27 September 2013

Heathen, YMMV

A big part of the reason I wanted to blog was to start to centralize and identify what it means to me to be heathen. I am straddling the world of home-decor and demolition with my spirituality, two things that don't necessarily go together in the blogosphere but two things that my life revolves around regardless.

It is super important to specify that this is what it means to me and other heathens, pagans, non-pagans, etc,will find that their mileage varies. I do not expect everyone who proclaims to follow Asatru to worship the same face of Odin that I see, nor would I be particularly pleased to find out that I was judged for how I view work and working with deity. The same follows for ritual structure, lore study, rune meanings, and the whole literal and figurative nine. 

So I am not a fundamentalist Heathen by any stretch. I will circle up with Wiccans, I will blot with those who worship Loki, and I will defend interfaith ministry and prison ministry passionately. I especially appreciated the sentiment in this blog The Witching Hour by Peg Aloi about faith:
 After all, we as neo-pagans have endured decades of attempts to paint us as any number of scary figures, from bloodthirsty baby killers to brainwashing ideologues, in tracts, in books, on websites, in horror films and in television documentaries. But we have not let such tactics diminish our determination to follow our spiritual leanings. Yet, increasingly, within our own wider community, we are “drawing lines in the sand” intended for each other.
That line-drawing has been bothering me both within the heathen circles I affiliate with, and the world on a whole. Daily we are reminded that we are all different in places very close to home as well as those further afield, those differences are at the root of stress, strife, and bloodshed. That's not the kind of world I want to live in.

The thing is that when I look at my heathen spirituality I see a lot of communion with deity, I see a lot of the faith I had as a child influencing *how* I commune, and I see a lot of seeking answers to otherwise unknowable questions -- much how many other spiritualists practice regardless of their professed path. I find a comfort in this similarity and do not struggle with the structure.

Certainly I am human and I have my own "judging panda" moments and like any work in progress, I'm doing what I can when I know better. It takes time and recognizing that I have and continue to make mistakes and others... well. They're on their own journey that will include mistakes and things that make no sense to me at all. It's a wonder discovering that one is NOT the center of the universe and not everything is going to make sense or seem relevant to themselves.

It is those differences culturally, spiritually, physically, and so on, that make us part of the world and the world a part of us. I can handle that. My faith is big enough, and flexible enough, to incorporate all of these things.

So then, to begin to self codify:

  • I believe that our gods are both old and renewed. They are the ones of old from the north lands and have many names and many characteristics. I believe that they have universal truths embedded in how we perceive them, but that they are limited to this earth and would not say, be part of a theological system on another planet or solar system. (however, not having access to other planets... hey, I could be wrong)
  • I believe that our gods are more than just the sagas and eddas we have recorded and that our individual experiences with them color our perception. 
  • I believe we can have individual experiences with our gods. 
  • I believe we can kid ourselves into having individual experiences with our gods and that can lead down a path of self righteousness and pain. 
  • I believe Ragnarok is something that has happened, that could happen again, that our gods are living and dying gods and in their cycles they are not diminished or exalted by dying and living again.
  • I believe in sacrifice to our gods, in taking seriously oaths, in being honorable to the best of ones abilities and honoring our falls from grace when they are buffeted by personal responsibility and awareness. I hold that we are not perfect creatures but work towards a more perfect self when we make mistakes and recognize them, own them, and move beyond fracture to wholeness. 
  • I believe our stories of the gods should grow as we grow, that they should not remain in a static place of Norse history but be as relevant to now as we are relevant to now. 
  • I do believe that gods will cast their gaze on non-heroes and the everyday man and woman and call us to be more just, more fair, more than our ordinary skins, bringing us closer to them and them closer to us. I believe that they are agents of change as much as we are agents of change and those moments of clarity are karmic, beautiful, and terrifying. 
  • I believe our ancestors are the shoulders we stand upon in this world and that we are the altar of what has come before and what will come after. We can call upon them for guidance, for help, for answers and clarity. 
  • I believe our ancestors were and are fallible creatures and as much as they grant us grace, they can grant headaches too. 
  • I believe that a host of troubles can be mitigated, if not outright solved, by breaking bread with one another.
  • I believe in the contradiction that when we die, it is pretty much lights out, but that spirits can and do guide us. (I didn't say I'd make sense, did I?)
  • I believe that I can and will be proven wrong. And right. And in the end, because this is for me, it doesn't matter to anyone really but me. I will vigorously object to the idea of personal truth being actual truth but I will listen sincerely when someone tells me why they believe it. 
I can't say that this has been an easy post for me but I am grateful for the discussion with others that I've had leading up to it. I am heartened every time there is interfaith dialogue that doesn't seek to change anyone's religious persuasion, but rather find the beauty in where we all connect and divide.

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