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The Three Major Approaches to Neo-Paganism

Most things in the universe happen in threes. Three is a universal number of great importance. In Heathenism we have the Heathen trinity of Odin, Thor, and Freyr, which I covered in another post.

This three-ness aspect to the universe is also seen in divisions that happen within major world religions. We see this for example in Christianity in there being Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox branches. In Buddhism this trinity is expressed with there being Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantric forms of the religion. In Hinduism we have Shivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism. In Islam there is Sunni, Shia, and Sufism. In Wicca, which is itself a tradition within Neo-Paganism, there is British-Traditional, Eclectic, and Dianic, branches. Even in Heathenism we have strict-reconstructionists, modernists, and tribalists.

In Neo-Paganism this three-fold aspect is seen with there being Archetypal-Paganism, Polytheistic-Paganism, and Humanistic-Paganism. Neo-Paganism is a newer major world religion and as such it is still undergoing the process of development as a major religion. Thus is is still going through the grow process that any new religion does.

The first form of Neo-Paganism to form was Archetypal-Paganism. Your stereotypical Wiccan (but not all Wiccans) is an Archetypal-Pagan. They see the gods and goddesses either as different (and interchangeable) expressions of one divine energy, or all gods and goddesses to them are the expression of one set of Great Goddess and Great God (Dualtheism). Archetypal-Paganism is based on the philosophical idea of syncretism. Wicca itself was a religion created through syncretism. Though most but not all Wiccans are Archtypal-Pagans, not all Archtypal-Pagans are Wiccans. Wiccans would be the biggest group that are Archtypal-Pagans.

The next expression of Neo-Paganism is Polytheistic-Paganism. Polytheistic-Pagans see the gods and goddess as all unique and distinct beings and not interchangeable for one another. Though some of them do acknowledge that some gods or goddesses may appear in more than one culture with nearly almost exact similar forms and traits but with different names. Generally Polytheistic-Pagans place a strong focus on devotional practices and worship of the particular gods and goddesses which they happen to focus on. Polytheistic-Pagans are almost always very focused on a particular cultural tradition. Some Polytheistic-Pagans are very focused on strict historical reconstruction of ancient Pagan traditions, while others try to focus on modern ways to relate to the gods/goddesses, but many are a mix between both these extremes. The stereotypical Heathen is Polytheistic-Pagan. Originally Heathenism was separate from the Neo-Pagan scene due to early on Wiccan viewpoints dominating the Neo-Pagan scene, but this has changed and more and more Heathen ideas have had an impact on Neo-Paganism. More Heathens, or even Pagans strongly influenced by Heathenism, are seen taking part in the Neo-Pagan scene these days. Just as not all Archtypal-Pagans are Wiccans, not all Polytheistic-Pagans are Heathens, though Heathenism does represent the biggest pool of Polytheistic-Pagans at this time. There has been a huge growth in non-Heathen forms of Polytheistic-Paganism in recent years.

The third and by far newest form of Neo-Paganism is the Humanistic-Pagan. They are a very recent development and as such there has been some growing pains for this form of Paganism in it being accepted into the Neo-Pagan scene. Other terms that seem to be currently used for Humanist-Pagans are Atheist-Pagans, and Naturalistic-Pagans. Generally Humanist-Pagans tend to not believe in or focus on the supernatural or divine aspect of things. They tend to see the gods/goddesses and mythologies in terms of archetypal expressions of psychological or philosophical concepts. In many ways the ideas established by Carl Jung likely are the roots of this form of Paganism. Humanistic-Pagans believe strongly in science and having a more tangible connection to things. Their approach to Paganism is more cultural. Many of them may not wish to see Neo-Paganism as a religion but more as a form of cultural identity. They put great focus on the values expressed within Neo-Paganism such as respect for the environment and a focus on self awareness. Omnia is an example of a music band that seems to represent the ideas within Humanistic-Paganism.

It is important as Pagans for us to understand and respect the views of all those who fall under the umbrella of the religion of Neo-Paganism. At the same time we need to acknowledge that there are these distinct forms and these differences can at times lead to issues of difficulty since each distinct style leads to a different viewpoint on what the reasons are for being Pagan. We must guard against trying to enforce the approach of our particular approach of Neo-Paganism on to people of the other forms. We must acknowledge that all ways are equally as valid and all people have the religious and spiritual and cultural freedom to pursue anything that is not harmful to others. All these forms of Paganism are helpful in their own ways to those who practice them. All these forms of Paganism help to enrich the lives of their devotes. As Neo-Pagans we need to stand unified at least on the legal and cultural front so as to make sure our rights are not stomped upon. On the spiritual front we must understand our differences and make room for us to divide into our particular more focused groups as needed.

I dedicate this post as an offering to the goddess Saga. Hail Saga!

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Heathen Spiritual Warrior

Late Spring and early Summer are the Norse times to fight battles and go raiding. Most of us in the modern world won’t be going into literal combat situations or going literally raiding, as happened during the Viking age. But we modern people have our own just as difficult battles we have to fight in our day to day life. Common modern forms of battle are battles against your own negative traits or bad habits, battles to effect greater spiritual growth and awareness, battles to improve our lives in any way, battles against people in our lives who abuse us or cause us harm, battles to stand up for some cause we believe in, battles to improve the lives and well-being of those close to us, battles to achieve success in our careers, fighting for a better world, etc. All these types of battles are equally as worthy as the battles and raids which the Vikings fought, and are just as filled with their own forms of danger and peril. All forms of worthy battle which we fight are a way in which the gods/goddesses test us to see our measure of spiritual strength and bravery. By fighting whatever worthy battles we must in our lives without backing down and doing the best we can in them, we increase our spiritual might and personal luck. Most forms of modern battles are more so what can be considered forms of psychic or spiritual battles. Being a spiritual warrior is just as impressive to the gods/goddesses as being a literal one. If your life has been filled with strife and challenge lately during the late spring and early summer know that this is part of being in tune with the seasonal cycles and this time shall eventually pass. When fighting a lot of battles our energies can after awhile become drained and run down. Try to call upon the power of the sun, the goddess Sunna as a source to recharge your psychic and emotional batteries after many long fought battles.

Magick, trance states, and rising ones divinity on the path towards enlightenment and the need for daily practice

Seidh (and many forms of) magick is done by going into a trance state. Trance means altered state of conscious. People are often in trance state when in any border state, time between sleep and waking, meditation, magick rituals, intense pain states, near death state, etc. Border state is the secret of the dagaz rune. Dagaz represents the power of transformation or the magick potential fringe or border states have.

Particular aspects of trance states like near death state trance or battle trance too is the eihwaz rune. Battle trance is a state in which one struggles with life or death through physical combat. During battle is a powerful time to do spells due to this. Fight or flight is an altered state of consciousness. Spiritual rituals too are a border event. Also physical workouts too can be border states.

Sex is a border state. Sex is one possible tool to use to do seidh magick (and magickally generally). Being sexually aroused is a border state also, and Freyja is always sexually aroused. Freyja is a goddess always in the border state.

Border state is fire. Fire is the energy of change. Normal consciousness state for mortal humans is ice. Ice is the energy that keeps things as they are. Life force energy is fire though, because living beings can and do constantly change their environment.

Gods/goddesses have more of that life force than mortal humans, thus they have more magick, they can cause more bigger amounts of change. By becoming attuned and one with the natural cycle of the seasons we increase our own life-force and fire and become too more powerful.

Odin’s wod is an extreme form of altered state. Wod is like a combination of inspired, insane, crazed, and intensely focused. It is basically the embodiment of altered states of consciousness. Odin is always in a state of Wod as that is his energies. it’s also why Odin tends to go to extremes and not always consider the normal everyday life impact of things. He can be over harsh on his devotees (sometimes bringing them to an early violent death) for this reason, without any intended malicious towards them. He is sort of stuck in an intense altered state of consciousness. It’s probably why he only eats mead or wine and not food. But he is a god of magick. Is also why he often times talks only in poetry. What any artist experiences when they make art is wod. Berserkers are warriors in an intense state of wod. Warriors devoted to Odin often enter an intense wod trance state when in battle. Odin’s warriors when in that state have only one urge; to kill, and injury does not slow then down so long as their body is still able to function, as they are in such a deep trance that they don’t feel pain, and are unconcerned about their own self preservation.

When we do devotional rituals to gods and goddesses we slowly move our own energies closer and closer to the divine and become slowly more than just human, adding divinity to our souls this way.

The more we become divine the higher our personal consciousness vibration frequency is and the more we are able to access a greater amount of knowledge, wisdom, awareness, and the greater access we have to the life force and the more spiritual luck we tend to have also. Rising ones consciousness frequency is the key to making spiritual progress. By rising out consciousness frequency then we can become closer to the gods/goddesses as we are then more attuned to them.

Negativity, limited thinking, negative energy, bad energies, unhealthy food, unhealthy habits such as smoking or not having any self control over the amount of alcohol that you drink (drinking alcohol is not bad, it actually is a strong part of the Heathen path, what is bad is drinking to an extreme and not being a responsible drinker), being around negative people and lack of faith in the gods/goddesses, all serve to drag down our energies and pull us away from. These things suck the spiritual life force out of us and reduce our fire. It is very a very important part of the spiritual path to learn how to shield your energies against negativity and limit your interactions with negative people.

The greatest tool in keeping energies consistently at a more positive spiritual level is regular daily spiritual practices. Enlightenment is not something that happens once and then you are cured for the rest of your life, it is an ongoing quest and even after achieving some measure of spiritual success all that has been gained can be lost if efforts are not kept up to keep things going.

The gods/goddesses want people to join them in their halls whom have worked enough on their-selves to be able to exist in frith (peace harmony, working in cooperation with the standards of a place) in their halls, harmoniously with the others who live with them there. It is the ultimate goal of any Heathen to develop themselves enough spiritually to join the god or goddess whom they have devoted themselves to at the time of their death. But for this to happen the devotee must work on themselves spiritually to be worthy of such an honorable place, as well as strive daily to maintain a strong relationship with their deity, through acts of devotion such as making offerings and other daily ritual and devotional practices.

Personal relationships with gods/goddesses and labels for them..

I think there is as many styles of types of relationships with gods/goddesses as there is people with relationships with them. Some may choose to put a label to their form of devotion and use a similar label to someone else, but in the end any relationship between a god/goddess is a personal thing between devotee and deity. The problem with labeling it is some then start to compare how they connect with the deity with how they are or one may feel a desire to judge others ways of connecting with their deity, this is seriously bad as it removes the point from the relationship, which is one that is about connecting with the deity. It should be that each person listens to their heart or their deity for to know what is the way to connect with them. Labels can interfere with listening to the heart, or even with listening to the deity.

The only judgements that should be made about any relationship with a deity should be, is this making me a better person, is this making me more happy and more filled with a sense of connection to the spiritual and is it giving me added spiritual strength to deal with the challenges of my physical life.

When we have a relationship to any deity we should put the connection to them first and leave aside labels that may get in the way. We must listen carefully to what the deity may be telling us that the relationship is, and not feel in a hurry to interject our own labels. A god or goddess we have a connection with will tell us what they wish from us in our relationship with them given enough time. Simple labels like devotee may be better since this is more broad. In the Viking times they would call them something like “the special friend of (deity)”.

Never in any way should we use any label that is more about pumping up our own ego than about honoring what the deity truly wants the relationship to be. From my experience also the deity does not give us all information right away, but it takes time for our own level of understanding to increase before we can understand more and that the deity feels we are ready to know more. Mostly they like us to figure stuff out and then talk to them about it.

In the end what matters the most is the personal connection you have with your god/goddess, not what labels you tell others defines this. Also never judge someone elses personal connection with their god/goddess, this is a very sacred and personal thing and in no way can you understand what depth this connection may have and all that might go on in this relationship. Ultimately this is what all followers of the Norse gods/goddesses should strive for, finding the god or goddess which is their special friend and then building this relationship with them so that the devotee can one day directly serve their god/goddess in the afterlife once they move from the world of the living.

Heathenism and Meditation..

The Vikings practised meditation too. Often times they sat some place outside to do this or even very commonly on a burial mound. Was common to place one’s cloak over oneself to block off the senses so that the focus was turned more inward while doing this. Since most Vikings lived in communal longhalls I doubt meditating at home would have been so good since was probably too much activity going on there. But since we tend to live in dwellings nowadays with less people living in them, it is more useful to meditate indoors as there is less to disturb us there. Of course outside meditation can be used as well when one wishes to feel the energies of an area for spiritual world purposes.

An example of this as done by the Vikings was when Thorgeir Thorkelsson was asked to decide on the issue of Icelandic conversion to Christianity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianisation_of_Iceland

For me daily meditation is part of my Heathen practice. I find that it enhances my ability to stay focused during rituals and also in general makes me better able to deal with stresses and normal ups and downs of life. Regular meditation basically helps to make you emotionally and spiritually tougher and more resilient and overall increases ones will-power. Also it makes my mind better able to gather and absorb knowledge and wisdom. All around it has very good benefits.

Nehalennia’s Wisdom

nehalennia-medWisdom spoken by the goddess Nehalennia:

“A pearl even starts out as a grain of sand. It’s a little irritant, a nuisance, something that is easily discarded and dismissed. But when it’s kept close, accepted in it’s annoyance, nurtured, bonded with other substance, it becomes a thing of beauty and a small treasure. Such is how an idea is born, something small and insignificant is handled and coped with until it too becomes a gem.”

“Never judge the ocean by the surface. You never know what lies beneath the waves.”

More shall be added to this entry as they are gathered…

Volmarr’s daily spiritual rituals and practices

This is shared so as to inspire others to perhaps take up a similar set of daily practices. It really does help a great deal to have such a daily practice, and it is the key thing in making ones religious practice truly spiritual.

Every day I do the following and in this order:

Short invocation prayer to Sunna, which comes from Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner, page 53.

A Hammer hollowing ritual to banish negative energies and invoke protection and positive energies.

Short devotional ritual to Freyja in which I offer incense and candle flame, and draw one rune for the day. The ritual used is the one from Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner, the morning devotional page 161, adding my own invocation at the start of it, and not doing the oil consecration part.

A set of short prayers related to most of the gods/goddesses (Aesir and Vanir). They are some of the prayers from chapter 5 of Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner. That book says to do the prayers using prayer beads, but I don’t see any need for the beads, just go through the prayers I like each day. The ones I do are section I, section V, and the first part of section IX stopping at and including Njord. You can find those on pages 110-115.

Daily offering blot of grape juice to the god, goddess, or wight of the day. Fridays I offer separately to both Freyja, and Freyr. On Saturdays I now offer to Njord since he does not have his own day, and also to my ancestors. Other days the god, goddess, or wight whom the day of the week is named for. This daily blot is simple, I step outside with a horn filled with grape juice, raise the horn, speak the invocation, drink half the juice and pour out the rest for the god/goddess/wight.

On Tuesdays additionally in honor of Tyr I read through the thews (virtues) which I follow which happen to be the Vanir Virtues

15 minutes sitting silent meditation.

At night I do a short nightly devotional ritual to Freyja, similar to the one I do in the morning. It is the one listed in Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner, as the evening devotional page 162-163, adding my own invocation at the start of it, and not doing the oil consecration part. In that ritual I thank Freyja for all positive things that have happened during the day. Thanking your god or goddess for positive things that happens helps to encourage more of similar things to happen in the future for you.

All of this may sound like a lot but it takes less than an hour to do the morning part, more often around 40 minutes, and makes a huge difference in how I feel in general and in greatly improved events for the day. The night part only takes 5 minutes if even that long. I even do that part in the middle of a moment I have woken from sleep if I happen to fall asleep before doing it, and then go right back to bed after.