Slaves to the Gods?

October 3, 2009 at 3:23 am 1 comment

This is a post I made in June and never finished

Lately I’ve been noticing a small but growing number of people calling themselves “godslaves”. These individuals are generally of a mystic bent, Norse or Hellenic, and have a strong devotion to a particular deity, to the point where they see themselves as being “owned” by the divinity. There is often a connection or crossover with kinky Master/slave relationships.  I have not so far seen this type of language used among Celtic polytheists, though it may be out there.

While we make think of slavery as being a thing of the past, it still exists in the form of human trafficking, especially of a sexual nature. Out of respect for this I really think the terms master and slave should be avoided. Now, from what I understand it does not necessarily mean the god has total power over the human. But it still seems a degradation of  human dignity and spirit to choose the name “slave” for oneself. Isn’t “servant” good enough?

I wonder about the social/psychological forces behind this trend. I know many Pagans seek out intense, ecstatic experiences and sometimes a loss of control is a part of that.  Also I wonder what the ethnic background of these “godslaves” is- I bet pretty much all white. I have a hard time believing African-Americans would think it was cool to call themselves “slaves”. It just seems to me like there’s a lot of privilege behind that, and I challenge people to really think about the implications of this practice.

More information on real slavery:

HumanTrafficking.org

Campaign to Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking

FBI Page

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Entry filed under: Class, Ethics, Pagan Communities, Race/Ethnicity, Theology. Tags: , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. tomandmanfred  |  March 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    I’ve read a few posts by people who consider themselves “godslaves.” Like you, I am uncomfortable with using the word “slave” to describe a love relationship. However, I can relate to the desire to surrender everything to one’s deity; it is the kind of relationship with deity that I myself embrace.

    From what little I’ve read, I suspect the people calling themselves “godslaves” are embracing the same relationship I am, and frame it as “slavery” because (a) it’s the closest analog within their ken to what they are experiencing, or (b) the term has caught on.

    I prefer to think in terms of surrender, which is an ongoing response to the love of (for me) the Goddess. You can’t simply bind yourself in chains and hand yourself over to the gods; it doesn’t work that way. Rather, someone who makes the decision to surrender themself completely to their deity is constantly called upon to surrender this or that part of their lives or themselves as a part of developing the intimacy they seek.

    I have an idea why this is. I believe we incarnate to grow spiritually; and spiritual growth boils down to choosing faith, or trust, over fear. Saying “Yes!” to the divine is an on-going process of surrendering our fears and stepping out in our darkness in faith that we will not be abandoned.

    Much of this dovetails with Christian mysticism, which probably makes some Pagans uncomfortable. It also makes some of the things in Christianity easier to grasp, such as the statement, “without faith it is impossible to please [God],” which I think means that trust is a necessary precondition to intimacy with the divine, just as it is to true intimacy with any lover.

    Things being the way they are, I imagine the term “godslave” will catch on, if it hasn’t already, and be with us for awhile. The connotations of slavery make the term unworkable for me, personally; but if it helps others, then it works for them.

    For a long time now, I have thought that being a “godslave” is the essence of what it means to be a priest or priestess. I know that will rub a lot of people the wrong way, who prefer to think of priesthood in terms of knowledge or other abilities; but I don’t see how this can be. It seems to me that priesthood must reference a qualitative difference rather than a merely quantitative one, in other words, a difference of a spiritual nature. Since people are all of equal spiritual value, the spiritual difference must lie in the nature of the priestess’ relationship with her deity. What else can it be, but consecration, or the making sacred of herself to her deity? And that’s what this sort of surrender is.

    Sorry this has gone on so long, but I have few opportunities to talk about such things with others.

    Reply

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