(yes, that’s a touch of sarcasm there)
Long-time readers will already know: I’m the sort of polytheist that does believe the gods and spirits interact with us on a personal level. This is important, going forward.
Less than a month ago, as of this writing, my grandfather passed away. My grandfather, as I mentioned before, was Catholic. Not surprising: the bulk of my family has been Catholic. Generally, their god and I have a nodding acquaintance — people I love dearly love Him dearly, and I can only respect that. I have never been one of the “ooooh, the Abrahamic god is the ebil and we are so oppressed as pagans oh woe!” sorts. Does prejudice happen? Yes! Are we not taken seriously by followers of the mainstream religions? Of course we’re not. Are we in America by and large living in a Christian country? They say no, but when the entire month of December (November and December if you work retail) is taken over by one of their major holidays (with a passing nod to Hanukkah), including happy Jesus songs on the radio . . well, let’s just say that I can’t take the “you’re taking God out of Christmas!” complaint too seriously. I don’t see any taking-over-of-the-month for Ramadan, for example. And, you know, passing nod to Hanukkah. So it’s not even the Abrahamic faiths in general that take over the season. No, it’s completely Christian. (And you don’t like the secularization of your holidays? Stop supporting it with your pocket!)
Side tracked already. Sorry, sorry. Where was I? Oh, right, yes. We do not live in an ideally free-from-religions-not-our-own influenced country here. And, because of that, I realize some people have, depending on where they are, worse interfaith experiences than I’ve had. For the purpose of this post, I’m speaking about me and my experiences.
My experiences within pagandom fall under largely a heathen umbrella. I’ve been involved — briefly — with more neopagan, Wiccan-flavored groups, but most of my group experiences have been with other heathens. Mostly this has been good. Sometimes, it’s been less good. I’ve found myself, without consulting myself, picking up attitudes like being a bit scornful regarding things like, oh, I don’t know, Reiki. (Energy and healing and light, ooooooh!) which I had to work, hard, to root out of myself. Because, um. Yeah. Reiki practioner. It *works*, damn it. Yoga practioner. I actually subscribe to energy and healing. Stupid, to let those prejudices infiltrate my mindset. Or, not stupid, but unmindful.
Happily, that’s mostly not happened when it comes to regarding the Abrahamic god. Why didn’t it? Considering the history of the conversions in Scandinavia, the knee-jerk reaction that one can encounter within Heathendom against Christianity is understandable. Even if the victims were not our blood-ancestors, they are our spiritual ancestors, and the manner of their deaths is inexcusable. There’s no denying that. Still, I interacting within the heathen world as one devoted to a god whose presence was not welcomed within blot, whose guidance in my life and presence in my heart I could not share over a drinking horn with my co-religionists, save for at home, and so it was easy, I guess, to not take their anti-Abrahamic stance too seriously, all things considered.
I struggle, now. Sitting in my grandfather’s church, listening to the gathering praise this god whom my grandfather praised, this god who obviously helped my grandfather be a great man . . . I felt a connection. Not, obviously, a claiming-connection, but something stronger than “Oh, hullo. People I love love you.” I felt myself wrapped up in the love my gods, I felt them there with me (and was that ever interesting) but I also felt something shift.
This god of my grandfather’s, and this god’s extended family, may be becoming part of my ancestor worship. It’s stretching my comfort zone a little — mostly it’s hurting my head — but that’s not a bad thing. The biggest part of this inner struggle is: shouldn’t I feel guilty? The conversion process of my spiritual ancestors was wretched. Shouldn’t there be a conflict of interest?
I can only keep coming back to: humanity can be cruel and cold and awful to one another. But ultimately, gods don’t kill people. People kill people. I belong to a historically blood-thirsty god; I do believe obviously that gods actually can kill people. Can and do. But generally wide-scale atrocities? Usually those are all us.