The Pagan Blog Project: D is for Desperation
People turn to religion, spirituality, deities, etc. for many reasons, but I feel as if “desperation” sums up the main reason we do.
Whether you are desperate for love and acceptance, for knowledge, for fulfillment, for answers and aid in a crisis, for healing, for meaning, or simply for a trusted friend to have by your side as you walk down your small portion of the road of ages, desperation fuels our initial reaching out towards whatever it is we see as deity. Certainly, some people may begin a religious path through their birth tradition, and still others from curiosity, but to stick with it and have the fires of passion for what you do burning inside you, at some point you have likely experienced that desperate moment when your gods were all that were there for you.
I think it’s important to question ourselves often. There is power in routine, yes, but when routine is simply thoughtless action, its meaning becomes vague or lost. Often I ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” Or, more to the point, “What is it that I am desperate for?”
A feeling of desperation is a tense, anxious feeling. Sometimes you feel it and can’t identify the cause. This happens to me often, which leads to my constant questioning of myself. What am I desperate for? This changes, obviously, and perhaps it has remained a constant stress because I have not yet anchored somewhere in confidence.
My initial reaching out was brought on by a long-lasting sense of apathy and loathing. I didn’t understand why my emotions towards the outside world (and even to myself) were only on a scale of not caring to hatred. Years before, I had realized that I was not Christian, that I would never be Christian, and, not really considering other options, let spirituality fall completely out of my life. Some people can do this and be happy. I can’t. My spirit shrank and shriveled, grew spiky and defensive. The outward tasks of my every day life, as a result, had no meaning to me, and gradually I realized life had no meaning to me. This wasn’t a suicidal thought, just another apathetic observation along with countless others.
I chose paganism for two reasons. First, the options were so limitless that I was certain I could find a home in it somewhere, no matter how I changed throughout the years. Second, the concept of magic suited me. It wasn’t that I felt I was particularly talented in this field (I’m still not), but it agreed with my own belief that human beings are capable of changing their own destinies and able to manipulate the universe around them, even if it is just ever so subtly.
Having sampled some paths in the first couple of years, the sense of desperation only dulled until it came back full-force and resulted in a very difficult depression. This obviously intensified the desperation. I was desperate to be happy again, desperate to find fulfillment and significance.
I wish this story ended with some deity sweeping in and showing me how to fix all my problems, thereby creating one of those beautiful relationships you are likely to read about in ten minutes on online pagan communities. It doesn’t. My relationship with deities has never been that complete or trusting. It exists, but always as temporary partnerships with very clearly outlined boundaries on both sides. I say both sides because I can feel when I’ve hit the line, even though I am by no means talented at literally hearing deities. But sometimes, even these temporary bonds would give me a foothold so that, through my own power, I could get myself through.
The problem is that the ground remains uneven. I think the path is gradually going up, but there are a lot of haggard gaps in it, and I often get stuck in them. It also is going in a circle, not a straight line. It’s slow, which probably means I’m slow. In any case, each relationship I create always ends up pointing back to me. Whether it’s because I’m broken in some way and need to fix myself first, or just that I’m not going the right way, I don’t know. I listen to it when it happens, and it has absolutely rewarded me. I can for some time put my spiritual search on a backburner and do other things to honor my own energy, but at some point I get restless to start searching again.
I have found allies on this search, deities I return to regularly. These are the ones most likely to help me right now when I am desperate, and of course my family and friends as well. To me these human allies are equally important if not moreso, and have much of the divine stuff in them. Their efforts are usually more effective, too, because we are, at least to some degree, made the same and in the same place. I think that if I learn nothing else from deities in this lifetime, I have at least learned that these very real connections with other human beings can be trusted and provide fulfillment, and they can ignite that spiritual energy just as well as any prayer.
So basically, in my desperate search for happiness and significance, I find myself chasing my tail, but somehow making progress. Maybe some day I will find the right answer for me.
What is it that you are desperate for?