Fk the Haters: Question Everything

There’s a lot of advice out there on what to do in your spiritual practice. Some of it’s good, most of it’s bad. People throw around a lot of rules about what it is to be a real Heathen, or a real witch, or whatever else. Often these people will be self-proclaimed authorities of some sort.

Ignore all of that. Think for yourself.

What’s the point of your path? Why are you here, delving into different aspects of life and spirituality? Why are you pursuing what you’re pursuing? It’s for you, isn’t it? It’s not for anyone else. Your growth isn’t for anyone else. Your path is for you. And you have an obligation to remain true to yourself, because that’s the only way you’ll find your truth. Your path is there to serve you and you alone.

I’ll boil this down to three points:

  1. Don’t listen to people who tell you what you have to do to be a [good] Heathen. Follow your heart. People will tell you shit like “You have to be dedicated to your community to be Heathen”, or “you have to honour your ancestors”, or “you have to honour your ancestors”. Ignore this shithouse ‘advice’.
  2. Question things before you incorporate them into your practice. Question whether sources/facts are, in fact, true. Question things already in your practice to make sure they still work for you. It can be tempting, starting out, to lap up every piece of information you can find, uncritically. But you should be critical.
    (2a. Question whether you give a shit if your sources are good or true.)
  3. People will try to shit on you. This doesn’t matter.

Don’t let anyone discourage you from following the path you’ve been called to. If people tell you that you’ve crossed a line, listen to them openly and honestly. You might have crossed the line without knowing it. Be culturally sensitive and respectful, and keep an open mind.

Mostly, question everything. And keep questioning it.

You know what? Question this post, too.

 

Lacking the Holy

Sometimes I forget how much work it takes to feel religious, to see the holiness in everything every day. I got really used to just walking outside and feeling at peace with the world. Feeling that everything fit together, that it was all flowing correctly. It takes a lot of work to get to that space.

And lately I’ve been busy. I’ve been travelling a lot every day, not getting a lot of time to myself, and not spending my little time on important things like religion. (Instead I spent it on doing laundries and cooking and maintaining my home. Which are essentials.) I don’t regret it; I’ve been staying with my partner and spending a lot of time with him, and it’s great, but my altar has been sitting here, alone, without me.

You can, of course, live every day reminding yourself of the holy things, and thinking of your gods, and saying hello to the spirits. But sometimes you need to just sit and pray or meditate or clean up your altar. Sometimes you need to spend the time really getting into a sacred vibe.

I’ve been paying for this lack of activity. I’ve fallen into a funk and all the days seem to run together. Due in part to other factors, I’m sure, but…I really need my religion in order to function and to be happy.

Heathenry Is Small, and That’s a Good Thing

There’s a huge Jehovah’s Witnesses conference in town at the moment, and the masses of people wearing “God’s Kingdom” badges got me thinking: would I really prefer it if my religion were so large and organised? The answer, I decided after not much consideration, is no.

Heathenry, as a religious category in the modern world, barely exists. We have barely any members in comparison to other world religions, even those considered minorities. We’re not exactly present in most people’s minds, and most people haven’t even heard of Heathenry, even if they have a vague notion of other Pagan religions. We barely exist.

Maybe I’m just used to being a weirdo that can’t check any boxes, but I’m okay with being under people’s radar. I don’t get noticed or discriminated against. (Actively, anyway. I still get incidental flak when I happen to be in the same room with atheists or religious bigots who bitch about mindless sheep or faithless heathens, small ‘h’, respectively. But that’s barely something to complain about, which is another reason why I’m happy to be under the radar.)

The flip side of being so small that no one knows you exist is that you aren’t taken seriously, and this is the thing that takes second place in the list of Things About Being Heathen That Piss Me Off. The exchange goes like this: someone sees my hammer and asks what it is (assuming they don’t just say “nice anchor”). I tell them it’s Thor’s hammer. They usually either nod and say “cool”, or mention Marvel!Thor. At this point I either let it go, or go on to talk about Norse mythology and my interest in it. Occasionally we get to the point where I say I follow the Northern Germanic gods. This has only happened a few times. On all occasions, the person was respectful, and once, they were super interested.

Now, this is in person, where people are way less likely to be shitty, because their face and your fist both occupy the same three square feet of physical space. But on the internet, people let loose, and boy do lotsa folks think it’s dumb if you worship Thor. And they almost never listen when you try to explain that your religion is real and serious and worthy of respect. This also happens when you try to legitimise or legislate Neopagan religions in any way, at least in America. Because Heathenry is so small, it’s not taken seriously.

Also, because we’re small, there aren’t that many Heathens to talk to, even if you live in a hammer-dense area. You can feel a little lonely at times. There are roughly 300 Heathens in the whole of Australia, and where I am, there are only two groups to choose from. One is tiny; the other is racist. Take your pick.

But think of all the things we don’t have to deal with because we’re so small and disorganised. We don’t have religious leaders disagreeing and causing fights and creating their own sects (well, that has happened, but it’s not like Luther-scale, or Anglican Church scale). We don’t have a central body trying to force rules and regulations onto us. We tend not to have priests who know it all and who stop people from doing their own thing. We don’t have any official sort of code that says “you’re a real Heathen” or “they’re a fake Heathen”. It’s just a label and an identity and a culture that we choose on our own, for ourselves.

We don’t have to deal with all the crap. Yeah, we don’t have any temples. Yeah, it’s nice to go to a large, organised event for a festival. Yeah, sometimes it’d be nice to have some sort of informed, approved guidance from someone with authority. (Or would it?) I suppose the main thing Heathens have because of all this is freedom. And individual responsibility.

This era is the beginning of a religion. We are the birth. Or maybe the afterbirth, I don’t know, they never show that in movies. We have choices and flexibility. At the moment, we can do whatever the Hel we want for ourselves religion-wise because we’re on such a small scale. And that’s perfect for us Heathens, I think.