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So you wanna be a Godspouse? (some plain talk)

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

[Cross-posted from my primary blog by request.]

First, an announcement: as of today, January 1st 2013, I will no longer be available to answer either seidhr or divination questions along the lines of "Does Deity X (fill in the blank, but Loki and Odin are the usual suspects) want to marry me/sleep with me/date me?" or even, "What does Deity X want from me?" in which the unspoken subtext is, "Does He/She want to marry me?" Once again, any seidhr questions or reading requests that follow some variation on this pattern will be refused, and a link to this post given.

This includes any similar questions that I have already tentatively indicated I would try to respond to, as of this date.

The reasons for this decision are many, and frankly they include the preservation of my sanity, since in the past couple of months this has become the most popular variety of question sent my way, not only for seidhr but just randomly dropped in my inbox via email or Facebook, even after I had posted a notice in the sidebar of my blog, months ago now, that I would not be able to answer ANY free questions outside of my regular posted seidhr schedule. Even being in the midst of Yule, the holiest time of year for me, or days before my 10th anniversary in one instance, has not hindered people from doing this or prompted them to consider that perhaps they should wait, that perhaps their approaching me at such a time might be inconsiderate or disrespectful. It has seriously been annoying enough to make me consider putting my seidhr practice on hiaitus altogether for a bit, and I was set to do exactly that until I saw how many people I was able to help in unexpected ways during the Samhain and Yule sessions (this last being one of the primary reasons I began my oracular practice in the first place).

The root of the problem came out during a discussion with Jolene the other night, and was echoed by a recent comment someone else posted to my blog: entitlement. Too many people among the newest crop of would-be godspouses and spirit workers apparently feel somehow entitled to not only have the help and guidance of those who have been on this path for years, but to have it now, on demand, when they are ready and not when the other person is ready to help them (assuming there is such a time; please see further below for more on this).

Believe me, I have been on the other end of this scenario, back when I was a baby godspouse myself; not only did I feel entitled to the advice and assistance of my elders, and not only did I actively pursue the same by (in a couple of instances) all but shoving my newfound status in their faces, but I got downright sulky and resentful when I was occasionally rebuffed. Looking back now, I am mortified by my own behavior. I can only hope the current aspirants can eventually grow beyond this attitude as well and be similarly ashamed someday, yet somehow I doubt that will happen, since our (i.e. American/Western European) culture as a whole also seems to have embraced wholeheartedly the doctrine of entitlement in general.

Ironically, my first reaction to the lack of support I received (I have written before about how few and far between access to either oracles or spirit workers of any kind was back then) was to want to help all of the new people who in turn eventually approached me, but at this point--when hardly a week passes in which I am not contacted by one or two new people wanting to make their existence known to me--I really need to take a big step back and acknowledge that the trend has gone too far, at least for me personally to want to continue to aid and abet it. To keep on as I have been doing would require truly becoming an interactive priestess in service to a human community, and that is outside the parameters of what Odin wants or expects from me at this time. To the extent that I act as His priestess in regard to other people, it is for the purpose of helping to educating people about Him and of promoting both His interests and those of my own little group of spirits. And towards that end, I will continue to share what I can about my path on my blog, including stuff about being a godspouse in more general terms, such as the remainder of this post. I will also be making "Ask me about Odin" a permanent and ongoing feature here, since I was unable to address the questions I received during the month of December. I will continue to provide some degree of pastoral counseling both during and after seidhr, and will be providing a suggested reading list on my blog for people hoping to go deeper into devotional work. (Which is, by the way, the gateway discipline for anyone hoping to progress to god-marriage.)

And so, in lieue of addressing your individual godspouse-related queries directly, here are a few rules aspiring godspouses may want to consider:

1. You cannot trick, coerce, bewitch, or otherwise force a deity into marrying you. (This should be a given for most people reading this, I hope, but one never knows, so we'll go from here.)

2. Closely following upon the first point, it is a Bad Idea (with "bad" underscored multiple times) to decide that you would like to become a godspouse and then set about to find a god or goddess who might be interested in marrying you. If you are going to go about it in this way, you may as well ask the Ouija Board to send a suitor your way, because this is, in effect, exactly the sort of call you're putting out. A deity marriage comes to pass as a result of 1) years of devotion on your part that naturally and gradually turn into something deeper and more intimate, or 2) a deity's sudden decision to actively pursue and court you--which is, believe me, an obvious and undeniable state of events. If this happens to you there will be no need to consult a seidhrkona or reader; there will be no room for doubt left in your mind. The gods--especially the northern gods, the primary ones I am consulted about--are VERY capable of making their desires and intentions known along these lines, even to those who may consider themselves blocked or headblind. Besides speaking directly inside your head or through spirit workers, They can also communicate through dreams, natural signs (such as an animals or birds sacred to that deity suddenly stalking you everywhere), chance comments from strangers who have no idea what is going on, partially overheard conversations when out in public places, bibliomancy (open a book to a page at random, and there is your answer), random response generators such as the 8 Ball (you laugh, but I have seen it work), and unintentional oracles such as graffiti, street signs, or what song or show is playing when you turn the radio or TV on. And of course, runes or Tarot cards you draw for yourself in response to your question, in addition to divination systems such as the pendulum that yield a yes or no answer, can be added to this list. (If you know from experience that you can't read for yourself get a friend to do it for you; it doesn't necessarily have to be someone trained in spirit work.) The Gods are incredibly and endlessly resourceful and if They want you, YOU WILL KNOW IT. And They will not give up until you do. In most cases of serious courtship, a number of these signs will coincide.

As a codicil to this point, if you really feel you do need direct input via an oracle or other divination from a qualified spirit worker, ASK SOMEONE LIKELY TO BE IMPARTIAL. This is why I often prefer that people send me as little background as possible for seidhr questions. We are all human, and as much as I may want to give you an impartial answer, if I know that your question has to do with marriage to Odin (and believe me, you won't be able to hide this one from me easily; also, after this announcement, if you try to pull a fast one on me anyway I promise I will never accept another question from you again) my own filters are very likely going to affect the answer somehow, for yay or nay. My best advice for this particular question would be to go to someone who has as little as possible to do with Odin, preferably someone from a different tradition entirely, and then pay for a reading, giving them as little information beforehand as you can.

3. Deity marriage is not something to be entered into because all of your friends are doing it and you feel left out, or because you think it might be a shortcut to being taken seriously among spirit workers. (It isn't.) Neither is it something to pursue because you were reading a blog about it and it sounded cool. But if reading the above makes you feel desperately lonely, sad and forsaken, you may want to start a devotional practice; there is absolutely nothing wrong--and everything right--with deciding that you would like to get to know one of more of the Gods on a more direct, personal basis. You can't force such a thing, but you certainly can put out the invitation, and devotional practice is the way to do this.

4. Deities who want to marry you--especially in the Northern Tradition--tend to approach you directly, rather than through a human or disembodied intermediary. They are not shy about these things. (See the list of possible communication methods above.) This is another reason why I am going to be stepping back from addressing these kinds of questions: you don't need me--or anyone else, no matter how well intentioned--to run interference for you. As I have said before, I do not want to be the person standing between you and your God, and I would be a little suspicious of anyone who did wholeheartedly embrace such a role, frankly.

5. Generally speaking, deities do not force marriage on humans. Deity marriage is a devotional path, and every single godspouse I have ever met married their god for one reason only: they were so passionately in love with Him or Her that they couldn't not do it. However...

6. Be aware that deity marriage is NOT a temporary path, to be put down again once you become bored with it and want to move onto other things, or once it becomes too inconvenient for you. If you give marriage vows to a deity and if those vows are accepted, the immense weight of the obligation you have assumed is taken very seriously not only by your Spouse and by the rest of the Gods but by the Norns too. It directly impacts your Wyrd, which is now entwined with that of the God in question. Like a human marriage--only more so--a deity marriage requires work, and although your Spouse will help you as much as They can a great deal of that work will be on your end. Like a human marriage, a deity marriage will transform your life, not only in the dreamy-blissful ways you're envisioning but also in practical terms: your existing human relationships may fall apart under the strain of your new commitment and you may be called upon to endure hardships, loneliness and poverty for the sake of your Beloved. And unlike a human marriage, for its very existence a deity marriage requires that you remain open, constantly, to your divine Spouse. In practical terms, this means that every time you feel your heart begin to close against Them even the tiniest bit--through anger, complacency, disappointment, pain, or any other cause--you will need to willfully rip it open again in any way you can, once more offering Them the core of who you are, laid bare and bloodied before Them; and this is not something you will have to do once or twice but repeatedly, every time that wound begins to scab over again. "Does it hurt?" some of you will doubtless be wanting to ask me. To which I say, "Are you paying attention?" I'm not writing in code here but being as literal and explicit as possible, so you're damn right it will hurt, like nothing you have ever experienced. But this raw openness allows your Beloved direct access to your heart--which is no longer, strictly speaking, yours but Theirs--and if you love Them, if you truly love Them, if your commitment was made cleanly and for all the right reasons, then the results of this painful process will be a source of unending joy for you that I cannot even begin to describe.

Okay, before I make divine marriage sound too idyllic (which is not the goal of this post, after all), we'll take a step back and consider the topic of entitlement again.

A few points of etiquette (and "netiquette") for aspiring godspouses:

1. No matter how loved and cherished you may be by your god, do not assume that you are automatically more important to Them than someone who has already devoted years of loving service to Them (in divine marriage or any other close capacity). Believe me, your god will not appreciate it if you approach such a devotee of Theirs making demands on their time or attention that the other person cannot afford or is for any reason unwilling to give you. Even in the case of high profile followers of your god, never assume that the person you are approaching owes you anything at all, and if they tell you that they do not have the time for you or just do not want to deal with you for whatever reason, take the hint and leave them alone. Along these same lines...

2. After sending off an initial email and not receiving a response, it is generally okay to send one more polite inquiry after waiting a few weeks or so (since emails do get lost in Cyberspace occasionally). After that, if you receive no response, assume that the other person does not want to or cannot deal with you at this time. (It may not even be a personal thing; you have no idea what may be going on in the other person's life. If someone in their family is gravely ill or they are in the midst of a spiritual crisis themselves or they have just lost their home, imagine how much of a heel you'll feel like when you later realize that you were pestering them in the midst of such a thing.) If you haven't received a response and you've written twice, it is never okay to send a third email saying "I was wondering if you got my email." You have just turned into a pest.

3. If someone with years more experience than you has been kind enough to correspond with you to offer some of their perspective or wisdom, do not assume that now you are good friends or pen pals and do not demand that they continue to write lengthy emails to you or confide their own secrets in you. Some will, and it is quite possible to make friends in this way. However, if they seem to be making an attempt to taper off their replies gracefully, allow them the room to do so; once again, this may not be a personal thing, and may not even mean that they do not like you. But do not assume that because they have written to you or helped you they are now your peer. (Or, worse, that you are now in a position to offer them advice, especially if its unsolicited.) And last but certainly not least...

4. Don't assume that anyone else owes you the benefit of their experience or hard-won wisdom, either pertaining to this path or any other. People who have been on this path for a while, like myself, started out when there were very few people around to seek advice or guidance from. We learned the hard way, reading what we could here and there but mostly learning to listen, hard, to what our gods were telling us. We fell down, got our knees skinned, then picked ourselves up and kept going--and we did this over and over and over again. Some of us are a bit jealous of the knowledge we've won through our own pain and hard work, and some of us are of the opinion that this kind of wisdom can't be spoon-fed anyway but must be fought and bled for by each individual who seeks it. (Consider Odin, who was taught by both His mother and His uncle Mimir when He was first starting out--and yet, that didn't keep Him from needing to rip out one of His eyes, or hang on the Tree, to get where He wanted to go on His path.) Some of us believe we aren't necessarily helping you by attempting to spoon-feed you these lessons, but only hindering and delaying the necessarily painful process of learning them for yourself.

If this sounds mean or harsh to you, consider that it takes big-time cojones to become a god spouse in the first place, to stand up before the world and say, "Yes, that's right, Deity X loves me. Yes, I know I'm overweight, or not outstandingly pretty, or don't have a college degree, or can't sing on key, but the one thing I do know is that this particular God cherishes me and is passionately in love with me, so much so that He accepted me for His wife." That takes not only balls but big brass ones, because the most common reaction--outside of your tight little circle of friends--is that the world will laugh in your face. However, declaring yourself is the easy part, and it is exactly those types of balls you are going to need to get through the lessons that will follow, that type of unshakable belief. In the end if you can't manage to believe in your own worthiness (and I'll tell you a secret: few of us can, when it comes to something of this magnitude), you will be asked to cling to the fact that your Beloved God tells you you are worthy, and that His or Her divine Word therefore makes it so. This is faith on a level that most human beings never have to wrestle with, and it takes not only balls to carry it off but plenty of muscle power, which you will build up gradually by working your way through lots of difficult lessons, endless testing, and plenty of hardship and self-discipline.

Ten years ago, when I first married Odin, one of the experienced people I had pestered told me, in a fit of pique, to come back and bother her again when I'd been on this path for a decade or longer. I haven't taken her up on this, however I will say that I now appreciate where she was coming from, since I have observed that a good many of the people I have seen start out on this path are not around ten years, or even five years, later on. Whether or not you will be depends on how hard you are willing to work on your relationship, what you are willing to both give to it and give up for it, and not on whether you receive words of reassurance or guidance from a seer or from another godspouse. Validation is comforting, but it's also overrated. In the end, it's all up to you, and Them, really.

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Beth is a priestess of Odin, writer, self-taught fiber artist, and urban shaman who lives and works amidst the wild wights of the Pacific Northwest. Her little cottage business, Fiberwytch on Etsy, offers her artisan handspun yarn, ritual cords spun from hand dyed fleece and charged and blessed using traditional methods, and other handcrafted goodies to enrich your practice and pamper your soul. She is the author of Odhroerir: Nine Devotional Tales of Odin's Journeys, and Water from the Well and Other Wyrd Tales of Odin, both available on Amazon, and her work has also appeared in Idunna, Hex, and the now-defunct newWitch. She offers rune,Tarot and Lenormand readings by appointment.

Comments

  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger Saturday, 05 January 2013

    Thank you.

  • Carolina Gonzalez
    Carolina Gonzalez Sunday, 06 January 2013

    Excellent!

  • Cat
    Cat Sunday, 06 January 2013

    Very well said.

  • Paolo Nugent
    Paolo Nugent Sunday, 06 January 2013

    It's interesting to me that I have never heard of any men being Goodspouses within the Northern Tradition (don't know much about paganism outside of Heathenism), but women seem far more prone to having this kind of a relationship with deities. I have certainly never heard of any average, more macho type guys being Godspouses. Then again, I'm not really involved directly with the Heathen community at large. Would be interesting to learn if women are just more open about sharing these things than the male Godspouses are.

  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch Monday, 07 January 2013

    Paolo, I have run into a couple of male lovers or spouses of Odin, but you're right, they do tend to be a lot less public about it. I would think Freyja would have at least a few as well, but if so I have not heard of them. Maybe Galina has?

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