This is a common refrain here on my blog, but I think it’s important. Once upon a time, when I was a baby pagan, I was in awe of the people who’d been doing things for what seemed like a long time, who seemed to have their shit together. With experience under my belt, I can readily admit that the face that we present to the public may be, if not a mask, at least a carefully selected choice of what we want to share, and the having one’s shit together may be more about being choose-y about what one shares than about actually feeling that one has it all figured out. I’ve known people who have adhered to the “fake it until you make it” concept, and consciously present a strong front when in their private lives they are filled with insecurities, fears, and doubts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this: we are not obligated to share any parts of ourselves with people we don’t know well/don’t trust/just don’t want to. We’re not obligated to share any of ourselves with anyone else.
I realized a few years back that I’d been ‘doing things’ (wherein doing things translates to having a devotional relationship with People, namely Poseidon and Odin, with the heavy emphasis on Poseidon) for a while now, and that I’d reached a point where, if I was my baby pagan self looking at someone else, I would have expected that person to have their shit together, and I realized that I do not feel like I do. Sometimes, with some things, yeah — there are a number of things I take as given, at this point. Like, it’s been a long time since I wondered if Poseidon was real, for example. But there are other times — a lot of times, still — when I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants, and that the insecurities I feel like I’ve dealt with and have put to bed are as strong and present as ever, and it’s annoying and it’s exhausting.
I realized that I don’t ever want to come across like I have my shit together when I don’t.
I realized I wanted to admit that, hey, you know, twenty years on this path, it’s still amazing and weird and unexpectedly challenging, and there are days when it feels like I’m just starting out.
A few days ago, By Star and Sea posted this beautiful photo and prayer to Poseidon. It’s gorgeous, and I’m always excited to see people talking about Poseidon (because, you know, Poseidon!) I’m grateful for the chance to exam the concept of jealousy (as in, do I have it?) in a way that’s more than just intellectual exercises, now that more people *are* talking about Him, about worshiping Him and loving Him and walking with Him, and all that fun stuff. I’ve been contacted by a few people who have given Him marriage vows, and I’ve always said I’m not a jealous person, and it’s neat to have that backed up by experience. (Go me!)
The sort of brutal self-examination that I’m encouraged or required to do does not allow for things to go unexplored, though, so when I came across the aforementioned photo and post in my reader and it pinged an uncomfortable feeling within me, of course I had to dig into that.
It’s stupid. It’s one of those things that, at this point in my experience with Him, with the relationship that we have that is built upon trust, and affection, and on allowing it to be defined by u/Us and no one and nothing else, I really ought to be beyond. Instead, there is a whisper of insecurity, a murmur of doubt. Not of Him, and not of u/Us, but of me, and, what if I’m doing this wrong?
I tried, instead, for a feeling of superiority, not because I actually think that I’m better, but because I’m human, and superiority feels better than insecurity, and so maybe because all time is the time of Poseidon for me, maybe that made me better? Except, my heart isn’t in that because I don’t actually believe that, and I wish I could say that I don’t believe that for good reasons like, no one is better than anyone else when it comes to these sorts of things, we can only be as we are, and comparing ourselves to others is pointless and causes unnecessary angst. On my good days, that’s true, but in my heart of hearts I don’t believe I’m superior to anyone because in my heart of hearts I know I’m inferior.
(Intellectually I realize that’s just as bad, if for different reasons, as thinking myself better than others; mostly I ignore it because it changes nothing in my actual relationships. I trust Him more than I trust my feelings, in these weaker moments, and that’s stood me in good stead thus far).
I don’t know that I’d have such a strong ‘what if I’m doing this wrong?’ fear if I wasn’t heading into uncharted (to me) waters where He is really stretching things like names and cultural associations and the like. Would I have such a “what if He really ISN’T Poseidon after all??” fears if He wasn’t leaning so hard on Vishnu right now? Doubtful. What’s happened here is, insecurities have been festering below the surface, and the above post was a flash of light upon the waves that illuminated the depths so that I couldn’t pretend they weren’t there, and so I’m grateful for that. And I’m sharing this, because I think it’s important to be a voice that says, no, we don’t always have to have our shit together. No, we don’t always have to pretend that it’s okay. We can be challenged, from unexpected and unintentional sources, without making it into a huge deal, and we can be grateful for the chance to dig deeper and explore more.
In the end, I’m not insecure, not even if my worship of Poseidon or my time with Him looks different from other peoples, because we all have our own personal relationships with Them. Which goes back to my favorite mantra: it doesn’t all have to look the same, and that’s okay.
TL;DR: sometimes even those of us who’ve been doing this for a minute or two need that reminder.