I love being Heathen. It has brought a sense of wholeness and contentment that I never had as an atheist. I think this sense has to do with the concept of Wyrd.
Heathenry for me (and probably pantheism/animism in general) fosters a sense of our world being complete somehow, like everything that there is and ever was and ever will be is part of a coherent whole, even if we’re too small to see it. Whatever happens to us or our earth or the universe is okay, really, because it’s all one big system made up of smaller systems. The Whole, made up of the universe, is organic.
That’s not to say that whatever happens happens for a reason. I find that this idea usually assumes that ‘for a reason’ means ‘for eventual human benefit’, which is anthropocentric and therefore ridiculous. It also tends to imply that there is something or Someone pulling all the strings, which doesn’t sit well with me, though I remain open to the Norns. If we look again, however, things do happen for a reason. For many reasons. Things happen because the conditions required for them to happen just happen to be set up by things that happened before. In a less awkward formation, the present is dependent on the past. If the past were any different, things now might also be totally different. Who knows. If your parents had never met because one of them got stuck in traffic, you wouldn’t be you. On a huge but suitably ridiculous scale, because the universe itself is huge and ridiculous, if Genghis Khan had never conquered the nations of a good chunk of Asia, a lot of people’s genetic makeup would look very different. Maybe there’d be different genetic diseases. Maybe his would-be descendants would be different people.
My point is, everything now is the way it is now. Your parents did get together at some point, and Genghis Khan did sow his seed all over the continent. Everything that has ever happened has brought us here in a specific and unique constellation, and that is mindboggling and beautiful. It’s mindboggling and beautiful not because Someone planned it that way (even if They did it’s irrelevant to my point anyway), it’s mindboggling and beautiful because everything fits together as a whole. The world’s interlocking systems of ecology and society and environment and inscrutable webs of energy all work together to give us the Here and Now. Here’s the really awesome thing: we are all part of this wonderful behemoth. We can change the future; in fact, it’s inevitable that we will change it, every one of us, in small or large ways.
Not to get up on a soapbox, but this interconnectedness begs the moral questions. With so much power, you should do the right thing for yourself and for others. (I mean, I’m just a blogger, do what you want, but it’s some real food for thought.) You can choose to smile at your cashier, who because of their raised mood will give money to a homeless man, who will finally have enough to get some new clothes to get a job, and eventually have a family, and make a company, and hire people in his struggling home town. Stranger things have happened. Or, you could, you know, frown at your cashier. Your choice. It’s your choice completely how you’ll use your place in this wonderful behemoth.
All this just to emphasise the feeling of wholeness I get from Heathenry. We have a word for the wonderful behemoth: Wyrd (pronounced like ‘weird’). If you’re not familiar, it’s an Anglo-Saxon word related to concepts like fate (remember Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters?) and personal destiny, except that we have power over the path of our fate. Importantly, everything is dynamically connected in large and small ways. That is the Whole.