"A witch bows to no one."
This was among the first things I was taught in my training as a Feri priest.
No human, no institution, and no god ultimately holds authority over me. I am responsible for standing in the fullness of my power, taking responsibility for my role in events unfolding in all worlds, for the ripples across space and time that trace back to my presence, my movements, my very breath. My own godsoul, the divine aspect of my being, is the only being that rightly sits on the throne of my heart. Victor Anderson taught that the true meaning of the first commandment was that nothing should ever be allowed to come between us and our highest selves, no god should come before our godsoul.
What, then is our relationship with the gods?
They are part of the same world that we are. Older and more immense by almost unimaginable magnitudes, to be sure. But they are like us, but they are not greater than us. A Redwood is far older and larger than a Hummingbird, but it is not holier or more important, both are part of the same ecology. The same is true of gods and humans. Anaar, the one living Grandmaster of my tradition, says "We sit at the table of the gods. Sometimes we need booster seats, but we sit at the table of the gods."
Our tradition agrees with physics that our universe is made of matter and energy that came into being in the orgasmic explosion science calls the Big Bang, arranging and rearranging itself over and over again. Gods have persisted in form for longer than we have. But we are now less creators of worlds. I create the world within me and reshape the world around me, as do all other beings. And my world is transformed by the Sage that exhales the carvone that I inhale, that relaxes tension and opens the senses so I can connect more deeply with the living world around me.
I grew up in a religion that taught that the sacrifice of our body's pleasure and our own lifeforce was necessary to show devotion to a god who was crucified. The church that taught that enforced it with emotional, psychological, and emotional violence and I still carry scars from that time. To sacrifice means to make sacred. Our bodies, our sovereignty, our autonomy, and our authentic desires are already sacred. Any human or institution or god that demands their sacrifice is lying to us, promising to make us what we already are if only we give up what makes us who we are. The gods I ally with are the gods who love me and want to see me free.
There are gods who are my lovers, gods who are my teachers and counselors, gods who are my protectors, gods I work with to turn the tides of history. But there are no gods to whom I surrender my authority and autonomy. And no human to whom I will give authority over my relationships with gods -- or overwhom I will assume authority.
If the role of a priest is to practice theology and teach the truest law, then the law I teach is the only one that arises from my theology, the same one that Crowley expressed when he said that love is the whole of the law, love under Will. And the only correction I will offer if I see someone not living that law will be the example of my own continuing liberation and my solidarity and willingness to be an ally in theirs. Unless they are trying to take from others the ability to live that law, in which case I will resist them.
"A witch bows to no one."