A man, orphaned from the beliefs and culture of his youth through the choices and experiences of his life stumbles, through the forests of doubt and the cities of shouting voices, into a small community of strange folks who speak the names of almost-forgotten spirits and gods. These people, their ways and customs foreign yet somehow familiar, whisper of the voices of trees, the tears of the moon, the wheeling of the stars.
He abides with them awhile and is warmed by their stories. They nurture and teach him as he teaches them, sharing his wonder, reflecting back to them their mythic delight and dark broodings in a way that warms them like the fires by which he sits. He learns their tales, he sings their songs, he charms them with his boyish beauty and his far-off gaze.
And then one day, he decides to leave. He’s seen their gods but does not recognise them as his, their gods have seen him and not embraced him.
He hears another call, another god, the one he’d left, the one he’d fled from in his search for truth.
The people with whom he’d stayed, who’d given him their tales and their joys and maybe even some of their hope meet his decision with fear and worry. They’ve seen what the god to whom he decided to return has become, a god of fury, a pillaging, raping, brutal god. How could he go back?
Some worried that he’d been dishonest with them, returning their hospitality with coldness, taking but refusing to return.
Some were hurt he’d abandon them. A small community in a world eager to pour concrete into their holy wells, blot out the stars, bulldoze their forests–losing one of ours against what might come seems too hard to bear.
Some, like me, didn’t know much about him until about the time he’d started to decide to leave. He’d been known and loved by many, but there were many, many more of us who hadn’t spent time in the same places he had. Some of us merely shrugged, rightly focused instead on the work and worship of their gods and the service to others. At least one–me–delved as far back as he could through the stories to find what this man had seen, what this man had meant.
There’s something that I think I should say, having known both the god to whom he’s returning and known of another community, similar to ours. Those people are also small in number, like us, and are trying to do something just as difficult as we are.
We are trying to re-awaken the gods into the worlds of mortals, to entice them back from their decision to withdraw from us, to convince them we can be again worthy of their presence and their blessing, worthy to world with them.
They are trying to wrest from the priests of their god control of his co-creation.
Terrifying thing about gods. They don’t always care who worships them. Despite the monotheist’s claim, the god they worship didn’t create the heavens and the earth. He is like our gods, but more popular, raised amongst others by force of sword and fire.
But he relies on the same processes that our gods do. The christian god is like our gods and goddesses, relying on his manifestation and co-creation through his priests, prophets, mystics, popes, and worshipers.
That small community I mentioned, the one like ours? They are people trying to liberate the christian god from a preponderance of his violent, bigoted and uncaring worshipers, just as we may have to do for our gods, just as we have already begun to have to do with some of the heathen gods to whom racists and bigots have offered their worship in return for power.
Just as I would do on behalf of my gods and on behalf of the people I love (the poor, the oppressed, the queers and freaks–the kind ones of the earth), many of them are also attempting to do. It would even appear their current high priest, Pope Francis, is attempting to do this to.
So, charming kind-souled man who stayed with us, who accepted our hope and kindness and returned it in kind, has quit the forests of our gods, journeyed back into the land from which he came with its raping and pillaging god. But he appears to have thrown his lot in with the resistance, many of whom are my dearest friends, many of whom would fight on my behalf as I would for them.
Because of my belief in my gods, I feel I must also support them, and if he sides with them, then I should support him, too.
I can’t help but not smile at this, having remembered what we’re all on about, all up against.
If they succeed, our work to bring the gods into the world will be easier, and we’ll have less to fear.
If they fail, the earth beneath our feet, the forests in which we have taken refuge, the streams from which our goddesses whisper, the temples we hope to build for their worship–all this may fail.
Gods help them, and gods help us against that day.