“Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.” — Pete Seeger
Proof is in the pudding. By your deeds are you known. There are a lot of old sayings relating to the value of experience, which is a harsh value: a value born of last ditch necessity. I’m afraid that I tend to learn by experience. Whatever brains I possess either aren’t enough to keep me from doing something stupid, or they get a chuckle out of seeing my pitfalls.
Getting into bad relationships is something everyone does at some point in their life. Maybe your guru was abusive, your boyfriend immature or your best friend took advantage of you. Our relationships with the Gods aren’t terribly different from our relationships with other humans. There are Gods I worship who are family and with whom I share a deep, comfortable relationship of reciprocity. My relationships with these Gods form a stable base of spiritual support, guidance and identity for me. I am Hephaistos’ daughter, Baba Yaga and Selu are my beloved grandmothers, and Manannaan mac Lir is an uncle whose visits are cloaked in mystery and wonder.
Yet, these Gods recognize I sometimes need more. “Papa ‘Phaistos” knows there are things in my soul he cannot speak to and has been helping me find a Goddess to work with for mutual benefit. That has been an interesting journey that would take up another post on “dating Goddesses.” Sometimes other Gods reach out to me and I speak to my Gods to see if the relationship is beneficial. This is what this story is about.
Years ago Odin came sniffing around. I considered this relationship, reading up on him and the Norse traditions, and just felt uneasy about it. He’s been out there on the periphery ever since. Back in December I could feel him pushing to work with me again, I sought advice and wisdom, and although most of that advice was cautionary I decided to give him a chance. We began to tentatively work together. I gave him a certain amount a space, included him in my devotions and watched to see where things would go.
Now, with April Fools’ around the corner, I find I’m in a relationship that is harmful. I feel silly and ashamed, like a woman who knows better yet goes back to the husband who beats her. I don’t think Odin is bad or evil, and I know many people who have an amazing relationship with him. Yet together we are not a good mix. I should not have given him a foothold in my life. When Hephaistos gave me a “go ahead and touch the fire if you must” response I should have known not to engage with Odin. When a blacksmith gives you permission to put your hand in a forge you should really take some time to wonder at your request!It finally got to a point where Hephaistos had to point out to me where my life isn’t working, why it isn’t working and make me confront the chaos in my life. If you invite Odin to your hall Loki, his oath-brother, is two steps behind him. For some folks that’s cool. That’s how they live, like a Dane dancing on the oars of his longboat. Not me, I need stability and groundedness and all those unsexy characteristics of less dramatic Gods. I worship and hold close to my heart the only Olympian with a “day job” whose advice is generally to just get over it and get things done. So it’s time to part ways with Odin.
Upon deciding to end the tentative relationship with Odin I already felt lighter, with greater hope and possibility. Once Hephaistos saw why I thought working with Odin would be beneficial he was able to help me find the aid I need in a much calmer and more effective way. Hephaistos, like many Gods, can’t read minds. I hadn’t told him what I was concerned about, and communication is important in every relationship.
Relationships with the Gods are two-way streets. It’s true that when Hephaistos and I, or the Horned One and I, are at cross-purposes, then it’s I who bend. Yet that doesn’t deny my True Will. I don’t have to work with a God if I feel it’s wrong. Gods don’t have to work with me just because I think they’re groovy. Sure, sometimes you have to “date” a Deity to figure that out, and sometimes one of you have to break up a bad situation. I’ve been broken up with (Artemis) and now it’s time for me to give the bad news (Odin), but regardless of the situation, Immortal or human, breaking up is hard to do…
And the lesson from this? Listen to your intuition, listen to your Gods and be willing to acknowledge when something isn’t working. Not every trial is a test of spiritual fortitude, sometimes it hurts because it just ain’t right to begin with!