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What Paganism really is...
There are many people who use the term Paganism constantly in certain Subcultures...
Although filled with many projections of the modern man, I feel that our understanding of what Paganism is and should be has been constantly distorted, not only by historical events and happenings, such as the rise of Christianity and Abrahamic Monotheism, but also by people who know very little about the Pagan beliefs and only get to know about Paganism from musical groups, interviews and entertainment festivals. Sure these things can be fun and entertaining to some people and it is understandable.
But it is not Paganism.
I myself was born in Germany, grew up in southern Bavaria and have traveled Europe throughout my life. I also speak Norwegian and Swedish, for example, if you want to understand the Runes for real and dig deeper into their meanings, you have to speak one of these languages in order to grasp the connections between mythology and its etymological roots.
Who knows that Thursday is connected to Donar which is the German word for Thor?
Friday equals Freitag and is connected to Freya?
Thor is a God of Thunder (High German word Donner or Donar) and chases Loki, Lightening.
You have to look what is beyond the words and more into nature and natural phenomena in order to understand Paganism.
All cults and natural tribes lived very close and in tune with nature. That is a known fact. Paganism was not some ideology or dogmatic worldview, it was rather about understanding nature, and its forces and powers. And how we human individuals connect with nature and the cosmos. It was important to understand the cycles of nature and the seasons and to understand that everything in nature grows and evolves in cycles.
Today way too many people think that Paganism is about being like a Viking, having long hair, wearing a Thors Hammer, listening to Pagan Metal and being a Warrior. The truth is, though, that Vikings were salesmen and also farmers. We do not know enough these days about these long forgotten people and everything we claim to know is based on projection, fantasy and modern entertainment. It is our own mind, trying to idealize a long forgotten past. A past that is scattered and torn and even reading the Edda is not enough to understand the Pagan beliefs of the norsemen.
The Edda was heavily influenced by monotheism of Christianity that was trying hard to force a religious dualism upon the northern folklore that clearly did not exist before the rise of Christianity. The northern Gods were not good and certainly not evil. That dualism belongs to the Solar Cults of Abrahamic cults and the roots of this dogma traces back to the ancient God Jahwe and Aschera.
Loki is not the Devil and Hel is not the christian Hell.
Take the Gods of the Celts as an example. The Forest is 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?
Paganism was a way to achieve wisdom and understanding through taking a deeper look into nature’s connections in almost a permacultural kind of way. It was about the connections and correlations of forces, phenomena and the seasons of nature.
It was about change and evolution, of wisdom and growth and by taking a deeper look into the mind of the human individual, looking beyond the veil of the human Ego, the I.
But how do people manage to achieve that wisdom and knowledge?
It came natural and that is something that modern people will have to understand again.
By living off the land and with the seasons, by living with nature, and in tune with nature, on your own property, by living a life as a farmer and growing your own food and living self sufficient from natural resources, you begin to establish you very own personal bond to nature.
The Myths and Gods are complex Archetypes, very complex symbols, that are open for interpretation.
But they convey a message and the message is what is important.
Paganism is like a portal for the human individual to establish a unique bond to nature and by establishing that bond, you begin to communicate with nature and its forces and powers, and also with your self and your own subconsciousness. It is not about preferring Odin over Jesus or bowing down to Wotan. I have to disappoint you.
The Myth of Odin is a myth of the human individual seeking understanding and wisdom by going beyond the borders of the known world, by descending into the Underworld and that which lies beyond the human Ego.
It is a Myth of a deeper truth, a truth that you can find within yourself and not by praying to Odin. You have to become that which is being described in the Myth in order to grasp the essence of the Myth itself. That means that if you would like to revive and experience Paganism, you have to live a life in tune with nature and its powers.
Establish a bond via Gardening, Hobby Farming, living off the Land with the seasons, via meditation in nature. Let the mind of nature flow through your mind and body and this is when it happens. The bond, the portal is open. Nature is not something abstract anymore. It is your home, it is our home. You do have consciousness and so does nature itself.
The divine is not something that can be found in books, theories or ideologies.
It can be found within every tree, animal and every mushroom and within yourself. It can not be found by consuming drugs and making this as an excuse for yet another consumption mentality. It can not be found within subcultures and their laws and codes. You will find it in the mountains and the flowing water and by realizing that the Universe has many layers of reality and dimensions, it is so complex that anyone who claims to understand the mystery called nature for sure does not understand Paganism.
Paganism is not about one specific truth and answer. It is about your quest for truth and your own journey. Paganism is your consciousness evolving and growing with time and experience. It is your attempt to become a free, open and empty mind. Open and ready to receive your answers from nature and its powers itself.
Not from anyone or anything else. Then you may understand that this is exactly what Odin did.
And by realizing this, you have become Odin.
And then the Message of the Myth has been finally understood.
Paganism is not something that lies in the past and it is not something that you can experience by trying to re awaken the past over and over again. As sad as it sounds, it will lead you nowhere.
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 through your body and soul, then, and only then you can achieve some type of modern Pagan spirituality. You cannot 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% and call it Paganism, it has got nothing to do with what the ancestors tried to express.
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 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!
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?
This article was written by my husband. For more wonderful articles like this and much more, visit his site here.