Day 1: Why Paganism?

Finally starting off the 30 days meme I mentioned in my previous post, on the night of Halloween no less. I got the time, the handmade mocha, and a lovely movie playing in the background (Howl’s Moving Castle) to celebrate the start of the holiday season. I know it’s unorthodox, but I’m a little too old for trick-or-treat (*sad face*) and I’m not much for drunken parties.

So why go into Paganism? Or more specifically to my case, why get involved with the heathen kind of it (in the context of contemporary categories)?

Mainly it was circumstantial. I started off with the Wicca-influenced ideas as a young teenager because that’s all that was available back then in the library. This was just before the time of a million websites and databases to check things out with. I grew up Roman Catholic, and had an issue with the gender inequality at the time, so I mentally left the Church and sought out the nature-based “Wicca” instead. I never could get fully into it though, it was too ceremonial for my taste and reminded me of the Church as a result. It was interesting to read about though, and I read that alongside stuff regarding Shinto and Taoism (I really got into that from my love of foxes and foxlore that was started as a child by that same wonderful library). Again, as far as “nature-based” stuff went, that’s all that was available to me.

The next wonderful circumstance was meeting some lovely people who were involved in neoshamanism. Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking, they’re one of THOSE people, sitting in drum circles and pretending to be Indian (or whatever other stereotypes exist). Well, that’s the beauty of it, they weren’t. I can’t recall a time when they DIDN’T emphasize community, research (particularly scientific and historical), being aware of one’s own circumstances and being realistic about it. No Llewellyn/Harner nonsense here. It was because of them that early on I realized that, whatever I chose to do, it won’t be worthwhile without actual work put into it. I didn’t have to waste my time with silly ideas of being a shaman too (yes, I’m ashamed to say I actually entertained that notion as a teenager and early adult; we all did stupid shit at that age, right? Right??).

Ok, so that’s the start of it. How I got from that to heathenry was through an unexpected plot twist: Rune divination.

No joke, and I’m sure those two words alone are enough to make certain recons clutch their pearl hammers in shock. I still do rune casting, even knowing that it’s a New Age idea. It, and other forms of divination, have been the only magical/pagany things that have been consistently meaningful and accurate. Not just for myself, but for volunteer clients.  So being the history lover that I am, I found out about the 3 rune poems and through that I became interested in Germanic history. A particular forum was recommended as a good place to learn the history, and I ended up joining it.

That forum was what “made” me go heathen, another one of those happy circumstances (if I ended up on some other forum, like the thankfully-defunct Skadi, I’d probably be turned off from heathenry forever and never know all the cool shit I know now). I went in just for the rune information, not interested in anything else because I thought Asatru was just Nordic stuff (and I have no connection to Norway or related countries). Over time though I ended up learning a lot from the senior members and how they’re forming heathen traditions within numerous cultural contexts instead of the Asatru form. This inspired me to delve into my own family’s history, after I worked through some family issues and became more comfortable with concepts like ancestor veneration and community. Thanks to them, I’ve been working on my “own heathenry” and that’s where I’m at right now.

I like the practicality, the adaptivity, and the sturdy base it provides me. I know heathenry isn’t the only way to get those traits, but it’s the way it works for me. With having a historical base to work on that’s more accessible because it’s from my own family’s heritages (meaning that the languages and worldviews are already familiar, rather than trying to relearn all that to understand completely different cultures), I feel more comfortable dealing with things like UPG and “spiritual” concepts like magic and gods. I’m a scientist, it’s second nature to use past information to justify present ideas, and to nitpick everything this way and that.

I’ve never been more content and certain in religious matters than after discarding contemporary religious concepts. All Christianity did was made me feel angry, worthless, and disconnected from the world. I no longer feel that way.


Filed under Reflections

3 responses to “Day 1: Why Paganism?

  1. Very interesting to read, and it’s inspired me to do the 30 Days Paganism Meme too on my own LJ (I should re-post it to DW too).

    I do have a question though, being raised Catholic, how did you finally shirk off that religion entirely? I still have trouble moving on from being raised as a Protestant even though I’m pretty sure it just doesn’t fit me. Any tips?

    • I wish I could say, as that part of my life is a blank, mentally (which is strange, you’d think that something that important and life-changing would be remembered). But maybe it wasn’t a big deal after all, since I was never quite indoctrinated fully (I just mindlessly followed the steps or filled in the blanks in religion homework) thanks to my hearing loss and my family never actually talking about theology. I actually got a religious bug and started delving more into Catholicism at 13/14, which is when I discovered the dark side of it and turned the other way. So perhaps that’s why.

      In addition, RC as it’s done by the people is pretty pagan in nature. My own family had plenty of saint statues and patrons that could easily be called idols by outsiders and Mary was a big deal. That, and the yearly calendar coincided with actual seasonal changes and agriculture of my area, just like pagan festivals of old did, so pagan/heathen holidays and customs weren’t all that foreign to me.

  2. Pingback: Non-Binary Mysteries: 1-Beginnings | Along the River

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