There is a fantastic alternative fairy story by a chap called Terry Jones that really works as a guiding metaphor for life. Basically this girl is approached by a goblin who offers her the chance to go to Goblin City........
Long or short to Goblin City
The short way's straight
But the long way's pretty......
But the girl has a lot of questions - well you would, wouldn't you? - I mean just how straight is the short way? Is it a little bit shorter than the long way or a lot shorter?
And how pretty is the long way? Is it worth the extra distance rather than going the short way?
Is the short way pretty as well? Is the long way a lot prettier than the short way or is there not much in it?
Is Goblin City actually worth going to whichever route I take? Why would I want to go there?
Would it be worth going if I went the short way but not necessarily worth going the long way?
If Goblin City is a bit crap, is it worth the trip just for the long pretty way? Is the pretty way pretty enough to justify the trip?
Can I come back if I go or do I have to stay in Goblin City?
Do I have to go alone or can I take someone with me?
If the long way isn't as pretty as I hoped can I double back and go the short way?
The girl asks the Goblin some of these questions but he gets fed up and vanishes in a puff of smoke after telling her:
Goblin City's far and near
If you can't decide
You'd better stay here
Thing is that if you never make up your mind about what you want and you never start trying to get there, you will be stuck where you are forever. Sometimes its time to start on that path, whichever path you choose.....
image <a href="http://fantasyartdesign.com/free-wallpapers/digital-art.php?i_i=71&u_i=26"> Mixed Media, Fantasy Art, Castle - free computer desktop wallpaper. </a>
Occasionally I do spell work for other people. Not very often but generally if a friend asks me, I’m happy to get involved. (That isn’t an invitation for all my readers to bombard me with requests – I’m a busy witch. Try me later in the year when my latest novel is finally put to bed….)
But, like I say, if it’s a friend and particularly if I think they are in the right, I’m usually up for lending a hand. So when my friend Hannah (pictured with consent!) asked if I could do a spell to help her boyfriend in a bit of a tricky situation, I agreed to give it a go.
I asked her to find me a “little something” from the boyfriend. I’m happy to work with pretty much any bodily fluid, toenails, hair, teeth (!)…. anything at all. I didn’t think it would be all that difficult.....
But was I wrong! She came to me the next day and apparently the boyfriend doesn’t want her trimming his hair.
(With an expression like that, who could blame him...?)
So she thought she’d rummage around on the floor after he trimmed his toe nails….
(How do we know that isn't one of yours Hannah??)
I suggested she have a delve through the toilet but she wasn’t keen….
(To be fair, who would be??)
Then we thought about drawing some blood…
(Possibly a little too much enthusiasm there Hannah...)
I’ve left her looking for one of his tissues…..wish her luck!!
Unbelievably all photos are posted with consent. Big thanks to Hannah for being such a sport!
Most faiths have some element of making a formal commitment to the chosen path. This causes some debate in the witch community as obviously there are no hard and fast rules about what can or indeed what should be done.
The oft quoted phrase "It takes a witch to make a witch," really gets my hackles rising. I detest anything that seeks to make any type of religion or spirituality elitist and unavaliable. And as someone who works with deity, I find it verging on the offensive if anyone tells me there is something another witch can do that my deities could not manage equally as effectively.
I've talked before about how to start a path toward witchcraft (practise the craft, work with magic, do rather than read). Progression on the path and affirmation that what you are doing is right for you is much the same. Its about doing rather than doubting. Reading esoteric (smug) articles by either Trad Witches or Wiccans who insist that you have to jump through their various hoops before you can earn that coveted "title" of witch will not be helpful. Now that's not saying that you can just decide to be anything you want overnight. If you are looking at belonging to a specific tradition, established belief set or even a coven then obviously there will be requirements you need to fulfill. But to be a practising solitary witch following your own crooked path, whatever initiation (if any) you choose is down to you.
So an initiation. More accurately if you are not entering a specific tradition what you are actually performing is a dedication. This can be a dedication to deity, the elements, ancestors, spirits you work with or even to yourself. It is your own personal rite of passage. It is the turning point in your own study of the craft where you feel there is no going back, when you have committed yourself to your practise and your beliefs.
Initiation for a solitary can be completed by another witch but far more likely is that it will be a solitary ritual. Wiccans have the practise of the traditional year and a day of study before formal initiation takes place. I did actually choose to observe this period myself. Dedication is not a step you should take lightly. The further you follow your craft, the more doors you shut behind you. I do believe it is important that you really take the time to understand what you are doing and why it is right for you before you make any symbolic gesture of permanence.
The private details of my self initiation will remain private. I don't understand the need some people have to share everything with the world. All I will say however is that I designed and wrote the ritual from scratch myself and if you don't feel up to that, copying one out of a book won't cut it. This is a milestone on your path and in your life. Take the time to write something real and beautiful. If you can't, try studying for another period and come back to the dedication when you can give it the commitment it deserves.
I'll just add that one of the best descriptions of an initiation I have ever read was actually in a children's book. If you can get your hands on Margaret Mahy's The Changeover, the section of the book dealing with the steps into witchcraft are extremely well written. Excellent inspiration for anyone looking to design their own ritual. (I've told you before, good ideas can turn up pretty much anywhere.......)
There is a saying that once a witch, always a witch. I struggled to understand that before my own initiation. The concept of not being able to go back was confusing. Surely if I ever wanted to give up my craft I would just stop practising and that would be it? But it isn't really as simple as that. Its not so much that you can't go back, its more than you've developed a knowledge that makes it impossible to live your life back at the point at which you started. Witchcraft gives you an awareness of nature, spirit and philosophy. It forces you into an awareness of both your own power and your own insignificance. It sets you apart from who you used to be. And just like you can't undo the knowledge you have learned, you can't turn the clock back to be the person you used to be.
For me, my initiation into witchcraft represented the opening of my eyes to what lay beyond the mundainity of the world. And once I had an appreciation, an understanding of what really matters and what really doesn't, I knew I could never get my previous relationship with the trivial back. But the really fundamental change for me was that I could never want it back again either. I'm a witch to my bones.
Image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1406911 (Krappweiss)
Cultural conformity is primarily the provence of the young. Remember how we all railed against school uniform only to end up all wearing the same clothes anyway (jeans, I prefer to forget the shell suit years....) There is a safety in conformity and in belonging. This is how the whole gang culture came into being. Any shared cultural identity marks you out as having a secure place in the world.
Individuality is a funny thing. You look at schools for example and there is a very definite demarcation into groups and types. American sit coms illustrate this beautifully with their camps of jocks, nerds, preppies and goths (I don't pretend to understand, I'm not an American teenager). But each group has a definite cultural identity. And you have to fit in with the beliefs and identity of the group to be part of it. You wouldn't be accepted by the goths for example if your favourite colour was yellow.....(Funnily enough my favourite colour actually is primrose yellow. I would obviously never have made it as a Goth!).
In our formative years, individuality is more about finding which group we have to compromise least of ourselves to belong to. I remember being told by one friend that she didn't want to smoke but she had to because her mates did. Another secretly hated the grunge group Nirvana but to admit it would have been social suicide within the crowd she went around with.
Its too simple to write it off as peer pressure. The sense of belonging goes deeper than that. To cease to belong to the group threatens not only your status but your own cultural identity. It is worth the compromises to be able to stand up and say this is me and this is what I identify with.
Even by university there was still a certain amount of compromising going on. I had already suspected by this point that I personally was unlikely to fit neatly into any type. After all, nobody else went to lectures in a fur coat and their nightie! But I would keep some of my less conventional likes to myself. I kept the whole ABBA thing pretty quiet. And I didn't tell my generally high brow friends that I still read Enid Blyton books on the sly (or that I cheated at every board game we ever played. Oh dear friends if you knew how much of your monopoly money and scrabble tiles has enjoyed a stint in my bra.......)
It was never a case of pretending though. All the things I said I liked, I liked. I just presented one facet of the overall reality. Complex things us humans, there is more than one side to all of us. I'd be very suspicious of anyone who only likes one type of music or one kind of book or film. Chances are they just want to look good......
Now that's all well and good in your teens. But there comes a time (and I'm certain its your thirties) when you throw off the cloak of belonging and you start to think about who you actually are and what you genuinely want. And the things you didn"t want to lose face over in your younger days suddenly become less important. I'm ok telling you now that I've got a few Jason Donovan tracks on my ipod. I'm not embarrassed to say that I've read all of Jilly Cooper's books at least three times. I even read glossy magazines when it takes my fancy.
I think other people's opinions matter more when you are younger. There were people I desperately wanted to approve of me and people I desperately didn't. Now I find I am singularly unconcerned with what anyone thinks of me. I'd be lying if I didn't admit I do occasionally still go for the shock factor - one very drunken evening a couple of years ago I ended up showing one of my poor work colleagues some pictures of mine that probably scarred the lad for life. (Naughty of me!) But in general living your life for yourself is about self honesty, not trying to impress, shock or disturb. Its much more about being oblivious as to the opinions of others and going about your business for you and you alone.
Although I've talked about it being a youth thing, I sadly still see a lot of cultural identification going on in my own peer group even today. Those silly bags with the Scottie dogs (!) the tramp stamp, the Pandora bracelet...... Its still look at me, I belong, let me be in your gang. And I think its a shame. I think hiding behind labels and cultural symbols belies a total lack of confidence. I think people are ashamed to admit who they really are and as a result put so much wasted effort into following the crowd.
So I'll offer them a touch of insight (because I'm nice like that). Throw your designer labels away and trog round a few charity shops. Try a few different styles and see what you WANT to wear rather than what you think you should. And do something you have never done before that absolutely everybody will think the worse of you for. Rejoice in a bit of good old fashioned disapproval! (Try taking your clothes off on the M1, it can be awfully liberating). And stick your Pandora bracelet in the bin. Right now. Think of it as a membership card for a group that you don't need to belong to any more.
The whole idea of living your life for you and not through the eyes of others is beautifully expressed in a poem by Charlotte Mew. I love the idea that the girl in the poem finds her own identity as she steps out of the shadows of trying to emulate and impress. There is a real beauty in being an individual and living your life in a way that is entirely true for you and you alone.
I so liked Spring last year
Because you were here;
The thrushes too
Because it was these you so liked to hear
I so liked you.
This year's a different thing,
I'll not think of you.
But I'll like Spring because it is simply Spring
As the thrushes do.
Image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1072242 (benavery)
Warning: Slightly more graphic and potentially more offensive than most of my blog posts….
This may sound a bit macabre but I have been giving it some thought recently and I don't think it is fair that I can't have my husband's skull when he dies.
Now ok, you may think the Degu Witch has finally (and some may say inevitably) flipped but bear with me. You know I'm a witch. I have a hundred and one uses for a human skull but with the average price fetching over £2000 that's quite a financial investment. Why shouldn’t I have one for free if my husband is willing?
And he is willing. We had the conversation over breakfast one morning. I pointed out that being a lot older than me he is likely to die a lot sooner and therefore would he mind awfully if I kept his skull? Being married to a witch, I don’t think the question phased him and he was remarkably accommodating with my request.
So I looked into it. And you know what, it’s actually illegal. I have no right to my husband’s body when he dies. None at all. Now, I wasn’t suggesting that I lop his head off and bury it six months in the garden as per the method of cleaning roadkill.
Even I may balk a bit at the thought of digging up my decomposing husband. And it would be the height of disrespect to stick his head in a pan on the stove and boil him (a la dead badger…). But why can I not pay someone (some open minded pathologist perhaps) to cut off the bits I want to keep, give them a bit of a spit and a polish and let me have them for the mantelpiece?
I rather like the thought of keeping him around. I could continue to chat to him about my day, shine him up with a bit of Mr Muscle, even take him to bed and pop him next to me on the pillow if I felt a bit lonely. I could store stuff inside his skull. He could be my handy paperclip holder. Or a paperweight. I could take him to work and whack him on my desk to keep my papers flying about… The possibilities are endless.
From a witch perspective, having his skull would make any communication in the afterlife a lot easier. And he would look great in the witch room with a couple of tea lights behind his eye cavities.
The thing that really annoys me about all this is the waste. Why should something I want so much that has no purpose to anyone else be destroyed simply because its not a conventional desire for a spouse to keep a skull around the home. It frustrates me that neither he nor I have the say in what happens to his body. I’m happy to donate his organs, any bit of my husband that is any use to anyone else can be plucked out or picked off and go to the deserving. So why can’t I have the bit I want?
I’m happy to pay. I don’t expect anyone to prepare the skull for free. I’m happy to pay a moderate cost to make it hygienic to be kept in the home. I mean, give me a wire wool and some bleach and I’ll do it myself, but I appreciate the law would prefer me not to do this. That is fine, but it feels completely unfair that I can neither do it myself nor pay someone to do it.
So what am I going to do about it? Well (nearer the time – he’s very much alive and kicking at the moment) I’m going to make some preliminary enquiries at the hospital and see if they have ever had a request like this before. I may offer them a swap for the bits they want. Should the law be adamant, I will write to my MP. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going on a one woman crusade with this one, I don’t want to end up certified…I’m not entirely sure the world is ready for a trend in husband polishing. But I intend to make my views known.
I suppose I could always wait a few months before actually telling anyone he’s passed on and then just confess I lost a few bits while tidying up. That might be going too far. Who knows, maybe the whole thing is going too far…? I’ll keep you posted.
Image http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1083010 (svilen001)
In between answering your questions on Ask a Witch a Question, fulfilling the many random needs of my degus and working in a bank I somehow find the time to write romantic fiction.
In honesty I get a little bit teased for it, I think my friends would rather I was struggling with some Kafkaesque piece of serious literature. They suffer that oft believed misconception that writing romance is easy.....
But you know what, its really isn't easy. There are probably more rules relating to romance writing than there are my job at the bank. And these rules are cast in stone, no wiggle room, you stick to those rules or you fail. Simple as that.
For example in my new novel I needed to come up with a good name for the hero. Well to start with I had to eliminate all foreign names, modern names and names not around in Tudor England. This reduced the list down sharply. Then I had to eliminate all names with less than or more than two syllables (you use this name a LOT, you don't want to be repeating four syllables every time. And one syllable names don't have the impact when your heroine cries it out at the height of her passion....)
I had to take off the list the name of every man I have ever slept with (that was a blow for some really good names) and the names of all my male relations (you don't want to be visualising your own father's face during the writing of a hot scene of passion). I whittled it down to five names, removed Edward for obvious reasons and rejected Edmund because nobody, just nobody, could find that name sexy. So down to three suitable names. And I used one of those in my first novel :(
Then my female character. I like long flowery french names for ladies. Fine but I had to rework half my plot to explain what my pretty French virgin was doing in the middle of the Tudor court.
And this was before I'd even started writing......
The big problem with romance however, the really hard to write stuff is the sex scenes. We all leave them to the end. There are only so many ways to make a description of sex even vaguely original and if you've managed it once you'll find yourself staring at a blank sheet of paper and wondering how the hell you can describe it all again using different words.
And you have to be so careful with the language you use. Medical terms are not sexy, modern language isn't accurate, crudities won't appeal to your intended audience. Is it any wonder we refer to his "engorged masculinity," or his "swollen manhood...."??
And when finally you hit on a phrase that really works, you read back on your novel and realise you've been using it over and over again. So you have to go and write it all anyway!
Its euphemism city, but you try finding a better solution. Mind you, I've read romances so full of euphemisms that to be honest I wasn't even sure what was going on. The best was one book where the hero bent down to tend the "rose" of his heroine while assuring her "You'll be ok, I'm a gardener......." ("Lol, fortunately mine aren't THAT bad!)
Then there's the psychology of your hero and heroine. This is particularly tricky in the bodice ripper type of fiction I write where the hero is dominant and brooding and the heroine helpless and a little tragic. Get the balance wrong and you alienate your audience. Not enough coercion on the part of the hero and he's seen as weak and your book as a bit dull. Too much coercion and your readers start talking indignantly about your rape fantasies.
And you can't change your mind mid novel either. If you introduce a new character and think, you know what, this bloke's better than the one she started with, I'll stick her with him.......Forget it. Your heroine's primary relationship must be with the first man who kisses her. And it MUST be the man who takes her virginity. Don't even dream of breaking that rule, every romance reader in the world would promptly throw your book in the bin.
But the golden rule, the one that supercedes all others is the happily ever after. With the one and only exception of Gone with the Wind (and I've never worked out how Margaret Mitchell got away with it......) your novel MUST end up with your hero and heroine getting together. His faults must be redeemed and he must truly love, worship and adore his heroine. Its the strictest law of romance writing.
The thing is, as a writer you actually don't want the happily ever after. Once you realise your book is heading toward that inevitable conclusion you start to realise that you haven't written a great and insightful masterpiece that you can choose to end any damn way you want to. You start to realise that you actually have no choice at all about how you end your book. By the end of all the writing you might even be a bit sick of your characters, you may well fancy letting them drift off into the pageless oblivion of misery. But you can't. You've come too far to question the rules. Its as inevitable as that sense of euphoria when you finally get to write those magic words "The End." You have no choice. And you may well sigh crossly as your hero and heroine drift off into that sunrise but my advice is to wish them well and get on with it. These rules have stood the test of time and you'll never write a romance novel without them...
Image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1145614 (Zoofitheji)
Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another person. It is often confused with sympathy which is the ability to feel sorry for another person. You can feel sorry for somebody from a rational perspective without having empathy for them or understanding why something makes them unhappy.
Empathy brings its own problems but lack of empathy can be dangerous. I have met only two people in my life with no ability to empathise with others. The first acted entirely without malice but had so little understanding of other people that she would hurt them terribly without meaning to. The other was a sociopath, she treated the alien emotions of other people as a scientific experment. She pressed the buttons to see what would happen. They both left a trail of destruction behind them.
An empath is a person with a natural ability to feel the emotions of other people. A lot of witches claim this ability, some very genuinely and some because it sounds an impressive title. Most witches however have some empathatic ability. I find that as with so many of my personality traits it is something I can do only when I focus. I can be completely oblivious to others and a little thick skinned unless I make the conscious effort to switch onto what that person is thinking. When I do this I can be quite intuitive.
The thing is, I'm the lucky one really. I don't envy the natural empaths their gift. There's enough troubles in our own lives without experiencing all the miseries of other people. Natural empaths are very prone to depression. I know some who cannot bear to leave their house as they act like a magnet for every emotion in their immediate vicinity. And it does seem to be particularly prevalent with negative emotions. Possibly unhappiness is easier to tune into than happiness.
Just as there are people who pick up the emotions of others there are also people who influence the emotions of others (ever seen that episode of Father Ted where the miserable priest comes to stay and just sucks the joy out of every room he is in?). That sort of person is humorously termed a mood hoover. But the reality is not so funny. Faced with one of these relentlessly miserable types on a daily basis, even the least empathatic person will start to feel dragged down. Some people delight in being a miserable wotsit and they seem determined to inflict their negativity on the rest of us ......
But there are things you can do to minimise the draining effect empathy can have on you. Negative energy builds up inside you so the practice of grounding is essential to return that energy to the earth and leave your head clear of that buzzy slightly over energised electric feeling. I use a visualisation of imagining myself sprouting roots into the cold dark earth, sinking into the soil and siphoning my excess energy deep inside the earth. Visualisations with nature elements can be very peaceful and can help restore your peace of mind.
The practise of shielding is advisable for anyone, especially anyone in the magical community and definitely anyone with any degree of empathy. Shielding is a protective defense and involves creating a barrier between yourself and the rest of the world to keep negativity out. I say negativity as that is primarily what I use shielding for, I visualise other people's negative emotions bouncing back off my shield. It can also be used as a protection against other things such as magical attack or deliberate malice. But those threats are rarer and you are far more likely to encounter negativity in your day to day business.
Shielding becomes easy with practise and can take whatever form works for you. Some witches imagine a clear plastic barrier,others a ball of purifying white light. It can even be a protective circle of tree branches. The more you identify with the method you choose, the better it will work for you.
The whole concept of tact has always been a bit alien to me. And as I just don't get it when people display tact toward me, I don't quite grasp how to deliver it to others either.
Mind you, I'm not really sure what value tact actually has. It feels too much like pointless white lies. And while I can perhaps see the value of not discussing the intimate details of my sex life with my Grandma, I can't understand why anyone would not want me to tell them the truth about most things in day to day life.
I like being told the truth. If someone tells me I've gained weight, that's fine. I've got a mirror and I'm bright enough to use it. If someone doesn't like my style of writing or my singing voice, I'm not going to get upset about it. To be honest, even if you called me a shrill beaked, illiterate hippopotamus, I'm still not going to get upset about it. I'm either going to reflect seriously on any value in the criticism or I'm going to laugh.
But the rest of the world doesn't seem to think the same way. Take a friend who has recently gained weight.... Either she already knows, in which case me telling her can't be that much of a shock. Or she hasn't noticed and I'm doing her a favour telling her. But nobody ever thanks you for telling them. In fact, people get quite cross. A classic case of shooting the messenger. So I've stopped putting myself on the firing line. My friends can pop as many buttons as they like, I'm staying quiet about it.
And its not just weight either. I'm expected to be quiet about my opinions in the interest of good manners. It isn't polite to tell my friend that her new orange and lime green striped wallpaper is the most revolting decor I've ever seen. So I just nod and smile and tell her I think its lovely. But what I don't understand is WHY I have to lie about it. Why will she be offended because I don't like her taste in decor? Does she need my agreement to validate her choice? Is she so insecure that she may have decorated badly that the slightest criticism will send her running for the gin bottle? Why should she care if I don't like her wallpaper....... She does! Surely that's all that matters?
Same with strangers. I've hesitated to tell people they've got their skirt caught in their knickers (you shouldn't be looking!) Or that it really might be an excellent time to blow their nose. And why can't I tell the man sitting next to me on the bus who obviously hasn't had a wash since Christmas that he stinks? Why is it ok for him to stink but not ok for me to comment on it?
Why is it fine for ten people to post a positive comment on a public forum praising a poem but as soon as I say its a bit crap, I'm the one at fault? I actually managed to offend a friend recently because I told him a poem (which he hadn't written) was rubbish. He was most offended because he liked the poem. Crazy. I'm not allowed to express an opinion just because it differs to yours?
And I have lost track of the number of times when I've been talking to someone who is spouting utter drivel but I'm socially obliged to look interested and pretend they know what they are talking about. Why can't I just say - "Now look here you ignorant so and so, stop spouting the wikipedia and bugger off?"
I've perfected the "interested in what you have to say face," but that's one expression I should never have to put my facial muscles through. Why oh why can't I just tell the truth...?
(Although to be fair I did use the phrase "absolute idiocy" the other day in a debate with regard to my friend's viewpoint (after saying that in my opinion he was thick as a brick) and to his credit, he just laughed. That's a mate worth keeping forever!)
I don't know why people avoid the truth so much. I wonder if they struggle to handle it. Can they not cope with the reality that they've gained a few pounds or chosen a vile wallpaper? Do they take an opinion that differs from theirs as a personal criticism? Are people now so cosseted from reality that the truth really has started to hurt? I've learned the rules of the game and I play it because I really can't be bothered not to. Its easier to jump through the hoops of tact and diplomacy than to deal with the self conscious hysteria of those who like to live with their head firmly planted in the sand.
So I may get called a shrill beaked, illiterate hippopotamus occasionally but I don't think I will ever get the chance to fling that or indeed any other insult back without repercussions. And you know, when you think about it, that's kind of sad.
Image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1067071 (canoo)
One of the arguments athiests use to justify their lack of belief in deity is the presence of evil in the world. They ask why a loving God/s would allow evil into their creation. Fundamentally they are asking why bad things happen to good people.
I'm not tackling the argument against athiesm here but I've worked on the problem of evil before and I've reached an understanding that works for me.
So working on the assumption that there is a (loving) God/s and also that we know for a fact that there is a certain amount of evil in the world, what reasons would God/s have for creating it and allowing it a place in the world?
Well firstly, we are limited by our own concept of evil. It stands to reason that there will always be a worst in human behaviour. Evil is what we perceive as the worst we can imagine. But supposing the top layer of what we see as evil was removed? The next layer would rise to the top of our perception. Even if evil as we know it was taken away, we would still percieve evil. So on this basis, it is entirely possible that true evil has not been allowed into the world and we just cannot know that because we can't comprehend that which does not exist. It is therefore at least possible that a loving God/s have chosen to spare us true evil.
Then we have to consider the nature of our relationships with the deities. Is love about giving everything freely or is it a greater love to provide us with the ability to develop into the true potential of who we are as a creation. Is hardship a necessary part of the learning progress of each of us as a spiritual entity? Are our Gods wise enough to know that without the adversity of evil we would be stunted as a creation? Surely the hallmark of loving Gods is to allow us the tools to become the very best that we can.
It is argued that more people would believe in the Gods without the problem of evil to contend with. But I would question whether that belief has any value if it is a belief borne out of an inability to question. It is easy to accept the Gods if life goes entirely your own way, it is harder when you meet hardship and pain on your path. But to come through adversity with your belief intact and indeed strengthened, that is a belief worth offering to your Gods.
If we were programmed to love God/s. If it was a belief we were given rather than something we come to of our own volition, we would be little better than automata. Certainly not a creation of significant worth. We would be like robots, unable to question our own beliefs. We would have little value to the Gods in this situation. They gave us the choice to interpret our world through the eyes of a believer or not, as we choose. By asking for a perfect creation we are asking to be in a position where we don't have to question. We are asking to be robots. There is little value in such a life.
In my opinion the thing that makes us pretty special as a creation is our ability to think for ourselves and to choose our own directions in life. Free will is possibly the greatest gift we could be given. It is a logical impossibility to have free will and also to be prevented from using that free will in the direction we choose. Many if not most of the evils in the world are created by ourselves. To mitigate that would be to remove our freedom to have free will. That would be wrong. Free will has a greater value than living in world free of evil. Imagine your thoughts, your choices, your entire identity stripped from you. Again you are reduced to nothing better that a robot. No loving God/s could ever make the choice to take that from you. And if the consequence of that free will is that sometimes people do bad things to good people, that still is, in my opinion a better world than the alternative.
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