I wish I had known… Part 1

I will start off as I always do, with some random updates about my work and the things that are important to me. First off, I have started writing again. I missed it. While I am not writing as fervently as I normally would, I feel I have to in order to keep my sanity. Or my insanity. Take your pick. I just couldn’t cope with the build up of ideas and the lack of jotting those ideas down. So I am writing again.

Second, I have done so little crafting work this year. Frankly, it really sucks. The wife and I have started looking at houses, because the fact is we need more space. The apartment we are in now is very poor for the kind of work I like to do. I need a workshop, a garage, something! Currently, my forge is at least fifteen minutes away at my dad’s place, as are most of my tools and heavy equipment. Basically, I am limited to a balcony and my hand tools. It sucks. There is so much I want/need to get done, and really no feasible way to get it done. I work regular hours, and my weekends have a bad habit of filling up. It bothers me.

There are also some new spiritual developments going on. I still want some time to think over them, earn a little more insight on the matter. At least before I write about these things, perhaps in the next post.

Also, as a note I want to put out there. My “More on Michigan Vikings?” post shattered all previous records for views on this blog. I just want to say firmly, hype and popular trends are not what this blog is about. I inadvertently tapped into a trend, and my blog exploded. That is not why I write here. I write because I care about the things I write about. It is my passion. I would not care if this never blog had another view, as long as I get to write about the things that interest me. Alright, moving on.

So I am going to use this post to finally get around to starting a new series. If you didn’t guess by the title, this is going to be a kind of reflection about my ‘coming’ of age as an animist and pagan. Things I wish I had known, and maybe some advice for those that will follow me, the next generation.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that writing this kind of post is quite difficult. I think it is because the problem is two-fold at least. First, I want to make all kinds of warning and give all sorts of sagely advice about the pitfalls of walking this path. There are all kinds of things to watch out for. But on the other side, to error is to be human, and I cannot honestly say I would be the pagan, and the person I am today without said pitfalls. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, sure, but I have gotten back up each time I fell, and learned something from the experience.

That is probably as good of a place to start as any. My first piece of advice, you will not get it right the first time. Walking any of the diverse paths, those of many names, is that it is an ongoing process. There is a large amount of investment that goes into walking into any path. I am not talking about just money either. There are many “frugal” ways to go about being a pagan, and no I do not think flashy, expensive things work better than cheap ones. I am mainly talking about time here. Time that will be invested in study, learning, experimentation and generally walking the talk. In my opinion, calling oneself a pagan is a hell of lot easier than actually being one.

Let me be anecdotal here. I came in to this the way many did ten years ago. I started my spiritual search with a Southern Baptist church. I invested at least a year of my life there. But that wasn’t a good fit for me. During that time I was introduced to Wicca, and after a year of study and reflection, I realized that wasn’t for me either. However, that time introduced to a large number of other paths, and these I dedicated even more study time to. I went to Celtic/Druidic, and got a little closer to what I was looking for, but the fit still wasn’t quite right. I came to the Northern path next, and I found a place to call home, or at least a cultural complex that work for me. During all of this, my foundational beliefs in  animism were developing. You see, I have never been much of an energy worker, except in the maybe the broadest sense. I can not “raise” energy worth a crap. It is nearly impossible for me to conceptualize it, and that impedes any work I try to do in that area. However, my mind easily and eagerly fixes on the idea of a cosmos littered with will and consciousness, big and small, and in this paradigm I can work. I am a spirit worker, and this shapes for me a cosmos built on relationships and networks. I connect with communication, and this is one of my strengths. It works for me.

This raises two points. The first deserves a whole post unto itself, and it may well be the second part in this series. Building connections and networking. I can honestly say that nothing has defined my practice more than my relationships with my ancestors. The more I researched and studied my own family, another large investment in time, the more my own spiritual path blossomed. The first ancestors I discovered came from England, thus I studied Wicca first, and this led to Celts/Britons. Then a few Irish/Scottish ancestors crept in, and I went away from Wicca and more towards Celtic. Then I discovered my ancestors actually came from Scandinavia, and got into a lot of different places such as England, Scotland and Ireland by boat sometime in the past. Those Vikings got around! Of course, the Vikings were not the only ones that had ships, many came before and after them, but that is another post entirely.

The second is about talents and strengths. No one practitioner will master every skill. For example, I cannot do tarot to save my life. Runes also, not something that works well for me. As I said before, raising energy is not my cup of tea. Also, I lack what most pagans call the god-phone. Connecting to the higher realms doesn’t work much at all for me. I have had two for-sure encounters with the gods. That is it. The point here is that it is ok if you are not good at everything. Each of us has our talents an abilities. Go with what works for you, and if you need know-how from an area outside your realm, find someone who can do what the work you need. It is also ok to ask for help.

No one person knows everything, and I honestly question whether any of us know anything at all. Coming into this as a teenager, being head strong and cock sure, this one took a long time to sink in for me. Hell, is still sinking in. I won’t claim to know anything at all, but I will say there are some things I can do well, and a whole lot I suck at.

There is so much more that needs to be said. So I am just going to try and wrap this up with a few points, and I will be sure to elaborate on these in later posts.

1) Expect to invest a whole lot of time into any path. This is a long term, maybe even lifelong thing. Never stop learning.

2) The journey is all part of the process. Expect to screw up and fall, but learn from every step or misstep.

3) Acknowledge that you do not know, nor will ever know everything. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Go with what works for you.

4) Patience. I’ve been at this for a decade, and still have no clue what is going in. Others have been at it far longer than me. Don’t rush it.

5) Perhaps most of all, study and keep at it. Don’t be an insufferable know-it-all, but being well rounded doesn’t hurt.

For the next part of this series, I would like to explore ancestors more as well as mentors and community. Also, I am just putting out there a request for questions. Is there anything my readers would like my thoughts on?

Thanks for reading!

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About Nicholas Haney

I am a writer, author, hunter, craftsman, and student of anthropology/archaeology. View all posts by Nicholas Haney

5 responses to “I wish I had known… Part 1

  • Sarenth

    I would like your thoughts on how your relationships with vaettir have changed over the years, what has helped make them successful, what has not, and where you see overlap in terms of spirits in general in regards to the paths you have walked.

    I really like that you keep hitting on the idea that not everyone is good at everything. I also like that you noted you lack a god-phone, and that it is not as huge a part of your life as it is for others. I’m looking forward to your writing on your animism, and how that impacts/informs your relationships with the Gods. As a polytheist and an animist I do not feel I can separate the two; the former, to me, is informed by the latter. I’m curious if you have different feelings on this, and if so, what they are.

    • Nicholas Haney

      For some reason my browser trashed my first reply. These are great questions, and may take another post to explore more fully. I am just not sure I can do them justice in a short(er) comment. In regard to your first question, my relationships with the spirits over the years has gone from nil, nothing, nada to being a core of my practice. I started off “Lord and Lady”, spells, energy work (or lack of) and general “magic” for lack of a better term. The results were.. not good. Nearly non-existent. As far as success goes, reciprocity, reciprocity, reciprocity.

      As far as the second question goes, I agree with you, I do not feel there is any great separation between the two. There is a lot to say here, a lot of personal philosophy, and I fear the full effect will not come across. As I define animism, is that spirits exist and they can be big, small or anything in between. The big ones I generally call gods, though I have limited experience with the big ones. In fact, with how I define animism I find that polytheism is as best a .. subset of animism. I guess you could say that I am an animist first, and a polytheist second. That is, if I claim to be the second at all. Gods are just another type of spirit to me, and spirits are the core of animism. For me, animism includes polytheism to such an integrated degree that there is little, or no difference between then terms at all. Polytheism for me, is more of a communicative shortcut to explain a part of animism, at least to me.

      Ah, this feels incredibly disjointed for me. Let me know if I am not being clear, or if this doesn’t add up. Like I said, there are layers of complexity here I am glossing over. This is already too long.

      • Sarenth

        Oh *laugh* I thought you wanted ideas to do blog entries on!

        I think perhaps sitting with the things you’ve written already and mulling over them a bit more, expanding with them, playing with them will bring good results. ^_^

      • Nicholas Haney

        Oh, yeah I can see that now. I guess I was writing the comment way too late at night and missed that entirely. This stuff will definitely be showing up in future posts. 🙂

  • Sarenth

    *nods* I can see what you mean by polytheism and animism being related as you do. I really would like to see extended blog entries where you explore these things!

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