This… should be a little different. I apologize for the rambling course this piece will take, but I’ve a feeling that really is just the best way to tackle this issue. Hopefully I can help myself and maybe a few others wrestling with this issue by writing it all down.
A week or so ago I had gone out to somewhere I could find at least a modicum of privacy to make offerings of alcohol (Jagermeister, my personal favorite so as it’s what I love it just feels right to offer it to the Gods for me) and have a pair of conversations. The first with Loki, that has a little less to do with this… and I probably shouldn’t go too far into as at the time I was pissed at Him and wanted Him to know it. Insane right? Well, seemed to be a good thing I did the insane thing as since doing that, I’ve been able to better understand what made me so upset and now I’m just… not. Suppose that’s as natural for relationships with Gods as with humans: sometimes you just need to hash it out in order to understand each other. Well… in this case it was more one sided. Loki already knew why I was angry. I was the one who needed to understand why that was and realize my feelings for the Flame Haired One who makes me laugh haven’t changed. Now I’m not as sure why I was so angry at Loki for being Loki in the first place. Foolish really, but there you have it.
The second was a conversation I have put off having for far far too long with the Old Man, Odin. It’s been nearly four years (maybe longer) since I first felt called to Him and in that time I’ve done a lot of foolish things. Things that allowed others to take advantage of me, wasting time and energy I could have been dedicating to Him in some way. At least spent in further study and reflection. I’d put off speaking to Him about it, in hindsight like a child hiding a broken vase. Still, even during that time I did notice small ways He was involved in my life, even ways that I was forced to notice were His ways of putting me to good use even if I couldn’t see it till after the fact. In all that time though, I have not heard His voice or felt His touch in quite the same terrible way I did all those years ago when I first noticed His hand in my life.
So I went, made my offering, apologized for the healthy drink I needed for myself in order to do this… and owned up to all of the foolishness I’ve put myself and those around me through for the past four years. It wasn’t long before I was a sobbing wreck, something that practically never happens with me. It isn’t that I hold back tears or anything so macho, it’s just that hard for me to understand the feelings that make others break down and cry. Not this night though. Not before Him. Not after how far I’ve strayed.
Amidst all the blubbering, I found myself admitting two painful things. First, that I needed Him. Part of my own foolishness has always been an insistence on my own independence, pushing away any source of help and especially divine help. A part of me always wishes to meet others on my own terms, even Gods (yes that is very arrogant, welcome to my world). Some of that I recognize now is hold overs from leaving the Christian Church and the first time I moved out of my parents house. I hated the feelings of dependence I had had for either and allowed that to permeate the rest of my relationships. Result being I allowed others to grow dependent on me to the point of leaching my time energy and finances away to nearly nothing. Growing past all that though, I’m forced to admit that after so long since I last allowed anyone to guide my path at all, I need that guidance in my life.
The second thing that came out of all that, and more to the point of this article, was that I was desperate to hear His voice. More than anything I wanted that, past the point of considering what consequences I might endure to attain it.
I left that night rather unsteady on my feet, but feeling comforted in a way I couldn’t be sure of. I had a sense that Loki and Odin were both pleased, more so with how broken I had allowed myself to become than anything else, but I didn’t hear either of Them speak to me.
There’s been a few times since that night that I’ve felt similar senses and thought I may have heard the voice of one or the other of Them. Trouble is, while once I thought myself able to tell for certain if a God was speaking to me rather than just me talking to myself, I’m not sure if I can anymore. I keep asking myself now, was that real or just me hearing what I want to hear?
I have my own personal metaphor for what it’s like trying to be sure if I’m hearing the voice of a God: “The voice of a God is like a mouse speaking beside the roaring waterfall of our desires.” We’re human. We’re prone to self delusion and that’s fine. Just means we need to work hard at recognizing what it is that we desire so that we might perceive the rose colored lenses we’ve put on, and see past them.
The trick now is that what I desire most is to hear the voice of Odin and to an extent Loki and other Gods and Goddesses I wish to build relationships with. So the delusion I’m most vulnerable to is hearing something I may believe is one of Their voices, because that is what I wish to hear. Thinking on that leads me to the next uncomfortable thought: what if I can’t hear the voices of the Gods? What if I never could, and never would be able to?
That was painful to think about for a time, until I metaphorically slapped myself in the face and said “So what?”
Seriously: So what if I can’t hear the Gods? What’s the big deal about being able to hear Them anyway?
Well, quite a bit. As my wife recently pointed out to me: even in my approach to the spiritual I can behave somewhat like a scientist. I like having something tangible I can grasp to be able to prove (if only to myself) that something is real. Being able to hold a two way, rather than one way, conversation with a God would provide a great deal of that reassurance, but do I need that? I have felt the touch of Odin in my life in many other small ways. Am I just behaving like a child who can not bear to be out of his parent’s presence for more than a moment without some reassurance that he or she is nearby? I think I am and it’s time to work past that.
The thing is, even if I can’t hear Them nothing really should change. If I am sincere in my feelings for Them, there is no reason why I need to hear the voice of Odin or any other Deity in response to my devotion. I can still pray, give offerings, build altars and other forms of welcoming sacred space for Them in my home and offer what support I can to those around me. The ones who follow the same path as I do and those who do not, but support me and accept my support none the less. None of this requires me to hear the voices of Gods or receive any other reassurance of Their reality. If the Old Man or any other Deity does choose to make His or Her voice known to me, They will. If not, there is still work to be done.
So what if I can’t hear the Gods? That would not make my love for Them any less real. Nor Theirs for me.