18 June 2009

Boundaries, Part III: Speaking for the Gods

In my first essay on Boundaries I talked about the emotional boundaries between people. My second essay on Boundaries talked about how to react when someone comes up to you claiming to have a message from a deity, or even your personal deity.

I had intended, in the third essay, to talk about the boundaries between you and the gods, as touched on by Piper in her essay on Service, but realized that first I needed to write about the boundary between you and another individual when delivering a message.

It has happened to numerous people I know on several occasions: they will be journeying, or talking to a god or spirit of some form about a (potentially unrelated) topic, and a message will come up intended for a particular individual (or group of individuals) who weren't originally the topic of discussion.

These messages may range from benign to severe in their implications, and there may be a variety of reasons a third party may be chosen to deliver the message. Sometimes, that third party may not even be aware that they delivered a message or what its contents were. The reasons and forces involved may not always be clear, but there are always reasons for it.

On the other hand, it is very easy when doing this to allow one's own perceptions to interfere, to cast individual desires inadvertently as messages from the gods, or to otherwise allow the filter of your mind to interfere with your own signal on this matter. No matter how certain one is, there is always a chance--no matter how small--that they are wrong.

There are also problems in interpretation. Several people I work with have received messages either directly or through an intermediary where the giving of the message was more important than that they follow the message's contents. Further, the message may take a meaning to the listener that the speaker is not aware of.

It is also very easy to take a message to the effect of "If you feel that X should do Y, why don't you tell them that yourself?" and translate it to "Odin said to tell you that you should do Y."

Knowing exactly what is going on with such a message is nontrivial even if you are 100% certain of it's origins and content. Let alone if you can't be.

Telling the difference between a message from the gods and your own subconscious is nontrivial, and while mindfulness is tremendously helpful in this discernment, it is not completely perfect. Even if the gods are completely objective entities, their representation within my own mind will never be. This means that while I may transmit a message believing it is from the gods, it cannot be my responsibility to ensure that the contents of the message are followed.

These are healthy boundaries. After having delivered the message, they get to check on it. Their conversation with the deities may go any one of a number of directions that you are not privy to and not responsible for. If they choose not to check or not to follow the advice, or choose not to tell you what they discovered, it is not your responsibility to make sure that they do or to remind them in any way.

Besides, if the deity in question really wants the message delivered, most are capable of delivering through some other channel if confirmation is needed.

I will talk more about this topic when I discuss boundaries between Spirit Workers and gods.

Further Reading


  1. It is interesting, to me, the degree to which this post echoes not just my experiences as a Pagan priestess, but with the Quaker process of making discernments around vocal ministry.

    The whole process, of course, is complicated by the way that, as the Quakers say, "the water always tastes of the pipes." It has taken me a long time to accept that, and let it go. As you say, "Even if the gods are completely objective entities, their representation within my own mind will never be."

  2. Thank you for your comment ^_^

    I hadn't heard it before, but I really like the expression that "the water always tastes of the pipes." It has two apparent consequences, both the one mentioned here and that sometimes people grow accustomed to the "taste of the [particular set of] pipes" which can have other side effects.