Many gods, no masters–and that includes you

It’s time for me to be brutally honest again, gentle readers. Today’s uncomfortable truth: Every spiritual authority I have relied upon has let me down.

Every. Single. One. Whether Christian or Pagan or Buddhist. Whether I have known them personally or only at a distance. Whether they called themselves priests or teachers or some other title. Every time I gave my power away to someone in the name of religion, it was to my loss. My power was used for someone else’s self-aggrandizement.

On the other hand, I have had brilliant, empowering teachers who did not try to usurp their students’ personal power and authority. I have seen people who shared their knowledge with joy and enthusiasm, in the hope that others would catch fire. I have known teachers who possessed the teacher’s greatest virtue: The goal that their students would someday equal and even excel them. A Catholic nun with a Ph.D. teaching theology. An Irish Catholic woman teaching English literature. A Hermetic magician and a sorcerer sharing their magical learning. Music teachers who showed their students how to enjoy music and how to create their own.

French anarchists coined the phrase, “No gods, no masters!” Pagan anarchists at Gods & Radicals came up with the variation, “Many gods, no masters”. I am here to tell you that if you want to share your knowledge, if you want to teach me, if you genuinely know more than I do, and if you wish the best for your students, I will listen to you, learn from you, respect you, and be grateful for you. But if you try to claim authority over me, if what you have to tell me is that safe spaces are ridiculous and there is one right way of doing things which just happens to be the way you do them, if you are trying to take my personal power and use it to shore up your own ego, then my response is: FUCK OFF. Because “no masters” includes you, self-appointed spiritual authority, polytheist blogger, thousand-dollar weekend teacher, integral this, spiritual that, no matter how many books you’ve read or what the oracle told you to tell the rest of us.

You know who hasn’t let me down? Who doesn’t seem to be interested in having power over me? Who is tolerant of my weaknesses and forebearing with my learning process, which involves a good deal of Doing It Myself and Discovering Things The Hard Way? My gods. Who seem to think I’m Doing Okay, every time I check in with them because some shit-flinger on the Internet has pushed my anxiety buttons and I’m afraid I’m Doing It Wrong.

I’m leaving comments open on this post. But if I don’t like your comment, my response just might be, “Fuck off.” I’m feeling a bit Dr. Banner today, and I’m not sorry if you don’t like me when I’m angry.


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Writer, musician, polytheist, and friend of birds. I like science fiction, fantasy, and superheroes a lot.

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