Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Finding one's ancestors and faith

I will gladly say that I am a "mutt," a typical American whose family has been here awhile.

My ancestral background is quite a patchwork from across the broad expanse of Mother Europe: Russian, German, Latvian, French, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, English, Italian, Greek and Spanish- plus a bit of very early American lineage: Iroquois and Algonquin.

If you look only to the "nation" from which one's ancestors came, the question does become complex.

What I did in my spiritual search (after fumbling around for awhile) was to break things down to a simpler level.

I looked to the pre-national tribes, from which my forebears sprang.

This was sparked in part by the beginnings of my interest in genealogy, combined with my love of looking at history, particularly the movement of peoples across the planet.

As I looked, it became clear to me that the largest numbers of my forebears were of Northern tribes: Germanic, Nordic, Celtic, and Baltic. Of these, the Germanic and Nordic folks were in greatest evidence.

Things came to a head for me near midnight 8 July 1989.

I was participating in a sweat lodge with some SCA friends: a cleansing and seeing ritual as it were.  It was based on a Lakota ceremony, but had been "Germanized" by the lodge leader.

The purpose was to lead into a dedication ceremony, which I had written, for a fighting household we were forming. The household was to be composed of archers, plus sword and spear men, plus the totally necessary non-martial members.

I believe I had my first vision from Uller, who is one of the Elder Holy Ones of the North.

This spurred me to further research.   I found a copy of the "Poetic Edda" with which my Uncle John had gifted me years before. It seemed right to start my search for the meaning of the vision therein.  The references to Uller jumped from the pages.  I learned that He is, amongst many other things, looked upon as Bow Lord and Unerring Archer.

I felt a deep chill, as of a winter wind, come upon me.

November 18th, 1989: The Household is once again assembled and we captains are in sweat lodge again.  I am gifted by Uller a second time (and a few times since) with another visit to the Yewdales and His lodge.  I come away from the experience feeling that I have returned home from a very, confused long journey.

So, that's a bit about how I chose, and was welcomed.    


I'm not an intellectual; don't even play one on TV ,-)

Though, I do consider myself a thinker.

My faith is based upon my belief in the Holy Ones known by my northern forebears, the worldview of those forebears, the “time view" they held, the ways in which they interacted with each other and the rest of the world...

What I know of these is a combination of available documents (both historical and modern), archaeological findings (with varying veracity of interpretation in my view), supposition and inspiration.

I do not know if the Uller to whom I am in Troth bond to is the exact same Uller, as my ancestors knew.  He may well be a younger god, born during the migration of northern folk to this continent. He may well be the same Uller, and I travel to His home in another level of this reality we call life.

I tend to believe the latter, and I can only Know that I Believe.

I also believe that the Ultimate Source is Unknown and Unknowable by the mind of Man.

What set the Primal Fire and ice into motion to fill Ginungagap?

For that matter; what set the Primal Forces in place?

What made Ginungagap?

I believe that the Northern Creation myth is true, in that the worlds and what they contain came from somewhere.

Is it the literal truth?

I don't know, I wasn't there to bear witness.

I believe that Gods and Goddesses are distinct and real beings.
I believe that the Holy Ones of differing tribes are distinct from each other.
I find the comparisons useful, though, as it shows me much of the basic nature of human thought.
I believe that there are many layers to reality, thus the "metaphor" of the nine Worlds.

I don't know, but I believe.

The more I have done comparisons to other beliefs and philosophies, the more strongly I cleave unto That Which I Hold Holy.

Autochthonic faithways do not spring fullborn and separate into the world; unlike Athena from Zeus' brow. They are shaped by the lives of the folk, the land upon which they live, the broader world around them; their inner sight.

It is difficult then, I think, to write “apologetics" for something, which is part and parcel of one's being.

"Revealed" religions, of which faith and belief are parts, can be intellectualized to a much greater degree than the so-called "Natural" religions.

I have read the opinion that if one were to go back in time and ask any tribesman, who was previously unexposed to "religion," what his might be called; a puzzled look would be the initial answer.  One would then explain the concept of religion as a thing separate in one's life.  The answer then would probably be on the order of a shrug with the words,  "I believe what my tribes believes.  I do what my tribe does."

Modern heathenry, being a reconstruction and revival of elder tribal ways, is closer to a "natural religion" than a "revealed religion" in my opinion.

As with any such faithway Ortho- enters the picture in only small ways.

I think the closest thing to Orthoheathenry we have is a largely similar view of the Holy Ones to whom we give worship.  But, this agreement does have built into it various tribal differences.

We also have similar views of modes of worship: Blot (faining, offering, sacrifice...), Symble (ritual sharing of Drink and Words) and Husel (a formalized sharing of food and drink).  Again, there exist tribal differences; some fueled by "modern" sensibilities and interpretations.

We share similar views on the virtues, morals and ethics of a heathen worldview.  Again, there are tribal and intellectual differences.  For example, the "Nine Noble Virtues."  Without a cheat sheet in front of me, I couldn't give you all of any of the several listings I've seen over the years.

I try and keep it simple: do that which is right for family, friends and community, with wisdom, generosity and personal honor.

I'd say that neither Ortho- nor Hetero- are doxies with whom I am intimate ,-)