Pass The Fortune Cookie
Over dinner at a Chinese restaurant, my husband, a practitioner of the intuitive arts (a.k.a. a Psychic) told it to me straight– as straight as a gay man could tell it. He talked to GOD – the one that the Monotheists worship – and GOD told him things that most Monotheists (and a number of Polytheists) would gawk at. GOD, it seems, is misunderstood.
He paused from his explanation and asked if I thought he was crazy.
“No”, I told him. “No more than the rest of us. Plus – hello – psychic.”
He broke open the fortune cookie and told me things about GOD (the One) and about Gods (the Many) that I had no context for, but that strangely made a great deal of sense. Now, I’m going to share them with you.
Prepare to gawk.
What GOD Said
- The Monotheists are right.
- So are the Polytheists.
- And, we’re all wrong.
According to GOD, there are many Gods. These Gods came into being when the universe came into being. These Gods are as natural to the world as we are. They are a part of the world. They did not, however create the universe.
There are also fewer Gods than we might think. There are Gods of Creation, Gods of Destruction, Gods of Death and Birth, and Gods who govern just about every other aspect of the living (and dying) world. They are called different things in different cultures, but essentially, these are the same Gods. We engage with them differently by the stories we tell, and those stories do not even come close to unpacking their true nature.
These Gods, contrary to the assertions of some modern religious folk, including those who share my tradition in ADF Druidism, want nothing from us. They need no offerings, outside of the sincerity of our heart. Anything more — food offerings, burnt offerings, sacrificial offerings — are only useful if they help to clarify or refine that state of sincerity.
But Wait… There’s More…
And, GOD said that there is also GOD. This genderless God, which is the misunderstood God of the Abrahamic tradition, came into being after the universe. GOD did not create the universe, or us.
GOD was born, in effect, at the moment when the a human being (or, homo sapiens, or homo erectus, or some other fabulous homo) first asked the question, “Why?”
GOD is in existence, as my husband describes GOD telling him, with the sole function of experiencing the variety of human experiences. We live in order to inform GOD of what living can be. GOD serves us in no way and we have no need to serve GOD, although we do by living. The more fully we live, the more GOD comes to understand living.
The Biblical stories, an attempt at explaining GOD and GOD’s relationship to humanity, show us examples of how we have behaved, and how we’ve projected our ideas of behavior (anger, benevolence, love) onto GOD. But, GOD is not angry, or benevolent, or loving. GOD simple is.
Um…So…What Does This Mean?
I have no idea. I’m still trying to sort it all out. The challenging thing about these ideas is that they come with no built-in mythology within which to contextualize them.
Our religions require stories. Even Pagans, who fancy themselves to be People of the Library rather than People of the Book, must acknowledge that we build our religious experience around narrative. We are always engaging with narrative, whether that be the stories we tell about our Gods, or the stories we tell about our religious origins and identity. We tell stories in order to understand the meaning behind what we do, and we perform ritual in order to continue to affirm the stories we tell.
It’s a lovely cycle.
And I like this idea of the misunderstood GOD and the Many Gods all coexisting, behaving in different ways than we may have previously thought. It may not be accurate, but I like what it does inside my head. This could become one story that helps me to reconcile my former expression of Christianity and all of what it taught me with my current exploration of Paganism, polytheism and Druidism.
See – I’m not of the mindset that now, as a Pagan, I can shrug off my Christian upbringing as “nonsense”, or dismiss it as some vacuous tradition built on the practice of “co-opting” more ancient, more relevant traditions. That seems lazy, and condescending, and elitist. It does nothing to acknowledge all of what is good about Monotheist traditions, and in a Karmic sense it sets up those who hold that view to have their traditions and beliefs be shrugged off, dismissed and condescended to.
There’s got to be a better way of being.
It’s hard to imagine a way in which two conflicting cosmologies can co-exist. True pluralism requires a level of mental flexibility that many of us are unwilling to practice. In our defense, we haven’t had much in the way of instruction, but that’s no excuse for mental rigidity. We have to take the initiative and seek out a new story; one that speaks to all of our experiences of the Divine.
For now, this is just information. I’m not going to insist that it serve any one purpose, and I don’t think you need to, either. It may just be good to sit with it and see what ideas it spawns. Perhaps holding this story in my imagination will inform the way I approach my altar, giving me cause to be more sincere in my worship of the Gods. Perhaps it will give me permission to revisit the Biblical stories from my Christian upbringing, seeking out new understandings from this new vantage point. Regardless, it is a valuable exercise in mental flexibility.
What do you think? Do these ideas resonate with you? Does this seem like a possible scenario that GOD and Gods exist, simultaneously, or does that thought rub you the wrong way?
As you think over your thoughts on the matter, I leave you with a video that shows an example of beautiful physical flexibility. May you be in your mind and spirit as this man is in his body: strong, supple, and a sight to behold.
As always, I appreciate you sharing this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. And please – join me in conversation in the comment section.
4 responses to “One God, Two Gods; Red God, Blue Gods”
Amazing post! I love the way you are able to break things down and reanalyze them. Its refreshing to see someone able to look at things from many perspectives rather than the one rigid one.
Thanks for saying that, Kourtney. It's a process for me, one I'm working on improving. I'm glad the post resonated with you, and I'd love to know more about *how* it spoke to you.
As a priest of Vodou, it resonates well with me, hopefully not in an elitist way.
In Vodou, there is Bondye , or GOD. But Bondye is remote and inaccessible to us. We can neither comprehend nor experience GOD directly. So we have the spirits of the Lwa. Our dead ancestors, distilled down to archetypes from their actual selves, merged with one another within those same archetypes to act as intermediaries.
I tend, like yourself, to not easily shrug off my religious heritage, which include Catholic, Christian and Vedic traditions. They are all a part of who I am and they all had a part in making me, me. GOD cannot be easily understood, or easily reached. Other Gods may be the children of humankind, our own archetypes born of our own beliefs and experiences.
This piece did speak to me. The mindset it creates is beautiful and open. I may have to read more of your work.
I read no elitism in your comment at all — just sincerity and thoughtfulness, and I appreciate it. I know very little about the Vodou cosmology, and I appreciate the tutorial. Thank you.
We are a continuum. Our past is not disconnected from us, and it astounds me to hear people speak as thought they've somehow made a "clean break". That cannot happen. It is more difficult to hold up all of who you are, but in the vision I wrote about GOD, doing so informs what it is. I like that idea.
Equally, your comment spoke to me. I hope you continue to read the posts here and share your thoughts and insights. I have a feeling I could learn a great deal from you.