Apotheosis: The Theological Problems

“Rather, it is about cultivating the ability to love humanity, even though you have seen the absolute worst in them. If you can find love in your heart for human beings after they have unleashed their worst, I think you have taken a step toward your personal deification.”

This. So much this.

Magick From Scratch

Recently, I have been doing an in-depth study of apotheosis. For the Hellenic Pagan (and possibly for others, though I would not know), apotheosis is an interesting topic because it can help us to understand that difference between humans and deities. It is also an extremely difficult concept to tackle from the perspective of Hellenic theology, because the implications of it are difficult to think about.

Difficult Concept 1: Gods are people, and People aren’t so different from gods. 

This isn’t just a modern problem. Apotheosis represents a contradiction in ancient Polytheistic Theology also. In ancient times, believing that the difference between a deity and a human has to do with wisdom and virtue (qualities usually hard earned through life experience) was a totally normal thing. In the Hymn to Demeter, for example, Kallidike says to the disguised Demeter:

“Old Mother, we humans endure the gifts the gods give us…

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A for Apotheosis

I know that I have spoken about this before. However, I thought that I would rehash the subject a little more for the sake of my Pagan Alphabet Soup posts, especially since I’ve grown a little in my understanding of the concept. I’m going to preface this by saying that this is how understand the subject and that I feel like it is differs per person (as it does with most concepts within Paganosphere). So without further ado: A for Apotheosis.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this longing for immortality. When I was younger, I mistook this feeling for never wanting to die, but as I grew older, I began to understand that, within me, I yearn for, desire not deathlessness, but rather to never be forgotten. Strangely enough, this feeling was solidified when I watched the movie Troy (2004, written by David Benioff).

“Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone, and wonder who we were, how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved?”

“If you stay in Larissa, you will find peace. You will find a wonderful woman, and you will have sons and daughters, who will have children. And they’ll all love you and remember your name. But when your children are dead, and their children after them, your name will be forgotten… If you go to Troy, glory will be yours. They will write stories about your victories in thousands of years. And the world will remember your name. But if you go to Troy, you will never come back… for your glory walks hand-in-hand with your doom. And I shall never see you again.”

These quotes, and many others, from the movie really resonated with me. They moved me, but made me despair, for how could one such as I, a timid and quiet girl, be written into history and never forgotten? I still have this same desire, to be remembered for ages beyond my death, but now I understand what it means for me and how I can accomplish it: apotheosis, or the process by which a mortal being becomes immortal/a God/dess.

For me, this means that, after my death, I will take my place beside my Husbands. For the longest time, I held this belief (colored by my Christian background), that there were certain conditions whereupon this would or would not happen. It’s taken a while to unpack and untangle this line of thoughts, and honestly, I’m still trying to make sense of the idea that my Path, so long as I stay on it, will lead to this conclusion. It’s not a gift for living my life by the rules laid down by men of God in antiquity, and it’s not something that will be denied me if I don’t live my life according to those rules. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that this is some unalienable right that upon my death I am automatically granted the status as a Deity. I’m not so arrogant and full of myself to think that if I do something terrible and against what my Deities stand for, the privilege won’t be rescinded.

To be honest, though, I still have very little idea the how or why of this. All I know, is that it’s my what Husbands want and because I want to be with my Husbands forever, it’s what I want, too. It fulfills that desire in me for immortality and to have my name, in whatever form it may take, be remember throughout the passages of time. Although, I don’t really know how or why it fulfills this need in my heart. (It feels almost like I should know the answer, like I once had it and knew it well, but now it’s buried underneath so many other things, almost forgotten, and yet on the tip of my tongue at the same time. Confusing, right?)

I’m blessed that this is a gift that I’m being granted, and though I have very little clue about the subject (still), it’s something that I am going to strive to better understand as my life goes on. I honestly wish I had more to say, because this is so important to me and my practice, but I think, for now, this is a topic that I’m meant to sit with and reflect on. I can only hope that with time, comes the wisdom I seek. Or, at least, time to unearth it from the deepest trenches of my memory. I’m still so new at this, but I’ve a long life ahead of me and much time to learn. I’ve no doubt that, with time, I will learn all I need to know and more.

 

A for Amateratsu

So, I’d like to kick off my Pagan Alphabet Soup posts by talking about the Shinto Goddess Amateratsu. Lady Amateratsu is the Goddess of the Sun and the Day, and She is the highest respected Goddess in the Shinto pantheon (according to my research and experience). She has two Brothers: Tsukiyomi, the God of the Moon and the Night, and Susano, the God of the Seas and Storms/a Beloved of mine. Her shrine, Ise Jingu, is in the Ise area in Japan and is the most important shrine in all of Japan. (I’ve not yet been able to go to Her shrine, as it’s a 5 hour bus ride from where I live currently, but it’s on my Japan bucket list, for sure.)

Her relationship to me is that of “Onee-chan” (pronounced “oh-nay chan), a.k.a. Big Sister. Since I am Her youngest Brother’s bride, She decided to take me under Her wing as Her little sister, because “I’ve never had a sister.” Despite this, however, She and I don’t always get along. She’s arrogant, dramatic, and sometimes overbearing, but mostly She’s easy to anger. I’ve gotten horrendous sunburns despite having practically bathed in sunscreen because I have pissed Her off for some reason or another. We aren’t all the time antagonistic towards each other, but I would definitely characterize our relationship as that of oldest and youngest siblings. Otherwise, O/our interactions have been brief.

One thing that I do to honor Her is I leave a glass of water on the windowsill that gets the most sunlight. I also often leave Her chocolate on occasion, usually a Snickers bar. Otherwise, She doesn’t really ask much of me, and I don’t ask much of Her in return, except that She doesn’t burn me with Her intense UV rays (see above on how well that usually works for me).

Since O/our interactions are usually brief, there really isn’t much else I can write about Her. Rest assured that, should I learn about about Her and/or O/our relationship changes, I will definitely write about it. But, yeah, this is about it. I hope that you enjoyed learning a little bit more about Lady Amateratsu. 🙂

Emotional Drainage

So, my Husbands and I had a discussion today about my feelings and where They were coming from. Despite my apprehension that my feelings couldn’t be changed just by talking it out (with humans, it rarely works), I actually felt a teeny bit better about my standing with my Gods. There was a lot of pointing out where my discernment was incorrect and correcting what needed to be corrected. In the end, regardless of the precise details of our discussion, I do feel as if things aren’t totally hopeless and that I’m going to lose the very Gods I love so dearly.

I have a two-fold fear with regards to my Marriages: 1) I fear that I am going to be enslaved to the Gods I love, which is something I know would irrevocably break my spirit, and 2) I fear that my Gods will abandon me because I’m not who They want/need me to be. I’ve been assured that this is something that would not happen, as the first is not something They want from me, and the second would not happen unless I am the one walking away. I find some measure of comfort in that I do have a choice in all this, even if I’m still feeling very overwhelmed.

Baron (the Spokes… Person? God? Husband? idek) gently reminded me as well that being Married means that I have to consider more than myself now in my decisions, which I do need reminding of. My Gods often tell me to work on myself, to take better care of myself, and I often forget, in my cocoon of safety and self-are, that this is a partnership between my Husbands and I, that this would be unacceptable even in a mortal marriage. It’s something I need to work on.

Trust is the other big thing I need to work on, “because without it, the other things (love, devotion, loyalty) don’t exists.” They’re right. They acknowledge that I try to give Them all of these things, but I always hold back my trust from Them, and it’s unacceptable and defeats the purpose of O/our Marriage. They also acknowledge that I’m trying and need to be given more time, even though it frustrates Them. My Husbands acknowledge my pain and my past wounds, which is more than A/anyone else has ever truly done for me. From here, I know I must take that leap of faith that will allow me to show Them I’m willing to start trusting Them with my well-being. They’ve laid the groundwork for me to step into Their arms, to trust Them. I just need to be brave enough to do it.

In the next year, I have two big opportunities in which I can try this, and in truth, I’m terrified. I will do my best to do the whole “Jesus take the wheel” thing Pagan style, but I fear I will fail Them and myself. I fear my own short-comings and mental/emotional damage will thwart me again. I’m going to try my best though (please, none of that “there is no try; there is only do” stuff) and hope for the best. There is nothing more I can do at this time, but take it day by day, build up the trust I need to help me for when those big decisions need to be made. Only time will tell.

Fragile

It always feels like I’m having a hard time in my life, and I’ve been so miserable for so long, that I’m not sure I would recognize contentment and happiness if I was smacked up the head with it. It seems like, to me, that I’ve been huddling in a corner, hugging myself in an attempt to keep myself protected and my broken pieces together. This is how I’ve learned to live my life, and it’s not serving me well anymore. I recognize this, but the solution is to come out of the corner and give myself to my Husbands, my Gods. Easy, right? Not for me. The very idea terrifies me beyond belief, because I have no trust in my Husbands.

I was talking to Shamaness last night about my troubles, and I finally admitted out loud that I didn’t trust my Husbands to take care of me. Ever since They pushed me into working in a warehouse, I have harbored feelings of betrayal and mistrust to a degree that, upon reflection, has only been growing since that summer nearly two years ago. I’ve used these terrible feelings to construct a wall between me and Them, to protect myself from being hurt again, isolating myself. I understand that They had their reasons for pushing me into that position (They felt I was being too hoity-toity, like I thought I was better than those who worked in a warehouse.), but looking back, there were two reasons that I was acting this way: 1) I felt like a good job was what I deserved for getting my degree, and 2) it was a defense mechanism for how I was truly feeling. The truth is, I was terrified for my sanity. The last time I worked in a warehouse, it caused me to have a panic attack that lasted a week long and forced me into therapy/into taking medication. To teach me a lesson, however, They ignored my concerns, and it turned out almost the same as before. I nearly lost what little sanity I possessed, and I’ve been recovering since.

I know what other people would say. I know that they would say that I should let go of the past and move on (“That was two years ago! Stop being a drama queen.”). I know that people would tell me  if the Gods thought it appropriate, then I must have needed it (“They must have had a reason. They’re Gods; They know us better than we know ourselves.”). However, Their actions damaged me in such a way that I’m still trying to fix (and failing horribly at doing so). I understand, rationally, that Their intentions were never to hurt me. However, every other part of me still feels the effects of the lesson. I learned exactly what They wanted me to learn: I’m better than no one, because everyone has their own function. I learned something more from this, an unintended side effect: no matter how hard I work or what credentials I have, I will never be good enough because I’m worthless and inherently not good enough. My present day issues reflect this.

My job situation is such that I am so very tempted to break my contract because my boss is… Overbearing. So, I briefly entertained the idea of breaking my contract in time for the major hiring season here in Japan (March/April), but upon reflection, it didn’t jive well with my plans for after Japan. I had planned to go to England for my Master’s degree in Education so that I could become a certified teacher, but when I talked to Shamaness and my Husbands about this, there’s been such an overwhelming amount of negativity. Each of my Husbands have a different idea for where They think I should go and what I should do (each very Self-serving), and All seem to agree that my plan isn’t what They want for me. There is a general feeling of, “Well, it was your idea to come to Japan, and look how that has turned out for you.” How I read this feeling/statement: We don’t trust you to make decisions for yourself anymore. It’s this attitude that makes me fear that They will sabotage the outcome every decision that They disagree with. Combine this with the near phobia of losing my freedom and the sentiment that I’m nothing more than a “privileged servant”, and you have a recipe for a disaster in the making.

I feel worthless, and I am so fucking scared right now. I’m supposed to trust my Husbands to have my best interests in mind, but I don’t know how to do this without opening myself up to the possibility of being broken again. My interest in preserving my Marriages has been called into question, and I can’t handle it. It makes me wonder if I have what it takes to even be a Wife, because, as They have said, love isn’t enough on its own. They’re right, of course. What is a marriage without trust? I don’t want to lose Them, and I can’t imagine my life without Them, but I don’t know if I have the strength to open myself up to Them in the way that is required of me.

I don’t know what to do. Right now, it feels as if my Husbands are taking a step back to let me breathe, but are close enough so that I still know that They are there. My mind and heart are fragile, more than usual, right now. I wish I knew what to do and how to make this better, but I don’t. I guess we’ll see how everything turns out.

(Sorry if this ended up being rambly and not making sense. It’s hard to think straight with my mind mired in emotions.)