S#!t May Have Been Real All Along

Last week, I read Morpheus Ravenna’s post, Theurgic Binding, or “S#!t Just Got Real”, and it got me thinking. It got a bunch of other people thinking, too.

In brief, Morpheus was talking about how she sees an injury that forced her off her feet for months as a way her goddess has corralled her into finishing a book about that goddess. From there, she went on to talk about how one should expect the gods to intervene in one’s life if one makes a habit of hanging around with them. I’m not doing it justice, of course. Go read it, if you haven’t yet. I’ll wait.

Here’s the thing: Every time I hear one of these stories, I have a flash of envy. I want things to be that solid, that real, that undeniable. For all that I feel I know when my mind is calm and my heart is light, there are so many other days when I feel alone. When I feel that I’m talking to dumb statues and wasting my time. At times like that, I think to myself, “a broken leg would suck, but it would be proof that you’re there.”

And, no, no one needs to break my leg to make me feel better. Thanks, though.

At other times, I have resented the gods, and been angry with them in ways that one just can’t be without believing that the target of one’s anger is actually there. I have been oracle and reader for others, I have had my mouth grabbed by a power and made to speak to someone else–but for myself, dull echoes. This isn’t strictly true, of course. I’ve talked to Dionysos through another person’s mediumship, and in my own meditations, and in that place where I’m halfway to sleep at end of day. But the feeling of reality fades, like a dream slipping from memory.

Reflecting on Morpheus’ post, it occurred to me that my broken leg might be more subtle.

I live with serious depression, kind of like bipolar without the manic phase, and a serious anxiety disorder. These days, I don’t get out of the house unless it’s to buy groceries or go to work, or to spend one night at my lover’s house. I don’t get out to other people’s parties or events much at all, and it’s been getting steadily worse over the last few years. So, thinking about how the gods might be using pain to shape me, I tried a polytheistic re-frame:

What if my depression and anxiety and house-bound-ness were getting worse because I wasn’t keeping up my end of the bargain? I do worship a god who strikes people mad, after all.

I don’t mean that in a punitive sense. More in a sense of becoming lost in the dark woods because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the direction in which my guide was pointing. There have been so many crises in my life over the past few years–deaths, unemployment, the end of a twenty-year relationship and the rebuilding of my life after, illness and lack of insurance–that I got knocked off the horse and haven’t managed to get back on and stay on.

I do know that I feel better when I’m doing prayers and libations regularly, and I haven’t been. It could be that I have the causality backwards, I suppose, and that the rituals and offerings are more frequent when I’m up because I’m up, but I want to try the re-frame and see if it helps.

See, I realized that I wanted the dramatic smack upside the head because I thought it would be easier to have the gods reach down and change me the hard way than it would be to do the work of meeting them halfway. I have been hurting and worn out, sometimes not having the energy or the will to bathe or get dressed for the day. And I’ve been feeling that I didn’t have the energy to pray, or to pour out wine for the God, or to even spend time sitting quietly before the altar.

I came to this realization three days ago. Over the last three nights, I’ve had strange dreams. The first two nights were full of anxiety dreams, allegories about feeling that I’ve let people down, that I’m taking up too much space, that I’m hurting people who depend on me. Some people’s nightmares are full of monsters, in mine, I’m the monster, if a rather banal one. But last night, the dreams were equally strange, but more upbeat. They were about growing a friendship by being active in the community, and returning to a tight-knit group who thought I’d been lost or left behind.

I’m choosing to see these dreams as evidence that I’ve made the right choice.

As I was writing this, I was listening to a music stream on the internet. During one song (The New Deal by Leggo Beast), there was an edited sample from a talk by Ian Mackenzie, a Canadian media activist:

I’ve been searching the Gods all my life and now I know them, the Gods inside of us. Or I feel I do…When you find the Gods inside yourself, you’ll find the God of War…You have to freeze him in his own private Hell, and make your positive Gods the Gods that take you over.

And by ‘the Gods that take you over’ I mean you have to find those passions that are so much more powerful than you, than anything you’ve been allowed to express in your life, and making those things the things you work on.

What was I just saying about wanting more direct signs?

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About Lon Sarver

Lon Sarver is a polytheist priest of Dionysos, living in the San Francisco Bay Area and contemplating (with a healthy amount of dread) making a second attempt at a career in Marriage and Family Therapy. View all posts by Lon Sarver

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