Yesterday was a great day, this morning has been a very nice leisurely morning, and my mind is poking at things. Before I go into this at *all*, I have point out: I haven’t read any of the myriad posts that are likely floating around, regarding this topic. Honestly, I don’t care what other people are doing in their spiritual lives, I don’t care where they are finding the spirits and the gods. At the end of the day, if I care at all, I care that their experiences are enriching their lives in a way that is beneficial to them. (Okay, and true, it’s a topic close to my heart and I am a voyeur, so I *do* like to hear about the spiritual lives and practices of others, but it does not negatively impact my life if they are doing something I decide is wonky!) I only even know about the back and forth between folks on this topic because Beth has mentioned it, in passing. The topic? Comic heroes, from my understanding, being worshipped as though they are heroes in the classical pagan sense, as though they are gods. It’s not a new phenomena, at all, and it’s not the first time there’s been a hubbabaloo regarding it. It doesn’t color my worship or my relationship with my gods or ancestors, and it’s not likely going to. However, it _is_ a curious thing for me to consider, so I’m poking at it, and I figured I’d poke out loud. Helps me think sometimes.
Why am I poking at it? On the one hand, I’m always curious as to why people feel the need to tell others how they are doing it wrong. I’m assuming that’s happening here; it seems to whenever there are strong feelings on a subject. On the other hand, with the way my writing — which is most conveniently labeled as fiction — happens, the organic seeming way the stories come to me, I have to stop and wonder about other “fictional, created” things being labeled as “not real” in the way that the gods and ancestors *are* “real”. It’s an interesting tangle. I *am* a hard polytheist; the gods and spirits *are* real. For as long as I’ve been writing, I’ve always hastened to add that my characters are real, yet not. But . . . I don’t know how true that is. I don’t think it is, across the board, true on the same level, all the time. It’s caused me angst a time or five: if this character comes across to me in my daily life as tangible to me as Poseidon does, is that proof that I’m crazy? Is that proof that He’s not really Real? Or, are t/They *all* really Real?
I’m ashamed to say that, for a time, these worries kept me from the keyboard. Until I decided I didn’t care — my gods, my spirits, my ancestors, my stories — these all worked to make my life more livable, made it make more sense, made me a better person in this world. And then, it got worse, right? Because The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales was written as a thanksgiving to the spirits of this place, and was inspired by those very spirits. Not all of them, but every story in that collection was, to be completely “out there”, told to me, to share. So, with the stories in that collection? There are land wights I’ve met, nymphs and trolls and shapeshifters, people who are not human. Some have passed through my life and are gone, the story they wanted told written down and shared. Others linger, telling me more, demanding that I write more, filling my thoughts with their experiences. They are as real to me as Poseidon is, as Odin is, as Bragi and Thor and my various ancestors.
When it comes to characters, popular pop culture characters, iconic characters, I have to wonder how much of an egregore has been built up around them, to make them real, more real, than they might otherwise be. And I have to wonder which other spirits may be using tools that are available to them, to reach people who are reaching out in desperation, in desire, in need. I’m not drawn to worship all the gods, or all the ancestors, or all the spirits, because they have been neglected for so long. I offer my devotion and respect and love (and sometimes simply just my respect) to those who make up my devotional life, not because they were worshipped before and deserve it now, but because they deserve it now. And in a lot of cases, those I offer worship to matter to me because they matter to s/Someone else who matters to me. A whole host of the Hellenic gods are on my radar simply because of Poseidon. The same is true for some of my spiritual ancestors.
Mostly, though, I’m poking at this idea of “real”ness, and humanity’s seeming need to draw the lines and boundaries for other people. Pagans are not the only ones who do this, not by a long shot. I suspect it’s tied into our territorial instincts. Here’s the boundary, this is us, that’s them, this is what demarcates the separation. I worry that we, in our hast to have others take us seriously, if we don’t try to pin down the nature of the Gods too much to our understanding and our limitations. And, I marvel that I no longer care exactly how the “characters” who come to me are real in a different or same way as the spirits I interact with are real. For years that was a driving fear. It’s amazing to realize that, at some point, quite unknown to me, it ceased to be.
What makes a spirit a spirit worthy of veneration? How it comes into existence? Is there only one way for one to begin to *be*? Must all things that exist be born in a way that we can understand it as having been born? Must spirits be rooted in the past, in an unchanging form, in order to be authentic? Must the interactions take the form of interactions we find appealing/acceptable/authentic, or can they not be more fluid than that?