I dreamed I stood before a great altar full of Kemetic statues. I touched each piece with trembling fingers: human, avian, reptilian; feline and canine and bovine; creatures that were many of those, or all of them, or none. I knew these figurines were ancient, that they had once graced temples and altars in a time when the gods they portrayed were at the height of their worship. To see them at all was a wonder and an honor.
“They’re magnificent, aren’t they?” I glanced over toward the unknown voice. A beautiful African woman stood beside me, watching with quiet humor as I reverently admired the icons. She was made of curves; her round, smiling cheeks, her generous bosom, her shapely hips. Gold jewelry gleamed against her ebony skin and winked within the cascade of her tightly coiled hair as it caught the light. Most of all, though, it was her dazzling white smile that stunned me. There was such joy in her expression, such boundless love and affection; it was like her body could barely contain her overflowing personality.
I suspected who she was, but her presence here seemed impossible and so I had to know for sure. “Are you…” I hesitated. “Hathor?” The woman nodded, her grin expanding, and I burst into tears. I cried so hard I had to grip the edge of the altar to keep from sinking to the floor. They were primarily tears of awe, for never had a spirit blessed me with such direct contact, but I wept also in relief to have this undeniable manifestation of the divine right before me. If this radiant woman was Hathor, then all the gods I loved were real. With a single nod she banished every last scrap of doubt within me until I was pure faith.
My heart is a piece of lodestone and all my life I have followed its tugging, no matter that it pulled me away from well-tended paths and instead over mountain ranges, across rivers, and to the farthest ends of the earth. Sometimes my road runs beside another’s and we walk together for a while, learning from each other where our journeys have taken us, and other times my road so deviates from the norm that I find myself alone in the wilderness. Yet either way the compass stone beneath my breast guides me so that I need not question my direction or fear losing my way. I walk to the ocean and I swim through it; I walk to the cliff base and I climb up it; I walk to the waterfall and I jump down it. Where my heart leads, I follow. In thirty years it has not yet lead me astray.
I’m being a real Doubty McDoubterson about my spiritual beliefs right now. I mean bottom-of-the-well, solar-eclipse-totality, what-is-even-the-point-of-anything-we’re-all-gonna-die-anyway levels of doubt. My altar is dusty, my devotional jewelry tangled, and I can’t even remember the last time I gave offerings or lit a single candle. I am deep, deep, deep in the dark. Hooboy, it is bad.
I’ve seen many other spiritually-inclined folks write about what to do during a fallow or questioning period, so I thought why not try it myself? I know stuff about stuff. I’m possibly as qualified as anyone else on the internet who gives advice they won’t personally follow. So here you go, my surefire suggestions for surviving the utter crushing apathy that has become your spiritual life.
1) Avoid your altar.
2) Camp out on the couch and watch all 4 seasons of Arrested Development on Netflix.
3) Stand for indeterminate amounts of time in front of your kitchen cupboards. Eat nothing.
4) Lurk in the “pagan” tag on Tumblr and hate strangers you know nothing about for having more faith than you.
5) Avoid the room your altar is in.
6) See something sad online and automatically say a prayer before realizing what you’re doing, then feel many conflicting emotions you don’t want to deal with.
7) Get out your tarot cards, oracle decks, book of shadows, and crystals in an attempt to jumpstart your enthusiasm. Play on your phone while ignoring their presence.
8) Eat an entire loaf of bread, and only a loaf of bread, for like two days.
9) Rewatch Arrested Development while lurking on Tumblr and Pinterest and every other possible app you can download, since you’re a very important person and just don’t have time for things like religion.
10) Make up a song with lyrics like “Everything’s awful, then you die” or “whatever, it’s not like any of the things I believe in are real anyway so who cares if humanity is destroying the planet and I’m alive to witness the next mass extinction”. 11) Avoid the half of the house your altar is in.
12) Spend hours on Etsy searching for the One Perfect Thing that, if purchased, will magically transform your spiritual life and free you from ever doubting anything again. Do this until your phone overheats, then let your phone charge for maybe five minutes. Repeat until you have a migraine.
13) Pretend everything’s okay by writing something sarcastic yet uncomfortably bitter on your blog.
14) Watch, I dunno, Arrested Development again. Or Archer. I mean who even cares at this point.
15) Die on the couch.
The unbelievers ask, Where are the gods? If they really existed, wouldn’t they intercede to stop our wars, our destruction?
To them I want to throw my arms out and say, The gods are all around us. They are always here, always watching, always caring.
The unbelievers ask, Why do the gods not take matters into their heavenly hands, if they care so much? Why do they let us suffer and cause suffering in our turn?
To them I want to say, Why should they? Look what we have done with their gifts! Look how we show our gratitude! My Mother weeps for Her children who are hunted, drowned, poisoned, tortured, who are raised in mills and die in lab cages. What the gods have given us, they cannot and will not take back so lightly. For better or for worse, this is our world and our responsibility; we humans control the fates of countless lives. Thus my Mother can lend me the strength of heart to care for Her children, but She cannot simply unmake the evils which plague them. Human evils must be countered with human goodness.