Concerns about Godspousing and Veiling

Okay, disclaimer: I dreamed this post so I’m wondering exactly where it came from but I will say I see an awful lot of the posts on godspousing are very nasty toward any one that might even be interested in it (and it’s the same kind of nasty they aim at alleged fluffy bunnies ) and as if they have some perceived mandate from their god that makes them superior to every other pagan. The old “their shit don’t stink” phenomenom.

 

There are two phenomena that greatly concern this old pagan that seem to have appeared in the last 5 years and are just plain weird to me and seem to arise out of a combination of ego and anti-feminism and seem to be practiced almost totally by women. They are “godspousing and veiling.

 

 

I’ve made an effort to read several blogs on the part of the people advocating and almost every one of them has some version of “don’t try this at home, I’m an expert” as if the were some kind of pagan Mythbuster. Neither one of the practices has a precedent in historical practice and the women (it’s mostly young women) doing it seem to be very young and looking for a way to stand out and be different in the pagan world with a few exceptions.

 

I see a lot of people trying to impose structure on what they feel is unstructured and I’m willing to bet they left a religion that had structure and imposed it.

 

 

So, lets take veiling first. Some of the blogs reference nuns wearing veils to show their piety. That is not why nuns wear veils and post Vatican two most nuns do not wear veils unless you are a BVM, (Blessed Virgin Mary or the Black Veiled Monsters if you happen to be an order that does not wear one.) or they wear a very modified shortened one. But do they know the veil is simply a hand me down from the Middle Ages when all women covered their hair and it wasn’t done out of piety. It was done to show they were married and property of some man.Image Any woman that was not covering their hair was a whore and indeed in those days the only two groups of women living together would have been nuns or brothels. 

 

Look at old woodcuts of the time period. All the women were wearing the wimple and veil, It simply survived in the Catholic Church wear men still wear the same robes that priests have always worn. The Catholic Church is not exactly a hot bed of modernism.

 

 

Now combine this with Godspousing which also has the flavour of becoming a nun and you really have a misunderstanding of history. Most women in the Middle Ages when the convent system was at it’s height were not there because they loved Jesus and decided to be a Bride of Christ. They were actually in the minority and vocations are a very new concept.

 

 

Women in the Middle Ages were in convents because they were inconvenient and had no where else to go. Have a daughter and no dowry for her or only a small one? Put her in a convent. Have a girl that won’t do what you tell her? Stick in a convent. Have a widow with property and she won’t marry you? Force her into a convent? Have a motherless girl and you don’t have the time to raise her? Stick her in a convent. Inconvenient women went to convents because women had no property rights and all women had to be controlled by somebody because women were sinful and evil and caused men to sin simply by being women. Ironically, sticking when in a convent actually freed them and gave them more power than they would have had in marriage. And had the benefit of not having to die in childbirth trying to produce an heir for some man.

 

 

The only precedent I could find in the ancient world for veiling and even coming close to being a Godspouse are the Vestal Virgins and they agreed to a set number of years entering around the age of 10 and leaving if they chose to as very rich women and about the only ones besides the communities of sybils that had any autonomy among the wealthy. If you were poor in Roman times you would have been a lot more free than a rich woman.

 

From what I can see of the many blogs on these two topics, it’s all ego. I’m more holy than you and I worship my god so totally I’m going to marry him. So of course the next blog writer has to say almost the same thing, my god totally rules me and of course you can’t do it as well as I. What a load of horseshit. No deity worth worshipping is going to ask you to give up yourself. I sincerely wonder who you’re following it sounds like a deity called up from a ouija board.

 

 

And it seems to exist in people under 30 almost exclusively. I can’t find any instance that any of this existed more than 5 years ago which also makes me very suspicious. As some one who has been around since the mid-80’s I can tell you there was no one doing that I could see then and indeed they probably would have been laughed out of any gathering.

 

Surely there is a better way to worship a deity than playing pagan oneupmanship?

 

 

7 thoughts on “Concerns about Godspousing and Veiling

  1. I did a quick google and found a woman who is married to Loki. I didn’t read the whole blog article, but… seriously… Loki? She married Loki? Mind officially boggled.

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  2. I think that marrying a God/dess like Loki or Ares is potentially dangerous simply because these are beings that are tricksters or violent and human beings may not be equipped to protect themselves or refuse to cooperate if the God/dess does or demands something unsafe or excessive. Also, most of these marriages seem to be between human women and male Gods, not sure if that means something. I do think Elfcat is right about God/dess spousers being holier-than thou, and they often say how hard they’ve worked to be skilled/powerful/et c. to be worthy of it. Personally, I have found that this tends to be connected (in general,not just in Paganism) to looking down on people who are less advanced, and not seeing that not everyone can work that hard for that long because of health/family demands/et c. and that doesn’t make someone stupid or lazy, it means people have different things to focus on in their current incarnation.
    Re nuns. As I understand it, there have been times and places when entering a monastery and scrubbing floors there was better than the few other options people who were at the bottom of the social ladder had.

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  3. That’s funny because most godspouses I know (including myself, a godspouse of none of the above you mentioned but rather Apollon) are over 30 and have being godspouses for over a decade. None of them are holier than thou when they decide to share and talk about it, in fact they go out of their way often to contribute to their worship communities, and they also come diverse pantheons of worship. So I am afraid that this doesn’t match my experience, and frankly I find it disheartening that godspouses are all painted with the same paint brush regardless of our individual relationship with our gods. Some of the younger ladies are a bit much at times as younger women can be when something is new to them, but there are a number of us who are more reserved. Also, to address your other point, there are actually men out there who identify too as godspouses believe it or not of various ages. In fact recently there has a bit of commotion about godspousing being defined by terms that liken to as a cis-gender woman experience, when it is in fact not as men have come forward to object strongly to this. As for the validity of godspouses historically and mythically, consider Hellenic myth. The idea of people being embraced in love by the gods isn’t unheard of, and the Pythia, a priestess/oracle of Apollon, was also called a wife of Apollon. Philosophically Plato also touches on the concept of the love union between the soul and the divine in his Phaedo too in which the soul, inspired by love, desires union with her god (the soul being represented in feminine terms).
    Personally I have found nothing repressive or anti-feminist about this either. Rather it is usually a positive expression of love for the god, and a choice to engage in a life-changing relationship with a god rooted in that love. There are many kinds of relationships one can have with a god…some people view their god as paternal (or maternal in the case of a goddess), some see them akin to teachers or protectors. The bottom line is that we all engage in relationships of some kind with the gods we worship, and where that relationship evolves will vary from individual to individual. Therefore, sadly, I see the tone of this entire post, to be one of great hostility towards those of us who identify as godspouses even if we don’t fit the description you provided. I, myself, am actually more quiet on the godspouse front because I find it more useful to provide research and general Hellenic polytheistic information rather than to talk a great deal about it. In fact I went back and forth about whether or not I wanted to respond, and have to say many ladies who felt attacked by what we felt was unfactual information about our spiritual practice and relationship decided that replying to this would be a useless endeavor.
    As for veiling, my understanding of it is that it is typically a practice that historically had more to do with practical terms, as for example what you stated about medieval women (which can also be likened to Roman women in which women of polite society went out wrapped from head to toe in a palla, as did Greek women with their himation from what can be told from some images of this kind. However was is practical is always exclusive from the spiritual and religious, especially in the ancient world when ones daily life activities were tied to the religious intimately. So it doesn’t distress me in the least that there are women who find something worthwhile in veiling, especially because there are often many factors and reasons for why they begin veiling.

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  4. First of all, I want to say that I’m truly sorry that your recent experiences seem to have soured you on the entire concept of Godspousery in general. And several of the points you’ve brought up, in this as well as your subsequent posts on the subject, are indeed cause for concern–both within the “community” of Godspouses and without.

    However, there seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding at work here–and since I don’t know which blogs in particular you’ve been reading, and am largely unfamiliar with your own religious/spiritual worldview, I also have no way of knowing whether this is a case of a few people actually saying what you claim they are, or if it’s more a matter of the paradigm not being a good fit for yours.

    I don’t want to make you feel attacked on your own blog, as this is your space for your thoughts and opinions, so I’m not going to pick apart any of your posts trying to prove my point or disprove yours. But I do wish to address several of the larger points that you’ve made, in an attempt to foster meaningful dialogue and greater understanding on everyone’s part.

    1. Yes, I am a Godspouse. I am also not a nun, and I do not consider the two terms to be necessarily synonymous. “Nun” can be useful shorthand for explaining the concept of marrying a God to people who are otherwise unfamiliar with with it, I’ve found, and there are certainly individuals for whom the two functions overlap. But I consider it to be a specific label for a specific spiritual role–and in the context of the particular dynamics of my own Divine relationships, that label is one that I do not feel I have any right to apply to myself, any more than I feel I can claim the title of shaman, High Priestess, Vodouisant, etc.

    2. As I’ve said, I have no way of knowing whose blogs you’ve been reading, but I don’t personally know of any serious and sincere Godspouse who would claim that their relationship with their God makes them more special/holy/worthy than other Pagans or worshippers of the same God–or other human beings in general, for that matter. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who will claim the title in order to give themselves an ego boost or try to grab a little of the perceived “cachet” that comes with it, of course. But for the most part (and I’m speaking from personal experience here), even the possibility of marrying a God brings one face-to-face with one’s deepest feelings of inadequacy. Self-doubt is an issue I’ve had to wrestle with almost continuously on this path; I’m painfully aware of all the little ways I don’t seem to “measure up” to some arbitrary standard of achievement, and working through that will likely prove to be an entire lifetime’s worth of effort.

    This is not an ego trip for me; it’s the most painful, humbling, and overwhelming thing I’ve done in my life. If it were entirely up to me, I wouldn’t have a blog, and probably wouldn’t spend time with other Godspouses, either. But it’s important enough to my Gods that I have my voice out there, in however small a way, that I’m willing to work through my discomfort and speak publically about my experiences, both good and bad. And I do regret that you’ve perhaps misinterpreted my motivations for doing so.

    3. Lack of historical precedent never been a deterrent for anyone, as far as I can see. There are plenty of practices in modern Paganism whose roots cannot be traced back farther than the last century, and yet many people still incorporate them into their beliefs and rituals–and indeed frequently find deep spiritual meaning and nourishment there. Also, there are in fact well-established traditions in Hindu mysticism (bhakti) and Vodou where a devotee will enter into a spiritual marriage with a beloved God/lwa. Not every Godspouse need be involved with these religious systems or find them meaningful to their own experience of the Divine, of course, but the parallels are still there.

    Also, although the accuracy of such sources is obviously questionable in strictly historical terms, nearly every mythological tradition the world over contains tales of Gods, Goddesses, and spirits falling in love with and marrying mortals. So one has to wonder if the existence of such a wide-spread concept is due to mere coincidence, or if there’s something deeper at work here…

    4. I do not veil or cover my head in any way, nor do I feel called to do so–and once again, doing so is not a requirement for being a Godspouse by any means–but I still find the perception of veiling as somehow “anti-feminist” to be inherently problematic. It’s one thing for a woman to veil because she’ll be harassed and beaten in the streets or by her family members if she doesn’t; it’s quite another for her to consciously and deliberately choose to do so for _any_ reason, whether religious or otherwise.

    Perhaps I’m using a different definition of feminism than you are, but I tend to look askance at any attempt to define it in negative terms. As far as I’m concerned, feminism encompasses any and all choices that a woman makes which help her to feel more empowered and whole–both in her femininity and as an individual in general. And if those choices include veiling or modest dress, so be it; it’s her choice, and it neither causes me injury nor takes away my own freedom of choice, regardless of any historical associations attached to the practice.

    (Incidentally, lots of people who veil claim that it’s helpful in filtering out some of the psychic “noise” they’re bombarded with in their day-to-day lives. It’s not a replacement for actually putting the time and effort into building and maintaining adequate personal shields, certainly, but for some people it can be a useful component of one’s practice in that regard.)

    5. As a final note, I feel moved to ask why Loki in particular is so worrisome to you. I’m already familiar with the mainstream Heathen/Asatru arguments against Him (all of which I’ve seen bandied about, pontificated over, and viciously debated ad nauseum), but I haven’t yet had the opportunity to engage with anyone of an “anti-Loki” sentiment outside that framework, so I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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  5. Pingback: Honest about headcovering | Pagan Layman

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