“Putting the Gods First”
October 12, 2016
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Some people believe we should “put the Gods first,” and I agree with them to a certain extent. I’ve been to a few Pagan meetups where I felt totally out of place for caring more about worshiping Gods than practicing Tarot or Reiki or crystal-gazing, so I know what it’s like to feel alienated on that level. However, I also think the phrase “putting the Gods first” has to be qualified somehow. The Gods are mighty and cosmic and much more powerful than humans, but They still have Their limitations, and They might not always be right about everything. Furthermore, there are some situations in which taking care of our own needs might be more important than appeasing any particular Deity. This matter is far more nuanced than some people would like to allow.
Consider the biblical tale of when Yahweh commanded Abraham to kill his son Isaac as a blood sacrifice. Of course, Yahweh never intended to let young Isaac die; He was only interested in seeing if Abraham would do whatever He told him to do (which he did). Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought that story was really sick. If Seth-Typhon ever demanded that I kill someone for Him (Gods forbid), I would refuse – even if I were absolutely certain that it was really Him (and not just a hallucination or a demon trying to impersonate Him). And if He continued to bother me about it, I would have to stop worshiping Him altogether. Mind you, this wouldn’t be easy for me; Seth is my Eternal Source, and I love Him as much as I love any human being or animal that I count as family. But my human need to be a good person and to not harm or kill anyone (except when it comes to defending my loved ones or myself) trumps any “divine mandate” that I might receive from anyone, and Seth knows this is absolutely non-negotiable with me.
I think everything in nature is an emanation of Atum-Ra, which means there’s a bit of the Self-Created One in all of us. It also means that while the Gods may be greater and more powerful than humans, They still owe us a certain amount of respect. We must honor Them if we wish to have Their blessings, but They must also bless us if They wish to continue enjoying our worship. They have the right to refuse any requests we might make of Them, but we also have the right to tell Them “No” as well. And while They are justified in smiting us when we disrespect Them, we are equally justified in rejecting Them when They abuse our trust. I reject the idea that we are the “property of God” and that we have absolutely no right to contest whatever “God” might want to do with us. We do not have to settle for being treated like slaves by anyone – not even Gods!
Yes, my Pagan path is more theocentric than anthropocentric; maintaining a personal relationship with Father Seth is the highest priority in my spirituality. But I don’t view Our relationship as being some kind of stratified “chain-of-command.” Maybe it’s because Big Red has never once given me a “commandment” or told me what to do. He’s certainly never told me to hurt anyone for Him, as in the purely theoretical situation above. (And why should He? He’s perfectly capable of smiting people all by Himself.) He doesn’t have to boss me around anyway, because as far as I’m concerned, He and I mirror each other. Great Typhon might be a towering inferno, and I might be just a little spark; but I’m made of all the same stuff He is, and I’m naturally inclined to do all the same things. So for me, “putting my God before myself” is a false dichotomy; it implies that Big Red and I aren’t already on the same cosmic groove. I prefer to say that He and I and all of my loved ones are a team, and that I put the entire team first – not just my God or myself.