I sit here, petting the cat that has nested himself in my lap, and, at the moment this is being typed, contemplating the bad habit I have developed of staying up late into the wee hours of the morning. However, this is not the only thing on my mind. As I approach my 27th Birthday this Monday, I wonder what progress in life I have made, and the weight and worth of my decisions.
I try to take actions carefully, and with due deliberation. Sometimes I succeed at that. Sometimes I do not. I’ve made many bad choices, but I’ve made good ones, too. I am determined to wed my best decision. There are others on which a ring cannot be put.
There is another choice that I may as well be married to already. That would be my custom. Call it Heathen, Pagan, or whatever you will. It impacts everything I do. Everything I do has it in mind. It is that which is on my mind now, and so I wish to relate.
Looking back, a lot of my posts have been about identity. I even think to myself, “Here we go again…” The thing is, though, that it comes up so frequently because it is something that I, like many others, often struggle with. We live in a world with so many choices! This is of course, in my opinion, for the best. As those same choices led to many changes and innovations for the Old Ones, it only makes good sense that with even more, we too, may innovate. We do so much faster than they, as this is a more fast paced world. Those same choices led me to reject popular religion, and have brought me here today.
From the very start, I have set out to not be just another Heathen voice, nor just another Reconstructionist one. I don’t fit firmly into any camps, even when I agree, and I also have many opinions about recent and current affairs within Heathendom, Pagandom, and beyond. At first, I thought this was but a hangover of my more rebellious youth. I no longer think this to be the case.
I don’t say this to paint myself out to be some kind of “Heathen Hipster”. There are many who have their own minds, and I’ve been lucky to have the friendship and support of some of those voices along the way. I don’t do a very good job with definitive ideology. Nor have I done so well with piecing different elements of practice together. As far as the former, I’m glad for it, as there is a point where ideology no longer affirms belonging, but is instead a tool of oppression. To both ourselves, and others.
The latter however, disturbs me. Six years a Pagan normally means a solid, though incomplete picture. However, in truth, I’ve always been torn between Germanic, and Gaulish (buttressed by Brythonic) expressions of practice. I was the latter for two years, and have been the former for two and a half. Perhaps exclusivity and purity aren’t my thing. Furthermore, perhaps it is arrogant of me to even have this thought, of being torn between these cultures, which are full, beautiful, and great in their own right. They don’t need me to reconcile them. Nor do I wish to be a voice that implies such. Ever.
No, these great and wonderful cultures don’t need me at all. I don’t own any of them, nor am I some “enlightened outsider”. Nor would I own them, even if I could. Religions are not playthings, nor are cultural expressions. I am not an Anglo-Saxon (Angle, Saxon, Jute, Frisian, amongst others). I am not of the Nordic peoples (Icelandic, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Faroese, etc.). Nor am I of the Gaulish, or the Britons (or the Welsh, Cornish, or Bretons that came from them). I may come from many of these peoples, but I am not them.
What I am is someone who has been blessed enough to get to learn about the Old Ways of these great peoples. Along with other parts of their histories. I am, like pretty much anyone else, someone who has been inspired by my ancestors and contemporaries. This is reflected by the choice I made to become Heathen, to become Pagan. A choice many others out there have made. We often talk about “filling in gaps” from Polytheisms outside of the one we’ve chosen. However, to call it such is a disservice. I don’t interpret something in an Anglo-Saxon context. Instead, I am influenced by more peoples than just one. Just as my ancestors were. Just as the cultures and religions of said ancestors were. Therefore, though there may be large and small parts of my practice inspired by some of the peoples listed, I don’t belong to any of them, nor they to me. Though inspired by Old Ways, our Ways are all New. Just as new cultures were formed from old ones, as well as new religions. We continue that tradition, as do many of you.
In that sense, we create new identities. As time goes by, we will see the right and wrong of the choices we make. As even the Gods must wend their way to their Wyrd, and are not above Wyrd, we certainly are not either. As Wyrd wends, so does who we are.
Who am I? I’m not always sure about that. Maybe that picture will be clearer one of these days. What I do know, is that it’s going to take a little time.