This is part of my commitment to posting once a week on the Delphic Maxim. This first post was originally added to my personal journal, and I am cross posting it here for the sake of continuity. There has been some editing on my part to clean up the writing, correct spelling, and properly credit others of ideas they presented me.
My first and instinctive response to “Follow God” is a simple “no”. It doesn't last long, but part of me violently rejects the idea that I am a being meant to obey or follow above all else. Chalk it up to my problems with authority figures I guess.
Coming to Gods, was a long and slow process. I started my journey into paganism by leaving God. I felt divine and "other" presence and I realized it wasn't though the Abrahamic God. I didn't know what I was feeling, but I thought it might be pagan, so I settled over in this direction.
For the majority of my time as a Pagan, I've been without Gods of any sort. I've had guides, local guardians, land spirits, and plant spirits. I've called on angels. I've traveled to a place where there is nothing but divine energy and where I was made to understand that everything in all worlds and planes is a form of this divine energy. Such a thing is so far removed from human motives, it can be hard to consider a God though I never had trouble classifying this Energy as Divine.
I was Godless until I moved to Alabama and was literally greeted by the local God of the region. We've been working together and getting to know one another for almost two years. It's still a state that is not at all natural to me. We negotiate a lot. We are fluid and respectful of each other.
The word follow is too forceful to describe the interactions between myself and my Gods. Its tangled up in the Christian sense of surrendering the self and restricting one's nature to please a deity. It takes away my will or what I want from the equation entirely and simply requires I kneel to all demands. Objectively, I realize follow doesn't have to have any of these implications. Emotionally, it's a word I reject often before I've thought too much as to why.
There are all sorts of way to follow. Before I had Gods, there was still something sacred, worthy of respect, and bigger than me in the world. I took time to acknowledge, admire, and learn from this nameless experience based thing. Often this feeling came from the natural world for from random acts of kindness others demonstrated. It was something I valued as transcendent and core to my own life. These were moments in time that I needed to honor and that I would cherish and carry with me. I think this could qualifies as following God so long as the idea of God in general is not required to have too many human characteristics or human like will.
If following God means to acknowledge and honor God then most moments of most days I'm the model of this maxim.
On the other hand, if following God is something that's done without question, without discussion, and without hesitation then I really only have a 50/50 track record.
Furthermore: I don't think Gods inherently know what is best for a human or for me in particular. I'm not certain one should follow every edict a god may choose to make.
Star Foster thinks there are two bits of criteria to judge one's ability to follow god. She asks us to consider:
“1. Is what we are pursuing godly, sacred and of high virtue?2.Are we following that instead of trying to drive the train ourselves?”
I have no qualms with her first meditative question assuming what's godly is paletable.
The second concern bothers me though. I'm all about driving my own train. Gods might be like life's GPS, but I should be able to take a left when they want me to take a right. My ability to go "off program" is especially important if while traveling to said destination I want to explore the farm stand over on the left, or I notice heavy construction to the right and want the GPS to re-route me away from there. GPS's don't know all the driving conditions or all the possible stops a long the way, which is a great analogy for pagan gods who are not all knowing or all powerful. They may be leading me to a grocery store but not know about the farmers market I spot along the way. I know where I prefer to shop at.
The point: there are perfectly good benign reasons not to follow Gods. Indeed I wouldn't even necessarily call a farm stand stop directly disobeying Gods so much as leisurely following. While my interactions with a more human minded deity is very new, there has already been a time where I went left when deity said right and they just re-routed me to where they wanted me to be because in that instance it meant that much to them. If Gods can do this, I don't see what it matters how willingly or immediately I follow. When they want me to get there, I'll be there.
We all know what if best for ourselves or at least this is a core truth we should all strive to find with or without Gods. I think we need to follow the call that works best for oneself whether that involves Gods or not.
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Article copyright Swift Rabbit/ Southern Pagan Muses