A comment on a blog I’m coming to love recently made my jaw drop in something like appalled shock. The commenter stated that devotees of a certain deity should make the deity explain his motives and basically ‘fess up’ (their words) to certain acts in their mythology.
There have been plenty of discussions in various communities about deities ‘misbehaving’ and how to approach that. We consider their own cultures and time periods, (mis-)translations of the mythologies, as well as how our own culture’s ethics and norms influence our perception of the myths. And many have pointed out that one can like, work with, and worship a deity even if they have engaged in (what we find to be) problematic behavior. You can like something problematic, just understand why it’s problematic – and you don’t need to make excuses or defend a deity’s actions. You can accept they have engaged in behavior that you find to be troubling.
The gods aren’t role models. Especially in a polytheistic viewpoint, we shouldn’t strive to be exactly like the gods in every way. Our gods are not perfect, just as they aren’t omniscient or omnipotent. If you refuse to work with or worship any deity until it meets your standards of proper and ‘best’ behavior you’ll probably be searching for a long time. I admit I am heavily biased since a few of my deities were human before they were divine, so I often think of the deities as being just as flawed as human beings. But even those deities who weren’t human are their own individual selves – they have their own desires, their own biases, and expecting perfection or a sort of ‘out’ for any ‘bad’ behavior isn’t realistic.
This has been brewing about in my head as I consider the mythology of the Four Gods, especially that of the Bluebird. She is the first of the Four to become divine, and she doesn’t handle the power very well. She curses the first person that presents a threat to her power and still holds a grudge against the creature that originally dethroned her. She has also treated her lovers in continually manipulative and abusive ways, and even working with her in passing can be difficult as she presses where it hurts. (The Bluebird has continually given me some of the most frightening dreams I’ve experienced.) Even by Faery standards, her behavior is very troubling. But if I was ever told I needed to force her to ‘explain herself’ and her actions to me I would balk. Ignoring for a moment the many other factors involves -
I am not my gods’ defense lawyer. If I am to be their spokesperson or mouthpiece, it will be in a sacred setting, and it will not be for people who need to have a deity ‘fess up’. If you are so damn concerned, ask the god yourself, or just don’t work with the god. I am not trying to ignore that the gods do problematic things, but neither will I tolerate those who try to shame my gods and myself.
Have my deities done problematic things? Yes. They’ve also received punishment for many of those acts. If you are only interested in trying to play some higher moral ground, I will gladly show you the door and slam it in your face – and you will not be invited back in my home.
the Ophelia was a river that became a woman and became yet again a River. She cut through stone and mountain and tree and fed any who could wade into her waters without drowning.
When the Bluebird took her crown and sat upon the Blue Throne, her sister visited but did not bend her knee. the Bluebird took no offense and welcomed her sister with open arms, and she continued to feed the Orchards that fed the land in turn. The world continued to move in slow turns and the Blue Court continued to grow. But the day came that a human soul wandered past the gates of the Orchard and into Faery, and the Bluebird saw in that moment the man that would steal her power.
Humans rarely lived in Faery, though, and soon he fell ill with a sickness no faery would fall to. He coughed and shook and could do no harm or hurt to the land, and the Bluebird thought him surely dead. It was only when she visited her sister and saw the boy’s new body – fashioned by the Orchard-Picker’s hands herself – that she knew the danger had not yet passed.
But her sister refused to give the human to death and drowning. When she knew of the Bluebird’s plan she hid the human in Orchard and barred the gate to the lady of the River. And so it was that the waters withdrew from the trees, and the Orchard began to die. The lady of lions would still not give up the human soul. Her sister would not feed the trees. All but the Blue Court began to perish.
The human left the Orchard in hopes it would be once again fed by the River. Each place he went felt the drought, though, and no home could hide him. Soon there was no place but the Blue Court, and though he knew his fate he set foot in the hall of the queen. The faeries made way for him, murmuring curses and insults. The Bluebird stood from the throne, opened her arms, and laid the curse of wasting upon the man until he screamed in agony. Thousands of hands grasped him and tossed his decaying body out.
He fell into the River and let it take him under. His skin rotted, his hair came off in clumps, his eyes were sightless. There was nothing but the rot and the waves. With each decayed muscle and limb the Bluebird mocked him, drowning him further and further until he could not muster any emotion, any thought, and was weightless.
He washed ashore into the arms of a boy made of stars. His body was nothing but rotted flesh and a barely pulsing heart, but the Star-Wind shaped him yet another form from a mirror and wrapped him in burning embers that made the human sing with renewed passion. Each touch of starlight brought him closer to passion and farther from desolation – and farther from his humanity. From his new body burst forth wings.
The Bluebird’s curse was not yet resolved, though. No matter how detached from his humanity he became, bathing in starlight and flying with faeries, his body rotted away. The Star-Wind coated him in glamours and bade him farewell.
[concluded in 'fire at the Blue Throne']