Do the Gods care? I’m not so sure.
In my own experience, I know that the wild gods especially, those of heath and forest, of the seas and wind, of storm and sunshine, do not care about what happens to humanity. They simply follow their nature, their path. In my perception, the universe does not care. I remember in Pirates of the Caribbean, when the goddess of the sea, Calypso, was asked why she had a change of heart about a man that she once loved, simply stated in that slow, West Indes drawl: “It is my nature”. They may interact with us, but do they have our best interests at heart? Some may, but some may not. Some may not even acknowledge us – the hurricane passes through despite our pleas, following its own song of wind and water, doing what is in its nature to do. The sun shines down relentlessly on the crops, burning the fields or ripening the wheat dependent upon other weather conditions during the season. Our best interests are not on their agenda.
And why should they be? It is the human fallacy, that mindset of us being the centre of the universe? Why should we be the recipients of all that we perceive to be good in the world, and why do we rail against the perceived tragedy? Yes, an earthquake is devastating, and can kill thousands of people, causing pain and anguish among humanity, and all other creatures that suffer from its effects. But the earthquake is not at fault (pardon the pun) – that is the nature of the earthquake. It will not seek out a place where it can cause the least destruction, nor vice versa – it happens where it needs to happen, where the elements dictate it should be, where the song takes it. It does not consider the repercussions it will have on anything.
These wild gods are of a totally different consciousness to us, and it can be damned hard to relate to. That is why we often anthropomorphise them, in order to be able to relate. It is easier to talk to a god of thunder, who struts around wielding a great hammer against giants than it is to talk to a thundercloud, or the lightning. These gods, who we have given human form – do they care for us?
By giving them some sort of humanity, we automatically assume that they should. After all, they look like us, talk like us, have adventures that we can relate to. We have created these wonderful stories about them. We care for them, we devote ourselves to them – should they not do the same?
This can often be the falling down point in relationships with the gods for many people. I have known people who have abandoned the gods, because they have lost loved ones, or had other trauma in their lives that the gods did not intercede in. My question would be – why should they intercede? At the moment, I have a very ill cat, who is not responding to medication. I have prayed to Bridget for healing strength to help her get over the illness, and to give us all strength and knowledge of the illness so that we may better cope with it. So far the results of the prayers have not been successful – should I therefore abandon all relationship with Bridget? It I did, then I would be assuming that the gods are “on call” for us, for our whims and demands and pleas for help.
They are not.
I have relationships with several gods, to help me understand them, and the ways of the world a little better, but I know that I am not special; that should I receive healing energy from Bridget it would not be because she is granting me a favour, or a gift. What I hope to achieve through my relationship with her is a better understanding of the bigger picture in life, beyond my own mortal limitations in order to better my own situation.
I don’t think Bridget really cares whether or not my cat lives or dies. She may, however, help me to understand the illness better, to help me find the inspiration and strength to continue through my relationship with her. Sometimes just talking to someone about it helps, even if you cannot see them. Like the Catholic confession, simply talking to someone can sometimes clarify things in your own mind. The priest taking the confession will give advice, tell you how many Hail Marys or acts of contrition you must do to absolve you of the sin that you committed – but the priest does not care, per se – they are simply acting on behalf of what they believe their god would like their followers to do.
Does this leave me feeling a bit lonely, a bit unwanted and left out because my gods do not care about me? Not really. My gods teach me how to cope with the world – Nemetona teaches me about sanctuary and sacred space, where I can in myself learn about finding those places where I can be free. She does not grant them to me, but shows me how to find them through her and through my own practice. Similarly, Frigge does not care for me in any motherly or matronly sort of way, nor Freya – what they do is provide me with inspiration to keep my household in good order, or to talk through relationship issues. They are not Dial-A-Gods with whom to pray to for help with this or that; through our ongoing relationship with them we begin to see how we can find the awen in their stories and weave that into our own lives.
Sometimes it may feel like our pleas are heard – that someone receives a miraculous recovery, or the tidal wave does not reach the shore. However, I would posit that this has nothing to do with us personally. The infection may go away because of the mindset and resulting physiological effects this has on a person who knows that others are praying for them, or who have made them a special amulet. Does this have anything to do with directed energy from the gods themselves? I’m not so sure – I think it has more to do with the inspiration these gods have given humanity to fix it, or try to fix it, themselves. I could, of course, be totally wrong.
The fact that the gods don’t care does not affect my relationship with them. The tree at the bottom of my garden does not care whether I live or die, neither do the horses in the field, the frogs in the pond, the throngs of humanity who have no knowledge that I even exist. Does this mean that I should not love them? I don’t think so.