I will start this post by saying I haven’t dug around online looking for Heathens or Pagans that do what I do beyond a small group I found when I was initially smacked upside the head by Lord Loki, God of Mischief, Muse, God of Flipping My Life On Its Ear. I have been sifting through some blogs here and there and thinking about the things that the group I talk to discusses day to day. This post arose from several different intersecting lines and Loki grabbing me by the face and rubbing my nose in my personal fears and fascinations.
From my admittedly limited experience in the world of direct divine communication and friendships with people who ALSO have direct divine interactions I am slowly gaining the understanding that there seem to be several “paths” that one can take on the road of spirit work where one undertakes lessons to improve oneself, satisfy and worship the Gods, and help the community. There are probably an unlimited amount of permutations each of these paths could take and they can overlap, but at least as far as the Heathen/Northern Trad/General Pagan Paths seem to go this is what I’ve come up with.
I will begin with the person who simply tosses a Hail out to the Gods, burns some incense, and mostly likely has sporadic direct communication or perhaps never has direct communication with the Gods. Either they don’t want to or it wouldn’t be useful in this life for one reason or another, or maybe they will later, but they don’t right now. I don’t really have a name for these people other than lay Heathen or lay Pagan, to borrow from Christian terminologies that most of us are familiar with.
There is the path of the Devotee. The Devotee is someone who may or may not have direct communication with a deity, though this person has chosen to worship a specific deity or dieties within a specific tradition. They may have been prompted or they may have chosen the deities they worship on their own. As far as I can tell a Devotee is not necessarily Oathed to a specific deity even if they spend their time in adoration of said deity or group of deities.
There is the Path of the Sacred Mother, which seems to often be tied together with Sacred Queenship (& perhaps Kingship)/Sovereinty/Godspousery. These paths all seem to be tied to caring for others, the land, the people of the community, and ourselves in a way that does honor to the gods, our ancestors, and our inner divinity. To be a Sacred Mother I believe one must actually have bourn a child on the astral or on the mundane plane at some point in your spiritual evolution, in other words not necessarily during this life time. To me Sacred Motherhood is a healing path. The Sacred Mother instinctively is capable of helping others patch themselves back together, control their energy flow, and is generally an even keeled person, but they are also easily able to tap into the universal power of creation. The ability to tap into the universal creative power MAKES them the best sort of spiritual healer because they can create or manipulate present energy into the energy the person or land (or whatever) they are trying to heal most needs. Sacred Motherhood can easily be tied to Sacred Sovereignty because there are elements of being tied to the community and other things that cross over, but I’ve decided Sacred Motherhood is different because it isn’t bound to Oathes and it isn’t bound to service or even necessarily the elements or the land. Divine Motherhood taps into the universal womb of creation. You can be a Divine Mother (and I haven’t considered this one much, but if there is a Divine Motherhood there MUST be a corresponding Divine Fatherhood) and a Sacred Sovereign, but just because you are on The Path of Sacred Queenship or Kingship doesn’t automatically mean that you have the ability to tap into the same energies as a person who finds themselves in the position of the Motherhood Path. I would say that though both Paths incline a person to service the Sacred Mother would be less likely to be compelled to help others by the Gods and more likely to be a naturally helping person already in their lives. Not that the Gods won’t utilize us and our natural talents for their purposes.
I feel like I’m starting to get muddy, so I will move on.
There is the Path of Sacred Sovereignty (Queenship/Kingship). This path seems to tie in closely to Godspousery, but I think it would be possible to have one without the other. In Godspousery a person has married a deity-there are many ways to do it I’m sure, but …think married. They are in service to the deity they are married to and they love that deity. They learn from them and have frequent interactions with them which can range from physical feelings of touching and direct communication to occasional interaction, but the core of Godspousery seems to be daily devotion and real love from both the deity for the human and from the human to the deity. Like every marriage they can have their ups and downs, but they seem to be harder to break than a mundane marriage and just because the human is irritated and DONE with the whole thing doesn’t mean the deity in question will be. Along with Oathing I would think a sacred marriage would be one of the areas where I would be most cautious in committing myself because-some things reverberate beyond this life time. A sacred marriage I suspect is definitely one of those things. Sacred Sovereignty comes when a person is on a leadership path. Perhaps the leadership is personal and not public-learning to be a better person, a considerate person and do things that take into account the benefit of doing things fro more than just yourself. Also, this can be tied into the elements-the land, air, water bodies, or in my case I believe the celestial bodies is where I am tied. There is a LOT more to it, but I think this bare bones enough for this discussion.
Can you believe I haven’t even talked about what I was originally setting out to talk about yet? All of the paths I have talked about about seem to be widespread as far as the infinitely small percentage of the population spirit workers account for-at least in the Northern Traditions, but I’ve read about and heard of Godspouses from other pantheons/traditions as well. A lot of my information is filtered heavily through Lokeans (imagine that…Hail Loki!), and almost all of my direct experience has been with Himself, Angrboda, and Fenris. I mentioned all of this stuff so I could talk about The Madness Path. I am not naïve enough to consider that only Lokeans can utilize the Madness Path in coming fully into themselves and the worship of the divine, but I do believe that Lokeans, as the people of a decidedly bent deity to begin with, are more open about talking about their problems and more accepting of those with problems than average paganism and heathenry-Mental, Physical, and Spiritual problems.
I’ve been getting prompts lately to consider what a madness path might mean. Not that I should be taking one, but whether or not I already have. There’s a thought. Have I already travelled The Madness Path? The Madness Path seems to be thus: Go Crazy for a while. Go completely, off the deep end crazy. Destroy your life as you know it. Rebuild into a stronger, better, faster-solid and unshakable you. And since you’ve already been crazy JUST BEING YOU isn’t frightening any more. Because hell, you’ve been crazy. I don’t think that a person has to be institutionalized or in therapy to have travelled The Madness Path.
Being crazy-losing myself completely-is a horrifying and frightening concept for me, but I think it is so frightening because I have done it already. I have changed my entire person for another’s pleasure and had to dig around and find myself and rebuild. I have beaten myself into the dirt in the pursuit of scholarship. I’ve starved my body and beaten myself up at the gym. I took almost 10 years of my life to make every conceivable poor choice available to me and I did. I’ve created my own hell and come back to be a reasonable person. I would say I’m even more level headed for having done those things, but it takes looking back to see my actions and the way I was feeling for the madness it was. I didn’t feel crazy at the time, even though I was doing things that a person who was good with themselves wouldn’t do. I think that is part of the trouble with a Madness Path. You don’t know you’re on it till you are done travelling it. I also don’t think that The Madness Path is meant to be a life long, indefinite path. I think most people travel it for a while-to greater and lesser degrees. Everyone has a time in their life where they break apart. What makes the times when you fall apart The Madness Path is what you build from the ruins around you. If you fall apart and stay apart you continue on the path. If you fall apart and build a staircase you climb it to another, more stable, less ego centric path.
I am terrified of The Madness Path I think not because I couldn’t travel it, but because I have travelled it and only a crazy person would want to revisit the worst part of their lives. The lessons we learned during that time are invaluable, however, and that is why I believe they lead us to our personal Gods. Those lessons do a great deal to let us know what we ultimately want to be in the universe and in our lives. I think Loki, being a deity unwilling to look a gift horse in the mouth, takes advantage of The Madness Path and those on it more frequently than others. He’s not afraid to get down into the trenches and get his hands dirty. He will help you make a huge mess of your life, but then he’s also good enough to help you start digging out as well. Most of the time. Unless you need to do it yourself.
I’m not sure if he was holding my hand while I dug out of my problems, but I can see his touches here and there when I was making my messes. I also want to say that The Madness Path can be joyful. I was happy making my messes and grinding myself into the dirt. I was ecstatic. Until I spiraled into darkness.
But I found my way out. I graduated from college. I met my soul mate. I came into my understanding of the Gods. I became fully MYSELF and care less about what other people think than I would have if I hadn’t travelled my path and fully explored my own Madness.
Loki says I’m starting to ramble and I agree, so I will part with this:
I don’t think we need to fear The Madness because chances are we won’t realize we are dealing with it until it is over.