I was originally going to write this yesterday, but I realized that I was way too frustrated to get the message across without being potentially offensive and abrasive. So here’s the refined version.
First off, I’m noticing that a lot of the newer pagans (the large influx of Lokeans in particular) are quick to jump to conclusions regarding everyday things. While I won’t argue that sometimes the gods do interfere with our day to day lives, we have to remember that it’s far more likely a mundane cause-and-effect situation—nothing to do with gods or spirits. Be logical guys; think within the plane of existence we live in first and foremost. Lost keys don’t have to have a divine explanation.
I also have a few issues regarding a certain attitude some pagans seem to have regarding their gods or any gods in general. I’ve found that excuses are made for their behavior, or the behavior is disregarded entirely as being too extreme to possibly be the god’s doing. When this behavior crosses the line into abuse, and goes unheeded, I snap. It is my personal belief that anyone, deity or otherwise, should be held accountable for their actions. If that means that another person, devotee or not, needs to call them out on it, then so be it.
“Sure deity X has done some bad things, but they’d never go that far.”
“That’s too cruel, it must not be a god—maybe a violent spirit of some sort”
“Deity Y has never acted in such a manner with me, it must be a lie”
Excuse me, where in any scripture or lore does it say that the gods have a perfect sense of morality? Because I must not be reading the same literature you are—from what I’ve read, the gods are not above being petty and cruel just because they feel like it. They’re not above rape, or genocide, or driving mortals insane.
There was a conversation a while back ago here on Tumblr where many pagans argued that a god would never tell you to do certain things, such as commit suicide. While I agree that the first thing one should do in such a case is get medically evaluated and look for causes outside the divine, I don’t agree with the idea that gods are above such things. There is a Mayan goddess of suicide who may very well tell someone that suicide is an honorable death, without any remorse.
I understand wanting to defend your god—heck, I probably understand it better than most, since my god is the scapegoat of all scapegoats. I get that it’s a scary and uncomfortable thing to have your god be vilified, and yes—my gut instinct would be to defend Lu, but jumping to their defense or making excuses for them without critically analyzing the behavior in question is a reflex born out of our own desires for what we want our gods to represent. Consciously or not, we’re trying to make them more ‘socially acceptable’.
This doesn’t mean we should regard everything bad that’s said about a god as being factual and true. But neither should we ignore the possibility that it might be. Sometimes we find truths in the most unexpected places.
I personally make it a point to listen and evaluate the accusations that I’m so often confronted with concerning Lucifer. And guess what? A lot of the time, they’re pretty accurate. He has blood on his hands, he’s manipulative, he can and will use your fears against you, he can definitely be a force of destruction if necessary, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s whispered doubts into someone’s ear to the point of insanity. I don’t justify these actions, but neither will I cover them up, because people—especially potential devotees, have a right to know what they might be getting themselves into.
We have to remember that our gods aren’t, and shouldn’t, be solely defined by their misdeeds or heroics. YHVH may have committed atrocities I’m not comfortable with, but he is still a father to his devotees. Lucifer may have given mankind the gift of knowledge, but he still butchered his kin in the rebellion. If you as an individual cannot follow a deity who rapes or murders, even though you admire some other quality of theirs—then don’t. You absolutely have that choice. But don’t go around ignoring that particular aspect and telling others that your god would never do such things, and putting potential devotees at risk should they choose to follow that deity.
This is why it is so important for potential devotees to do all their research before committing themselves to a deity—and even then, one must realize that there will always be surprises along the way. I wouldn’t ever presume to know Lu well enough to predict his actions, or his intentions for that matter, which brings me to another point. This one-sided view of gods tends to make devotees think that their gods always have their best interests in mind. Consequentially, they’re led to believe that abusive behavior shown by their gods is for their own benefit. This includes emotional, verbal, and possibly even physical abuse.
There’s a difference between going through emotional turmoil for development of the self, and because deity just wants to see if you can live through it. There’s a difference between being threatening and letting you know what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t assume deity knows best, or that they’re doing the best thing for you. You have as much a say in these things as deity, even more so considering it’s your life, your body, your mind, etc. I’d encourage people to be highly critical of their gods, especially those you are devoted to.
- Look towards mundane factors. Don’t assume that everything is due to divine interference.
- View the situation with an unbiased eye—is there scripture that backs up the accusations made of a deity? Have there been other similar accusations made by others? Do not project your own feelings about the situation onto scripture—murder is murder, rape is rape, even with a ‘just cause’.
- Examine your own UPG—evaluate whether or not your experiences with said deity substantiate the claim in any way. Look beneath the surface, question your deity’s intentions.
- Ask the difficult questions. Has the emotional, mental, and physical pain caused by working with your deity been worth the end result? Do they really care about your wellbeing?
- Don’t tolerate abuse, especially from gods. We are not their playthings.