I was warned.
“Spiritual entities take a dim view of non-believers,” he told me. “Faith comes first.”
Perhaps the gods will punish me, perhaps they will simply withdraw their favor. Surely they will be offended. To question the gods is hubris.
How striking. Who really believes gods punish doubt?
The history of the last 1900 years is the story of one religion after another falling before Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. The gods have never stepped forward to stop non-believers. The gods are Switzerland.
Druids wept as the sanctuaries were violated; so did Aztec priests. I see Christians and atheists in the UK, visiting the old megaliths with their camera phones. It’s the same sight at Templo Mejor.
Where are the lightning bolts?
Devils and Titans
This fear is more than bad history, though; it’s bad religion. A question: why would you worship selfish pricks?
The gods I worship are ancient, calm, wise in their years. They are sages. They will speak to you if you approach, but if you do not? It isn’t their concern.
But some imagine the gods hungry, needy, jealous, impetuous, lost without humanity. They want bribes and they will make threats to get them. Their finger is on the button.
That is an abusive relationship. That is titans and devils.
But I did say I keep an open mind.
So I went straight to the source. I asked my patron deity.
Lugh is a no-nonsense god. If the gods are in our psyche, some very rigorous part of me invented Lugh; if the gods are real, this is one who will tell me if I have offended him.
I’ll admit I was nervous. I don’t commune with him often. It’s usually very special. To use such an opportunity to tell him I question his existence, to discover I’ve offended him…
I lit the candles.
I reminded myself that the experience matters either way. Even if I’m speaking to myself, if prayer is a sort of deceptively inward-focused meditation, it has always given useful results before. Whatever I was about to discover would be meaningful, whether I liked the answer or not.
Do you think I care what you believe?
You have a mission. When you inspire people, I am there. When you sacrifice yourself, I am there.
If you would make your name, go out and make it. The battle is yours. Let your own arm decide the outcome.
This answer was emotional for me. It’s extremely reassuring that Lugh is there with me even as I doubt his nature. And it was an important reminder that faith in the gods does not win special favor.
The battle for a better world is ours.
One step toward it is to put “stop pissing off the gods” safely to rest. For those who are absolutely, positively sure that atheism offends the gods: I asked a god, and he told me it does not.
You can question the validity of that revelation, but then you’re admitting that the experiences of the divine are at least partly in our heads. After 12 years of meditation, I can quiet my own inner voice as well as anybody can—this was communion, if there is such a thing.
Do the gods exist? I don’t know.
I don’t call that hubris. I call it honesty.