When you spend time learning, pouring over books, talking to diverse people who have many different approaches on how things are done, and you start to realize that there are a lot of answers to the same questions. After all, if you ask ten Heathens a question, be prepared for twelve answers. There was a time when I begrudged that fact. After all, I just wanted clear concise answers. You do this, because of that. Simple. Easy.
Well, it often isn’t. However, I’ve learned that it isn’t supposed to be that way. Not only would that be boring, but it would be dishonest. It would fail to portray the diverse array of approaches that reconstructing an ancient worldview of diverse peoples would give you. The great irony in my time as what one would call a Heathen is this: The more books I read, the more I talk to Heathens, and the more I grasp the concepts of the worldview, the less I am concerned about my identity as a Heathen. Instead, it ends up that I become more invested in the identity of my hearth.
This isn’t, by any means a failure on the part of my experiences in the Heathen community. Instead, it is a success. After all, Heathenry was local, and grew organically, in the past. In spite of the similarities of those cultures, their experiences differed. Thus, they saw themselves as different people from their neighbors, Heathen or not. Tribes had their own identities. As even though two trees of the same species branch and sprout leaves the same way, they still never look exactly alike. They are still two different trees.
That in itself is the inherent beauty of Heathen, and many other polytheistic traditions. I may, for example, understand the same worldview concepts that may make another see me as a Heathen, a Fyrnsidere, more specifically, yet still my practices may vary from theirs, theirs from another, and so on.
After a talk with friends, I realize that saying this makes it sound like I’m opening a door to “free for all” with these statements. Which, though there is little to nothing I could do about that, if it were, that isn’t what I am trying to say. I figure I should clarify, and thanks to those friends, this post was prevented from carrying a message I wouldn’t have meant for it to say. Those with a good grasp on worldview could easily find themselves in their groups or hearths building solid, meaningful practices that inspire other to take that, and create those of their own.
I have spent a lot of time wondering about what you do once you have a decent grasp of worldview. If you just kind of do whatever one with more experience thinks you should do, or if you take that knowledge, and forge something great, that puts the world, and understanding of ancestors, wights, gods, and other people into perspective. So, I may not have the best answer to the question in the title, however, this is the direction in which I am leaning.
As what I found in my time of correspondence, when writing an article, hoping to teach in the Lārhūs, was that I have been learning, myself. When I teach concepts to Cyndre, my love, and hearth mate, for example, I find myself learning more than teaching. That once you have that metaphorical canvass of historically informed worldview, you can paint a beautiful picture. Same canvass as anyone else with that worldview, but something unique to your own group or hearth. Where my lack of desire of “free for all” comes with this: If you don’t have the canvass, you’re just going to splash paint everywhere.
We have all seen those “messes” in the forms of those who try to take from cultures they know nothing about, and just transplant deities, or symbols to sell New Age books. Or from those who use Heathenry to further their political agendas, more concerned with making Heathenry fit those agendas than to try to understand the worldview, and see through that lens. Sometimes they gain some popularity, but often fizzle out, or at least draw staunch opposition. Including those who seem to want to use it as a way to garner attention, or to make Heathenry into something like churches (No, this is not an anti Christian rant.), installing a sense of false comraderie by diminishing the importance of titles we earn through deeds or kinship (sister, brother, friend). A solid grasp of worldview prevents these things.
As I do not see one, or a handful of traditions, but hundreds, thousands with a similar core, but different experiences that shape them. Heathenry, and Fyrnsidu are beautiful things. However, they are umbrellas. So, if one asked my custom, or tradition, or, I guess religion, ultimately, it is Þunresfolc Heorþ. Based in Fyrnsidu, based in Heathenry, Polytheism, Paganism, what have you. Yet, it is also something all its own. It is that, that I wish for whomever reads this.