There has recently been a lengthy conversation on the matter of what is called god-spouses (a term which I have never been particular fond since I prefer bridal mysticism myself but that is neither here nor there) but I thought to plainly write out my thoughts on the subject since there has been alot of back and forth about it. Alot of this will be repetetive of earlier posts of mine, but you my dear readers who have been around a while will have to forgive me for that…I will repeat for the sake of clarity.
1. What is a god-spouse? My view on bridal mysticism is rather exact. It is not something that I view as particularly special as I think it is a natural evolutionary spiritual matter that the soul at some points feels attraction towards and seeks union with the god which they follow. In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates spends time speaking of the division of divine beings, and souls of mortal followers being at the lower levels of these great companies of the Olympians. He also spends time speaking of the chariot of the soul, and how the influence of Eros causes the soul to become “feathered” in response to love…the soul essentially becomes winged and gains greater ability to rise to higher levels, in order to draw closer to the god in question…the focus of their love. I do believe that attraction works in a manner that influences both ways. False love, related to the so-called lead dart of Eros, but I don’t think it has anything in particular to do with Eros specifically because Eros is love and false love cannot in good conscience be called love and therefore cannot come from Eros, causes the one who is “loved” to reject the “lover”. However the work of Eros logically influences both parties, and therefore the attraction goes both ways, and the soul of loved reflects some small measure of the qualities of the god which is loved. Therefore bridal mysticism is an acknowledgement, as far as I can see it, of the attraction, the work of Eros taking place. It is an affirmation and real world devotion to the god that acknowledges the place of the god within the life of the “follower.” It is rarely talked about in a very direct manner, sometimes out of fear of attack from other worshipers, but also because it is a very personal experience that the details would be considered no one’s buisness. Some people formalize such recognition through ceremony which they may consider their “wedding” and anniversary, but this is generally not necessary and is done more out of celebration and occassion. This being a god will have many many many “brides” (both biologically male and female, though some believe that this is an easier condition for females to embrace). There is no true wife of any god. This connects to my post about honoring mythic lovers by followers of the god. Any person at any given time may be inspired by Eros. That said in myth it is very rare for a person to be considered a bride of a god until after that person has been removed from their mortal lives (carried off by the god, killed by the god etc).
2. Chastity? This was an issue I was uncertain on for some time, but again Plato had it figured out. Once again we can return to Phaedrus, and he speaks there that the soul, which has been very slowly absorbing some characteristics of the god and has become aligned towards him, will naturally fall in love with another person who likewise exhibits traits of the god. Therein the two souls, by loving the element of the divine within each other, can enhance their own personal development by affirming and adjusting the alignment within each other through coinfluence during life that assists in this process of drawing closer to union with the god which is what the soul ultimately desires.
3. Sex? Sex in myth serves as allegory, the gods are not biological. Humans, as biological beings, however, may interpret instances of drawing closer to the deity…uh moments of inspiration for example if you will…as of high pleasure and happiness. This links in a manner to my post about Dionysos who is linked to divine possession, sex, fertility and happiness. This doesn’t mean literal sex though, and I agree with Plutarch when he says that the gods may dwell with those that they love, but it is not a sexual love. It is the realm of Aphrodite Ourania, heavenly love. The sexual component is an allegory for the influence of the divine upon the mortal soul. Therefore what pleasure one may feel during an intense experience with the gods is a personal reaction. A geat comparison that reflects this is a scene from Agamemnon in which Cassandra is speaking of what she is feeling from the embrace of the god. Apollon is not getting down with her on the palace floor, but rather she is having a physical response to his touch which is overwhelming her.
4. multiple divine spouses? I really don’t feel that this is possible myself for reasons I think are pretty clear above. Since I think it has to do with being in a specific spiritual following to a specific god (like I had spoken of too in my post about priests(essses) I think that other instances of attraction may arise instances of devotion but I don’t think one can possibly experience this kind of drawing towards multiple gods. And since I think the idea of instances of divinely inspired prophecy, poetry etc is also linked to such kinds of relationships in some way or another, it also seems unlikely that a person can be an oracle of many gods if they can in fact act in such a manner. However, it is important to remember that certain traits manifested differently. Apollon had a lover whom he offered his choice of gifts, and his lover chose the medical talents of Apollon’s domain. So that said, not every “bride” of a god will be a prophet of some kind, but may be inspired in different areas of the god’s domain where they may excell.
5. Goddesses? Goddesses were by in large not permitted to mingle with mortals. Therefore there are interesting cases where those souls that are enjoined with a goddess (and therefore may bear some great mythic link to the goddess or bear some representation of her name for instance) dont’ join with the goddess and are unable to, but may be united with a god associated to the goddess. A fascinating thing I came across was another version of the myth of Callisto in which Zeus seduced her, not in the form of Artemis, but in the form of Apollon. This makes an interesting connection between possible relationships between followers of Artemis and her twin Apollon for instance. The soul is attracted to the goddess and loves the goddess, but enjoys union with the god associated to her if we take considerations from the myths. There are after all an equal number of male and female gods among the Olympians which is important.
So those are my views on the subject in plainly layed out terms with omition of personal details which I don’t think are necessary. It is a normal spiritual process, but is a personal experience which everyone may evetually experience at one point or another. It doesn’t give the person involved any great role and presidence in any community really because such close relationships are of a personal impact that has nothing really to do with anyone else. Even in the case of oracles, with the exception of famous oracular centers which were important because of the place rather than the oracle her(or him)self, most diviners and oracles of lesser status probably didn’t garner as mch attention or “buisness” and therefore their personal interactions with the deity were likely kept on a personal level that had little to do with anyone else. This can be said too of great poets and musicians who play out the art that is born of their soul from moments of closeness with the god in which they are inspired….and their art becoming as a child born of these moments….bringing beauty, remedies, new innovations etc, but other than the appreciation of their art do not othewise interact between the deity and the rest of the world. So I think it is a mistake to use the oracle model as an absolute example. Largely such experiences are entirely personally and are often only talked about indirectly or shown even less directly via what is “born” from it.