[Monday] Spirits of Consent & Links

For a while, Julian Betkowski (you can read his blog Eros is Eros is Eros here and his column on Polytheist.com here) has been writing, on Facebook and Ello, about consent in the context of gods, as well as virtue as it relates to the gods as well. His comments and writings are something I very much value (though I admit I can’t always keep up with them!). My experience in reading material offered for those who are bothered by spirits and gods is that I had to submit because they were gods. I think Julian is offering a lot of interesting and challenging ideas to that discourse.

I don’t wish to rehash or restate his ideas here – I am confident I would utterly and unintentionally misrepresent them. His comments about this issue have stirred my own mind, however.

The theology of the Otherfaith is very weak, at the moment. Beyond polytheism – a belief in many gods – we have little theology hammered out. One important part of our theology that I have not explored is dystheism. Dystheism is, essentially, the belief that gods are not wholly good, or perhaps even evil. It can be an argument against gods. In the context of the Otherfaith, dystheism deepens our understanding of the gods and establishes that the gods will not always do what is ‘right’ or ‘good’. Godhood itself is a complicated existence, and it is something I do not think I quite have a handle on. The best example we currently have in the Otherfaith of dystheism is the Laetha.

the Laetha is an incredibly violent deity in some of her forms. Unlike the Clarene or Ophelene, her violence is not tied to retribution or justice but bloodlust and madness. Part of the structure of the Otherfaith needs to include apotropaic offerings to this god, as she is not always intended to be called upon or held close to us. She can be pushy in her desires, and she has a hard time taking ‘no’ for an answer.

We do have the option to tell her no, though. In the Otherfaith, we can tell any of the gods no. We can decide we aren’t going to travel with them anymore. “Thanks for everything, I’m done now.” Some of the gods take this answer better than others. And in cases when the gods push again and again, there are spirits that can be called upon to aid a human in rejecting the gods.

One of these, likely the strongest and most preferable, is Adilene. Adilene is a lover of the Clarene. She bears many similarities to the Laetha – pale milk skin, endless flaming red hair, oddly glowing eyes. She is burned horribly by the Laetha and buried in the otherworldly forest in order to save her life, and this transforms her into a powerful restrictive force to the god. Adilene’s grandchild, Alynah Blake is also a restrictive force to the Laetha, but she brings a larger host of problems than her grandmother. Adilene is also a powerful force against the rest of the Four (+ Four) Gods, even going against her divine lover if she feels the god is attempting to override or coerce someone. She’s generally considered the patron of those who flee godly attention.

Another spirit associated with restraint and ‘leveling the field’ when it comes to god-human relations is Casimir. Himself caught between two much more powerful forces, Casimir has his power thrust upon him by his lover when the man summons a sacred weapon into Casimir’s body. Casimir, being unfortunately selfless and compassionate, transforms this energy into one of protection and defense. Where Adilene can be considered magically powerful, Casimir embodies physical strength and safety. He is sometimes considered to have been a human as well, so his preference for protecting human worshipers from gods may stem from this.

The other spirit that can help devotees establish fairer ground is Erann. Erann is more of a negotiator than the pure powerhouses of the other two spirits, and he is more neutrally aligned than the benevolent Casimir and Adilene. He is associated with shapeshifting and spying. Whereas Casimir and Adilene are focused on restraining gods, Erann is most adept at restraining other non-godly spirits. He is always willing to offer a helping hand to those who ask. He tends to make bargains and deals more than plain-faced aid. He’s best called upon and prayed to when a situation with a god or spirit needs to be worked through or worked around rather than stopped in its tracks.

In blog-keeping news, Sage will now be blogging for ‘of the Other People’! I’m so happy that Sage is contributing to this blog and adding their voice. More voices on the Otherfaith are always needed. They will be posting every (or every other) Friday. Look forward to their posts soon.

And now, for some links!

Jenn reflects on the myth of Lyra and the Ophelia’s Romance.

David Dashifen Kees has started a solo book club, and the first book he’s reading is A World Full of Gods. David is one of the coolest polytheists and Pagans around, though I’m completely biased in saying that.

Conor Davis has written a short poem worth a read.

In other news, Sarenth Odinsson has put out a devotional for ancestors. I recommend checking it out, as it has many different voices!

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus has a post on Set killing Apophis worth reading.

Celestine contemplates the afterlife, and the importance of this life.

Thank you for reading. ‘of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist religion. You can find more about us here and here. You can contact us here if you have any questions or would like to get involved.

9 thoughts on “[Monday] Spirits of Consent & Links

  1. This is important and fascinating discussion, and I’m glad you’re beginning it here…I don’t have much else to say on it meanwhile, other than “thanks”! ;)

    And thanks, also, for the signal boost on my post from last night…That one felt very important.

      • Cool! Glad (in the “misery loves company” way) I was not the only one up that late!

        These “ficlets” (as MT called them, I think), when I decided to do them starting on Jan. 1 this year, were not supposed to be longer than 1000 words, and 500-600 was the “goal”; but, this one overshot it a little. Oh well…Set can be insistent like that. ;)

        And, yes, it got a bit heavier than I expected it would…there may still be something there to yet go deeper with, I’m not sure.

  2. Ah, I’ve been calling it Contrarian Theism all this time, when (as the great philosopher Pratchett wrote) “the gods aren’t so much ‘worshipped’ as ‘blamed’.” Dystheism is shorter and less maybe victim-blamey.

    • Four? If that wasn’t a typo, I’m so excited to read about that new one. (I’d been getting this peculiar brain fart that the Dierne would make an interesting syncretism of Darren and Irene, but that would be weirder than wyrd.)

    Back to dystheism, it reminded me of Jonathan Smith’s essay about “Here, There, and Anywhere” faiths, where he made the distinction between sanctification (where everything is divine and perfect and beautiful and virtuous and good just the way it is) and salvation (where the world is just the worst and faith gives us either ways to fix it or ways out) and I understand the concepts as being polarized like that as an interesting distinction, but still haven’t quite figured out how those as distinct qualities of a living faith…anything, really. It’s just got to be more complicated than polarization.

    • And a case study of how these qualities would apply in a rich mythology of boundary-keepers in different situations, is good for the sensibilities of these vague but likely to be important ideas, I meant to say. (And the plus sign in my comment above became a bullet point I didn’t want it to.)

    • I agree that there must be more than the polarization of sanctification and salvation. Of course, I’m not a fan of binaries like that :P

      I was pretty pleased when I stumbled on dystheism, since it described some of my beliefs really well! Glad that it seems useful to you as well.

      And yes, there are now ‘officially’ (that’s not quite the right word) four more gods to the original Four Gods. I’ll be waiting to put out more information on the last of the god once we have more hammered out though.

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