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Where to Start?

November 9, 2013 2 comments

I have been pondering this question for a while now.  Where do we start when we are new to a path?  Do we dive into worshiping the Gods?  Should we?

I start at the Beginning.  A very good place to start.  Now that I’ve gotten my obligatory homage to Sound of Music out of my head…

I start with the Creation Story.  I start with where everything began, how it came to be, and I let the listener make up their mind how they wish to interpret it.  The point is, is that the Story is told.  We, eventually, are placed within the Story.  Without the cosmological understanding of how and why the Universe came to be, and where we fit in, what point is there in going on to the Gods?  If you do not understand how you relate to the Gods it is hard to begin to understand Them, much less worship Them, in anything like a proper context, or understanding.

Even if we do not understand the stories of creating the Worlds, the plants, animals, insects, etc., as literally true as-written, we can understand it on a level that transcends literalism, being true in its own way.  In the Norse Creation Story the first two Elements are Fire and Ice, Surt the Black being the First Being followed by Ymir.  Without going exhaustively through the text I can already tell some basic things: Fire and Ice are the Prime motivators of all life that follow, and all things began in the Void, the Ginnungagap.  They come into being naturally, needing no external force, or at least, no external force(s) that are remarked upon in the Story.  That, in and of itself, is important.  The Gods are not above or beyond the bounds of ‘what must be’ or ‘what is’ or ‘what is to come’ (Urðr, Verðandi, and Skuld).  They are, as much as They might be representatives, controllers, and/or arbiters of ‘what must be’, ‘what is’, and ‘what is to come’, in various fashion, part of Creation.  Nearly every Creation Story I can think of starts in darkness of some kind, some kind of nothingness.  So we come from what was not, becoming what is, and following into what is to come.  All things are bound in Wyrd in this way.

I start with teaching the belief that the Gods and spirits are real, that our Ancestors live on in Death in a spiritual form even if They reincarnate, and that there are spirits all around us in many forms.

When new to a path I encourage people to ask questions, and then again, I encourage questions when one is well-seasoned on a path.  There can never be enough questions.  Even at ten years of being a Pagan I still have questions.   So ask, and do research.  Explore.  Keep researching.  I have been a Pagan 10 years and I am still, and I pray, will always, be learning new things.

I asked if we should dive into worshiping the Gods.  I think that if you can you should.  The same with praying to the Ancestors and spirits, especially the land spirits of where you live.  If you can stand before an altar, a tree, a rock, and/or an image and offer words, a cup of water, a small candle, or a ‘hello’ just to start, do it.  Do it even if you’re not 100% sure that the Gods, Ancestors, or spirits are real.

Sometimes the best prayers are simple.   The purpose of prayer is to thank, ask questions, and/or make a request of a God/dess, Ancestors, and/or spirit,  Sometimes learning a prayer, such as Sigdrifa’s Prayer, is both an offering unto itself in addition to being a beautiful prayer.  Images on on your computer work well for visualizing the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits, and lighting a digital candle is fine as an offering in my book.  I used to live in a dorm room, and when I started I had 8 salt crystals in a small glass bottle and prayed on my dorm room floor.  I started worshiping the Gods after doing a little bit of research and a single lesson.  My relationships have changed fairly dramatically, but I learned how to worship the Gods, by-and-large, by worshiping Them.  I learned how to worship the Gods by refusing to not ask questions.  To explore, and to screw up.

However you can, start.  However you can, keep it up.  Do the best you can wherever you can.  Learn as much as you can, read all the stories of your Gods that you can get your hands on.  Learn all you can about your Ancestors, if you are able.  Learn about the spirits from your tradition(s), and especially from the locals if you know any.  Network, if you are able to and it is safe to do so.  Cultivate the relationships between yourself, the Gods, Ancestors, spirits, and communities around you however you can.  Know that you might not get clear answers from Them, that many who have worshiped the Gods their whole lives don’t always receive clear answers if they do get one.  Sometimes, maybe every time, you get silence in response to your prayers, and that is okay.  There are going to be down days, up days, days where your faith in your path, Gods, Ancestors, spirits, life itself, etc. is going to be challenged, and shaken; there may be days where your faith is blown clear out of the water, or raised up so high you’ll wonder how it was ever down.  However you can just keep walking.  Ultimately the relationship is between you, the Gods, the Ancestors, and the spirits.

This is just the start.

Wandering in a New Direction

May 23, 2011 4 comments

I’ve known that Odin would want me to wander at some point.  He’s told me that since He started working with me.  I’ve asked Him, myself, other Gods, spirit allies, and friends, physical and not, what roads this could go down.  Now I finally have the first piece of that puzzle.  It was a relatively simple click to get it into place, but it took me hearing it and seeing it for it to fall into place.

I believe in living as sustainably as one can, from recycling and reusing as much as possible, to living as much on the land as possible.  Yet, I have no job, and no training on how to do a lot of the things necessary for it.  Sure, I’m learning to grow vegetables and herbs (I finally have my own space for herbs!) and I am willing to learn how to raise chickens, goats, and the like.  I’d be willing to learn every aspect of life that my folks grew up with on their farm.  Yet I didn’t even know how to start; I kept thinking “what about the price of having a home?  The utility costs?  The costs of getting everything around?”  Then, some friends of mine from my local shaman gathering told me about training they are taking this fall with the Earthship project.  I asked about it, and as they spoke, I could almost feel that puzzle click into place.  Holy shit.  It made sense.

Don’t get me wrong, at first I was skeptical as hell.  I thought How can you live so completely off-grid?  What about water, food?  Turns out the way the place is laid out you actually can grow food year-round in-house.  Water is collected from melting snow and rainwater, and electricity is made by wind and solar means.  There’s a lot more, but the website goes into more detail and gives it more justice than I can.  To put it simply, my fears were laid to rest.  These people built shelters that are designed to be earthquake resistant for the people of the Andaman Islands, and they built homes for Mexican families in the wake of Hurricane Rita.  The walls were built out of ordinary materials that we Americans have in plenty: old tires, plastic bottles and aluminum cans, and cement, with plaster for the outward finish.  It seemed unreliable when I first heard about it, yet they stand tall and strong against even monsoon weather, as experienced in the Andaman Islands.

I wasn’t just skeptical for practical reasons, but spiritual too.  After all, it was kind of convenient that the answer fell in my lap.  That said, I don’t much believe in ‘coincidence’ anymore; more often than not, when I do pay attention to them, positive outcomes ensue.  I tend to kick myself later when I don’t pay attention.  I did a few readings to confirm that I wasn’t just listening to sock-puppets in my head, while the next was for the next as-important question: why?  The two Runes that I remember best from that reading (it was about a week ago) were Naudhiz the Rune of Need, and Othila  the Rune of Ancestral Land.  Naturally, there are other interpretations for these two Runes, but again, these two may as well have hit me in the face.  Of course, I could have just read it as NO from their Futhark-to-English rough letter translation.  I didn’t read it like that because neither were merkstave, and there wasn’t anything from the previous Runes to doubt the message screaming from them to me.  Still, I had another person who I hadn’t had any of this explained to her to read my cards just to check.  This time the message did club me over the head, and several times.  I needed to do this.  I needed to go for training, and it was part of my next step in my life in all its forms.  Okay, message received, stop the clubbing.

I asked Him why this would be part of my Wandering.  He told me that I needed the skills before I hoped to set out on my own, that having all the spiritual tools were good, but I “needed to learn to live in Midgard”, and that is what has largely been missing from the past couple of years.  I’ve lived, by and large, on others’ resources, time, and good will.  If I am to live in the future as a person, father, shaman, priest, and Pagan, I needed to change my relationship to the world.  If I believe in sustainability as more than a pretty word, as a lifestyle and as part of my spirituality, then I need to live it.  By learning these techniques I hope to live sustainably.  By learning all I can, I hope to live closer, and in better relations with the landvaettir, the Vanir, the Jotun, and the Aesir, and other Gods who have called to me.  It’s my hope that by Wandering here, I am able to leave a land worth inheriting to my children, with a right relationship with the landvaettir, Gods, and people, who call it home with me.  This may not be the end of my Wander, but it certainly is the first of many steps.

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