Personal or Impersonal Gods?

I’ve been thinking recently about my relationship with the gods. Honestly, it hasn’t been the best. Crappy “I’ve been busy” excuses aside, part of me wonders if the gods care much that I’m not pouring out wine or burning fat every night. My health is getting better, I’m slowly growing close to a beautiful, intelligent girl, and honestly, things are pretty good. So, if piety isn’t the cause, then what?

I don’t mean to tempt fate, or incur the gods to wrathful retribution, but I’m wondering if the notion of personal relationships with the divine is necessary. I’m not sure. The concept is essential to mystery religion, sure, but for we run-of-the-mill types? I’m no priest, and even if I were, I’m more for the wartime religion of Ares, not the stay-at-home kind, so I doubt that will happen any time soon.

Maybe some gods are more personal than others. Aphrodite may show interest in individuals, but in my experience, Ares doesn’t really pick sides. Axis or ally? Doesn’t really matter to him, as long as there’s blood. Surely a major part of Ares’s ancient cult was about persuading Him to choose your own side, but if you aren’t out for blood, what then? Does He care? I don’t know. I have noticed he often favors women, but that’s more an observance than a rule. Who knows? Just something to ponder on I suppose.

3 comments on “Personal or Impersonal Gods?

  1. Aj / Melia says:

    this is something that I ponder often…is living the good (as in moral, however that is defined by your path) good enough? Is energy (love, devotion, mental exercises, writing, etc) enough? I haven’t found the answer.

  2. TPWard says:

    It’s such a relief to read this post. Among the gods that want to honor most, I have specifically struggled to develop a regular devotional practice to Ares. Your point about his not taking sides helps me understand that my situation is not unique.

    As for the broader question of whether or not they care, the answer may not be as easy to see as you suggest. When we make offerings we build kharis, which in turn may lead to them looking favorably upon us, right? Perhaps we can coast for a bit if we do a good enough job. Or maybe the good fortune you’re experiencing is an attempt to do what we do, but in reverse: help good things happen in the hopes that you’ll get back in the habit as a way of thanking them. Yet another option is that your life — without a strong relationship with the gods — just happens to be running along smoothly, since the gods don’t control every detail anyway.

    What you wrote is that you’re wondering. When the time comes to move from wondering to asking, you’ll know what to do.

  3. sera says:

    You make your own destiny, so you should thank yourself for that. Gods don’t control every detail, but can lend their influence. Offerings are simply ways of showing sincerity or gratitude; there is more than one way to skin a cat. If I were Ares, I would be more pleased with your articles than superficial tribute.

    As you know, Ares was (and is) not the most popular of gods, and the best way to honour him is by remaining true to yourself, and not pandering to the whims of others. He didn’t make many friends this way (and gained many haters), yet the ones he had were steadfast ones to rely on.

    A pretentiously pious, Zeus-fearing priest is probably the last person Ares would want a personal relationship with, along with Zeus who never loved his son as a father should. That said, being empowered by war and conflict would make for a weary existence…

    Aphrodite has always had a personal interest in Ares; who’s to say they’re not together now? As for picking sides, there is a difference between steadfast allies, and convenient allies. One, you support through difficult times. The other, simply pawns on a chessboard, nothing personal.

    Needing to be “out for blood” is a misconception: consider a cyberwar – it’s still war. While you can’t ask for knowledge from Ares (that’s Athena, who must keep her virginity to herself), those who sought his favour in the past had a dedication to what they wanted – it doesn’t have to be for blood and vengeance. Whether they were dedicated enough to their passion, is another issue altogether.

    Maybe Ares cares, maybe Ares doesn’t. Maybe you’ll read this, maybe you won’t. Who knows?

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