Tuesday, 7 October 2008

To whom do we turn in our darkest hours?

I saw this question (I've paraphrased) posted recently in response to a post on what constitutes a playgan, and felt somewhat smug that the term didn't seem to apply to me.

"If you were in an accident and your life was in the balance as you lay in a pool of blood. No sign of an ambulance; your prospects fading with every second.

You raise your head to the stars, and with what energy you can muster, say a little prayer". To whom do you address yourself?"

The responses were of interst to me, as I have been witness to self-proclaimed pagans offer prayers to the Christian god when in dire straits, not even anything life threatening, when I would have expected them to turn to the pagan gods or local spirits or, if witches, to resolve the matter themselves, even with a little help from friends proficient in witchery. Its what I do.

I have been in a few bad situations in the last few years, and one that could threaten my life just over a month ago. I turned to my gods first and also roped in some witchy friends and resolution followed within three days ~ three days seems to be emerging as a pattern. Even minor situations where my dignity is in danger, I will turn to the local land spirit and ask for assistance rather than pray to some distant god, (not of my faith) who seems overwhelmed with requests from millions of pleading followers on a daily basis and unable to help more than a select few. I have always been granted assistance, with a little bargaining, and have been happy to pay my dues at the earliest convenience.

Once upon a time, I might have appealed to the Christian god, but I don't believe I ever expected anything to happen. I certainly can't ever remember any kind of happy resolution resulting from my requests. How much more comforting it is to be able to place my faith in the hands of my friends and my (pagan) gods, as I do now. I guess that why I was smug when I read the scenario above: playgans will never feel that comfort because they don't have that kind of assurance.

Isn't it also disrespectful to the gods themselves: professing to honour one and then turning to another when times are tough? I'm not sure the any of gods would approve either and, if feeling mischevous, might be inclined to cause more problems for playgans.

I might also question the magical abilities of anyone that resorted to prayers to a god outside their tradition in order to resolve their issues. I admit to being next to useless at physical self-healing, so I rely on my friends in those situations, however if its a friend or family member of mine, I can usually resolve the matter myself without the need to appeal to any outside force. So I wonder why those who claim to have any magical ability would resort to Christain prayer - if indeed they are witches.

Is it possible I am too smug, and too quick to judge others? After all, the (pagan) gods can be fickle and have been known to refuse to help their followers. I've read instances where Odin did this in times of war, leaving his people to the hands of their enemies. So, if Odin were to desert his followers during battle, and those followers were aware of the Christian god, would they too have switched allegiance in desperation? Would they behave any differently from today's playgans? I wonder ...

3 comments:

Teyrnon said...

This, of course,is the ultimate test of religious alleigance. I hope, when my time comes, I will go willingly to the embrace of she who is endless darkness, but if it was still in the balance where would I turn? Would I expect help at all? I think the story of Odin is instructive. What would it mean to a god if I lived or died? There are some instances where it might. But I don't view the gods in the light of helpers of humans. They have their own purposes and they are not necessarily ours. To pay homage to them in spite of this is what it means to be a pagan as far as I am concerned.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne said...

My dad always says - tie an atheist to a rod in a lightning storm and nine out of ten will scream "my god" :)

I know the christian god of my childhood has comforting resonances - eg as a catholic we used to say the rosary which is very soothing and repetitive. I can sort of understand turning to childish prayers when in danger...maybe a sort of comfort thing...I know when i am in church nowadays eg my wedding, it amazes me how much of the prayers I remember when I hear them and it's been a loooooong time since I said them. It's ingrained in our brains - maybe that's why?

But I know I would feel hinky about it myself, I would feel like a traitor. A few times things have been bad, very bad, but in each my gut reaction was to turn to my own gods, not those of my childhood. but as I say i can sort of see *why* people might.

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne said...

My dad always says - tie an atheist to a rod in a lightning storm and nine out of ten will scream "my god" :)

I know the christian god of my childhood has comforting resonances - eg as a catholic we used to say the rosary which is very soothing and repetitive. I can sort of understand turning to childish prayers when in danger...maybe a sort of comfort thing...I know when i am in church nowadays eg my wedding, it amazes me how much of the prayers I remember when I hear them and it's been a loooooong time since I said them. It's ingrained in our brains - maybe that's why?

But I know I would feel hinky about it myself, I would feel like a traitor. A few times things have been bad, very bad, but in each my gut reaction was to turn to my own gods, not those of my childhood. but as I say i can sort of see *why* people might.