allowed us, but They are NOT human… “Ethics,” such as we have, are a lovely excuse to avoid the internal work They set us. I will also say that I have found myself more thoughtful over my actions, over their impact, and more consciously ethical in my conduct as a result of engagement with my Gods.I’m not advocating amorality. I’m advocating that we stop idolizing ourselves and get out of our own ways and trust the Gods we venerate. Trust Them to be Themselves, mind you, but trust that there is a plan and process that will ultimately benefit us and that we don’t always get to know the whole picture. Sometimes it’s just not possible. Sometimes even if we were shown, we wouldn’t be able to comprehend, and that’s terrifying. I admit that this can be terrifying but at some point you have to trust the Gods you’re working with and if you don’t, then you’re just going to be spinning your wheels.
One of the things that has happened to me is a discussion I had with Hel back when I first heard about the “Grooming Gangs” going on over in the UK. Hel pretty much told me not to suit up, go over there, and start wiping out the guilty with the prejudice of an 80’s action film. My personal ethics told me that annihilation of those bastards was something that needed to be done. But Hel knows more than me, especially back then, and stayed my hand. Her reasons were many, but few if any were the ones she tended to give to me.
I had to sacrifice my personal ethics for the good of my Goddess.
That being said, Hel has clearly told me that if I ever was to find out about such a gang in my own home area…I am to burn it down with all the fury of the Roman Empire. One of Hel’s domains is the protection of young women. Tied to her as I am, I am bound to help her in her duties as she helps me. Sometimes you have to do what is Right, even if everything you “know” tells you it is wrong.
It’s wrong to kill, it’s wrong to kill a lot of people simply because “their culture is different,” or “their religion is different,” or “their morals are different.” These are things we humans believe (at least in Western Civilization). But to Hel, those things don’t matter. Her reasons for me not to go to England are hers, but in my area, my “territory” I, by her command, cannot allow such actions to exist if it is possible for me to stop it and it is not already being handled by mortal law. In that case, I would have to violate societal ethics to enforce Her Will.
Too many people try to use their “personal ethics” as a shield to stop the Gods breaking things down or making them do things that are uncomfortable. “Internal work” as you will.
The truth is, I think Paganism is starting to have its own “breaking” when it comes to ethics. For a long time, Paganism has been defined as “Progressively Leftist,” but evens show that as our numbers grow, so too our differing political viewpoints. Even those of us who are more “Liberal” often find ourselves at odds with the “mainstream” of Pagan Ethics, especually since they so often clash with recorded ethics of the Gods as well as the Ethics we learn from our Gods presently.
I find it interesting that this divide often runs along the lines of those working with “The Goddess” and those working with named Deities. “The Goddess tells me to hold to #blacklivesmatter and to help fight the systemic racism!” you will hear them say. You know what happens when I talk to a Goddess about that whole issue? Bellona laughs. Not because she thinks black people are inferior, but because every single “victim” of the police the #blacklivesmatter thing goes on about has a serious criminal record and was generally in the commission of a crime, sometimes serious, occasionally minor. For Bellona, it isn’t #blacklivesmatter, it’s that #criminalsgetcapped. But that’s a Roman War God for you. And she’s not alone, a fair number of the Gods in both the Norse and Roman pantheons that I’ve dealt with hold that same attitude. After all, that was the general view until about 60 years go for humans, and we’re talking about beings that have been alive for thousands of years, who laid down that viewpoint, and who have no reason to change it. Because they know what the value of the Law is to society and survival.
But that would violate a lot of people’s “ethics.” It rejects the “narrative” of black people’s oppression, it violates the “ethical duty” to repair what is really an all to natural state of existence for humans of every race throughout history. It would mean that when a person breaks the law and pays the price…it’s their own damn fault for breaking the law and harming their fellow human beings. And that’s an uncomfortable thing to face.
“What do you do when the gods push the line too far, push you too far, and you find your patience for it all dries up and disappears? Do you run away? Tell the god in question to pound sand? Do you suck it up and trudge forward?” … “What happens when your relationship with a deity or set of deities becomes so broken that you’re not sure it’s ever going to fix? “
What do you do? With one, I cut ties. Freya and I have started talking again, but I doubt it will ever be what it was. But Hel has pushed me, pushed me hard. When there were times I wanted to kill myself and go be with her, she made me stay. She made me live, even as I hated it, hated her, I loved her for it. It was impossible, it was hard, it broke everything in me not to give in and feel her sweet embrace after looking everything I loved and lived for in the mortal world. Was I made stronger for the breaking? I don’t know, but I found out something about myself thanks to Bellona because I remained alive, met Bellona because I stayed alive at Hel’s insistance, and while the thing Bellona has told me, taught me, is pushing me to the breaking point in its own way, it is for the better that I know that too.
And I never thought that I would speak with Freya again, but here we are. Even when something is broken, sometimes things happen to make it whole again.
“And why hasn’t modern Kemeticism addressed this at all?” …/… “And more importantly- should we?”
I can’t say why the Kemetics haven’t addressed this issue. I can presume why the heathen’s haven’t, and that’s mostly because there’s a lot of hostility to UPG in certain groups so it just doesn’t get talked about. As for should “we” as larger Pagans address this issue…I suppose it will come up. But at the same time…presuming to talk about this issue, presuming that humans are the best judges of divine action and the limits that action should take is so supremely arrogant. To the point of Hubris. “I know better than a God what they should do and what a human should be subjected too.”
Well, I’m sorry, but this is like SEAL training. Gods throw you in shit and you either survive the training and reach the end to be more than you ever though you could be, or you drum out cause you can’t cut it. The Gods aren’t just here to help you. If they pick you, it’s because they’re going to need you for something, and you are going to get molded into the thing they need you to be…even if the thing you need to be is not even for you or in your lifetime. We should talk about it in order to get people to keep going, but the instant we try to limit what a God or Gods can do is the instant we have betrayed what we supposedly stand for. Gods at the top, and we follow, because they know and we do. Yes, that’s a very Roman view, but that’s what it is. You swore an oath, and you keep that oath to your death and beyond.
“And if so, how do we address this in the future? What do we tell practitioners who have been essentially burned or broken by the gods?”
We tell them to get up. Because the life is hard, and the Gods can be cruel. We tell them that if they want to live they must stand. Because if they lie in the dirt and cry they are already dead, and they are likely to get the rest of us killed with it.
The Gods know the bigger picture, but we can learn some of that picture too. I know more than many, perhaps not as much as some. But I can see things coming. Things that are going to make us “violate” our ethics, and deal with things both spiritually and physically that we never thought we would see in our lifetimes. The Gods are coming back, and it is for our good, but like the Alchemist of old they must purify us of the dross and the waste that has filled us.
Sometimes that means parts of ourselves. Sometimes, that is going to mean people. Pagan religions are collections of people, and sometimes not all of those people are good, or worth it, or useful, and the Gods must purify the dross. Because in order to be what we are going to need to be, it is steel, not rust, that is needed. It is a cruel fate, but it is ours.