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.