When asked if I’m a hard polytheist or a soft polytheist, my usual answer is “yes.” I’m a hard polytheist because – like our ancestors – I experience the various gods and goddesses as unique, individual beings with their own likes, dislikes, goals and personalities. I’m a soft polytheist because I have experienced the Unity of All. Deities are a part of the All, the same as me and you and everyone else and all other living things (and most likely, non-living things as well).
One of the implications of soft polytheism is that different gods and goddesses have different ideas about what needs to be done and how we should go about doing it. And that brings me to my current situation.
A couple weeks ago I asked the Morrigan for help for a friend. Based on my knowledge of Morrigan – from both myths and lore and from personal experience – I thought she could help this person, and that she would have an interest in doing so.
The gods and goddesses are not our servants, and it is highly presumptuous to pick a deity from a book and ask someone you’ve never met to give you something. But this is not the first time I’ve worked with Morrigan. She isn’t a patron deity, but I’ve honored her in CUUPS rituals and privately, and I’ve asked her for help before – help she has always provided. I compare her to a Vice President at work: we’re working toward the same high-level goals, we know each other and we speak when we pass in the hall, but we aren’t good friends and we don’t see each other every day. And she’s on a much higher level than I am.
Last night in meditation Morrigan came to me and said “I have done this for you, now I want you to do something for me.” I’m not going to share exactly what it is, but it’s a lot bigger than offering a special wine or writing a check to a particular cause. It won’t be easy and it’s a long-term commitment, but it needs to be done.
Religion is about forming and strengthening relationships. Some of these relationships are with our family and friends, some are with neighbors near and far, some are with the natural world, and some are with our values and principles. And some are with our goddesses and gods. These relationships are not and cannot be one-way. We receive and in turn we give. We ask for what we need and in turn what others need is asked of us.
Part of our reason for existence is to learn and grow as individual souls, but another part is to help all of Life learn and grow. Sometimes that means doing things we may not particularly want to do, but that are necessary.
Besides, do you want to tell the Morrigan “no”?