In pagan parlance, I have an “open head.” To non-pagans, this is best described as being prone to mystical experiences; I communicate frequently with the Divine. Depending on where you are yourself in the spiritual spectrum, this statement may sound silly, grandiose, delusional, or even deceptive. I assure you, it is none of those…well, it is a little silly. I’ll give you that. OK. It’s very silly. But while I cannot prove my honesty (this is the internet, and I am talking of subjective experiences. You want proof? Sorry. Go somewhere else, troll), I can provide ample evidence of my sanity. (Though again, not here. I’m not giving you my medical records over the internet. Go away, troll.)
You see, I am indeed under psychiatric care, and I am also quite comfortable discussing why. I have Aspergers syndrome, or I did before that particular name was stricken from the DSMV. I also have ADHD and OCD, as well as chronic anxiety issues and a panic disorder. I’ve suffered from depression, and in my adolescence, I had fits of uncontrollable and often violent rage (this is sadly not uncommon for children on the autism spectrum, though we do grow out of the worst of it). I am – I fully admit – a disabled individual. I am twenty-seven years of age and still not quite capable of taking care of myself. I remain financially dependent on my parents. I have the emotional maturity of a teenager. My personal hygiene is lacking. I need a cocktail of pills to even function: one prescription for anxiety, one for my ADHD, one for my mood swings, and one to counteract the sluggishness and lethargy brought on by the mood stabilizer. (Yes. I have a medicine that treats the side effects of my other medicines. It works fine like that. I’m not going off either of them. Got a problem? Go away, troll.)
I am one of the mentally ill, you might even say. And the gods talk to me. I have communicated with Norse Trickster Loki, and with myriad Shinto kami from Inari to Uzume to Amaterasu herself (and she’s every inch a Sovereign; none of this ooey-gooey pagan fluffy-bunny “patron goddess, work with me!” business. She is granting you an audience, foolish mortal!). I’ve had the Egyptian Cat Goddess Bast show up and make a demand of me (buy that statue) and then leave. And of course, the Indian Goddess Sarasvati is immanent in me.
But here’s the thing: I am not delusional. I have no history of psychoses. I have no history of disassociation. I have neither an individual history nor a family history of these issues, nor of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, or any other mental illnesses that could cause delusional thoughts or behavior. I am not delusional. My mind is certainly not normal, but it is quite sound. It may not work as well as yours, but it is not making things up. I am sane. Never said anything about normal though.
The major hangup I see is the idea that these gods are “talking” to me. The first thing I have to explain is that they are not “voices in my head.” When I (or, from what I have learned of other open-headed people) talk of the gods “saying” things, that is only because I for one have no better way of putting it. The gods usually give me impressions, sometimes almost in a literal sense. I feel what is being communicated. I do not hear it as a voice, as words. It doesn’t sound in my ears. It often seems more like a touch than a sound, yet it is a touch that triggers my brain to form words.
You can call me a mystic. I cannot prove to you that what I say is the truth, but I will say that I am being both honest and earnest. Do you want to say that this is all in my head? You are probably right. But why can’t the gods be in our heads as well as in the heavens?