Q6. What does it feel like when one receives inspiration from the divinities?

So much depends on what you consider “inspiration”… Disclaimer – I am not a mystic. I am pretty practical, sensible person. “Inspiration” doesn’t seem like a big part of my life, or my spiritual practice.

To interpret it in the creative sense, there have been only three times when I have felt personally moved to express my emotions about a deity in poetry or song. What did this feel like? Awkward. Vulnerable. Self conscious and insecure. Despite knowing that I lacked the gift to do my emotion and experience justice, the experience or sentiment was so desperate to coalesce into some tangible, shareable form that it churned around in me and would not leave me until I had put it down on paper with as much skill as I could muster. I am proud of all three, not for their merits as poetry, but for my bravery and willingness to share them. They were an act of trust, both in the gods and in my community, that I could take a naked and vulnerable part of myself – the intimacy which is one’s experience of deity – and display it to others in the purest form available to me. Those were products of inspiration received by me from deity, transmuted within my limited capabilities, and offered back to them and to my community.

There have maybe half a dozen times when I have been persuaded by people into scraping together some type of poetry-like prayer to a deity that is important to me, but it is not something that comes easily or with what I’d call “inspiration” from any divinities. I wrote them because I was asked to do so and I had something I felt was worth expressing. They were like any other thing I might be called on to craft for the gods. If the ritual calls for a small wood/paper boat we can set on fire, I’m going to be getting out my popsicle sticks  and oaktag and glue. Not because I feel inspired to craft the thing, or as a celebration of my fine skill and craftsmanship, but because a boat was needed and I can make a passable boat, so I am obligated to do so. Don’t mistake me on that word “obligated” –  it is a joyous obligation, and my religious devotion most naturally expresses itself through labor and service. But the motivation for me to make a paper boat for Njord came of someone else’s desire that Njord should have a paper boat and my combination of willingness and ability to facilitate that. It was not my desire to craft a paper boat for Njord, or Njord’s desire to specifically have a paper boat made by me, or me having a little paper boat burgeoning within my soul seeking material expression. It was not creative inspiration, either arising within me or granted to me by Njord. It was not a piece of my soul made manifest.

So is this handful of instances, spread over more than ten years, the entirety of the “inspiration” I receive? What I realize, writing this, is that the “inspiration” I most often receive from the gods is nothing exceptionally mystic or creative. It is not drinking fire, as Galina puts it. It is “inspiration” in the much more ordinary sense – of being inspired to take action, to be a better person, to live more fully committed to my ideals. That is the inspiration I get nearly daily. I am, perhaps, a lazy and apathetic person. I am prone to justifying nearly anything I choose to do as permissible given the circumstances. So to have a personal relationship with gods who care deeply about certain things motivates me to do better than I otherwise would. For instance, I know that certain ecological and environmental choices are in keeping with my values, but I can easily decide they are too expensive or impractical or that my resources are better spent elsewhere. But my love for Frey inspires me to make inconvenient and at times “impractical” choices which are in keeping with those values which I believe Frey is strongly in favor of. Sometimes I feel a bit of guilt there, but it isn’t the guilt of feeling inadequate to meet some kind of impossibly high divine standard, and it is certainly not fear of repercussions. It is the (to my mind) beneficial guilt of knowing that, really, I am capable of doing better than I have been, mixed at times with a nervous uncertainty of exactly what goals I should be striving for in this particular instance. The first one motivates me to do better, and the second leads me to productive discussions within my community and valuable self-examination.

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  1. Proč je dobré nevěřit bohům - Stezky pohanství

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