I wrote a post last year about some of my revelations and experiences of devoting yourself to the gods even when you don’t feel a whole lot of emotion towards them. It’s one of my favorite posts, I think, because it really does sum up a lot of my experiences not only with the gods, but with life itself. Due to the
broken structure of my brain, or perhaps it’s just my nature in general, I don’t base a lot of what I do off of my feelings, and ever since I wrote that post, I’ve become more and more okay with this. I have become okay with being devoted while not feeling the devotion (aka the love). In many ways, I wear it like a badge of honor that I have managed to continue to develop my relationship with the NTRW despite my emotions sometimes telling me to quit.
I am proud of the fact that I can see something through, even when that something becomes frustrating, difficult, or mundane.
Despite that pride in my acceptance of myself (and to an extent, my limitations), there seems to be an awful lot of confusion about why someone would bother to do work for the gods even though they don’t seem to love their gods (this, of course, is all dependent upon how you define love). When this came up on Tumblr (because it’s always Tumblr, amirite?), the confusion seemed to largely come from non-Kemetics. However, I think this is something worth talking about, so that maybe we can reach a better level of understanding about different methods and reasons for different practices styles. So in that spirit, I’m choosing to go a bit more in-depth about the misconceptions of what a somewhat “emotionless” relationship/practice might entail as well as the why behind the continued devotion despite the lack of feelings.
“It’s a job, therefore you don’t like it”
I think one of the biggest points of confusion about my lack of love for my gods is the idea that viewing my work for them as a job, combined with a lack of perceived love for the entities I am doing the work for, inherently means I don’t like it. Now don’t get me wrong, there are days when I definitely don’t like doing this work. Days like when tumblr explodes because Kemetics were talking amongst themselves. Days like when I have to deal with drama within the community or on one of the boards I admin for. Days when people are being particularly mean to one another, or I see back-biting occurring.
Even in the best of jobs, relationships, and life–there will be bad days.
And due to having depression (and I’m in a fallow period that is coupled with a really bad stretch of depression right now, for context), there are often more days where I dislike doing the work than not. That doesn’t mean that I don’t always like the job, though. And calling something a job doesn’t necessarily mean that I dislike it, either. There are certainly people who love what they do for a living. Jobs and enjoyment aren’t mutually exclusive. You can call something a job, and still get enjoyment out of it. I just happen to be the kind of person who will take something more seriously if I call it a job. For me, calling something a job reflects how serious it is for me. It’s more than a hobby or something I do when I happen to have time. And that’s part of why I call it a job–because it keeps me serious about getting the work done.
Of course, that doesn’t answer why I continue to do the job despite it’s bad days. Unlike a bad day job, I don’t get paid for this, so I can’t cite that. Surely there has to be some reason, right? (the answer to that is yes, and I will get into that in a minute.)
“There are other people who can do the work”
Another misconception that I saw thrown around was that there are certainly other people who love the gods more, and surely they can do the work instead of a negative nancy like me, right?
Perhaps in other religious groups there are enough devotees to spread the work around (I disagree, but maybe I’m wrong), but Kemeticism is not one of those religions currently. As small as we still are now, there was a time when we were even smaller. In the time when I was first contacted by Set, there was very little to speak of in regards to an online Kemetic community. Nearly everything was KO driven, and there were only two small groups that existed outside of KO (Children of Kemet and eCauldron’s SIG). So the assumption that there is enough people doesn’t really work for our community.
To build off of that, even if there were enough people to spread the work around, it’s entirely possible that the gods might have felt I could do this particular job better than another person. I think that many times the gods hand us work based off of what we are good at doing, not necessarily what we want to do (which is why I didn’t get to be a priest, I assume). So to that end, it’s worth remembering that sometimes the gods don’t really care about what we want. They care that we get the work done.
There are also other factors including having enough time to get the job done, having the resources and tools to get the job done, beyond the basics of how effective you are at the job. In the mundane world, we say that love doesn’t pay the bills. In the Unseen, love can certainly be a useful tool or asset, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to get the job done that needs doing. I may not have a heart overflowing with love for my gods (though I think I might have once upon a time), but I certainly did get the work done.
And that is a sort of love, in a way, is it not?
And now we get to the part that everyone is actually interested in- the big fat “why” behind why weird ol’ me continues to do this work despite breaking the holiest of holy commandments, which is not loving my gods. This list is not exhaustive (I could probably give you a solid ten, but then this post would be really long), but I think highlights the top three reasons behind why I stick around.
Reason 1: I said I would
One of the first things you have to understand about me is that I place a lot of value in my promises and my word. I don’t sign up for projects and then drop them. I don’t start stuff and not finish it (although sometimes it can take a long time to finish a project, due to life getting in the way). And that is the same for this situation, too. Set found me, and told me that he wanted me to help build a thing (and later to do other things). I agreed to help because I was starstruck and naive.
However, just because I am less naive and a bit more jaded now doesn’t mean that I’m going to revoke my agreement. I said I would help with what he wanted to build, and I aim to see that through.
I recently saw someone say that devotion is a series of choices, and I have chosen to stick this out even when every part of me wants to quit.
Reason 2: It allows me to help people
One of the biggest things I love about the work that I do for Set is that it allows me to help people. While I may not always love Set, and I may not always love his methods, I do have a love for what his methods and direction have created. Yes, it sucks that a large portion of my life is spent dealing with drama. Yes, it sucks that I’ve made enemies along the way that I probably could have avoided otherwise. Yes, it sucks that there are days when I really want to be lazy, but instead need to get something done because he told me to.
But when I get anons telling me that my posts have helped them, all of that becomes worth it. When people tell me that I’ve made a difference in their life, that makes all of the hell worth it.
I once equated myself to a guinea pig for Set. That he would throw me in front of a bus so that I could document it and pass the information on to the rest of you so that you wouldn’t have to be hit by a bus like I was. I go into situations knowing this, and willingly doing it anyways because I know that it could help someone. For me, helping others is one of the main reasons I continue to stay alive. For someone who is a proud nihilist, one of the biggest achievements you can make in life is to help others–it’s the best way to leave a lasting impact that could persist beyond my short lifetime.
Set knows this, and he uses it to his advantage. I let him because it’s one of the only things I’m truly passionate about- helping people.
Reason 3: It serves a purpose (tw suicide mention)
Another reason for why I continue to serve despite not feeling the love sadly comes down to my survival. This isn’t the “woo” spirit worker kind of survival that you often hear about- where the spirit worker has to continue to do the work, lest the spirits kill them. Oh no, this is far more mundane.
What I mean by survival is that it often keeps me from contemplating ending my life.
Yes, there are several other things besides Kemeticism that I use as leverage to keep myself alive in a tough spot. But this whole community shtick is still a pretty hefty thing that I use on the regular. Having something to do with my time that I can convince myself as being bigger than myself, and therefore more important (see reason 2), often keeps me feeling like my life isn’t a complete waste of time. It gives me something to direct my energy at. It gives me something to work towards, even when I don’t feel like working towards anything except a 6 foot hole in the ground.
In that same vein, it’s worth bringing up that many of the people who chose to go after me for my lack of love for the gods seemingly ignored the ties that this has to depression. The implication was that if you don’t love it, you shouldn’t do it–especially if there are many other people who could possibly do it better, and be happier in the process. If I, a depressed person, took that attitude towards everything, I wouldn’t be alive. While I’m sure that there are readers who will disagree with me, in my opinion it’s not a far jump for someone who has problems with suicidal ideation to take that mindset and go “well I don’t love my life or myself, and there are other people who could fulfill the same job and functions that I do, so I should just call it quits.”
For those of us with damaged brain chemistry, listening to our brain every time it decides something isn’t worth doing can become a matter of life and death. This is also another reason why I don’t place so much emphasis on how I feel, because if I based everything off of my feelings, I’d likely not be here to type this out. Kemeticism and all of its trappings has helped me to not take drastic measures during low points in my life.
So to sum up everything above (because creating a nice, succinct outro was not working):
- There is nothing wrong with calling your devotion a job. There are several reasons why one may choose to do that, and those reasons may have little to nothing to do with their feelings (or lack thereof) towards the job or role they are fulfilling. Much like with “work with”, let’s quit attaching baggage to words.
- You can still have a job that is fun. They are not mutually exclusive.
- There isn’t always enough people to go around to fulfill a function. We should stop assuming that there are enough people to go around. I think there is a reason so many polytheists end up with 3893756 gods knocking on their door. It’s likely because they’re short-staffed.
- Even in cases where there are enough people to fulfill a role, that doesn’t mean that those people are the best choice. Strong feelings, while nice, don’t instantly make you proficient at a job.
- The number of devotees available to perform a job also doesn’t invalidate someone else trying to fulfill a role. You can still perform a job, function, or role well while not feeling super awesome about it (and to bring this into a mundane sphere, there is even a ruling that an employer can’t force you to be happy while performing your job, which should further reinforce this point), and the fact that others might be able to do the same stuff as you doesn’t make your actions any less valid. Another person’s success doesn’t inherently mean you’re a failure.
- The reasons why I continue to stick around and perform my role for Set include:
- I told him I would, aka I’m loyal
- It helps me to fulfill some of my own personal ideals for a well-lived life (aka helping people, trying to leave a positive impact on the world around me)
- It’s one more thing in my arsenal to use against my depression
- It allows me to learn and grow as a person, while also fulfilling the above
Hopefully this helps to clear up some of the miscommunications that were occurring earlier this month. If anyone has questions, I am more than willing to clarify and explain a bit more about anything listed above.