I try to do the Work my gods have given me. Sometimes, the work is unclear or lost in communication. Other times, I simply fail to do as I should and have to take a breath and restart, reminding myself why I am doing this Work. I’m still learning and growing and ending up on the wrong side of a few entities. (Nothing, yet, that I can’t fix.)
When I am doing the Work, though, I feel joy. I know my place in the world and am content. Not to mention, when I am able to keep up the Work, when I am able to walk confidently and be a proper example of my gods, people have always commented positively. This is Work I am meant to do. It makes me happiest. Add in that I am the only example and spokesperson for my deities, and the Work becomes very important. They do not yet have others who can speak for them, others who can make them proud and give these deities a good impression to humans. They may never have others. So this Work is vital to me, not only my life, but my gods’ as well.
Yet the word ‘work’ is met with distaste in many Pagan circles. It is heard among polytheists, godspouses, and some spirit workers; it’s hardly surprising that these groups have slunk further away from Pagans considering the outright hostility the ‘spiritual but not religious’ have to the idea that spirituality may be difficult, challenging, and involve work. Often, we’re chided that if we really cared for our deities, if we were truly ‘spiritual’, we would not consider it ‘work’. Work is ‘bad’ – because it’s hard. Because it’s not always fun.
Because it’s something you have to do.
The joy I feel when doing this Work for my gods is not constant. Many days I will wake up and want to do nothing other than glower at people and eat pie. I’ll be tempted to get rid of my prayerbooks, my journals, the texts I’m studying, and spend the rest of my life giggling online. This Work is exhausting, and when I slip it is easy to fall into a rut. But I keep getting up and doing it because I have an obligation to. It makes me a better person, more tolerable for others to be around, more at peace with my life. But I also have serious spiritual and religious obligations to do this Work. I can’t just abandon it because it gets hard. Though my life has certainly been spun since childhood to lead to god-involvement, serious oaths, some sort of otherworldliness, I still have to accept the oaths I made. I have to accept the words and deals I made with my gods and with my own soul.
I will proudly call what I do Work. Though people may try to convince me I should not consider anything work, should slid from one easy task to the next, I cannot and will not. I like growth and struggle, much as it huts. I like the long hike from the mountain, miles and miles that turn legs to jelly and cause you to lean against trees longing for rest. I like walking across the Winterlands and coming to the frozen lake, meeting selves and others and more.
What other word for it is there, if not Work? ‘Play’ is not proper, and though it does bring me joy it is not that entirely. It is learning to dance and sing, it is staring in the mirror and not shying away, it is running in the street truly and smiling at those I pass. It is naming the trees and telling the color of the fences, of the heat on my back and the rumble of cars passing by. It is that slime that overtakes me when I cannot write, when there are no words, and it is that ecstasy when there are words upon words and no dam to hold them back. It is fear I will fall and a thrill that I shall fly and, between it all, the knowledge I have legs to walk. It is words to a stranger. It is the sweeping of a house. It is a hot shower and prayer and each breath crafted to move the gods through me to the world.
It is, and I am.