Posted by: naiadis | August 28, 2012

It doesn’t have to all look the same, and that’s okay!

One thing that I see come up again and again, especially with those who are more inclined toward the ‘woo’ side of things, is this idea that everyone ought to be doing everything the same way. That, if one is going to claim the title spirit worker and/or god/spirit-spouse one must: be about pushing one’s physical limits; be about putting the gods and spirits first all the time no matter the cost; be about surrendering everything and anything to the gods at a moments notice even if they don’t understand the reasons why. On top these ‘musts’ there is also the idea that those who have gone before obviously know what they’re doing. Lip service is paid: everyone’s path must be different, but there’s always the fear of judging: everyone’s path must be different, but *my* way is obviously superior.

In the interest of full disclosure: I’ve even had moments when I’ve thought, well, yes, of *course* my way is superior. Poseidon is always quick to remind me that, no, my way is the correct way for *me*, and really, in my heart of hearts, I do believe that. I do have moments of doubt, and on the heels of that doubt comes the need to bolster myself by making “my” way be superior to those around me. What it really is, is: I understand my way, I see how it fits perfectly for my life and my path, and I understand how it allows me to flourish, and how, any other way would diminish me and what I can contribute.

More than once I’ve interacted with various people (generally more of the ‘god-spouse’ rather than the ‘spirit worker’ ilk) who have struggled with their marital status, have sought aid from others, and have been encouraged to fit into a mold that does not work for them. And then, when that doesn’t work, the fault is with the person in question, and not those providing guidance. Hell, if we go far enough back in time, I was one of those needing help and getting told it was my fault when things weren’t working out.

When I gave Poseidon the vows I gave Him, we had a pre-existing relationship. I expected things to change. I expected Big Work to come my way . . . instead, He wanted me to keep on doing what I was already doing. Do I consider myself a spirit worker? Actually, it depends on the day. The ‘work’ that I do does not center around other humans. It’s either self-healing stuff — important work, and it allows me to make the world immediately around me better simply by being able to be a better person who isn’t a miserable wreck — or stuff that’s got nothing to do with humans at all. So, largely, what I do is irrelevant to the humans that would make up my community, and I don’t talk about it much, because it doesn’t fit easily into words. And, also, writing. Yes, I consider writing to be part of my “big work”. It allows me to bridge the worlds. I think it’s important.

What I forget — and what I think too many people don’t talk about/also forget/don’t realize — is that what pushing myself looks like is going to vary *wildly* from what some one else pushing themselves is going to look like. Furthermore, not everyone needs to push their physical bodies. For some people *raises hand* the concept of having inherent worth that is worthy of love and kindness and affection is infinitely more difficult that accepting discomfort or pain.

Nor do I think one necessarily has to surrender one’s comfort zones in order to fulfill their part of a relationship with their gods — and yes, I’m still talking about spirit workers and god-spouses. It comes down to this, and this is why I’m posting this, because I don’t think it’s said enough:

Your path is your own. It is up to you to walk it where your gods lead you, to stay honest and true to the path they’re sharing with you, to know yourself, to trust in your relationship with them. No one else can tell you how to do it; at best, they can share what works for them, and the second that they tell you why that way must work for you as well, it’s time for you to disregard their advice. What is right for me as Poseidon’s wife is not going to be what’s right for you as Poseidon’s wife; I don’t care what all else we may have in common. I can tell you what helped me and why, and I can even support your desire to try it for yourself, but I will never tell you that in order to connect with Poseidon you have to develop a yoga practice or it will never work; that you have to take plunges into northern waters in December, or you’ll never connect.

When I hear about people trying to bend themselves into knots to do things the way others are doing them, it makes me want to weep. Does this mean you shouldn’t push yourself? No. It does mean that you and your god(s) are the ones to decide when and how you are pushed, not Jane Godspouse Spirit Walker in San Francisco who only knows you via FB, email, and blog posts. It means, you need to know yourself, and you need to know the god you’re devoted to. There has to be trust — even if how you define trust does not look like trust on the outside to others who are not walking your path in your shoes. Your path may be focusing on a family and bringing up the next generation of polytheists. It may be focusing on a family and *not* bringing up anyone. It may be on focusing on a family made up of spirits and gods and other various types. It may be focused on writing books and articles and essays and sharing yourself with the world, or it may be focused holed up in your own bubble with nary a peep out of you — none of these are inherently wrong or better or worse, and the idea that there is a More Correct or Less Correct way to approach devotion drives me batty.

Our gods are here with us. They are real. They call who they will, as they will, and they know what they’re after. Poseidon knows me better than I know myself; I trust him more than I trust myself to keep my best interests at heart, and he proves himself worthy of that trust every single day. He has not lead me wrong once, not even when I used to heap abuse and insults upon him. His patience and goodness seems to know no end, and I am utterly devoted to him. Somehow, even at my darkest, when I knew that there was no way he could really be interested in someone as worthless as I am, I never once doubted his interest. I thought him deluded, crazy, foolish, in need of being saved from bad choices, but I did not look to others to decide if it was real. I did look to others to see how their relationships worked, and I did try to conform to what I saw. And only when I stopped did things begin to mend.

Not everyone’s path looks the same, and that’s okay. Don’t let anyone else convince you it’s not.

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Responses

  1. YEEEEEEEEEEES!!!!!!!!!

    One of the most inspiring, uplifting, and empowering things I’ve read in a long time <3

    • Credit where it’s due: you helped bring this post about, and so, thank you. It’s such a simple, simple thing that could solve so many problems. Walk your path. Walk *your* path. It’s *important*. It’s so *simple*. (It still drives me batty) (happily, a short drive, that)

      • Sometimes it’s the simple things that get made to be the most complicated ;-)

        I’m really enjoying our conversation and will write you back tomorrow. I’m thinking of ideas for Hera’s Deipnon :-)

  2. Reblogged this on Eating the Hearts and commented:
    This is one of the most relevant posts I’ve read on godspousery in a long, long time–and no, I’m not saying that just because it happens to be my partner who wrote it. I will add that I think the ever-present phenomenon of competition, of one-upmanship, among godspouses is a very sad and pathetic thing. I have been guilty of it myself occasionally, and I know it’s hard to resist the urge to model your own practice after those of others, or to copy the things you see the people around you doing, especially when you’re new and it all seems so exciting. (I am using a bit of a harsh word–copy–intentionally. I don’t think it’s the same as being inspired by someone else; I think it becomes copying when doing it is either detracting from the significance it has for the other person or keeps you from seeing the awesome, special thing YOU should be doing instead. When you feel that you’re being inspired by someone else, take a moment first to consider that their way may not be yours, does not have to be yours. And then ask your god what the right way forward is.
    I will also add that to build the kind of trust Jo is talking about here can take time: time spent getting to know your god (whether that god is going to be your husband, lover, teacher, or simply close friend. Just as in any relationship, time spent together, getting to know each others’ likes, dislikes, and ways in general, is needed; there is really no substitute. (I say this after ten years of marriage to Odin, having been the eager new bride wishing for a shortcut: there isn’t one.)
    On a personal note (as if the rest of this rambling hasn’t been personal, lol), it ALSO took a long time for me to recognize my own spiritual work–that of a Maker–and stop trying to fit myself into the mold of a healer, counselor, ritual leader, or any of the other more frequently touted roles. There are deep needs for healers, leaders and counselors, but I am not of them–not when we’re speaking of other humans, at any rate. (Perhaps more about that in a future post as the season progresses…)

  3. Reblogged! You are the best, and this is an aweome, awesome post!!!

    • *blush* Biased!

  4. Reblogged this on Loki's Bruid and commented:
    Naiadis’ very sensible talk on why we should be focusing on our own pathwork, and not worrying about whether we’re making A’s in spiritworker school.

    • Hehehe, I’ve always been more of a B student anyway ;)

  5. Reblogged this on Queen Without A Court and commented:
    A wonderful article from Naiadis on the nature of individual paths in spiritwork and devotion. We must remember that our gods and us are the only ones who “know” and can tell us what our paths should be.

    • We must remember that our gods and us are the only ones who “know” and can tell us what our paths should be.

      Yes, yes, this, yes. I wish it was easier to retain that it seems to be. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Reblogged this on The Iconoclastic Domina and commented:
    From the ever wonderful Naiadis. This is by far one of the most empowering and insightful posts I’ve read in a very long time. It doesn’t matter what sort of relationship one has to The Gods, this should be read and re-read until the truth of it all sinks into your hearts. What is right for you is the correct way to worship. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  7. These were words I needed to read today. Thanks.

    • You’re most welcome!

  8. Even though I’ve been with Loki a long time, I’m new to the god-spouse thing and it is a struggle sometimes. As you said so beautifully, I have doubts that cause me to look to others as models of what the perfect god-spouse should be then find myself lacking. I even start to mistrust Loki’s love for me. I push myself in many ways: reading, writing, thinking, over-thinking, with Loki pleading for me to sit down for two seconds and rest. It is work and it does require pushing myself, but sometimes I just need to do my laundry. Laundry can be incredibly grounding, BTW.

    >For some people *raises hand* the concept of having inherent worth that is worthy of love and kindness and affection is infinitely more difficult that accepting discomfort or pain.<

    Thank you for that. I'm raising my hand right there with you.

    • One thing that helped me a lot to get our relationship back to good after the vows were exchanged was to take a step back, taking “god” out of the equation, and looking toward issues newlyweds might face. For what ever reason, even when people are living together for a long while, sometimes getting married changes things, and issues come up. Focusing on the marriage and less on what we each were individually on our own, was a huge, huge deal in getting us(me) back to healthy, stable ground.

      There’s no “perfect god spouse”. There’s finding what works for you (as in, you together) and what doesn’t work. Try things others are doing, sure, but no square pegs into round holes!

      A marriage is building a life together, not a never ending chore list of things to tick off. And this is what breaks my heart — we came together in love, trust, affection. It is such a sad thing, to have that damaged by not trusting that love, trust, affection.

      And: we are all of us lacking in some area or another. Ah the joy of being alive. When I decide that my lack is too much to burden Poseidon with, I remind myself that that’s what the trust is for. When I doubt that I could ever know myself well enough to be an asset to him, I remind myself that he also knows himself, and likely better than I know myself, and if I can’t trust *me*, I can, at least, trust him.

      • I want to hug you, I hope you don’t mind. :) Thank you so much for your words, they’re hugely helpful and speak very clearly to what Loki and I are going through. It’s funny but Loki and I started out as just a plain ol’ spirit/mortal couple (if there is such a thing) 17 years ago when I thought He was the spirit of a dead guy named John. Long story, but the point is that I wasn’t focus on Him being a god, He was just a guy I was in love with who was in love with me. I sometimes feel intimidated and overwhelmed by being married to a GOD *thunderclap*. I find myself saying ‘who the Hel are you thinking you’re special enough, spiritual enough, blah, blah, blah to think a GOD would want you.’ And then Loki reminds me of ‘just plain us’ and what I need to get at the store today and ‘don’t forget the toilet paper’.

        The beauty of Loki is the same as it is with Poseidon I think. No matter my doubts, my stupid inner critic, or even my mistrust, He reminds me of His love and His (almost) infinite patience with me. And then He makes me laugh. That’s what I love the most.

        • Awww. *sniffle* But that’s my point — it doesn’t matter what *we* think of ourselves, especially when our opinions can’t be trusted and aren’t fair. They can be. I am constantly overwhelmed, when I lift my eyes to Poseidon rather than my Husband, because it’s him, it’s him, it’s really him!! and, good gods, my audacity!! But, if He’s real (and I know he is) and if he was offended, he could take care of that himself, so I’m back to just trusting him and my experiences and the life we’ve built. And on my really, really dark days? I’d rather live a life with him and have been wrong than have a life without him. So there. *nods* Happily, those dark days are further and further apart.

          • Agreed. As hard as it is for me sometimes I couldn’t possibly imagine my life without Loki. Even in my darkest moments I never forget that.

            • I’m glad that, in your darkest moments, you’re able to hold on to that much, at least. I think (hope/pray) that, so long as we can hold on to something good in our relationships, no matter how fucked they get, there’s hope.

      • >>When I doubt that I could ever know myself well enough to be an asset to him, I remind myself that he also knows himself, and likely better than I know myself, and if I can’t trust *me*, I can, at least, trust him.>>—–>>>YES. THIS.

        • This shit’s important! It really can’t be stressed enough.

  9. Wow. There seems to be a lot of this type of conversation going on today… must be in the water ;)

    Thank you for this, you said it so much more eloquently than I did today when I told a dear friend to “F*ck it, F*ck it all, Let it all go” as part of our conversation about UPG and her being concerned about what others thought, and how that effected what she was doing/saying/trying to think and believe.

    In the end, it does all come down to love and trust. “Do you love Me enough?” Enough to what? Fill in any number of details. Every human relationship looks different, even where there are similarities, why would divine ones be different?

    • I think “fuck it. Fuck it all,” is *quite* eloquent, really, possibly *especially* for this topic.

  10. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this post. I don’t have words for how much it’s resonating within me.

    • Perhaps I shouldn’t be as surprised as I am, at how well this post has been received, yet, I am. I’m grateful that it’s turning out to be helpful for others (because, the gods know, if I can spare people *any* of the angst I went through because of my own shit by talking about it, then, please, yes, let’s!), but at the same time, it breaks my heart a little (a lot) that such a post is necessary. Which is a long way of saying, you’re welcome.

  11. I think we both know how much I love this post and how much it all resonates with me. :-) Thanks for writing it.

    • You’re welcome. :)

  12. [...] in a response to my comment on her wonderful post about god-spouse relationships said quite eloquently: “One thing that helped me a lot to get our relationship back to good after [...]

  13. Reblogged this on Brighde's Bright Heart and commented:
    I am grateful to Naiadis, for sharing her words, and for the comfort that I’ve found in them. If you haven’t seen this piece yet, please read it. She really shows her wisdom with this post.

  14. Thank you!
    This is a well-written, very valuable and much needed post!

    I’m a Loki-wife, and still feel like a very, very new one after a bit over a year.
    I’ve been struggling to understand what a god/mortal relationship like this is all about.
    All the ‘musts’ I’ve read in in other blogs makes a sacred marriage seem like a very daunting task, with intimidating demands and an endless list of ‘chores’. It’s made me feel insecure and wonder if I’m really able to do all this, to have this kind of relationship.

    This is something I will need to re-read many times in the years to come.

    • All the ‘musts’ I’ve read in in other blogs makes a sacred marriage seem like a very daunting task, with intimidating demands and an endless list of ‘chores’. It’s made me feel insecure and wonder if I’m really able to do all this, to have this kind of relationship.

      I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but: this very thing breaks my heart. I know how wonderful my life is because of Poseidon’s presence in it, even on the days when I’m less aware of Him than I’d like to be. I know I had moments (long, long, multi-year long moments) of being daunted by the prospect of being involved in a sacred marriage, and I’m not going to say that it’s all roses now. There are days when all I can see is His Himness, and it is SO MUCH to take in, and I know I’m only seeing such a small portion of Who He Is. And there are things I do want to accomplish, and things He’d like me to accomplish — but not at the expense of our relationship. If our relationship isn’t mostly okay, then nothing else is going to be.

      The “musts” people have may be valid — for them. And they may also work for other people who are not them. But we each of us need to discover what our “musts” are — even if that “must” is nothing like what anyone else has, and that’s the part that I believe needs to be stressed.

      We can do this — so long as we trust Them. People who are not us, are not part of the relationship, may be able to offer support and advice and help, but at the end of the day, it’s between, for example, you and Loki, and no one else. If you are doing things “wrong” it’s up to Him and you to determine, and no one else. And that, in my opinion, includes Family, too. At one point Zeus tried to “help”, wherein help meant blustery/overbearing/protective of Kin; eventually He was told — and not by me!! — to back off. Not even near-family can be responsible for this; just those directly involved.

  15. Reblogged this on Fire and Ink and commented:
    Thank you, Naiadis!
    This is a well-written, very valuable and much needed post!

    I’m a Loki-wife, and still feel like a very, very new one after a bit over a year.
    I’ve been struggling to understand what a god/mortal relationship like this is all about.
    All the ‘musts’ I’ve read in in other blogs makes a sacred marriage seem like a very daunting task, with intimidating demands and an endless list of ‘chores’. It’s made me feel insecure and wonder if I’m really able to do all this, to have this kind of relationship.

    This is something I will need to re-read many times in the years to come.

  16. [...] this has been making the rounds lately, being reblogged in a number of places. And while I agree with [...]

  17. >>For some people *raises hand* the concept of having inherent worth that is worthy of love and kindness and affection is infinitely more difficult that accepting discomfort or pain.

    This, thank you. 45 years and I still haven’t managed to believe it yet.

    • It’s an exceptionally hard one to believe. I’ve settled for believing that those who love me and show me kindness and affection at least *do* love me and feel kindly and affectionately toward me, so they obviously see something I don’t. I’m not sure I’ll ever believe, at a soul-deep level, that I’m worthy of it, so for now, that’s the best I can do.

    • You’re welcome. Were it that it were easy to believe this. I find it true for everyone else, even without saying. Of *course* everyone is worthy of love and kindness and affection . . . just, you know. Everyone except me. Likely, all of us with that particular hardship feels similarly.

  18. It is just common sense I guess, but I always forget it when I face certain difficulties. I’ve a trauma and I still need to hear I’m not crazy… so I look for similarities in the path of others. And yet when I think about it, it doesn’t make sense… my path is MY path…

    Your article just came at a perfect timing when I had huge interrogation about this point. It helped trigger great understandings (like I did in my last article “I don’t journey”) Thank you for this post.

    • Looking at what others do can be helpful; there’s no denying that. Can be and definitely is, though, aren’t the same, and it’s critical to know yourself enough to know when what others are doing can aid you, or when what they are doing can work against your own growth and path. Again — your gods/spirits and you are the ones best able to judge when and where you need to be pushed. I definitely see value in looking at what others are doing, and even trying what they’re doing, even if they don’t like it (there’s arguments to be made about copying; Beth mentioned copying as a negative thing in her blog, but she and I disagree a bit about that, because I maintain that you can’t know unless you try, if something will work for you, and you shouldn’t decide not to try just *because* others are doing it; neither should you try just because others are doing it–my whole point continues to be: it’s *your* path, and up to you and your spirits to decide how it looks/what makes it up.)

      Similarities have been a huge help for me, over the years. It’s just too easy to let them slip from being helpful to being detrimental. I’ve done it. I’ve seen it happen to others. That this post has been as popular as it’s been tells me that it’s happened to yet more others. So, I don’t think it can be repeated enough.

      I’m glad the timing has been helpful :)

  19. [...] I mentioned in my holy crap, everyone is LOOKING AT ME post: It is up to you to walk it where your gods lead you, to stay honest and true to the path [...]

  20. I’m so glad you said this, and I hope more people realize that this is true. It doesn’t hold true just for god-spouses either. Hedge-riders also have very varied paths and with the lack of written information, it can be hard to judge your own way and if things are going well.

    Good job!

    • Yeah . . . I defaulted to “godspouses and spirit workers” in my language, though I do realize that this can apply to any sort of religious, across the board. In my head, spirit workers means more than I think it does to most people, but really, lazy writing on my part. Too many short-cuts!

  21. [...] a couple of months ago, and even before that there was this wonderful post from my partner Jolene, on why you should resist the urge to try to mold your path to mimic that of anyone else, no matter [...]

  22. [...] However, you don’t need a “god-phone” or even a “god-radio” to love the gods, to offer to Them, to learn about Them, to write poems and stories about Them or make things inspired by Them, or (if you are–unlike me–a community-minded person) t0 share the joy of that love with others.  Devotion can be a rich and rewarding practice in its own right, because even when you’re not getting specific messages and input back from the gods on a regular basis (or even at all), once you have established a devotional practice you will get a sense of joy from Them at the fact that you are doing these things, that you are remembering Them.  Or, the joy your practice brings you may be all within your own heart, and not traceable back to Them at all, and, you know what?  That’s also okay.  After all, it doesn’t all have to look the same. [...]

  23. [...] am reminded, having read several things this week, that there is no litmus test for Paganism. We are, by nature, an eclectic and assorted [...]

  24. [...] “The Druid” does on to explain that while many Druids and Pagans have these personal relationships with spirit beings that may talk in their ear sometimes,”many OTHER Druids and Pagans (equally as many, I’d guess, if not more) are there because the act of devotion is what centers and grounds their practice.”  (emphasis original).  I would probably fall within this description, since I derive intrinsic value from my practices.  “The Druid” goes on to say that there is a place for both kinds of Pagans: “the quiet, every day, ground-and-center, worship on their landbase, remember the High Day Pagans” and “the devoted spirit workers, the god-touched, and the deeply mystical”.  In short, there is no litmus test.  (Also worth checking out are the links that “The Druid” includes: here and here and here.) [...]

  25. […] talk)” – Beth Lynch •“The Work of a Godspouse” – Beth Lynch •“It doesn’t have to all look the same, and that’s okay!” – Naiadis @ “Strip Me Back To The Bone” •“On Godspousery” – […]


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