When it comes to dealing with difficult times and especially with large, multi-generational shifts in culture, I’ve always encouraged people to have the perspective of the Gods: take a long-term, big-picture view. The rate of change in the 21st century is unprecedented. When you combine that with TV shows where everything is wrapped up in an hour, we often feel like anything and everything can and should be done right away, and if it isn’t we feel like failures.
If the Gods are not immortal (and who really knows) They might as well be by our standards. They know that doing things right takes time – for some things, more time than exists in any one human lifespan. Getting frustrated – much less quitting – because things aren’t happening fast enough is both unrealistic and unhelpful. The Gods usually have great patience, and so should we.
But not always.
For perhaps the first ten years of my Pagan journey (not counting the eight years of dabbling and going nowhere) I kept asking “what do You want me to do?” All I got back was “keep working.” Keep studying, keep practicing, keep learning. This was a time when I did a ton of reading and when I studied the OBOD coursework. I was an officer in Denton CUUPS: I led rituals and taught classes. I started this blog in 2008 and I started going to Pagan gatherings in 2009. I was doing a lot of good and necessary work, but I couldn’t see how it fit into anything bigger.
In 2011, I started to feel a sense of urgency, although I still didn’t know why. In 2012 I heard first-hand from a certain Battle Goddess: “a storm is coming – get ready.” I found others who were hearing the same thing, and not just from the Morrigan.
And I started getting messages that I needed to build – or rather, to help build – something deeper: for me, for my local group, for those doing the same things in different places, and for those who come after us. As almost always happens with messages from the Gods, what I got was ideas, impressions, and concepts. I’m an engineer – I want drawings and specifications. I never got them, so I learned to work with what I had.
Some good things happened in 2013. In 2014 I tried to over-engineer things with our local group and it didn’t work, plus we didn’t have the right mix of people. In 2015 we started again, had some great successes and began to build momentum, both locally and in the wider Pagan and polytheist communities.
The messages from the Gods picked up: “keep building” “this is good but work faster” “there is more that needs to be done.”
2016 has been a difficult year in more ways than I can count: in the world of art and music, in the polytheist world, in the political world, and in the metaphysical world. On top of all this, other things have happened that I have not written about, nor will I. When you’re in mourning – for your favorite singer, for your country, or for a dying dream – it’s hard to prepare the Way of the Gods. When you’re trying to deal with a stressful paying job it’s hard to focus on exploring the Otherworld. When people you thought were your allies decide that since you’re not 100% with them, you’re against them, it’s hard to keep trying to build community. When your schedule is already overfull, it’s hard to add one more thing even if you really want and need to do it.
The Gods have the perspective of immortals, but even immortals can get impatient. And They are getting impatient.
I’m not hearing blame and guilt. I’m not hearing “or else!” threats. I’m hearing that my feelings, shortcomings, misfortunes, and other obligations do not change the fact that we need fully functioning polytheist religions now. We need priesthoods now. We need mystical orders now. We need initiations, ordeals, and transformations now. We need to reclaim – and exercise – our sovereignty now.
I used to hear “just keep working.” Now I’m getting deadlines – tight deadlines. Now, now, now.
I did some deep personal ritual work earlier in the Fall. I haven’t finished processing it yet, but now there’s more deep ritual work I have to get done by the end of February. I do not expect that will be the last of it. I have friends and groups experiencing similar deadlines. Their stories are not mine to tell and so I won’t, except to say this isn’t just me.
I do not know why the Gods are getting impatient. They often share “what” with me – They rarely share “why.” Still, I trust the Gods because They have shown Themselves to be trustworthy. Working for and with Them has been some of the most meaningful experiences of my life. If They say “this needs to be done now” then I trust it really does need to be done now, even if I don’t know why, and even if my speculation takes me into areas that are truly frightening. I’m going to do everything I can to meet Their deadlines, even though I don’t know how I’m going to do it all.
Let me be clear: I am not speaking for all Gods or all traditions. I am not speaking to all polytheists and Pagans. If your intuition, divination, and first-hand experience says you’re on schedule, then you should assume you’re on schedule. If you’re hearing “just keep working” then you should not feel any special urgency about your religious and spiritual work. If the Gods are being patient with you, consider yourself fortunate.
Because They’re getting very impatient with me, and I’m not the only one.