“A Wild Divinity” by Rebecca Schneider (8304 words)
No Spoilers: The narrator begins this story consecrated to the God of Reason, a role that suits them perfectly well. They like sums, and patterns, and puzzles, and finds a kind of peace in what they do, even if they joined not out of devotion but to avoid needing to get married. Their peace is shattered, though, when a being who looks like the representation of her God appears...and makes his intentions toward all too clear. Terrified and knowing that people wouldn’t believe them, they flee, and end up in the temple of Carnality, belonging to the Goddess of Love, hoping for protection. What they find there, though, is both what they were looking for and...very much not, and the story takes a complex look at faith and gods, at devotion and friendship, through the narrator’s eyes as they navigate the ins and outs of religion, gods, and desire.
Keywords: Gods, Reason, Love, CW- Rape/Assault, Transformations
Review: The take on gods here is so interesting, the way that the narrator is devoted to the God of Reason only to be betrayed by him. Desired by him in a way that they want no part of. And yet still in many ways faithful to the idea of him, still drawn to puzzles and to sums, still kind of wanting to be able to have the life that has been taken from them. And to escape they’ve gone to about the direct opposite of Reason, to Love, to carnality, hoping that there can be protection here. And in some ways there are, and I really like the journey that they go on there, meeting Eidel, this man who is so unlike them. Sensual and casual, quick to trust, quick to joke. And completely different in his faith. Because when he takes part in the sacred, it’s not really the presence of the Goddess he feels, but rather feels himself embody the act and idea of love. All while not really believing in the gods, despite what the narrator has gone through. And it’s all such a loaded situation, a wrenching place to put the narrator, who seems to wish they could just stop believing in the gods, that it would make a difference in what is happening to them. But of course it doesn’t, and the pain of that is intense, acute, and I really like how it plays out.
It’s all just so much! The narrator reads rather ace and even aro to me, uninterested in sex and not really wanting a romantic connection. Not really satisfied with the options they are given to code gender, either. But it’s not something they really have to deal with until this rapey god decides he has to have them. After which they have to contend with everything, with how they’re perceived and how they want to be perceived. How they want to fit into a world that doesn’t seem to have room for them. Not in the halls of reason and not really in the chambers of love. And I really like that they eventually have to make that space themself by rejecting the supremacy of reason, the aggressive ownership of it, while also resisting the way that love organizes the world. There’s a certain level of reason/masculine love/feminine that I feel like the story is playing with, while placing the narrator outside of either domain, forced to build their own faith back from the splintered part where reason and love both let them down. And it’s an interesting and resonating journey, one that ends with reason in tatters, love perhaps diminished, but in that new space something wild and unlabeled. Something that doesn’t have to fit, that doesn’t have to bend to the expectations or devotions of others. It’s new and it’s full of possibilities and I think the story does a lovely job with it. A fantastic read!