Heathenism as the Natural Poetry of the Human Heart
I toss out coins into the current. Other times, barley or oats. To say thank you. To give back. To enter into humble gratitude that brings strength of simple pride.
Who would not want to give an offering, to bow to the majesty of the waves? It is perhaps one of the most natural impulses one can think of. Just as one would gather flowers for the beloved, so may the sea, the sky, the mountaintops, or a grandfatherly oak take on aspects of the beloved, for whom one gathers flowers and wine, and it is possible to find the beloved everywhere. It is difficult to call this natural poetry of the human heart "superstition" ; difficult for even atheists to deny. It has a beauty and integrity of its own. To declare that we are heathens is simply to say that we shall be the natural poets our hearts long to be.
And the rites? Elegant theatre, that draws us in to enraptured devotion and connection. Why personify the surf, the sky, the winds, the sun? To encourage relationship, but also to use old names spoken by the ancestors. And why do this? To recognize that this natural poetry of the human heart when faced with the majesty of the natural world has a history, a heritage, a lineage stretching back generations and generations. When you are in the midst of majesty, you are also in the midst of epiphany. Something of Being is speaking. It's speaking, and you need to listen, not with your ears of language, but with the ears of your heart, and the ears of metaphor. In an epiphany, something is speaking with which we wish to be in dialogue ; and although there may be errors in translation, and our understanding at times may only be approximate, that we listen makes a difference.
If you were to ask, Why should I call upon the names that your ancestors set to these majesties? I can only answer, Call upon them only if the enchantment pulls you in. Call upon them if your heart responds when you hear their poetry. Call upon them if you have fallen in love with their beautiful forms. There are many different ways to say "I love you", but for any one human being, there may be one way which is more special, which calls the heart in towards its home in ways that none others do.
And if your heart hears the poetry elsewhere, then we say, go in peace, and call upon the names your heart calls you out towards, for there are many ways of approaching the epiphanies and majesties, and we shall call you cousins and comrades, who also experience the awe and wonder about us, but under different names and rites. But if you fall in love with the rhythms and the elegance of these ancestries, then we say, come home, you are brother, you are sister, you are welcome.