(Some thoughts on things…)
If one thing has been a central part of my life for decades, it can be expressed in one word: spirituality. That is the issue that has permeated my existence. The issue is not a search for it, but enjoying its many expressions. I have done just that. I have enjoyed so many different experiences of spirituality over the years. The Old Wisdom (what some may call Heathenism) is just part of it all.
Therein lies the rub. Back when we first went public, our term for our Heathen beliefs was “the Old Wisdom.” We did not use terms such as Asatru or Heathenism or Odinism. Likewise, we never actually adopted the terminology that had crept into Heathenism. All those Icelandic terms never made it with us. There was Wyrd, and Macht, and Magna. Terms like Urd, Orlog and Megin felt forced.
What we had at the time worked well. I had actually used it in some very trying situations. Our way was simple and direct. We have never changed it. Nor have we ever used proto-Germanic Rune names, adopted the contrived Nine Virtues or any other modernist affectations. What we do today is pretty much the same as we did twenty years ago.
People have encouraged us to conform. Others have urged us to sign on with one or more group, organization of individual. Neither happened. We remain independent in both our connections and our materials.
All of the religions and theologies and systems of the world are attempts to address spirituality. All of the various pantheons and deities are human apertures through which to connect. They use manifestations of their culture to do this. Whether you call it God or Gods or Spirit or Mind, if you are of the right mind and heart, you make the connection.
I have known genuinely spiritual individuals in almost every religion and tradition that I looked. They stand out. No one religion can claim to have an exclusive connection. Likewise, no religion, school or teacher can deny it to anyone else. My person al experience has included meeting some very enlightened people in the most usual and unusual places. Among them are metaphysicians, Hermeticists, ceremonial magicians, Wiccans, New Agers, Heathens, Zen folks, Taosists, Buddhists, Hindus, Voodoo people, Christians, Jews and Muslims. And that is just a partial list.
Being Heathen is not an automatic straight shot to spiritual development. Nor is it so with any other tradition. Like other traditions, the majority of people are more concerned with the outer trappings than the difficult inner work. In terms of our own beliefs, they see it as a matter of being Heathen rather than following a Heathen path to spiritual excellence. This is true for most. In a way, the outer is the What of a person’s identity, while the inner is Who.
Keep in mind that a spiritual person is not some “Goody Two-shoes” who lives in a realm of sweetness and light and peace. Spirituality hinges on reality. There have been spiritual persons who have been anything but sweet, light or peaceful. Miyamoto Musashi was one of the great spiritual writers, as evidenced by the Fifth book of his “Book of Five Rings.” He conveyed in a few paragraphs a genuine insight into the nature of Spirit, which he described as “the Void.” Musashi reached his enlightenment through various means which include cutting down adversaries with a sword. Egil Skallagrimson , a master of the esoteric uses of Runes, was also a cantankerous old grouch who was equally good at using a spear. There are many roads to spiritual enrichment. The way of peace and gentility is but one of them. Many paths have aspects which can be brutal. I have learned that the search for wisdom comes not with a beacon of divine light, but enduring the worst.
Spirituality is truth, and truth can hurt. Truth can restore peace, ignite a war, recede like the surf or crash down like a wave. Likewise, right is not some glorious act that evokes the glow of godly satisfaction. It can feel wonderful, but it can just as likely be very uncomfortable. Right is not always the easy thing and it does not always feel good. Right does not always look good, either. Despite how it looks or feels, it is the only thing. Right is actually a facet of truth.
You may be familiar with the stereotypical “church ladies” who spend their free time at their favorite house of worship. The smiling old gals are usually the most judgmental folks and biggest gossips among the congregation. They may be religious, but they are not spiritual. Genuinely spiritual persons do not need a church to validate them. If they do attend one, you can be sure they have better things to do than be the local busybodies. Genuinely spiritual people can be as friendly as anyone else. They do not waste their time making a nuisance of themselves.
Acting like a Viking or Little Ms. Natural does not make you spiritual. It makes you an actor. Dressing like someone out of a Kirk Douglas movies will not bring you closer to your higher power. If you are into the costume thing, then admit that you favor the history over spiritual development. People who are on the real path do not need costumes or extensive historical research to gain spiritual insight.
Spirituality is reality. For the seeker, it means being real about himself and his motives. Spirituality rests on a fulcrum of rigorous self-honesty. Many cannot or will not achieve a necessary level of self-awareness. It takes someone who is willing to face the best and worst in himself to seek spiritual enlightenment. Definitely, this is no place for the cowardly or the morally weak.
The Gods are not a bunch of great big men and women with magickal powers. They are spiritual beings. All of those stories in the myths are a blend of folktales and allegories. Those who treat the myths as if they are history are as foolish as those who think the Bible is the inspired word of a god. Likewise those who hope to replicate the religion as it was practiced a thousand years ago are as likely to succeed as Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Times have changed and the information is lost. It would be like the metaphysical high priest searching in a dark room for a black cat that is not there. Perhaps it is the Schroedinger’s Cat of Religion.
Spirituality is as close as your mind. You do not have to sacrifice or give up anything. The search begins with a simple desire. Simple. The whole thing is so simple that it evades people. Just think about it. Meditate on the Gods. Contemplate what spirituality means to you. That is all it takes to get started.