Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Godspousery: Is it a legitimate practice?

Godspousery has been in the news and a hot button topic in the blogosphere and social media. Some people argue that it is wishful thinking at best, or delusional deception at worst. The idea that godspousery is a modern thing, however, is something that really should be put aside. Additionally, the idea of something being a modern development being some how less legitimate compared to ancient practices in religion is a perception bias that should be dropped. I could talk more about the perception bias but it isn't the focus of my post. I may revisit it, however at a later date.

Godspousery is an ancient practice that was largely forgotten by Protestant Christianity influenced people. Many people assume that the practice of marrying a deity is signs of serious mental illness, conveniently ignoring that it is a practice that has been engaged in consistently by members of the Catholic Christian church for multiple millennia and for an indeterminate time prior to the establishment of formal orders of nuns. There are records of godspousery happening within other faiths around the world for equally as long, if not longer. Indeed, in the Heathen community, we can point to the period around Roman expansion north to find records of godspousery in the Continental Heathens.

If we look for legitimacy of practice on the basis of historical precedent, there is a lot of evidence supporting it. The modern practice of godspousery is most likely quite different from the ancient practices. At the same time, we live in a world that is vastly different from what it was like in antiquity with very different emphasizes for the individual's life. In both cases, however, the vow of marriage between a worshiper and a deity is a central focus of the practice. Ancient godspousery may have overlapped with priesthood, but it is not fully conclusive this was the case. There may have been more incidences of godspousery practiced independently of priesthood than what has been recorded.

Modern godspousery varies widely in its manifestations. There are some who are in monogamous relationships with deity. There are some who are in polyamorous relationships with deity. These polyamorous relationships may include another person who is wholly human, a spirit, or another deity. Much like the human varieties of these relationships, the spouse has responsibilities in the relationship and receives some sort of benefit out of the relationship. What is forgotten by many is that the deity in the relationship also has responsibilities and benefits out of the relationship.

The intimate details of a godspouse's relationship with the deity(s) is a private matter that should be respected. Just as it is grossly inappropriate to ask a married human couple for the intimate details of their relationship, so is true for a godspouse's relationship. Even if they are married to a god, a godspouse is not obligated to serve the people. Some have confused godspousery with clergy, much to the vexation of the godspouses caught in this mess and the frustration of the person seeking the assistance of clergy.

While there is clergy who are also godspouses, not all godspouses are clergy nor are all clergy godspouses. The godspouse is a vital part of the cultus of a deity. While their activities and relationship with the deity may not be for the public to know, the godspouse is meeting a need of the deity and engaged in an (ideally) mutually fulfilling relationship. And, just like relationships between humans, the relationship between the godspouse and the deity will cycle through pleasant times and unpleasant ones.

Also, there are times where the marital relationship is dissolved on the basis of irreconcilable differences. In these instances, the relationship can be ended by either party. There are people who were once espoused to a deity and no longer are because the deity decided it was time to end the relationship. There are also people who decided to divorce the deity. Just like a terrestrial divorce, there are going to be some consequences from it. Some of them may be pleasant and some may be unpleasant. And these divorces may happen with one party willing and the other party unwilling.

Some people assume, however, that acting against a deity's will equals an automatic smite. This is not necessarily the case. The consequences of acting against a deity's will vary with respect to the relationship, circumstances, and the personality of the deity involved. Ultimately, however, the godspouse has free will to decide if they will remain wedded to said deity. There are people who are engaged in a relationship that exchanges a great deal of that freedom. Godslaves do exist. That relationship dynamic is quite different from godspousery, though it shares several elements with it.

Godspousery is a practice that has been engaged in since antiquity. It is becoming more prominent within the pagan community. This, I believe, is a good thing because it shows people that are involved in such a relationship with their deity that they're not stark raving mad. It also allows for them to network with other godspouses and receive support in their spiritual journey.

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