I think I need to do more regular updates, even if they are short ones. Much to my dismay, I have been on hiatus from this blog for a while. Been doing a lot of writing, got two new books coming out soon, and general chaos in my life. There has been a contemplate.
I want to become more involved in what at least my local community, and maybe even engage more with others outside of it. This has been prompted by a recent experience, where a friend of mine described me as “a leader among my peers.” Something I don’t consider myself to be. Perhaps this is something I have to accept for myself.
That being said, I feel the best starting point, is to be honest with myself, where I stand philosophically and in relation to things beyond myself. To put this another way, I want to define my boundaries and my limits.
First off, I am an animist, that is to say to me the whole of the cosmos in endowed with spirits, with life, in numerous, discreet and individually conscious spirits. That tree has a spirit has a spirit, as does the squirrel outside my window. This extends beyond “living” things in the biological sense, as I have encountered, rocks and even artifacts that have spirits. My bow on my altar has a spirit, a name, and a story that goes with that name. It is animate, alive in a broad sense. This is not to say all things have spirits however, just that all things potentially can. The Head and Shoulders bottle in my shower, I can sense no spirit within in. It may have had one in the past, and may have one in the future, but there is not one now.
Also, I do not generally subscribe to the “all are one” school of thought. Spirits to me are individual, autonomous beings, that can freely associate amongst one another. Community and culture do play a role in my beliefs, as spirits, like ourselves, can be social beings. While “all are not one”, communities and cultures (group-spirit) can and do exist among spirits. I like to think of it in terms of the ecosystem. They forest where I hunt is a spiritual community, a social agreements among most (not all, allowing for exceptions) of the trees, plants and animals of that area to exist together. Each tree, each animal, each spirit has a story it contributes to the whole, along with more mundane things like oxygen, or water, or biomass, ect.
So do I think there is an overall “mother earth?” Not in the strict sense. I do not believe there to be one overarching earth spirit, any more than I think there is one kind of tree in the world. Spirits can exist in isolation, in groups, and can feel towards one another, love, indifference or even hostility. They can feel the same way towards humans. As for a personal example, oaks are in charge. They are the oldest trees on my family land, and one ancient oak in particular fills the role of chieftain. Are all spiritual societies of this type, no of course not. This is only one example, and the interactions between spirits is incredibly diverse.
As another example, spirits are also centers of social networks, of alliances and even enemies. The spirits I work with, allied with, have made me enemies as well. I work with Thor, as such I am not likely to make friends with a Jotunn any time soon. I like to work with a wolf, deer does not seem to want to have anything to do with me. Working with spirits is diplomatic work, and can be very political. Making friends with x, makes you an enemy of Y, or makes Z suspicious of you. Being the enemy of Y, makes A interested in you, because they are also enemies of Y. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” And all that.
Now as to the nature of the spirit itself, I draw the concept from Norse folklore. In Scandinavian folklore, the spirit is called the hugr. And to me the hugr is the sum total of a person’s thoughts, feelings, wills and desire. It is also intimately integrated with the body. So the common division among spirit workers, mind, body, spirit, are all manifestations of the hugr. Deliberate and willful manipulation of the hugr in the basis of all magic. I could go on and on, because there is a lot more to this, and much more I have to learn.
Suffice to say, these are the very foundations of my spiritual beliefs, very grounded in the Nordic heritage I inherited. And this is only the tip of the iceberg, but I hope I have explained enough to demonstrate how complicated and integrated my worldview is.
The universe as we know it exists, because of the wills of the spirits. They built the stars and planets and galaxies. At the same time their enemies brought the decay and death of stars, and so goes the great drama of spiritual cooperation and competition in the cosmos.
You can read more about these ideas in my books “The Wanderings of Dekokla ( Wise-One)”.