PBP: G is for “godspousery”

While I don’t care for the term godspouse, it is perhaps one of the most well known terms to describe the mystic relationship that develops between the soul of a human and the god the soul belongs to. Plato describes the act of Eros on the soul, and myth often shows Eros (or Aphrodite) acting to play the matchmaker between human souls and the gods. Of course most of this is regarded as nothing more than mythic generation of heroes etc, but these myths also serve as an important spiritual dialogue to our souls to take root with the love inspired in the soul. Ten years ago when I first started down this path in my relationship with Apollon, you could throw a rock and be quite unlikely to ever come close to hitting another godspouse. Now I am feeling inclined to write on this subject for my pagan blog project entry rather than what I had previously planned just because there has been instances coming up recently in which emotions have run high over misinformation regarding godspousery and assumptions that have been made. Therefore I am hoping that this post will clear some of those things up. These are in no particular order of importance, and I may miss a few points, as I am certain that there are many more which are relevant. If I missed something please feel free to add another point to the comments section.

1. Misconception: Godspousery is a new pagan fad indulged in by young women (usually in their 20s) engaged in without much consideration or forethought towards the consequences of jumping into that kind of relationship with a god.

Answer: While it is true that there are a number of new godspouses on the scene who fit that bill, there are many folks out there who have been around and have had such a relationship established successfully for a number of years. Among them there are many instances where it is seldom jumped into but has a kind of “courtship” phase before deciding on taking on that kind of relationship and level of devotion. Nor are all godspouses even women. Which leads me to point 2.

2. Misconception: That all godspouses are women engaged in a bridal relationship with a male god.

Answer: Nope. In fact there are men who engage in this relationship with male gods, and with goddesses, and women who engage with this relationship with goddesses even as there are women who engage in it with gods. When I say women and men here I mean for it include heterosexual, homosexuals, transgenders et al. Despite what the current most vocal majority is, godspousery has no sexual or age prerequisites. It is a calling of the soul, an attraction inspired by Eros between the soul and the god. Right now there appears to be a majority of godspousery showing up among cis-gender women, but that perception may very well be skewed by how many folks are silent on the subject. Many men seem to be more reluctant to talk about it publically.

3. Misconception: All godspouses are of a Nordic or Heathen religious tradition.

Answer: This perception may again have to do with the vocal majority, as it may *appear* that is most common with Odin and Loki, but it is not altogether accurate. I have met individuals who are godspouses to gods from various pantheons of gods. Myself included obviously.

4. Misconception: There is absolutely no historic basis for godspousery.

Answer: This is kinda of a tricky statement, because history is not always quite that detailed. Setting aside the myths (in which as I noted above many such situations arise), you do have instances in which mortals were considered brides of gods. From a Hellenic perspective, the initiation imagery of women for the mysteries of Dionysos have a distinctive bridal imagery to them with Dionysos and Ariadne looking on. Likewise the Pythia was widely considered the bride of Apollon, and literature seems to indicate similar concepts of the sybils. Virgil’s Aeneid certainly suggests a very intimate relationship between the Sybil at Cumae and her god. Of course whether these kind of personal relationships were common outside of these very prominent cult settings we will likely never know, although great devotion of love to a gods seems dubious that it was uncommon, else how sympathetic and tragic would have the death of Hippolytes been without the understanding of his love of Artemis and his preference of her company and scorn of entering into marriage. Or the rise of Plato’s philosophy in regards to addressing the subject of the soul’s attraction and love towards the god to which she belongs (soul typically represented in the feminine form symbolically). So it very well may have not have been unheard of, but likely not common either. However, in modern times I have heard that there are cases in which girls take a bridal relationship to gods in Hinduism, and there is a lot of marital symbolism in Hinduism with the concept of the soul’s union with god, especially it seems with the textual material dealing with Krishna. In another direction, a book on Santeria showed beautiful pictures of a room in which a devote gave to his lwa wife (I probably got the term lwa wrong, I often confuse the terminology between Voodoo and Santeria). There are also suggestions in history of kings entering into marital pacts with powerful goddesses in some northern regions….how much of that is true though I can only hazard to guess.

5. Misconception: Making the decision to be a godspouse means that you are agreeing to being enslaved by that god/dess into his/her service.

Answer: People who identify as god-slaves, whose relationship with their god is defined solely by the work they do for them, do exist. Sometimes (and I must stress this because I have not personally seen it often) a godspouse (who also usually does some kind of work on behalf of his/her beloved) will also identify as a godslave, but these terms are not synonymous. A godspouse does not necessarily feel enslaved to his/her god, anymore than you feel enslaved to your mortal spouse. It is of course a very serious commitment however. Love and intense devotion and loyalty go a long way that as with any loving relationship, a godspouse is likely to do what pleases his/her beloved just as much as people do every day for those that they love. We do however, recognize that we are not by any means equal to the gods and not gods ourselves, and therefore are placing ourselves in very uneven relationships power-wise, which also means that there are some sacrifices. But typically the gods are not ogres and do not demand anything more than what is suited to our own individual relationships with them and what we need, and what we are capable of. We may be ensnared by Love/Eros but it is a positive thing, there are no chains (unless, again, that is something particular to your relationship..on whatever level lol).

6. Misconception: For women being a godspouse to a male god is anti-feminist.

Answer: Again, not so. As mentioned above there is no enslaving to a god’s will thing going on (typically), and as a matter of love it shouldn’t be judged as anti-feminist anymore than any women who engages in a marital to a man. There is an imbalance of power which may make it more pronounced to some feminists that there is a relationship of extreme inequality going on which act as triggers for them. However in any relationship one establishes with a god, you are going to be the inferior in the relationship, that is just how it goes. That is not say that we lack value, or boo humans kind of thing. We are self determining and quite capable of saying no and refusing anything our gods put before us, but it is easy to be a bit of a pushover for one that you love and do things that you feel that the god wants or will please him out of no other reason but love.But rather it is a recognition that we are not gods and therefore are not going to be on equal playing ground when it comes to power nor should one expect to be treated with some kind of reverence from others. We should not aspire or pretend otherwise…to do so could potentially lead to some serious delusions and hubris (for only the gods can deify, we can’t determine ourselves to be as they are). Also this idea of gender based inferiority is rather absurd, not only because gender based inferiority takes a huge backseat to any concept of inferiority to the gods in general, but also because it makes an assumption that the gods have a set literal sexual form. But the gods are not biological beings, they are greater than that. Therefore whereas their identities are often tangled up in a particular gender, often in relationship to their domain, many gods have been known to appear in a female form in some myth or another. Therefore the whole female inferior to the male argument is rather invalid. And as such it cannot be anti-feminist.

7. Misconception: All godspouses are seers/spirit workers.

Answer: I think this misconception has caused some of the greatest friction when it comes to godspousery, or rather between godspouses, especially of the older and younger generations. There is an assumption that being a godspouse means that you must automatically become a seer, which is really an absurd assumption because those beloved by the gods in myths formed a variety of functions and had a number of various talents, but has also caused frustration. This frustration is due to new godspouses finding that they either lack the ability, or inclination, to fulfill this role. So I will say right here and right now, although a lot of godspouses find it fulfilling to be a seer/spirit worker it is not a prerequisite! Like the beloveds of history and myth, we all have our own directions our work will take us that can touch on any small part of the vast domain of the god one is “married” to. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have a knack for things in several areas, including divination/interpretation of signs/spiritwork/etc, but having that knack and even engaging in it on a personal level doesn’t mean that is what you are supposed to do or what their calling is. What your calling is will likely work itself out over time.

8. Misconception: All Godspouses are celibate.

Answer: While there are many godspouses who make a choice to be celibate, this is something that is determined by their own individual relationship with their beloved god/dess. Sometimes the gods indicate that the desire for their mortal spouse to be unwed and/or celibate. I suspect it has more to do with the needs of the mortal spouse in particular. While it was not requested of me I have gone through several long periods of celibacy and have recently come to the conclusion, that some other godspouses I know have come to, that the commitment to the god too easily conflicts with the emotional needs of a mortal partner. In short it can seem unfair to the other person, and can sometimes cause some hostile feelings towards the godspouse’s spirituality. That said, there are godspouses who have very successful marriages and romantic partnerships. So in the end it is really about what is best for us all individually. I don’t believe that the gods call us to do anything in particular that isn’t already part of our disposition.

Those are the big ones that come to my mind. Please do feel free to address anything I forgot in the comments!

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18 thoughts on “PBP: G is for “godspousery”

  1. 7. Misconception: All godspouses are seers/spirit workers.

    I did this! A little bit, and I still feel terribly awful about it, because my relationship with Poseidon was *not* *new* and He’d never been all about my serving people. One of His refrains during our time of trouble became, almost exasperated, “I did not just meet you!” It is so important to let the relationship be defined by you and the god in question, no one else. Not even the well meaning people.

    • Don’t feel bad, I think everyone kinda of looks in that direction, even if it is only briefly. Even I in the early days thought I was supposed to go in that direction. I have some talent with various methods of divination, omen interpretation….and so for a very short time I assumed that I was supposed to do that. Then I discovered it just wasn’t for me to throw myself into that. You are absolutely right when you say the relationship ought to be defined by you and your god, and not by what anyone else expects!

  2. “Orisha” is the term in Santería, rather than “lwa” (which is Vodou). In both religions, practitioners can indeed marry the spirit (at their own request, or the spirit’s), and I know several folks who are married to Lwa. 🙂

    • Thank you! I went back and forth between the terms orisha and lwa but I couldn’t remember so I did a random pick lol. Yeah I got the impression that it is not uncommon, which I think is an awesome example for how godspousery can work as an accepted part of a larger religious community.

  3. Along with the “not all godspouses are spirit workers,” I would also add that not all spirit workers are primarily focused on serving people. I am a seidhrkona, so I do serve people part of the time in that capacity, but one of the traps I have fallen into is thinking that because I can hear and speak with the gods, helping other people who do not have that ability to communicate with them should be my primary focus. This is an idea that the spirit work “community” perpetuates to some extent, but Odin has made it very clear to me that my primary area of service is not to humans. Once again, as Jolene said above, there are no “one size fits all” rules to this; every relationship is different.

    • An excellent point. It is kind along a similar vein as the concept of a priest or priestess, that they must foremost serve the community whereas there are folks who could be considered priests whose focus is on serving the gods and less to do with people. So I get that totally 🙂

  4. For more historical evidence, there are the various people from the medieval era – nuns and laywomen, and apparently some men, too – who called themselves Brides of Christ, or were considered such by later writers and historians. There’s an awesome dissertation called “Marrying Jesus; Brides and the Bridegroom in Medieval Women’s Literature” that discusses this, and it seems clear that these women were engaged in very similar sorts of intense, mystical, “woo” things that modern godspouses do. Since it’s focused on women’s written experience, there’s nothing much other than offhand comments that some men were brides of Christ, too. (Link: http://www.medievalists.net/2012/07/30/marrying-jesus-brides-and-the-bridegroom-in-medieval-womens-religious-literature/ )

    • I am not overly familiar with medieval history, so thanks for the interesting addition! It wouldn’t surprise me to see this kind of relationship developing in a number of religions at different times.

      • Actually, some Roman Catholic orders of nuns still symbolically marry Christ as past of taking their vows. These orders wear wedding rings as one of the two outward symbols of their devotion:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Veil

        It is also worth noting that amongst at least some Celtic peoples no man could claim kingship unless he was married to and beloved of the goddess who ruled that land. This concept is expressed in different ways by other cultures and even was reflected in the later “divine right of kings” philosophy- although in that case it was more of a platonic love.

      • yeah I was thinking of the Celtic kings when I said that, but as with a lot of Celtic material I tend to be rather leery about presenting it as fact when there is a lot of stuff fabricated about it and I don’t recall what source I read that from and how reliable it was.

  5. Reblogged this on In Search of Eccentricity and commented:
    (Sorry for the malfunction! Now you know what the heck I was talking about lol.)
    I agree with most everything on this list and appreciate the elegance with which its presented, however I respectfully disagree with the notion within 5 and 6 that humans are lesser or inferior to the Gods and that to think otherwise is ‘delusional’ or hubris.

    I stand on the opinion that the Gods are neither greater nor lesser than those of us who are experiencing embodied existence but simply exist in a different way with different strengths and weakness’ than we possess. There are some skills They possess that we lack and things that They can do better than we can, and there are some skills we possess that They do not and we can do some things better than They. I’ve often related my personal experience with the Gods and their powers in the same way I relate to a Physician or other learned professional: I deeply respect the time and energy they have devoted to becoming masters of their profession and respect their opinion, however this does not make them super-human, myself inferior to them or somehow less worthy, and does not give the right to treat me with anything less than the respect I deserve as person. So I respect the Gods (even the ones I’d rather not interact with) however I respect myself enough as well to expect and demand respect from Them.

    And They have supported me in this, indeed my personal conviction in this is supported by Their insistence of this to me. And believe me, sometimes I wish I related to Them in a more submissive manner or received more instructions or directives from Them, but that’s not the path I’m set upon. I’M set upon the path of self empowerment and apotheosis and they adamantly REFUSE to tell me what to do. It’s quite amusing… if it wasn’t so damn frustrating, lol.

    So I don’t prescribe to the “humans inferior to Gods” model personally and don’t feel comfortable supporting others in said belief, however I acknowledge that we’re each on our own paths and every experience has value, and as such respectfully disagree.

  6. Pingback: Godspousery – links | Fire and Ink

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