Happily Heathen: Missing Your Gods? Maybe You’ve Left Them

Happily Heathen: Missing Your Gods? Maybe You’ve Left Them January 13, 2017

Among the many things I do, I’m a member of a 12-step program. My 12-step program helped me get my life back on track many years ago when things were out of control. Now that my life’s no longer in that state of crisis, I have found that a lot of my program suggestions are also applicable to everyday life. To be completely honest, a lot of what keeps me sane throughout all of my Heathen, polytheist, and interfaith work is my 12-step program. As much as I hate to say it, working with other Pagans can drive me crazy.

My program has taught me quite a few useful sayings that I carry around in my head, such as “Live and Let Live”, “How Important is It?”, and the all-important “HALT”—“Are you  Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?” (I usually add “Stressed, Sick, or Cold” to that checklist as well). My program reminds me that there are a trillion things that I have absolutely no control over, and only a few things that I do have a very small amount of control over. My program reminds me, on a weekly basis, that one of the biggest things I have no control over is what other people do. The good news being that I therefore have little responsibility for what other people do, as well. It’s very freeing notion. (I could go on ad nauseum about how useful working a 12-step program can be, but I’ll wrap it up here.)

One of the things I’ve realized over and over again in my 8 years of working a program is that the strategies and guides I learned in program also work in other areas of my life; all areas of my life–including spirituality.

The same is true for my relationship with my Gods.

a boy sits against a wal with his head on his knees
Norbert EderCC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

If I’m burned out, or HALTed in any way, I can unconsciously lapse into thinking that my Gods and allies are only around at, say, a full moon, or during  a particularly beautiful thunderstorm. Or I think that unless it’s a holiday, They don’t want any attention. Or, if I’m not feeling particularly mystical that day, or not feeling connected to the land around me (or not feeling connected to anything much except for the True Blood marathon on TV), then They must not have anything to say that day. Which is all profoundly absurd given that the Norse deities are always out doing something, and I’m dedicated to several earthy deities who have strong interests in the physical realm. They are still there. They always have things for me to do.

And that brings me to my main point for this post. If I have lost my connection to my gods—or if I just feel I’ve lost that connection, that they have walked away from me or they don’t care much about me—it is not necessarily They who have walked away; it could be I who has walked away from Them.¹


Yep, sometimes I hide from Them under the metaphorical covers, and then I whine because They are not talking to me anymore. As a polytheist, theologically I know—and experience has backed this up countless times—that the Gods are usually present, active, and waiting for me to tune back in and get back to work. Tuning them out–with TV or gaming, with social events or alcohol or planning a vacation–doesn’t work in the long run. They are still there, waiting for me to check back in and pick up the phone. Some wait patiently and don’t lecture me when I get back. Some understand the needs of a human to just be a normal human sometimes. And others get hurt or irritated or offended for being shut out, because relationships with Them are to a large extent just like relationships with other humans. (That’s polytheism in a nutshell. The Gods are real, and They have feelings, needs, and wants. If we agree to tango with Them, it’s on us to kee

The goddess Frigg, center, points to her left, seemingly commanding Gná, riding her horse Hófvarpnir, to run an errand for her. To Frigg's right is Fulla, who is holding Frigg's eski (an ashen box). Two other females are on Frigg's right, but they are unidentifiable.
Frigg and her Maidens / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

p up our side of the bargain.)

If you are feeling disconnected from your deities, try opening up to them without expectations. Don’t limit or define what an interaction with a God can look like. Some Gods will give you a four-by-four to the head; but most won’t. Be open to what They do send you. Make an offering. Say a prayer. Read a myth, or an academic treatise on an aspect of their mythology.  Act as though They are there, waiting to hear from you–because in all likelihood, at least one of Them is. It’s amazing how much we humans can block ourselves  when it comes to having faith in the Gods and building a relationship with them.

a chained and padlocked double door
Meg Rose MCC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Flickr

If you feel detached from your deities, don’t automatically blame Them for it. Make sure that the underlying problem isn’t you.

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  1. This doesn’t apply to specific cases where, for example, and deity has walked away or pulled back a bit, usually for a specific reason. This doesn’t also cover actual “dark night of the soul” times either. This is just about the average, day-to-day experience of tuning Them out. (back)
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