Friends, isn't it true that we are all divided beings? Don't we all have internal conflicts, mixed loyalties, inner contradictions? I have been reflecting on some of my own, and this is leading me to a new course of action. Over the last twenty or more years, I have been a student of Norse, Celtic and Baltic mythology, also of Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. Born in the USA, I have lived in Iceland and Lithuania, and also in Japan. I see value in the nature-centered spirituality of the Western Pagan traditions, but I am also drawn to the search for higher levels of consciousness and a deeper understanding of the nature of reality in the Eastern traditions. Sometimes the pendulum swings one way for me, and sometimes it swings the other. Just now, the East is calling me.
This is partly because I have been feeling so disenchanted with what I know of American Asatru. I don't mean to stereotype or throw everyone into the same pot under the same lid, but my experiences have led me to believe that what most--not all, but most--American Asatru followers are most concerned and motivated about is preserving an idealized version of European ethnic heritage, reaching back to a fabled time when, in the Republican Senator Trent Lott's words, "we didn't have all these problems" about diversity, multiculturalism and the mixing of races. A nice white Viking society, pure as the driven snow in whichever Germanic country you prefer.
I have been feeling queasy for a long time about how this comes way too close to comfort to the very ugly tradition of racism and white supremacy. Now I just want to get away from this. It's not what I have known as Asatru in Iceland or Sweden or with German Heathens that I have met along the way. This is not to say that there are no racists in those lands, which would be a ridiculous statement, but simply that in those places, I have met a good number of Asatru followers with a clear, analytical, comprehensive understanding of the need to completely renounce anything that approaches racism. For knowing such people, I am grateful. I just wish there were more like them in the USA, but I think American Asatru is on a somewhat different track, certain clear-minded exceptions aside. And of course I don't like the implicit or explicit militarism in much American Asatru, the "worship of the war god" as discussed in past postings.
Celebrating ethnic heritage or playing GI Joe in Viking drag is not the primary thing that I want out of religion or spirituality. I want to feel close to nature and in touch with some kind of absolute reality. Recent contact with members of the Hare Krishna-Krishna Consciousness movement and a branch of Tibetan Buddhism known as Diamond Way have made me think seriously of how these traditions all use methods of mind-stimulation to reach higher states of consciousness where they experience Something that could be called Krishna, or Buddha, or Mind, or what not, but something that gives them peace, joy and clarity. I have always been a piss-poor failure at any kind of meditation, but now I am moved to try again.
Ultimately, I would like to somehow combine these different pathways, perhaps,to put it humorously, chanting "Hare Odin" or visualizing Thor's hammer as the thunderbolt that flashes enlightenment! Or, leaning to my Lithuanian side, maybe it will be "Hare Velnius" and Perkunas as the bringer of enlightenment. Now I am really going to be on the shit list of people who are committed purists, but you know what? I don't care. This kind of mixing and matching may not be to everyone's taste, but as a person torn between East and West, it makes perfect sense to my perfectly divided self. I also know that the past history of religions involves plenty of borrowing and blending, so it's not like I am in the first person in history to have these wicked thoughts and heretical urges.
I would be interested to hear of similar thoughts,experiences or experiments that others have had.
Happy Summer Solstice!