Well, as the title suggests, I’m in a ranty mood, so do please excuse the frankness of my words.
You only have to look at any heathen, pagan, neo-shaman or wide-sense spiritual online group — according to their self-image, that is — look up a discussion about Gods and you will invariably find a crowd of people telling you that
- Gods don’t care about humans
- Prayer? That’s for Christians and other grovelling worms [*]
And my personal favourite:
- The Gods don’t want me to pray, they want me to take responsibility
I have to say, the sheer amount of unbridled nonsense in this is hard to believe, much less tolerate. Prayer is seen as a dirty word, and whatever so much smells of opening oneself to a Deity is scrutinised skeptically at best. People seem to think that prayer goes hand in hand with abject servility, or alternatively, that prayer goes hand in hand with dependence and immaturity. All that then is justified by the premise that the Gods don’t give a damn about humans anyway, and therefore prayer is nothing but useless eyewash.
To be perfectly frank, that premise is utter rubbish. Absolutely, completely useless in all regards. Whoever thinks so has not understood the very basis of polytheistic practice all over the planet: giving and taking. You give offerings or sacrifice to the Gods to incite Them to help you reach some goal. That, as pragmatic and “unspiritual” it sounds, is the basic mechanism of polytheistic religious practice.
The Gods then get involved in the goings-on; via the offerings given as a request, a context is established that lends the Gods’ actions a setting, and which is then referred to in retrospect. This in turn strengthens the humans’ bond with the Gods and secures the continued existence of the practice. If a Deity is extremely unreliable or ineffective, They simply won’t be worshipped any more, Their temples will fall into neglect and then ruin, and people will turn to other Deities more inclined to act on their behalves.
Gods don’t care about humans? As if. It is literally Their job to care about humans and get involved with human issues.
Be that as it may, the comment that absolutely took the biscuit was one I recently got online somewhere in reply to a post I made, in which I described my practice — which includes meditation, but most importantly, prayer and worship.
So this guy whom I’ve never seen before seriously presumed to comment on prayer as a part of my practice as follows (translated, because it was German):
“for us there is no destiny or providence, but who’s responsible for MY life is ME and nobody else. There is no o god, o god, o god, o god.”
(I redacted the grammatical and orthographical errors because while I have no problem quoting stupid verbatim, I do have a problem producing it). Needless to say, my thought was: What. The Heck… and then more like “ha ha, you so need to buy a clue.”
Firstly, what pissed me off was the nicety of hitting me with the plural club (“for us there is no […]”). But so be it. The actual “beauty” of this comment was this:
- the implication that prayer automatically means you do not take responsibility, but rather see yourself at the mercy of “destiny or providence”
- the mockingly whiny voice of “o god, o god, o god, o god”
Both points are pure arrogance, while at the same time being as far from the truth as you can possibly get while still in one universe.
What does this person know about what responsiblility means to someone who does not only worship Loki, but who belongs to Him? What about what it means to be stripped down by a God, and rebuilt? To help Him do it?
It is one thing, and a great thing, to adore a God, and praise Him and pray to Him — although even that is something many people don’t manage because it would utterly pulverise their egos. But it is an entirely different beast to go to a God who will make me His business, and to then help Him peel away skin, flesh and bones until the innermost part of me is exposed to Him. To help Him drag up things from the past, just to be forced to look at them really closely, so that perhaps for the first time, they might be put to rest properly?
And what, I ask, does that person know about my prayer? What about how it feels when a God responds? When He, that God, demands to know? When He shows Himself, revealing details about Himself that suddenly, very suddenly, make you understand? When you know there is no hiding or pretending? Does a person such as that even know the first thing about awe?
Or “simply” adoration? The deep knowledge of a divine Being, to see Their beauty and power, just for a moment, not in the rational brain, but deep, deep down in your gut? To want to see that beauty again and again, to seek it out…
What does someone such as that know about that?
And if I were a kinder person, I would feel sorry for that person.
[*] For the record: I do not think that Christians are grovelling worms. Neither do I think that submission to a greater power is necessarily a bad thing.