It’s Friday night and I’m tired. My beloved bird friend is settling down on the perch where he likes to sleep, grinding his beak softly. I’ve been looking at the list of topics for 30 Days of Polytheism, looking at books on Amazon, and wondering what in the world to write about tonight.
I wanted to write about a group of deities who have “tapped” me, who showed an interest in me and took the initiative in creating a relationship between themselves and me. But I kept looking at the topic list and wondering if I should save writing of them for later, when the assigned topic is deity gender, or whether I should just scrap the whole project because the topics are increasingly unrelated to anything I do, think, or experience.
I feel like people keep asking the wrong questions about polytheism. Before I began to worship my gods, I was a writer of fanfic and original erotica, a library worker, a fan of Star Trek and Babylon 5 and Captain America, a lover and friend of birds, a reader of poetry, erotica, romance, fantasy, science fiction, history, religious nonfiction. After practicing polytheism for a year… I still am all those things. And a polytheist.
Over the past twenty years, my politics have crept slowly from liberal to leftist. At forty-nine, my singing voice, trained informally in church choirs and on early music, still resembles that of a boy soprano more than anything else. I eat too much ice cream. I wear my hair quite short. And I’m a polytheist.
I write about my religion under my legal name, but I don’t talk much about it with the people around me. I prefer Elementary to Sherlock. I own a lot of Tarot decks but rarely divine with them. My job is dull, but I’m not exploiting anyone. There are many things that have remained the same about me whether I was calling myself Christian, Buddhist, pagan, druid, or none of the above.
Devotion to the gods makes my life better, richer. It’s a change in quality, not quantity. I feel at times like a musical instrument that has finally been properly tuned for the music it was made to play. My life is coming into proper intonation with itself and with the universe. The gods and spirits are real, and they don’t go away just because humans ignore them. You can’t actually cut yourself off from the nature of the universe; you can only foul up your relationship with it and with the powers that inhabit it.
I am not, however, going to tell you that worshipping the right gods will make all your problems go away, or that if you say the right prayers, you can have everything you want. My job is still dull, my apartment is still tiny, and my income is still just barely adequate for my needs. My hips, knees, and feet often ache. I take antidepressants. Sometimes playing Angry Birds is the only thing that seems worth doing.
But if my choice is between medicated depression with gods and medicated depression without, I’ll take the former. I would rather spend some money on small, not very impressive offerings–candles and incense, chocolate and cheap wine–than spend it all on myself and have no gods around me. I would rather have my instrument in tune, my screen in high definition, my downloads at high speed, than muddle through a blurred, fuzzy, staticky, out of tune life without Antinous and all the powers.
And as I said, my god is cuter than yours. And wise, caring, and powerful.