9. How does your tradition handle wrathful, savage and destructive divinities?
Well, there's how the mainstream of my tradition handles Them and how I think the tradition teaches we ought to engage with Them and those are two very different things. I think that most people try to avoid what many might term 'savage' Deities and I think this is a mistake. This happens, of course not just in Heathenry but in pretty much every polytheism that I've encountered and it's a poison from our modern world, from growing up with the card board cut out image of anglo saxon jesus with his pretty golden curls who treats everyone as a shepherd would treat a baby lamb, from the influence of new ageism that teaches 'follow your bliss" without any other qualifier, and from a culture that has wholesale lost any sense of the holy and any sense of how to use difficult emotions for personal growth--we'd rather whip out the paxil prescription and medicate them away. We've also been patterned by two thousand years of Christianity to think in binaries: black/white, male/female, good/evil and when savage Deities arise it can be difficult for some not to class them as 'evil.' There's little sense in our culture of healthy destruction and with the Protestant Weltanschauung that has so permeated and formed the attitudes of so much of modern Heathenry, intensity in religious devotion, most especially with the Gods is also, sadly, viewed as something to be shunned. obviously I don't think that any of these attitudes actually stem from the tradition itself nor do i think they're particularly helpful or healthy.
I think that we are meant to venerate these Deities just as with any Others. That They may be difficult, frightening, or uncomfortable for us to engage with is no excuse not to do so. They keep us clean. They force us to face those fearful or damaged or dishonest or unrooted places within ourselves, to face them and deal with them bringing them into conscious engagement so that we might become better and healthier human beings. They force us to grow and evolve. They slam us unrelentingly into the intense vulnerability that is the key to effective devotional work. They lay us bare and this is good. We are all too often committed to our own facades and blockages. These Gods demand an honesty and integrity and a commitment to courage (oh so important to solid devotional work) like no Others. They make us strong. They demand that we step up and grow. They bring, believe it or not: liberation. They can free us of all the fetters of mind, heart, and spirit that keep us from deeply rooted devotion, that keep us from growing, that keep us from ourselves. They make us whole. The process can be terrifying and brutal, but They make us whole.
I think that our ancestors understood that the sacred and the terrifying always go hand in hand. As much as we might like to gloss over it with lovely rituals and devotional structures, in the end, it's in the trembling terror as the presence of these Deities cause our souls to burst the fetters we and others have placed on them wherein true wisdom is found.