While reading dozens and dozens of books about shamanism, occultism and ancient european pagan folklore, I have discovered some things that, I think, are of importance.
When I grew up in southern Bavaria, pagan remnants of pre-christian culture were still there but you had to look hard in order to find it. There are many burial Grounds, Caves and Sacred Places of the Celts for example in Austria in the so called Waldviertel;
Ysperklamm and Druidenweg, for example.
There are many hidden caves that talk about Hagazussa and Bergmandl'n, of nature spirits and the wild unknown wilderness, the chaotic, dark world right behind our backyard and cities. It is the place where Cernunnos reigns, the horned God of nature and fertility.
The horns represent fertility as a phallus symbol, and not, as many might think, evil and destruction. Another God that captures the very same essence would be the greek God Pan. He is everything and nothing at the same time, bringing forth fertility, growth and renewal in nature and within the human psyche. He calls the nature spirits, so that they may do their work of transformation and evolution.
They are in-between decaying, dead wood... they are within the mushrooms and plants, animals and trees.
They represent the unknown, chaotic world that is nature. Their horns are a symbol of their power and nature's phallus, coming back after every winter.
Of course, what happened then is that they became figures of the Devil and Evil.
But they never were and never have been Evil.
They are chaotic, yes.
Chaos within nature that can be found especially during Autumn with the falling leaves, decaying wood and the end of the Summer Season. They're masks and symbols, trying to grasp a profound, deeper energy that is around us. Is that Evil or is it how nature works and a necessity to bring back life?
But let's face something...
These times are no more and we have to find our own way back to nature.
There is so much lost wisdom and knowledge, shattered in pieces, distorted by ideology, new age beliefs and historic events.
I have read dozens of books and they all talk about different attempts to revive this old knowledge in more or less very ideological ways. It is very much theory based. People fight and argument about who is right and who is wrong. They want others to teach them, they are seeking teachers and creepy New Age Gurus with an even creepier Agenda. They want to become part of another Organisation that teaches them the "right and correct" kind of way.
But it will leave them empty and shallow. And why is that?
You can learn about hundreds of different ideologies and world-views, if you wish, and you can call them pagan, if you wish as well. Old european paganism was all about you, the human individual, reaching understanding, wisdom and growth. It is a very personal, unique journey. To each their own.
But something is missing here.
There is too much man-made thinking and far too little nature involved.
I have found out that when your mind and subconsciousness is full of theories and ideologies, there is very little room to observe nature with an open, calm and meditative mind.
Your mind is your tool and your greatest gift from nature, isn't it amazing what it can do?
Your mind and consciousness is your gateway.
Your very personal portal to the unknown, wild wilderness to unknown worlds and hidden knowledge.
So, what can you do?
You can cultivate your very personal bond and relationship to nature, how you do it is entirely up to you.
The human consciousness is still a big mystery and if you realize that, perhaps, consciousness is all around you at the same time, books and theories begin to wither away...
Meditation is always a great tool and offers so many things that have to be experienced first hand. Gardening and hunting for mushrooms can have the very same effect on the mind. With the big advantage that you are actually outside in nature.
Your dreams will begin to change, that is a fact. You will notice that.
You will establish a bond and relationship, that is yours and belongs to you only.
And if you are living off the land and you are trying to live with the seasons, what you can grow in your garden, it becomes something very personal and profound. The problem with modern so called pagans is that they have this bubble of fantasies of the past that are idealized while at the same time, their current life is not rooted in nature at all. You have to experience nature with all senses and let her energies flow your body and soul, then, and only then you can achieve some type of modern pagan spirituality. You can not learn that from books, theories or by listening to pagan music. Sure these things can be fun and entertaining but you cannot base your beliefs on it 100%. It is empty and dead.
You have to bring nature back into your thinking and way of life and when I say that I mean that you start living a life that is more in harmony with all seasons. For example, so many pagans celebrate the Sun Solstice, because it is so important to them. But if you were actually growing your own food and you would also recognize the change of your own vegetables, herbs and fruits during that season, celebrating the Sun Solstice would be something that is real, because you experience it yourself every year. Biodynamic Gardening can reveal many secrets about this.
The Sun and the Moon as well as the Stars do influence nature and certain things such as water and growth. When you begin to see these changes by, for example, living off the land and you recognize these energies in your garden... then suddenly, it becomes a reality that you experience and thus, changing your spirituality by actual experience.
You cannot reach that state of mind by wearing a Thors Hammer, reading the Edda 1000 times and going to 40 Festivals every year, claiming that you are pagan and you have pagan beliefs.
You have to somehow establish your personal relationship and this means the end of theory, books and ideology.
It means being open, like a child, for the unknown that is nature. Open up yourself, use all of your senses and calm your mind. Let it become empty, relaxed and meditative...
Because, after all, if you are open for everything and anything, nature will begin to teach you. Once this bond of communication is open, it is something that will bring you to foreign, unknown places and things you would not believe are real.
Reality is relative, there is no "absolute reality"; everyone has their own sense of reality.
Suddenly, you may recognize what our pagan remnants meant when they were speaking of Odin and his quest for truth and knowledge.
Suddenly, it is you and your personal life that is a quest of knowledge, and no one and no book will teach you, but nature will.
The elements of nature were the reason why pagan folklore, mythology and spirituality did exist.
We are living in different times now and we have to get rid of idealized fantasies of a past that we don't know much about anymore, and nothing will change that.
What is important is your hunger for knowledge and your love for nature.
Look deep into nature's realm and you will find your own personal answers.
And, perhaps, look a little bit less into books, theories and new age easy and fast answers.
Try to form a bond and communication with nature, its powers and everything that lies beyond the borders of our city lives. But in order to achieve that, you have to be in nature and live with nature.
You can make that happen by opening up your mind and soul, through meditation, yoga and spending a lot of time with natural activities. Become an empty vessel and let nature fill your soul and mind through all of your senses.
I think this would be a lot more efficient and healthier than idealizing a long forgotten past or trying to find the "real" pagan remnants of our ancestors. It does not work that way.
It is a dead end and leads nowhere!
Instead of running around like someone that is stuck in the middle ages and trying to be like the old stereotype of viking norsemen with Thors Hammer, grab a knife and a bucket - go mushroom hunting or plant a garden.
Open your eyes, if you dare, but for a second, leave your Ego behind and see what is beyond the veil...
That way you can get very close to what once was, and what is much better, you can get really close to what may become alive again.
A real, satisfying relationship with your human soul and that of nature.
Isn't that what it is all about?