I haven’t been doing a very good job of honoring Woden as of late. I didn’t set out an offering for Him last Wednesday, for one, and haven’t offered to Him since then either. It’s come to the point now where I never forget to do Senut (my Kemetic offering ritual) in the morning (and even during times when I cannot perform Senut, I still always give an offering to the Kemetic Gods)…but with Woden…it’s like there’s no obligation, no constant pull, like there is with the Kemetic Gods. If I forget to offer to the Kemetic Gods, the repercussions are much more strongly felt. I lack energy, I get moody, and I always inevitably end up feeling guilty or annoyed at myself. Thus, the reason I do not forget anymore. My relationship with Netjer has become something internally tied to my own health and existence. I can no longer deny that fact. They know it, I know it, and in many ways, a promise has been made: to put Them first.
So with Woden…well, He’s just kind of there.
How does one deal with a God Who’s just…there?
You’d think maybe He’d back off or leave me, what with me making it painfully clear that I have made myself available to do a ritual every morning to a different set of Gods, and not Him. But He’s still here. Part of the issue, I think, is that I have not yet been able to say “no” outright, and maybe that’s what He’s waiting for. The reason I haven’t…well, that’s because part of me doesn’t want to say “no” at all. Woden fascinates me; I admit that I think about Him often, perhaps not with the same familiarity or deep love that I think of the Kemetic Gods with, but I spend a good deal of time curiously considering Woden and His mythology. I want to understand Him, or at least aspects of Him. And in that sense, I find it hard to say definitively, “Hey, listen, this won’t work ever. I have Gods I’m devoted to already, and I need Them. I made a promise to Them, a promise I can’t make to you.”
What are the ways in which we compromise with Gods? Are there ways to say both “no” and “yes”? I think there are.
I am reminded of this particular article, which I now find very relevant to my own current situation (well, it’s relevant to my life in many ways, actually, but I’m only going to discuss it in relation to this issue today). The main point the article makes is that we can acknowledge and have relationships with Gods in various ways outside of devotional worship. The author is Jewish, and paints a lovely example of how she has been able to form a friendly companionship with the Greek God Hermes, even though she does not worship Him – as she has chosen to worship the Hebrew God only (in accordance with traditional Jewish teachings/law). The important thing here, she points out, is the difference in believing in a God/Goddess (knowing He or She exists) and worshiping Him or Her.
In a world where they are often represented as archetypes or emanations from a complex of deities, perhaps the company of anyone — however much they might be a blasphemer or a heretic by their standards — who won’t try to change them is a welcome addition to their divine retinue.” (Aliyah Bat Stam, Wrestling with Gods: Pagan Gnosis Through Jewish Eyes)
How does this apply to me? You may be thinking, “But hey, didn’t you write some post about how coming to terms with polytheism means ‘collecting Deities’ to worship isn’t a bad thing and should actually be embraced?” Yes, I did. And I don’t intend to take back anything I said in that post. It is perfectly possible for me to be both Kemetic and a devotee of Woden.
The thing is, I don’t think I want to be a devotee, per se.
I did a Tarot reading Tuesday morning, where I asked my Gods for an “update” – any messages They might have for me at this time/stage in our relationships. I use a special deck, the Tarot of Saqqara, to communicate with my Gods. I ended up pulling the Five of Cups, which in this deck’s case (it varies a bit from traditional Rider-Waite), indicates several related themes: imperfection, obscured happiness, remorse, a sense of loss, a need for restructuring, a revelation of imperfection, and a loss of friendship. When I asked the deck which God was speaking to me, I pulled The Tower, the card I most often associate with Woden (I pulled it the very first time I asked Him if He was indeed the God around me back in early March). After considering the meaning of the reading as a whole, what struck me the most about it was the conclusion “a loss of friendship.” That’s the part that hurt the most.
It seems that I’ve been neglecting, not duties of worship or formal prayer or respectful honor, but duties of friendship.
I have not been a very good friend to Woden.
Like the author of the article I linked to above, who’s relationship with Hermes is one of companionship, not worship, I think that is the direction my relationship with Woden is supposed to take. I confirmed this later Tuesday night (after I did the Tarot reading in the morning) with a more direct pendulum reading, between me and Woden:
Me: Woden, are You around?
Me: Is this Woden?
Me: Is this a Kemetic God or Goddess?
Me: So this is Woden?
Me: May I speak with You?
Me: Do You require my service in some way?
Me: Do You require offerings?
Me: Do You require formal worship?
Me: Do You require attention?
Me: Does this attention involve devotion or formal worship?
Me: Do You understand that I feel obligated to put the Kemetic Gods first?
Me: And this is ok with You?
Me: But You still want to stick around me?
Me: So…we’re essentially “friends” then?
Me: Do You have plans for me in the future?
Me: Would You suggest I primarily focus on the Kemetic Gods, then, and not worry about You in a devotional-sense?
Me: Thank You so much for Your time, Lord.
So, as you can see, the results were pretty straightforward. If there is a such thing as the Divine “Friend Zone,” Woden has entered it in my case. I have put Him there, the Kemetic Gods have put Him there, and He has put Himself there.
And you know, it’s ok. In fact, it’s more than ok. I feel like I finally understand the way in which things are supposed to go: in many ways, it’s sort of like with my own human relationships…I have my parents, who I feel deeply and lovingly devoted to, the people I owe for my own life and for my continued happiness (I know this varies by personal experience – many people have terrible human parents or parents they never know)…but in my case, my human parents are my primary obligations as far as people to pay respect to – because they have earned it. There are other people in my life, such as my college professors, who shaped me into the person I am today in other ways, and who, while I do not feel as indebted or tied to, I can still email whenever to ask for advice or temporarily contact. My parents and I are tied by obligation (in a good way); my professors and I are tied by continued appreciation and friendship and the few, specific things we can help each other out with.
It is the same with my Gods. The Kemetic Gods are my spiritual “Parents.” I owe Them, I feel obligated to serve Them, and I love Them more than all other Gods. Woden, on the other hand, feels like one of my professors – a mentor, Who I don’t necessarily need to serve or love, but Who I can respectfully “email” for advice when I need to. We can certainly chat whenever, regardless of my devotion to Netjer.
And I don’t think viewing Deities this way is a bad or disrespectful thing. I think it’s only natural for us (humans) to relate our experiences with Them to our temporal, human experiences. It’s how we cope, how we compromise, and how we understand something so beyond our comprehension (Divinity) in a more manageable way. Our brains can only handle so much, after all!
Woden has His beloveds, His devotees, His spouses. I know He does. And I am proud and happy for those people, and for Him. I am simply not meant to join those ranks, nor do I want to. But there is no reason we can’t be friends.
We can certainly be friends.