There are plenty of people who turn their attention inward for their religious practice, or to the energy of the Earth or universe. Not me; I need gods.
I have tried life without gods. I’ve been the sort of Wiccan who honors archetypal forces. I’ve communed with nature and its spirits directly, without any sort of worship. I’ve meditated on my strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve taken responsibility through the use of magic and by acting in accordance.
For me, life without gods is life without hope. It’s life without purpose. Life without gods is no life at all.
What I cannot and will not claim is that worshiping gods leads to a life free of pain. I screw up plenty, and bad things definitely happen. I know of no god that offers me a mortal existence that is free of peaks and valleys. My prayers are sometimes answered in ways I see as beneficial, but not always. The purpose of giving offerings is not to obtain divine favor, and anyone who thinks otherwise is sure to be disappointed.
Gods — external, independent, immortal, inscrutable gods — provide for me a scaffold upon which I can build my life. I’m not looking for some reward after my death for being a good worshiper; for me the gods are shining lighthouses by which I try to navigate life’s voyage. It’s not enough to simply head towards one of those beacons, because I know I can’t actually reach them. Maybe it’s better to describe them as the stars a helmsman uses to set a ship’s course. They are fixed points, and so long as I keep some in front, some behind, and certain ones to each side I know I am headed in the same direction.
The periods of my life without gods — when I considered myself some amorphous sort of Pagan who didn’t actually worship — have been when I drifted without purpose. Drifting isn’t necessarily a bad thing: when the current is sending you in the direction you wish to go and the skies are clear, what could be better? Without a destination or even a direction in mind, I have found that my drifting brings me through times good and bad, yet drains me all the while like someone on a raft in the sea is drained.
I respect those who don’t feel the need for the support of gods. Yes, I get irritated by language that suggests that those paths are either superior to or in fact actually supplant my own, but when they do their thing and it works for them, who am I to judge? I’ve tried that way, and I know I’d rather have those lighthouses, those stars above me.
Miasma can be likened to those stormy times when navigation is impossible. Clouds blot out the sky. No shore is close enough for a lighthouse to be visible. I can but batten down and hold on. Sucky things happen whether or not I worship gods. The difference for me is that when the clouds part, I can again look to those stars and get my bearings. When the way to the gods is restored, I can rebuild and retool. I can resume my prior course, or set a new one as I choose. I know I am not alone, even though I’m not expecting the stars above to hold a conversation with me.
There are many other things I need to thrive as a human being: food, water, air, community, love, and shelter come to mind. All of these dim when I do not have in my life gods as well. Joy is more fleeting and pain brings more uncertainty and fear when no gods are present. My ability to set goals and strive to be better is clarified and focused when I have the gods to steer by.
It is for this reason that I need gods. Any questions?