I have written that my belief in the Gods was an act of sanity on my part. I made my decision when I was at a crossroads between sanity and insanity. Since I had unexplained psychotic experiences, I was considered insane. However, I, instinctively, knew differently.
Since I was raised by Atheists, the rational, logical world was my reality. The imaginary domain was for children. Furthermore, religions were for deluded, delusional people. Belief meant having invisible friends, which was frowned upon. The supernatural was a product of an unsound mind.
Unfortunately for me, I was bothered by the Gods since my youth. Between the outside voices and visual hallucinations, it was all I could do to cope. I knew that the source of all of this was external and not internal. However, I lacked the knowledge to explain any of it.
I was caught on the horns of a dilemma. Was I crazy or sane? How could I slip through the horns or at least refute them? I first sought medical care but found no answers. Then, I read William James’ “The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature” (1907) (considered the classic on these matters). I found what I was looking for.
James describes “mysticism” in terms of my experiences. He said that they had four elements: 1) Ineffability: “mystical states are more like states of feeling than like states of intellect.” 2) Noetic quality: “although so similar to states of feeling, mystical states seem to those who experience them to be also states of knowledge. They are states of insight into depths of truth.” 3) Transiency: “Mystical states cannot be sustained for long.” 4) Passivity: “the mystic feels as if his own will were in abeyance, and indeed sometimes as if he were grasped and held by a superior power.” James’ writings on mysticism gave me a context to what was happening to me.
After reading James’ book, I investigated the lives of mystics, since they experienced the same things that I did. However, people regarded them to be touched by the Divine. For example, Julian of Norwich had visions of Christ, Mary, God, and Satan. Her writings are considered a masterpiece of mystical devotion. William Blake’s fiery visions in his poetry made me realize many people other than religious mystics were touched by the Gods.
My perceptual reality was of an oracle. Whenever a God was near, I would receive a prickly feeling, and the hairs of my arms would stand up. Once I was zapped with multiple bolts of electricity. If I was Christian, I would say, “I was slain in the Spirit.”
After dealing with the visions and the rest, I realized that I was “God-Bothered.” James said that “a religious experience testifies to an experience with something larger than ourselves.” The something “should be both other and larger than our conscious selves.” For me, this was freeing. My experiences had value, and were not creations of my mind.
In examining my experiences, I realized there was a variety in the types of them. I could sort them into various Gods. Each God had a different feeling and sense to Them. Neptune was a fluid but shocking feeling, meanwhile Nanna-Suen was a dreamy, soft sensation.
Now my next step was to decide who to listen to and who to ignore.