The response to last Sunday’s post What does the Coronavirus have to do with The Storm? was overwhelmingly positive. I argued that while the Coronavirus wasn’t created by Gods or spirits, they’re trying to use it to their advantage and it’s now part of the wider metaphysical shift we’re calling The Storm or Tower Time. Most readers agreed.
But some people didn’t agree, including a few whose knowledge and expertise I greatly respect. They argued that we’ve angered various Gods and spirits through wasteful and inhospitable behavior, and especially through our abuse of the Earth and its creatures.
They didn’t change my mind – I’m still convinced this virus has an entirely mundane origin. I’ve had nothing in UPG that implies this is some sort of punishment… though to be honest, my UPG around this has very little to do with “here’s what all this means” and very much to do with “here’s what we need you to do now that it’s here.”
Still, it could have been created by one or more Gods or other spirits. I’m a Pagan and a polytheist, not a Deist. Our Gods are certainly capable of doing this, and if the stories of our ancestors are to be believed, They have done so in the past.
And at some level, deep within our souls, we remember.
The curse of the mummy’s tomb
There’s a meme going around that shows what appears to be an archaeological dig. The top line says “More than 20 sealed coffins discovered near Luxor Egypt” (which is true – it actually happened last October). The line below it says “PUT THAT BACK! THIS IS NOT THE YEAR!”
We laugh because we’ve seen this before – it’s been a key part of every Mummy movie from the 1932 classic with Boris Karloff to the 2017 debacle with Tom Cruise. A curse on those who desecrate tombs has become part of our popular culture… even if Indiana Jones and Lara Croft got away with it.
The idea of the cursed tomb didn’t originate with Hollywood. Five untimely deaths were attributed to the curse on those who opened Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. All of the deaths have “rational” explanations and expedition leader Howard Carter lived 16 years after opening the tomb, though he was only 64 at the time of his death. Still, while any one or two of them can be dismissed as the randomness of life, all five of them together suggest something more.
It doesn’t prove there’s more – improbable doesn’t mean impossible, otherwise no one would ever win Powerball. That’s true whether we’re talking about a string of untimely and connected deaths or the worst pandemic in a century.
I like this quote from the 1932 Mummy: “The Gods of Egypt still live in these hills, in their ruined temples. The ancient spells are weaker, but some of them are still potent.”
We’re rational educated 21st century people. But something deep inside whispers – or this year, screams – do not cross this line.
Maybe we already have.
The Black Death and a pendulum swung too far
No, this section isn’t about Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price.
We look back on the Black Plague with a mixture of horror and smug superiority. The people of 14th century Europe didn’t understand what caused the disease. Many believed it was a punishment from the Christian God for various sins and impieties. One group of zealots began whipping themselves in penance, while another group blamed the Jews and started burning them.
In our time, we see this same superstition (“superstition” = a misunderstanding of cause and effect) demonstrated when fundamentalists blame hurricanes on gay people getting married.
We don’t want to repeat these errors. And so many of us become as skeptical as any atheist. We affirm that our Gods are real and mighty, but we refuse to consider that maybe They’re using some of that might to impact the ordinary world.
Assuming that COVID-19 is a divine punishment is an error. Assuming that it couldn’t possibly have Otherworldly origins is also an error.
As always, finding the truth requires investigation.
Why They might be upset with us
In my experience and expertise, our Gods are not jealous Gods. Yes, there are ancient stories that demonstrate jealousy. And yes, if you don’t give some deities what They ask for there may be consequences. But the kind of wholesale jealousy it would take to cause a plague because They aren’t getting the kind or quantity of worship They want? I see no evidence of that.
But we need not repeat the error of assuming our Gods are petty and insecure to believe we may have angered Them greatly.
Among other things, the Gods are the personification of Their virtues. And as a group, humans are living rather unvirtuously – particularly those of us with power to control and manipulate large blocks of resources. People mentioned climate change, habitat encroachment, societal injustice, and general inhospitality to all those with whom we share the Earth.
Let’s not forget that the Gods are many, not one. Perhaps this pandemic was caused by a trickster God who’s enjoying watching us lock ourselves away, or by a God of Destruction who knows that some things must end so others can begin. If the pandemic has divine origins, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s punishment, or that many Gods are involved.
It only takes one.
The truth is complicated
This is my biggest frustration with the pandemic and our responses: people who want to oversimplify a very complicated situation.
COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus. Know what else is caused by a coronavirus? The common cold, for which there is still no cure or vaccine. Spare me the conspiracy theory that there’s no money in a cure. Money doesn’t control everything, and besides, a cure for the cold would make billions. We don’t have a cure or a vaccine because viruses and their impact on the human body is damn complicated.
There is no evidence this virus was made in a lab. We still don’t know how it started and we may never know. Now, on one hand “complicated” doesn’t mean “divine origin” – that way lies ridiculous ideas like intelligent design. But on the other hand, it need not have been created ex nihilo for a God or spirit to have made a critical difference in turning it from just one more viral mutation to something that caused a pandemic.
Tutankhamun’s mummy didn’t kill anyone from Carter’s expedition. One historian believes some of the deaths were caused by none other than Aleister Crowley. That seems highly unlikely, though I imagine it amuses Crowley to no end, where ever he is at the moment. Carter himself died from Hodgkin’s Disease. Still, we don’t have to find natron residue on the bodies to draw a connection between desecrating a tomb and a series of untimely and unlikely deaths.
Or not. The truth is complicated.
What do you need to know?
When I was a small child I asked a lot of “inappropriate” questions. I wasn’t making judgements about anyone or about how they lived, I simply wanted to know. That curiosity has never stopped, though I’ve learned that people tend to respond negatively when you ask deeply personal questions, and so I don’t ask them.
But I still wonder about everything.
I can’t help wondering about the origins and purposes of the Coronavirus. My best guess remains that it has an entirely ordinary, this-world origin. Various Gods and spirits are responding to it and are scrambling for positions of advantage in the post-pandemic world to come, but none of them caused it.
My own spiritual communications begin with the fact that the virus is here. And given that it’s here, how can I best respond? “Why” and “how” will have to wait – if we ever know.
The whole purpose of this post is to point out that it’s a mistake to assume Gods or spirits could not have caused the pandemic, even if we ultimately conclude they did not.
As modern Pagans and polytheists we need to respect the findings of science and the scientific method, and also respect the agency and activity of the Gods. Not one over the other. Both.
Our instinctive response to the “20 sealed coffins discovered in Egypt” meme says we know this is true.
Let’s remember it.