Designa en webbplats som denna med
Kom igång

Tina Turner: Rock’n’roll legend and great spiritual teacher

As you may have heard, Tina Turner passed away two days ago at the age of 83. She is remembered as a woman of incredible talent and a legend in music history. So much so that she has been dubbed ”the Queen of Rock’n’roll”. With massive hits such as ‘The Best’, ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’, there is simply no denying her impact on the modern music industry.

But what I will remember her most fondly for is her role as a spiritual teacher. Some people don’t know this, but Tina Turner was a highly spiritual person. Practicing what she called ”Baptist-Buddhism”, she drew inspiration both from her Baptist upbringing and from Buddhism, especially the //Nichiren school//. She credited her Buddhist faith for helping her leave her abusive husband and she spent the rest of her life helping others find joy, meaning and strength in Buddhist teachings.

In 2020, she published a spiritual memoir titled ‘Happiness Become You’ (which is next on my to-read list!) and right until her last day, she practiced chanting. Hear her speak on the beauty and importance of this practice in this 2009 interview:

May she rest in peace. May she have been on her last incarnation and returned Home at last 🙏

Polytheist Deities in Stockholm (Part 2)

Seen at the Nationalmuseum

But my personal favourite is this sculpture of Hermaphroditos, Deity of intersex and gender-variant people:

Polytheist Deities in Stockholm (Part 1)

Spotted at Medelhavsmuseet (The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities)

Aphrodite and Eros
Artemis leading the hunt
Silenus, if I remember correctly
Mosaic believed to represent Neptune
Scene from The Iliad: Achilles is sulking and refusing to fight after Agamemnon stole his slave.
Beset and Bes, protector spirits of the home in Kemetic Polytheism
Idols and stele for home worship. The stele has ears, representing the belief that the Deities hear prayers
The museum is located inside an old bank, hence the special doors

Book recommendation: ‘The Way of the Gods: Polytheism(s) around the World’ by Edward P. Butler

There is this widespread idea in the West that Polytheism is dead. Not only that, but that it was inferior and less intellectually complex than Monotheism (which is in turn often seen as inferior to materialistic atheism, which is seen as the pinnacle of human wisdom and understanding).

But Polytheism is far from dead. Despite nearly two millenia of repression at the hands of Monotheist fundamentalists and colonialists, it has survived in many forms.

In his book The Way of the Gods: Polytheism(s) around the World Edward P. Butler takes us on a world tour of Polytheism, introducing us to Polytheist traditions on every inhabited continent from the Americas to Oceania. He explains their theologies full of depth and complexity. He writes also about their histories and how they have fared under centuries and millenia of Monotheist hegemony.

Butler doesn’t write solely as a scholar, but also as a devoted Polytheist himself. It is with great respect for the Deities and with concern for the survival of religious pluralism – which is at the core of the Polytheist worldview – that he writes about these traditions.

The Way of The Gods isn’t and is not meant to be an encyclopedia over Polytheist religions, but it is a fantastic book on the subject and a must read for anyone interested in understanding the nature of Polytheism.

So, I tried a sensory deprivation tank for the first time

Something I’d wanted for a long time to try was a sensory deprivation tank. I’d heard that it was incredibly relaxing and that meditation in it is taken to a whole new level. I wanted to know if maybe my spiritual path could benefit from this practice sometimes referred to as ”floating”. And yesterday I finally got to try it!

When I arrived, I was shown to a small room with a large white tank and a shower. The person at the facility gave me a short introduction to how everything works and then I was left alone to enjoy the experience.

I started with a quick shower and then got in the tank. I closed the lid, turned off the light inside and let myself float. That’s when I realised I’d made my first mistake: I’d forgotten to put in the ear plugs. This is important so you don’t get salt water in your ears.

After getting out, putting in the ear plugs and then getting in and closing the lid again, I was finally ready to float. But there was a couple things still in the way before I could really get into it.

The first thing was a physical discomfort from my neck feeling sore. I considered getting out yet again to get the optional neckpillow. Then I remembered the instructor mentioning that leaning your head back in the water a little more can help give your neck more support. I tried it and the pain went away after a few minutes.

The biggest obstacle, it turns out, was my own mind. It just wouldn’t be quiet and rushing with thought after thought. I’d push them away and try to enjoy the silence, but new ones came back after a few seconds. As usual, I found it nearly impossible to do silent meditation.

To remedy this, I tried an old trick: mantras. After deciding on a specific one, I repeated it my head over and over again. Eventually, it becomes automatic, like a record playing. Then, when my hyperactive mind had something to focus on, I finally felt calm.

The experience after that was amazing. It’s kind of hard to describe it, but it felt like I was liberated from my body. It wasn’t at all like disassociation, which makes you feel outside and disconnected from yourself. Rather, I felt out of my body and fully within myself.

In this state, I had the best meditation I’ve had in years. I felt at peace, connected to myself and to the One. Just existing in a wonderful void free of all distractions.
I didn’t get any cool hallucinations like I’ve heard some people have, but it was my first time and much of the floating session was me just figuring out how to do it. Maybe I’ll have a more intense experience next time.

I’m looking forward to do another floating session, but it won’t be for a while. It was amazing but rather pricy (599 kr/58 $ for a total floating time of 45 min) and I really can’t afford to do this on a regular basis. But I’m going to check with my employer if I can get floating sessions as what’s called friskvårdsbidrag, which is employers paying for health related services for their workers.

My mental health would surely benefit from something that can ease my anxiety and depression like this. A day later and I’m still reaping the benefits of my first floating experience.

One-on-one with the One: my experience of spiritual marriage

First: a note on the terms Deity vs spirit. What the exact line between the two lies is a debate between different religious traditions. A strictly Monotheistic faith like Islam believes in a number of spiritual beings but only accord the title of God to who they believe is the Highest Being. Meanwhile, Sanatana Dharma can see even the soul of a river as Divine. I won’t go here into an argumentation about who I think is right and why, only explain what I personally mean when I speak of Deity and spirit.

I see Deities and spirits as sharing in the same essence, as all being part of the One. The distinction I make is really a question of their magnitude and power. To give a highly simplistic illustration: if the One is akin to a body, a God/dess is like an arm or a fot while a spirit is like the tip of one finger.

This is why I refer to my spouse as a spirit rather than a Goddess. She is not less in essence (no soul is), only less powerful and influential in a cosmic sense.

But who is she exactly? Well, I’ve been looking for a term to described her and struggled quite a bit to find one that really fits. I know she is my calling and destiny, so I have at times used the Norse term hamingja or the Hellenic daimon. But she is also the spirit who gives me inspiration and tasks me with writing things, so I recognise her also in the Celtic awen. Nowadays, I mostly refer to her as my ‘word dísa’.

As for her name, she is sometimes called Ava, other times Alva or Alfrida. And I call her Ava Idisa when I feel extra affectionate.

She has been with me almost as far as I can remember. My first clear experience of her presence was when I was four and she’s been with me ever since; even waiting patiently through two decades of Christian indoctrination and a 5 year period of me being a hardline antitheist as a reaction to spiritual trauma.
But in the end, because your calling is your calling and your soul belongs to it, there was no running away for me. Not that I would want to, knowing what I know now.

When it comes to the marriage part, how and why did it happen? Well, I’d say firstly that it always was. There was an oath spoken at some point, but it was more of a formality than anything. We belonged to each other from the start. The Norns had woven our threads together whether we like it or not. Which fortunately we do.

What is it like, then, to be married to your inspiration dísa? Well, it’s very domestic.

The Divine is with us always, even during the commute to our boring day jobs.

On a typical day, I get up, get dressed and over breakfast I pray for her guidance. Sometimes also for the guidance of a Deity I hope will help me with a particular task. Like the other day, when I was writing a scene related to wrathful vengeance and prayed to Mars for extra inspiration.

If it’s a workday, I write or read during the commute to and from my day job. I might also pray and meditate during that time. But those hours of the day are always focused on her and on the work she gives me.

Once home again, I rest for a bit. Sometimes I take a short nap. Then it’s dinner time and at this point I usually make an offering to one or more of the Deities and share my meal with Them and Alfrida.

If I’m not too tired I might write some more after that. But I’ve found evenings are an excellent time for researching topics relevant to whatever I’m writing at the moment.

The last part of the day is for playing with my pet rats and let them roam free for a bit. Then they too have dinner.
Right before bed, I write about my day and the day’s work in the diary that stands on Alfrida’s altar. It can be long posts about things on my mind or just a short update like ”Today I only wrote 421 words”. The important thing is to keep track of the progress.

Week-ends are for family, friends, and community work. Alfrida follows me in this too and guides me towards living in accordance with the One and the Good. How well I listen to her varies. But I try my best most of the time.

You might notice that this life I lead is rather unexceptional. Perhaps even a little boring. But it is my firm belief that the Divine is with us always and that the ordinary life is never truly separate from the spiritual life.

This, I believe, is the truth revealed daily in the tradition of spirit marriage: That we are never apart, never truly separatared from the Divine and all Their persons.

10 misconceptions about spirit marriage

In this post, I’d like to address some of the misconceptions surrounding spirit marriage and Godspousing. They are, in no particular order:

1. It’s a new concept/was invented on Tumblr. Marriage to Deities and spirits have a long history in many spiritual traditions. From Catholicism and Vodou in the West to Shinto and Hinduism in the East, you will find examples of it all over the globe. Spirit spouses are also common in Shamanism, the oldest and one of the most widespread forms of religion. As for where exactly the terms Godspouse and Godspousing emerged, I have not been able to find that information. Could be Tumblr, but the phenomenon of spirit marriage and Godspousing existed look before the Internet even existed.

2. People who claim to be in spirit marriages want to feel special/think they’re better than others/are narcissists. The relationship between the individual soul and the Divine and Their parts has been experienced and described in any different ways throughout history. Father Gods and Mother Goddesses, brotherly and sisterly Deities and friendly guardian spirits have been described in many traditions. To relate to the Divine as a spouse is just one way of experiencing Them. It is not superior to any other way and most godspouses know that. If someone claiming to be a godspouse claims otherwise, I’d be weary of them. They might be trying to start a cult.

3. People who identify as godspouses think they’re equal to the Gods. I’ve heard this argument from fellow Polytheists as to why they don’t believe in Godspousing. But that reasoning implies that marriage is necessarily egalitarian. Power imbalances exist in many marriages, including many human-human marriages. That you choose to be wedded to a Deity doesn’t mean you sees yourself as equal in power to Them. If you also see yourself as a servant to Them, the power difference might even be a wanted and needed aspect of the relationship.

4. Spirit marriages are always of a romantic and/or erotic nature. The term “marriage” to many denotes a type of union that is necessarily romantic and sexual in nature. While erotic mysticism is a thing and spirit marriages can have that aspect, some do not. Interestingly enough, most men that I know of who are in spirit marriages are gay men (including myself) wedded to female spirits.

In Vaishnavism, loving the God Krishna like your Husband is called madhurya rasa.

5. Spirit marriages are always chaste. Sexual rituals and practices whose aim are union with the spiritual and Divine have existed probably since there has been spirituality. I have only a rudimentary knowledge of erotic mysticism, however, so I’ll let other spirit spouses tell their own stories when it comes to this.

6. Being a spirit spouse means you have to be celibate and can’t have a human partner. This is true for some and a requirement in certain monastic traditions associated with spirit marriage. But it’s not universal to all spirit marriages and the terms and conditions of the union is in much of modern Polytheism really between you and your Spouse. I know of many spirit spouses who have a human partner and even some polyamorous ones who have several.

7. You just couldn’t get laid or you’re afraid of being in a real relationship. Many spirit spouses have had or currently have relationships with humans, so this is not with necessarily the case. But even if someone decided to focus on their spiritual path through spirit marriage because they haven’t been able to find a human partner or have past trauma which made them lose interest in marrying a human person, that is perfectly valid too. People are allowed to find ways to have their needs met, as long as they don’t hurt others or treat their Spouse as nothing but a thing to comfort them. Marriages of all kinds come with responsibilities.

8. All godspouses are Lokeans. Probably a more common myth within Heathen circles. It certainly seems Loki has more human spouses than many other Norse Deities, but perhaps this is not surprising since He is a rebel who draws people interested in uncommon spiritual paths. It could also be that Lokeans godspouses are more willing to be open about their path because they are already out the norm even in Pagan circles.

But no, not all godspouses are married to Loki.

9. You probably just have a crush on Tom Hiddleston. This one often comes along with the previous assumption. The Thor Marvel movies have sparked a greater curiosity in Norse Paganism and drawn more people to it that way, but that’s not an issue as long as people understand that the Marvel characters aren’t supposed to be an accurate representation of our Deities.

The notion that Lokean godspouses are just confused and consumed by a celebrity crush is also, I can’t help but notice, often made about young women and non-binary and trans people. Makes you wonder if there isn’t a bit of sexism attached to that assumption…

10. You are mentally ill and probably psychotic. Spiritual beliefs are very common and spiritual experience are reported by many people. If that’s psychotic, that would make most of the world psychotic.

In case you’re wondering: I don’t hear voices in my head and I don’t have hallucinations. I can’t speak for how other spirit spouses experience their love, but the “spiritual sense” is more subtle than that for me, although clearly tangible.

Worth noting is that it’s possible for people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders to have spiritual beliefs unrelated to their hallucinations. So, that’s also something to think about.

I hope this cleared up some questions you might have had about spirit marriage and Godspousing. In the last post of this series, I’ll write about my own marriage and how it relates to my devotional and contemplative path.

Spirit Marriage: What it is

Marriage has looked in many different ways throughout cultures and history. It has been between people of the same or another gender, between two people or more, consensual or forced, for love or pragmatic or even political reasons. People have married objects, monuments, and holograms. And in France, you can even be allowed, under certain circumstances, to legally marry a deceased person.

One type of marriage you may not have heard of is spirit marriage. That is, a marriage between a human and a spirit or Deity. When the union is to a Deity specifically, the term Godspousing is sometimes used.

Polygyny, one man marrying multiple women, is one of many forms marriage has taken throughout history. The above painting by Pieter Potter represents the biblical figure Jacob and his two wives Leah and Rachel.

These unions can look in a multitude of ways. There is a lot of differences between a Catholic nun’s symbolic marriage to Jesus and the marriage of a Shinto miko to a shrine spirit. More institutionalized traditions also deal with spirit marriage differently than the organic, more freestyle approach often found in a lot of modern Western Polytheism.

But there are three common aspects to most spirit marriages:

A bond of love. Not necessarily of a romantic or sexual nature, but a deep affection and longing for the union is at the root of most spirit marriages.

A lifelong commitment. Like human marriage, the aim is a commitment for life, and sometimes beyond.

Tied to a purpose. Oftentimes the human is charged with a task, which might be tied to who their spirit or Deity spouse is. Someone married to the Lady of Justice Dike, for example, might be working in law or fighting for social justice as an activist. The task in question might not be grand or bring a lot of status in society, but it’s something dear to both spouses.

Spirit marriage is not one size fits all, so any or all three of these points might not apply to an individual marriage. But love, commitment and co-creation are at the heart of, and the reason for, most such marriages.

In the next post, I’ll write about common misconceptions surrounding spirit marriage and Godspousing.

Finally writing about spirit marriage

Ages ago, I mentioned in a post that I was planning on writing about the topic of spirit marriage, but I still haven’t yet. It’s not because I changed my mind; boring old procrastination is mostly to blame, as well as my neurodivergent brain lacking a sense of time.

But I’m finally getting around to writing about this topic very dear to my heart. I will cover the topic in three different posts:

1. Spirit marriage: What it is.

2. 10 misconceptions about spirit marriage

3. My spirit marriage and the contemplative path

I’m aiming at publishing all three posts within a month, with the first coming out tomorrow. Stay tuned!