- Your hope in my heart is the rarest treasure
Your Name on my tongue is the sweetest word
My choicest hours
Are the hours I spend with You --
O God, I can't live in this world
Without remembering You--
How can I endure the next world
Without seeing Your face?
I am a stranger in Your country
And lonely among Your worshippers:
This is the substance of my complaint.
-- Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya, trans. Charles Upton
Sure, there's loving God. And then there's, y'know, loving God, wink wink, nudge nudge, saynomore, saynomore.
Which falls in a weird sideways place somewhere rubbing up against madness. There are all kinds of frameworks for divine ecstasy, but along with ecstasy being sort of marginalised and out of fashion, expressing it in that whole sexual/romantic/kinked vague direction is a good way to get weird looks. At best.
This kind of direct sexuality does not seem to mix well with a lot of people's image of religion. (And I think about Tantric practice, which seems to me in the West to have first been limited to its sexual aspects and then separated from the whole embodying-the-Divine bits.) When people refer to a nun as a "Bride of Christ", they're probably not thinking in terms of Jesus's cosmic polygynous harem (except if they're easily amused warped literalists like me). (But somehow I bet there are a few nuns out there somewhere who have some level of mystical consummation of their marriages.)
WordK wrote "Since YHWH's interaction with humans is often of an erotic character (and I dare anyone who has read the prophets or Song of Songs to try and tell me it isn't)..." Hmmm:
- Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth--for thy love is better than wine.
Thine ointments have a goodly fragrance; thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the maidens love thee.
Draw me, we will run after thee; the king hath brought me into his chambers; we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will find thy love more fragrant than wine! sincerely do they love thee.
-- Song of Songs, Chapter 1
Well, I'm not going there.
There's this whole section of the clawing towards the experience of oneness with the divine that just doesn't get talked about, doesn't get seen. And that doesn't make it go away -- there are still the quiet voices of the people whose dreams are filled with their gods, who aspire to some sort of partnership with something in the Unseen world. As well as the noisier voices of the ones who are less circumspect.
And it scares some people. I know of people who simply cannot deal with the concept of a god as a lover -- perhaps because it's hubristic, perhaps because the material and mortal is thought of as something immiscible with the transcendent and divine, perhaps because 'god as parent' is so strong in that mind that 'god as lover' becomes abuse, creepiness, some sort of warped perversion of family. (I've seen all of these.) And this doesn't stop there being stories of the heroes who came from crossbreedings between lines (though their mortal parents often had a really bad time of it), or mortals raised to godhood, or that so-political office in ancient Egypt, God's Wife, intended to keep the daughters of a rival line chaste and without mortal offspring -- but did the God appreciate His Wife? In a culture with seductions between the god and the mother of the king painted on its walls?
And it's the edge of madness, this concept of reaching for the divine in this way, and it's hard to talk about without being mad. Impossible to respond to a sneering, "Why would anyone worship such a god?" when the answer has at least two tendrils rooted in this emotion. And there's the whole question of whether the madness is the madness of ecstasy, or just being in need of a straitjacket.
And none of that means that I'm not hoping to find a ritual scourge at the Fetish Flea. Not because my liege asked it of me; because Neb.y asked it of me.
- I want to fuck you like an animal
My whole existence is flawed
You get me closer to god
- "Closer", Nine Inch Nails