Godspousery: Is it a legitmate practice?

Godspousery has been in the news and a hot button topic in the blogosphere and social media. Some people argue that it is wishful thinking at best, or delusional deception at worst. The idea that godspousery is a modern thing, however, is something that really should be put aside. Additionally, the idea of something being a modern development being some how less legitimate compared to ancient practices in religion is a perception bias that should be dropped. I could talk more about the perception bias but it isn’t the focus of my post. I may revisit it, however at a later date.

Godspousery is an ancient practice that was largely forgotten by Protestant Christianity influenced people. Many people assume that the practice of marrying a deity is signs of serious mental illness, conveniently ignoring that it is a practice that has been engaged in consistently by members of the Catholic Christian church for multiple millennia and for an indeterminate time prior to the establishment of formal orders of nuns. There are records of godspousery happening within other faiths around the world for equally as long, if not longer. Indeed, in the Heathen community, we can point to the period around Roman expansion north to find records of godspousery in the Continental Heathens.

If we look for legitimacy of practice on the basis of historical precedent, there is a lot of evidence supporting it. The modern practice of godspousery is most likely quite different from the ancient practices. At the same time, we live in a world that is vastly different from what it was like in antiquity with very different emphasizes for the individual’s life. In both cases, however, the vow of marriage between a worshiper and a deity is a central focus of the practice. Ancient godspousery may have overlapped with priesthood, but it is not fully conclusive this was the case. There may have been more incidences of godspousery practiced independently of priesthood than what has been recorded.

Modern godspousery varies widely in its manifestations. There are some who are in monogamous relationships with deity. There are some who are in polyamorous relationships with deity. These polyamorous relationships may include another person who is wholly human, a spirit, or another deity. Much like the human varieties of these relationships, the spouse has responsibilities in the relationship and receives some sort of benefit out of the relationship. What is forgotten by many is that the deity in the relationship also has responsibilities and benefits out of the relationship.

The intimate details of a godspouse’s relationship with the deity(s) is a private matter that should be respected. Just as it is grossly inappropriate to ask a married human couple for the intimate details of their relationship, so is true for a godspouse’s relationship. Even if they are married to a god, a godspouse is not obligated to serve the people. Some have confused godspousery with clergy, much to the vexation of the godspouses caught in this mess and the frustration of the person seeking the assistance of clergy.

While there is clergy who are also godspouses, not all godspouses are clergy nor are all clergy godspouses. The godspouse is a vital part of the cultus of a deity. While their activities and relationship with the deity may not be for the public to know, the godspouse is meeting a need of the deity and engaged in an (ideally) mutually fulfilling relationship. And, just like relationships between humans, the relationship between the godspouse and the deity will cycle through pleasant times and unpleasant ones.

Also, there are times where the marital relationship is dissolved on the basis of irreconcilable differences. In these instances, the relationship can be ended by either party. There are people who were once espoused to a deity and no longer are because the deity decided it was time to end the relationship. There are also people who decided to divorce the deity. Just like a terrestrial divorce, there are going to be some consequences from it. Some of them may be pleasant and some may be unpleasant. And these divorces may happen with one party willing and the other party unwilling.

Some people assume, however, that acting against a deity’s will equals an automatic smite. This is not necessarily the case. The consequences of acting against a deity’s will vary with respect to the relationship, circumstances, and the personality of the deity involved. Ultimately, however, the godspouse has free will to decide if they will remain wedded to said deity. There are people who are engaged in a relationship that exchanges a great deal of that freedom. Godslaves do exist. That relationship dynamic is quite different from godspousery, though it shares several elements with it.

Godspousery is a practice that has been engaged in since antiquity. It is becoming more prominent within the pagan community. This, I believe, is a good thing because it shows people that are involved in such a relationship with their deity that they’re not stark raving mad. It also allows for them to network with other godspouses and receive support in their spiritual journey.


About Cydira

SAHM to 2 boys and wife of one very busy guy, life never is dull at my place. I love to cook and make things. Fiber arts enthusiast, spinner, and general handcrafter, I do a little of everything. Happily pagan, but that is on my other blog, Veiled Witch's Mirror.
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6 Responses to Godspousery: Is it a legitmate practice?

  1. Pingback: Godspousery: Is it a legitmate practice? | Earth Star Love

  2. Tyrienne says:

    Thank you for addressing these issues- I am a clergy and not a Godspouses.

    There are Godspouses who have my absolute respect- but most do not….and for that reason I am one of the most vocal critics of the seemingly endless masses of women “married” to wet dreams of Tom Hiddleston.

    Godspousary was so sacred in Uruk, the Priestess was treated like a living Goddess as long as she bore the signs of her God’s influence upon her.

    Not all priestesses were Godspouses…But those who were treated with deference and likely some respectful fear.

    However, that being said- another type of priesthood existed that used sacred prostitution in a variety of cultures. Both men and women would have ecstatic sexual/mystical experiences with up to an entire pantheon of Gods- and in the temples of Inanna, would offer their bodies to any worshiper who presented themselves for that sort of ministry.

    For all the ladies and gents out there describing Loki’s favorite flavors of lube- please, for the sake of the rest of us, become sacred whores and at least make yourselves look respectively insane like the rest of us mystical peoples…. 😉

    • cydira says:

      While I disagree with how you have characterized the majority of people who are upon the mystic path of godspousery, I do feel that your comment regarding the sacred whore is something that should be considered. I do feel that there is a place for the sacred whore within different faiths. To conflate the sacred whore with the godspouse, however, is an egregious disservice and encourages an attitude of scorn towards both groups. The popular attitude that godspousery is based in wish fulfillment and fantasy is unreasonable. Are there cases where this happens? Of course there are. Statistically, it is a likely probability and shouldn’t be disregarded as a possibility. This said, however, the argument that the majority of godspouses are not having ‘legitimate’ spiritual experiences is utter nonsense. We have no way of knowing what another person is experiencing beyond what the communicate to us. And we have no way of truly knowing what a god is going to do. We may have guesses and they may be good guesses, but in the end it is still speculation. To deny that a spiritual experience any concept of legitimacy because it doesn’t meet your ideal model of worship and what you presume godspousery is like is patently denying the agency of deities and all personal spiritual experiences that anyone might have.

      Additionally, I disagree with the implication that a mystic is insane. I know that it was said in jest. But, often, things said off the cuff in jest reveal deeper roots. The mystic is not automatically insane for their experiences. There are some who are blessed with madness that illuminates them by the hands of the divine. Others suffer from the madness inflicted upon them by those same hands. There are, however multiple roads to mystic experiences. Perpetuating the concept that the only road is that of madness is foolish. Add to it the implied pejorative that comes with the statement that some one is mad (within the context of western culture) and you manage to successfully demean all parties in the discussion. I am sure your intent was not to offend but rather inject humor into the discussion. But I question why the implication of insanity and the attendant cultural depreciations was brought into the discussion.

  3. ibgreenie3 says:

    The role of being a “God Spouse” goes back to Ancient Egypt. That religious role was
    highly respected & deeply important. The Woman who was the “God Spouse” also held a great deal of power and authority.
    I had an Aunt who was a cloistered nun and was truly a ‘spouse of Christ” or a “bride of Christ.” She had a marriage ceremony & a religious ceremony. In even today, I grew up & know that this a a life that brings great fulfillment & love to those who live this relationship.
    I don’t think everyone is called to this. The names of those who choose this role should be private, unless the person wishes to be known. This relationship should be taken with years of study, prayer & spiritual guidance by their spiritual director.
    May those called answer with an open heart & an educated mind.

    • cydira says:

      It is fascinating to see how godspousery manifests within different faiths. I suspect that somewhere, in all faiths, there is someone engaged in this practice. I sincerely hope to see greater acceptance of this practice because there is so much good that can come out of it for the practitioner. And that leads to greater good for the world, because if you improve the lot of your neighbor, you improve the lot for the whole community. And tolerance is definitely something that would improve the lot of godspouses regardless of their faith.

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