From an anon on Tumblr: I’m starting to think all this “I’m a mighty woo woo genius!” and “I’m *insert deity here*’s husband/wife/partner/favorite!” stuff is just straight up [expletive]. If you’re so powerful and “in” with some supreme entity then how come you’re broke and miserable all the time? It’s like how you never meet a psychic or mind reader that’s ever won the lottery.
If Odin is such a powerful deity why was his beloved son Baldur killed and not able to be returned from the dead, where Hela has him still?
If Frigga is such a powerful goddess why does she mourn for her dead son?
If Persephone is such a powerful goddess why didn’t she just break away from Hades when he took her? Why did Demeter turn the world to winter grieving for her rather than bust into Hades and use magic to get her out?
If Tyr is such a powerful god why is he missing a hand? Can’t he just regenerate one?
If Hephaestus is such a powerful god why is he lame?
If Freya is such a powerful goddess why did she wander the Nine Worlds searching for Odr, weeping and grieving for him? Couldn’t she just figure out where he was? Couldn’t she have just dragged him back?
If Inanna is such a powerful goddess why did she descend to the underworld?
I could go on and on, but pick a mythology, any mythology, and the gods go through some STUFF. If wyrd does not exempt them from tragedy and pain and grief, how do we as human-bodied people in all of our frailty and smallness expect to live perfect carefree lives as their followers?
Gods and god-level type entities want people who are real. Gods do not care about your financial status or able-bodiedness. They care about your heart. Your soul. Your gifts. Indeed, I have been told by one of the Powers I deal with (wherein prosperity and money is a thing with them) that prosperity is not just financial, wealth is not just material. I may not have much, but I have some things you can’t buy – love, sacredness.
Unfortunately I don’t just see the “if you’re in with $DEITY why is your life so hard” snarkage from people who hate on devotional polytheists and spirit-workers. I also have seen this sort of “prosperity gospel” mentality from those within our ranks, this idea that if you’re devoted enough to the gods they will give you abundance and if you’re having hardships you just need to give more and harder. I personally think this attitude is… problematic. I am not saying that gods and spirits don’t give material blessings to their people – as someone who Lucifer gave a hand up to more than once, I would be the last person to tell you that the Powers don’t help us. I also am not going to say that divine retribution is never a thing that happens because I’ve seen it. But I think people look too often at the external as a measure of whether or not someone experiences divine favor and this is really… just cognitively dissonant considering we are already dealing with the Unseen, the not immediately tangible – the ineffable – when we are dealing with the Powers.
And I’ve also seen this from magical practitioners, this idea that you somehow fail as a magician if you’re poor, if you’re disabled. Which is also problematic. (Especially because putting it bluntly, most of the people I know who have magical aptitude also have mental illnesses – having spiritual sensitivity often [but not always] is in tandem with that sort of brain wiring that makes it hard to function in “normal” society. A person can be a brilliant mage and still have problems that keep them living at or below the poverty line. If you look at all around the world and over history, most people who are spiritually gifted have been at the fringes of society. This is why.)
Just being poor, having disabilities and illnesses, having challenges and hardships and tragedy in your life, is not because you displease the gods, and not because you fail at magic. The world is hard. It is harder if you experience intersectionality – being on the receiving end of racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, etc, wherein you have societal disadvantages coming out the gate. Magic will only work within the limitations of your circumstances – it won’t cure your disabilities, it won’t make society suddenly stop discriminating against $MINORITY. And the Powers can only do so much for us, much as they might want to help us. The Powers can’t exactly magically fix systematic oppression (fighting it is our job). The Powers can’t cure everything. And as I said above, the gods themselves know tragedy and pain. Would you dare accuse them of “doing it wrong” and “not being powerful” and “failing at magic” because they have experienced hardship in their lives? Then don’t do it to human-bodied people.
Also keep this in mind: but for a twist or turn of wyrd you too could fall on hard times. It doesn’t matter how often you pray and make offerings or what services you offer to the community – you are not exempt from having bad things happen to you just because you are married to $GOD or you do $IMPORTANT_THING. This is true even if you have a magical practice wherein you regularly work for prosperity and protection. Life happens. That is how life is. It has nothing to do with whether you are good or bad, right or wrong. Wyrd bið ful aræd. Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel*.
This I know – hospitality is a virtue most polytheistic cultures had in common. Instead of kicking people who are down, let us endeavor to be excellent to each other. Let each of us be the change we wish to see in the world, as best as we can according to our circumstances and ability. So much unnecessary suffering and pain happens in the world precisely because we have these ideas of “haves” and “have nots”, concepts of worth that have absolutely nothing to do with the true worth of a person on the inside, the worth of their character, their deeds. When you deem that someone is not blessed by the gods and couldn’t possibly be “special” to their Power/s because of ongoing problems they have in their lives, especially from circumstances beyond their control – you are part of the problem. Cut it out, please.
*Old English for “Wyrd is wholly inexorable. Wyrd goes ever as she shall.”