On Being Broken

22 Aug

For most people, gods are supports in their lives. Gods help you become stronger, better, and more able bodied in your day to day life and various ventures. Usually, gods force us to become more than we were when they found us. This is why so many people get shoved into shadow work and pits and rivers when the gods show up at their doorsteps.

Usually, this is for the better. Usually, this makes the person a better, more well rounded person. But sometimes, I think that gods can take us to places that perhaps we’re not really wanting to go. Or that sometimes, a god can cross a line that damages the relationship beyond repair.

So what do you do when a god chews you up and spits you out?

I mean, who do you ask for help with on that? I certainly don’t know anything about cases of it in antiquity. And most of our big name Kemetics don’t even seem to have the problem. Hell, most temples give you a god to worship as soon as you walk through the door.

Based on that alone, I would wager that most Kemetics don’t have this problem.

But it has to happen to some of us, right? You know, when you get tired of a god’s machinations and scheming, or the said god’s schemes push us to a point where we or our ethics can’t handle it.

What do you do when the gods push the line too far, push you too far, and you find your patience for it all dries up and disappears? Do you run away? Tell the god in question to pound sand? Do you suck it up and trudge forward? What happens when your relationship with a deity or set of deities becomes so broken that you’re not sure it’s ever going to fix? And why hasn’t modern Kemeticism addressed this at all?

And more importantly- should we?

We all like to talk about how gods can be difficult. Or how they can rip your life apart- but we never seem to address the other end of this particular problem. You know, when the ripping apart of your life becomes excessive or fruitless, or when a god falls through on their end of the deal. Any physical relationship between two people has the potential to go south, or to sour. Can a relationship with a god do the same?

And if so, how do we address this in the future? What do we tell practitioners who have been essentially burned or broken by the gods?

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve usually seen only two responses to the practitioner whose deity might be going too far:

  1. That could never happen. X god doesn’t do that, you must be mistaken.
  2. What did you do to cause that to happen? (a type of victim shaming).

And while its possible that either of these could be the cause for things to happen, certainly not every case falls into these categories. Because of this, I think that many practitioners never say anything when a god goes too far. The fear of being ostracized from their religious community is too stressful for them, and so they suck it up, cry in the corner and never breath a word of it.

They go unnoticed, and the problem never gets discussed or addressed.

I personally think it needs to be addressed.

We can’t, in good conscience, tell people that gods are always right as rain and filled with sunshine and rainbows. Our own mythology says otherwise (Djehuty likes to kill people who get too knowledgeable, for example. Apparently Pinch has an example of Anubis killing a lector priest who knew about Osiris sending out demons to start civil war within Egypt [Pinch, Geraldine. _Egyptian Myth: A Very Short Introduction_. Oxford University Press: New York, 2006. p 42]). Gods can be jerks. They may live off of ma’at ideally, but its been shown that sometimes they fall through- not only with mortals, but with themselves. This world is not perfect, NTR are not perfect. And if we are to be the community that we say we are, we can’t instantly assume that a practitioner that has been burned is in the wrong. We can’t stand behind such a hypocritical statement as to believe that on one hand- gods are capricious and can be jerks, but on the other hand- there is no way that they could ever “go too far, so you must be wrong”.

Therefore, it stands to reason that some aspect of this needs to be addressed – and yet, we haven’t.

So consider this my raising of the banner, my way of pointing at the elephant in the corner. This is a discussion that we need to have, so I allow me to make an opening statement to get the discussion going.

I believe that gods can go too far. I do believe that gods can cross lines that they shouldn’t. I believe that practitioners that have been burned need a safe place to discuss these things so that they can work out what the best way to proceed should be. I believe that we as a community need to keep an open mind when it comes to gods, and to stop pushing people to choose gods as soon as they decide to try this Kemetic thing out.

I believe that gods need an asterisk next to their names to remind us that they can have hidden agendas, hidden motives, and come with fine print that you may or may not agree with. We need to challenge our ideas as to what these gods are really like, and we need to question why we persist in clinging to concepts of ‘all-good, all-knowing, all-loving’ Gods when we are already know that to be false (see mention of mythology above).

As a community who works with gods that have proven to be less than ideal in the past, I believe that we need to discuss how we should be working with these entities, and how we can work on perfecting protocol that allows us to keep our own autonomy and safety as we begin to forge relationships with these deities. As well as working on showing people that it is okay to discuss when a god goes too far, because even if it hasn’t happened yet- it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

Have you ever witnessed a god going too far? Do you believe that it can happen? What would you do if one of your deities pushed you too far?

See the part two of this post here. See part three of this post here.


Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Kemeticism, Rambles


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

40 responses to “On Being Broken

  1. navelgazed

    August 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Yes, good post. I hear all the time on tumblr that the gods can be dicks, but nobody addresses what to do when that actually happens. And it happens. If something like that happened to me, I would of course be heartbroken, but staying with someone who has gone too far with you even if they’re not a corporeal entity needs to be handled in a way similar to the way those who are abused deal with their abuser.

  2. EmberLeo

    August 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Not specifically in Kemetic practice but yes, I’ve seen it. Actually, I seem to be a person to whom certain gods send people when that’s what’s going on, or what seems to be going on. Sometimes, the gods just overestimate us, or underestimate what They’re throwing our way, and the results can get really, really ugly. Sometimes we’ve utterly misunderstood the point of the exercise. Sometimes there’s something within our own power that can help. Sometimes the only help is other gods intervening.

    Actually, that’s usually the most effective suggestion I’ve found; talk to other gods about it, gods who can intervene on your behalf, gods whose opinon or power are respected by the god who has gone too far. When Odin messed me up, Freyja and Frigga were my aid. When The Morrigan has pushed too hard, Brighid has been known to help fix it. If you’re done with a whole pantheon, you may need the help of a different pantheon to help you sort it out – and the help of sympathetic humans. -E-

  3. EmberLeo

    August 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Worse, though… I think sometimes breaking us, pushing us too far, is part of the *plan*. It’s not a mistake, it’s not that we’re handling it poorly, or They were wrong about what we could handle, it’s that They WANT the result They’re aiming for… and we don’t. Then what? With the Vanir and Aesir, there’s some respect for standing your ground, keeping to your own best judgement. Not every pantheon and culture encourages that, and even when folks DO confront the gods in cultures that are ok with it, it doesn’t always go well. But I think it’s important to teach good judgement, and that we’re still responsible for good judgement, because if push comes to shove, and it’s your judgement or a god’s, obedience may not always be the right answer. -E-

    • von186

      August 22, 2013 at 6:48 pm

      Yep. I’m actually dealing with this right now, and will likely be discussing it in the next few posts.
      It’s really frustrating, knowing that if you break, you’re playing right into their hands. But what other option do you have? you know?
      I also agree with sentiments about calling in other gods. I personally think that is why Osiris hangs around- to prevent his brother from going too far.

  4. Fjothr Odinsdottir Lokakvan

    August 22, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I don’t know much at all about the Kemetic community, but I have seen plenty of Norse-oriented folk says that our deities -are- flawed, and -can- make mistakes. (And that a number of the Norse are known for sometimes helping/teaching/training Their devotees via harsh methods.) I’ve also run into a few places where people have actually said, “Deity told me ‘I made a mistake doing that thing'” – though there’s a part of me that wonders if it really -was- a mistake, or if that’s more like a cover story to patch things up with the mortal (I believe They -can- make mistakes, but I suspect it’s less often than people are lead to believe. Call me cynical . . . ).

    The 3rd common response I’ve seen to people in distress is “well there must be /a reason/ for that,” which, while it may be true, isn’t the most helpful response, since it seems to come along with, ” . . . so you just need to look harder to understand why things suck so much.”( And honestly, it always sounds like the kind of dismissive thing people say to explain away other crap in life, “oh it’s always for /a reason/” – no, sometimes shit just happens.)

    I know that’s considered common wisdom – that the gods always have a reason for Their actions – that They’re (supposedly) rarely prone to hurting people just for the lulz, but most of the time, people say or imply ” . . . and that reason is for your own good, ultimately.” What I rarely have seen acknowledged is that sometimes, Their motives are more for /Their/ purposes, or “for the /greater/ good, at your expense” which means you are just supposed to suck it up and cope, I guess.

    • von186

      August 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      I definitely have considered the last one- the greater good at your expense. And I”m currently experiencing “i’m doing this more for my own benefit than for your benefit”.
      Even if being run through the wringer is for some ultimate good- does that give them the right? I think the answer will be different for each person. But I don’t think that that should necessarily be allowed through and through. Greater good has to have a line in the sand somewhere.
      I also believe that sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes things go bad, and there is no greater reason or mystery beyond that. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
      And sometimes gods get credit that they don’t deserve. And sometimes they take a rap they don’t deserve, etc.

    • Eilidh Nic Sidheag

      August 27, 2013 at 7:25 am

      sometimes, Their motives are more for /Their/ purposes, or “for the /greater/ good, at your expense” which means you are just supposed to suck it up and cope, I guess.

      I had that experience with Odin back when I was Asatru. I went to Thor with it, who was my patron and had helped me before, but this time his response was along the lines of “don’t expect me to side with you against my father.” I basically told him that if that extended to standing back while his father got abusive, then regardless of motives, things between us weren’t going to work out; he said he was sad about that, but he’d respect it. So that’s why I’m not Asatru any more, and in fairness to them, neither Thor nor Odin have messed with me since. I treat them with polite respect if I happen to come across them; Thor will nod to me occasionally, and Odin has gone back to ignoring me, which is just how I like it.

  5. L

    August 22, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Apparently it’s perfectly acceptable to tell a Teteo to f— off if they’re not holding up their end of the bargain and to find another god who will. I don’t have a primary source for this, but it’s something I’ve heard from Aztec recons.

    That might sound harsh or downright crazy for some people, but I definitely think they’re onto something.

    • von186

      August 22, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      Agreement XDD I think you can get away with it with a NTR, but it isn’t something that is easily accomplished, from what I can tell. They are like people who can’t take no for an answer, so they pester you, even after the fact. :\

  6. shezep

    August 22, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    I’ve been there, and our relationship is still somewhat strained because of it. His reasons were complicated, compounded by what I think is a lack of real understanding about how humans work. I have had other gods step in and politely point out that maaaybe he was pushing a little too much. I’ve seen Djehuty get mad enough to yell, and when Set is one of the ones urging moderation you know something is up! The relationship is a work in progress. Some days I think he’s wonderful and I love him fiercely, and other days I want to punch him in the beak and scream and yell. I do suspect that may be part of the plan, to force me to stand up to him. What a jerk.

    • von186

      August 22, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      May I ask which NTR in particular you are referring to?
      I had Osiris step in once. And I’m not sure where mine and Set’s relationship will go from here. I guess we’ll see where I’m at once this crazy rabbit hole he has sent me down leads me.
      All part of the “plan” I’m told. Because that makes it so much better, right?

      • shezep

        August 23, 2013 at 6:55 am

        It’s bad luck to say anything negative about him, and I am still working to improve our relationship, but his name begins with an R. He forced his energy on me without asking first, or giving any explanation at all. Part of me really did need it, and part of me was pushed past my tolerance. The closest thing I can compare it to is Kundalini burnout.

      • von186

        August 23, 2013 at 7:25 am

        Ah, I think I might know who you refer to.
        We don’t get along either. But that’s perfectly fine by me XDDD
        O kinda did that “Here! Let me help you without asking!” Luckily it has worked out in my favor so far.

  7. Sulphur Blue

    August 22, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    The only kitch I see in what most everyone has covered is basically a law-and I do beg your pardon because I can’t actually remember what it’s called for the life of me-that basically says certain spiritworkers, once they’ve made certain oaths to their gods, are pretty much at the mercy of the god/dess and their plans for you/with you from that point on. Some gods are very gentle in their teaching methods, some have a hands off approach, and some go the Pai Mei route and kick our butts a million times, and no sass allowed or they’ll pluck out your eye, you know?

    I think it very much depends on individual circumstances. Not only that, they may not be ALL POWERFUL in some people’s eyes, but these ARE gods we’re talking about. Telling them to eff off if they’ve somehow spite you? May not always be the best of ideas. Just saying.

    I would never EVER want to make an enemy of Loki, just as an example.

    • von186

      August 23, 2013 at 7:31 am

      I do agree that oaths can be a sticky situation. Its why I urge people to wait a long time before oathing themselves to a deity- because oaths make it much much harder to get out of a situation. Though I still think that the god *should* be responsible and not treat their follower like crap, but I understand that that is a pipe dream right there.
      I personally don’t think that them being gods gives them any more special power or leeway than any other entity. I’ve run across a lot of entities that rival a gods power, but we’re not running around kissing their asses, either. I think there is a certain mental hangup we ave with “omg you’re a GOD”, but really- its just a matter of power, and there are lots of powerful beings out there. I wouldn’t want to get on a deity’s bad side, but if a deity goes too far, I wouldn’t be beyond telling them to get away, and getting some bigger guns to protect myself with.
      But then again, let’s be honest, working for Set doesn’t make my life any easier. He doesn’t pull out stops for his followers. If anything, he adds roadblocks to your life to “teach you”. So getting him on my bad side? idk how much “worse” or “different’ that would be.
      Food for thought, at least. :3

      • Sulphur Blue

        August 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm

        Oh darlin’. I’m a Luciferian. Seldom does he make *anything* easy on me. As a matter of fact, as you mentioned, usually it makes things a lot harder. He’s fond of tough love.

      • von186

        August 24, 2013 at 9:25 am

        I imagine he and Set would get along, then.

      • Sulphur Blue

        August 24, 2013 at 9:27 am

        Undoubtedly, if it wasn’t what His Highness would call a ‘conflict of interest’. /amuse face

    • shezep

      August 23, 2013 at 9:21 am

      It’s nice when they wait for you to take an oath. They don’t always.

      • von186

        August 23, 2013 at 9:47 am

        Yep. That has been my experience. I’m not oathed or bound to either god in this situation. Certain sounds like I am, though, doesn’t it XD

      • Sulphur Blue

        August 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm

        Very true, Shez.

  8. justme0486

    August 22, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    The first personal lesson I ever learned from Dionysus was never ever ever say that I will do anything or everything for Them because They will call it in. I set my lines personally and I have taken heat from people saying the Gods are always nice. I can honestly say that I personally owe a lot of how my life is now and how good it is now to Them. I am thankful that doesn’t mean I don’t make promises to Them that I can’t keep. I also trust but verify it against what is in my heart I try my best to stay in contol. Very good post. Blessings on your journey from one Pagan to another.

  9. Aubs Tea

    August 25, 2013 at 7:47 am

    I don’t think I’ve been pushed to the breaking point by any of my OTHERS. It sure has felt that way, obviously, but wasn’t necessarily the case. I’ve always been able to understand the reasons or agree with the method – after thinking on it. So, I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you or anyone else.

    Just keep swimming seems rather paltry.

  10. Sharon

    August 25, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    This is totally off-topic, but I can’t find a place on your site to email you. Am I just missing it because I’m viewing on my iPad, or do you not accept personal messages? I just have some dumb questions and want to ask them in private. :-/

    • von186

      September 22, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Sorry for taking so long to respond!
      I could always set up a side email for you to send a message to, if you’d like. If you have a Tumblr or FB account, I do have the capacity to be reached via PM there. Unfortunately, doesn’t have any type of email system, and I try not to have my personal email out there.
      But I could create a special email for TTR, if you’d like me to :3

      • Sharon

        September 23, 2013 at 6:30 am

        You don’t need to create an email account just for me. 🙂 What is your FB name? Thanks for responding.

      • von186

        September 23, 2013 at 7:14 am

        You should be able to find me under devo.kraemer

  11. urbanpooka

    September 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Damn it. I read this before. On a second read, this hit me like a load of bricks. Thank you.

    • von186

      September 26, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      I’m glad it helped :>

  12. erinlale

    April 20, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Thank you for opening this discussion. I’ve been considering for some time how to tell people that I’ve experienced a god making a mistake. People say the gods will break one to build one back up, but sometimes they break one on accident because they think one is stronger than one really is. That meme that goes around Facebook that says “God never gives you anything you can’t handle,” well, that wasn’t written by an Asatruar.

    I’m fortunate that I have the advantage of having learned the bersarkr tradition decades before the gods decided to start talking to me. In that tradition, we learn that the human bersarkr has the responsibility of deciding, in each moment, whether to let the god take over, and even after letting the god or the bear within take over, it is still the human’s responsibility to make sure all the actions taken by the human’s body are the right and socially acceptable ones. If one does everything the bear within wants, one will end up dead or in prison. Being in control is the goal of the tradition. And that’s a tradition that specifically deals with Odin. So, I didn’t come to this sudden new relationship I have with Odin/ Honir / Loki expecting to become subsumed in the gods’ will. I came to this expecting to have the same sort of control over my life and body that I’ve developed through the bersarkr tradition. And it has served me well. If I acted on every whim of Loki’s it would not have the same dire consequences as the fighting-bear, but I’d still have ended up at least bankrupt and alienated from everyone. I’m the one responsible for my life, regardless of what the gods urge at any given moment. So that has saved me from a lot of the problems that some people have with this sort of work.

    However, there have still been a couple of times when the god has made a mistake in trying to help me and ended up hurting me in a way I needed to recover from. In both instances he told me he was sorry and wanted to help me through it, and we did eventually get through both those times together. During those times, I felt I couldn’t ask for support from my usually supportive human heathen community because I was afraid I would just be told I wasn’t giving my life to the god well enough, that being broken was part of the process, that nothing was wrong and I was wrong in my perceptions that something was wrong even though the gods themselves saw what was wrong and needed fixing and wanted to help me. It was very lonely and isolating. I’ve never told anyone the details and I’m not sure I ever will.

  13. Rev. Dragon's Eye

    May 15, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Very interesting perspective!

    Some cultures viewed their deities to be more human-like in their tendencies than some other cultures. The Greek mythologies and legends are filled with examples of certain avarices, vices, and other negative behaviors coming from the gods. I tend to think more on the basis that our chosen gods (- or – those who chose us?) may also reflect some of our own thoughts, actions, desires, vices, etc, especially when we do much personal work with them. I sometimes wonder, if a subset of those who have experienced negative outcomes in their relationships with their deities may have also affected certain habits in their own thinking??? – This makes for a very complex situation, because we ARE a rather complex-thinking being, ourselves.

    A very thought-provoking analytical piece.

    – Rev. Dragon’s Eye


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