Belonging to two gods — or, Blending

This might be a problem that those outside of Recon-inspired traditions may not face. The folks I know who are more Witchcraft and Wiccan-bent do not seem to struggle with this, even when they are also hard polytheists. What is “this”?

Poseidon entered my life before I’d found a particular tradition that spoke to me. I knew of some Hellenic recons, but that path didn’t call to me — granted, a large part at the time because I was refusing to deal with the less savory parts of His myth cycle — and He hadn’t yet begun to stress the “Family is important” thread that would eventually come up. He’d been in my life and the central point of my worship for a number of years before the Heathen type gods began to wriggle Their way in. It wasn’t Odin, to start with. It was Hela, and tangentially Thor, but mostly Hela. I didn’t know at the time that Hela was going to be my “gateway goddess” into the world of Heathenry. I was older, more secure in my polytheism, and interested in the history and cultures of our heathen ancestors in a way I never had been with the Hellenic history and culture. It was closer to home, it spoke to me, it made sense to my brain. It was “native” rather than “foreign”, in a way.

But I’m a woman who likes compartments. I like things neat and orderly. I like them to make sense. Heathenry was a great fit, and it was comfortable, and it made sense, and there was blood ties . . . but there was this one pesky thing. Poseidon. How did He fit in? Especially once Odin became more prominent in my worship, because Pops is intense and overwhelming and vivid. He pushes, and He is demanding — and in light of His beginning involvement, Poseidon began to become eclipsed. Was I wrong about being involved with Poseidon, when it was such a struggle to get interested in the cultures that previously worshipped Him, when it was so engaging and interesting to study the cultures that had worshipped Odin?

From the beginning of wondering this outloud, various Asatruar and other Heathens I interacted with, honestly meaning the best, suggested setting Poseidon aside. “There’s Aegir; you could focus on Aegir!” one suggested. The Heathens we interacted with in person respected other culture’s gods and goddesses, but did not allow any non-Heathen gods into their blots or sumbels, which was their right, but also left me . . . conflicted, I suppose. Hurt, even. I received much fulfillment, standing shoulder to shoulder with co-religionists and hailing our gods, and I hated that I couldn’t show my adoration toward Poseidon, He who had been there before Anyone else had been, the way I could show my adoration for Odin.

For a number of years, I described myself as a dual-tradition pagan. I had Heathen styled rituals for the Heathen gods, and I had Hellenic styled rituals for the Hellenic gods. I kept separate altars. I kept separate religious calendars. I put more effort into studying the Hellenic history and cultures. This latter point was good, as Poseidon had begun to stress the importance His Family had to Him. It was like learning a new language, and it was hard — I felt like an outsider for a very long time, with Them. An accepted outsider, for I mattered to one of Theirs, but ultimately still an outsider. And, little by little, my rituals came less frequently. I didn’t allow for organic growth between Poseidon and I. I dropped the calendars. I floundered.

I came face to face with the fact that being a dual-traditionalist was not working for me. I took myself out of my worship, I took myself out of my communing with my gods, and I forgot some important things. Like, most of the time formal observances do not work for me, when it comes to Poseidon worship. Keeping both Poseidon and Odin, these two Gods who would become the center of my life, in confined spaces, did not work, and trying to do so was going to cause spiritual death. One cannot capture the entire ocean in a box. One cannot keep the furious wind from going where it will. I desperately tried to label Them, to label me, to make myself become the label I’d given myself, but labels are not meant to hem one in, labels are meant to allow discussion and connection, are to add to understanding, not to detract from it.

I realized, after much angst and struggle, that I was the common ground, in my worship, in my devotion, that These Two had. That, in my private devotion, there could be no false boundaries, there could be no neat delineation. There could only be me, and Them, and what worked, and the discarding of what did not.

Which seems, upon writing this, as though it ought to have been obvious. It’s obvious now, it’s been obvious for years, but back in the beginning, it was a struggle.

The homogenization that some tend toward, in the more hard polytheistic traditions, strikes me as false, or at least as not being historically accurate. I get the purpose it may have for some, now. I do. But it does not work for everyone, and I suppose the point of this post is: if it does not work for you, don’t let anyone tell you — no matter their best intentions — that it must work for you.

PBP2014b

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12 thoughts on “Belonging to two gods — or, Blending

  1. It does seem so clear and obvious in retrospect, but still so hard at the time to come to the conclusion. Struggling to force it to look like X thing when its actually no thing but its own thing, that can be a ridiculously hard leap to make.

    Good post. 🙂

    • It’s true! Yay for retrospect, at least? And yay for stopping with things that don’t work, once they are clearly not working. Because dragging it out? Oy.

    • I have, too. It’s (so sad to admit) only within the last year that I’ve decided, no. I’m not infuriated by their limit — I’m intrigued, and I appreciate the invitation to maybe discuss things further with people. Or, depending on who and when and where and all that, I appreciate the vagueness some words allow.

      It’s a bit like book blurbs. They’re not supposed to tell the *whole* story. Labels shouldn’t be expected to either, and expecting them to is ultimately going to be an exercise in futility.

  2. Reblogged this on Hammer and Cross and commented:
    As someone who belongs to Bride but am also oathed to Dunner and his kin of the Ase and Wane I can understand the frustration and sheer madness this can bring on sometimes.

    For the longest time I held the notion that I had to be of one faith or the other and there are so many folks who will try to get you to choose one or the other, to choose one only, and to a certain extent I can understand as I used to be there, used to feel that way….
    But to choose one side over the other is like to choose one half of yourself over another and and no matter which one you choose, no matter how much one might seem better at any given time, you are still giving up half of yourself and thus not whole.
    This is why I came to the conclusion of following Gaelic Heathenry of sorts, why I choose to honor both halves because to do otherwise would be to dishonor my ancestors which were mostly a mix of Germanic and Gaelic to the point that you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. To do so would be to dishonor the evolution of folk practices of the land I was born and grew up in; A powerful blend of Gaelic, of Germanic, and of First Nations.
    And most importantly to do otherwise would to choose one oath over another, to choose one deity I love with all my heart and trust over the other.
    And that is something I refuse to do, can not do as much as I might have wanted in the past.

    • You said: for the longest time I believed I had to be one faith or the other.

      I picked that up, but I didn’t start out that way. Focusing on one historical culture during one historical time period *did* serve a purpose for me, but trying to separate my devotions based on that was a nice side trip into madness. I don’t know how people do it, but those sorts of lines, divisions, they suck the spirit, the joy, the *love* out of it, for me.

      But then, at the end of the day, I don’t believe the gods “belong” to any one place or time, that they are “owned” by the humans who worshiped them in the past. Can much be learned through the past? Yes! Oh, the nuances, the layers, the perspectives gained. Oh, the challenge of getting outside our own ways of thinking and experiencing the world. But I don’t believe the gods are fixed in time, or set in one particular way of being, and after a time of being shown that the division I’d created and clung to was false and harmful, it was time to set it down. And I’m glad that, if such division is harmful to you, that you are setting it down, also.

  3. I’m curious about your present relationship with Hela. I too had a gateway god who ushered me into my path, but has since (mostly) stepped back, so it would be interesting to compare experience.

    • My present relationship with Hela is more or less non-existent. As soon as Odin “took over” that place She’d been holding, I was summarily dumped from Her care. At first it was rather disconcerting; it felt akin to rejection, honestly. These days She’s attained the status of a dear loved one of dear loved ones, if that makes sense. She’s never very far from my mind, but I don’t pay Her direct homage very often, and where our interests might overlap, if Pops isn’t dominating that sphere, Uncle Loki surely is.

      But that could be as much me as it is Her — or more. I relate to the Gods more readily than the Goddesses, for whatever reason.

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