Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Heathenism and New Thought : Not Compatible

Heathenism by its very nature must be strongly against the mainline of the New Thought movement, which suggests that reality is what we think, as if there were no real world, independent and sovereign, as Dave Foreman so aptly puts it, into which we must adjust ourselves. If the world is thought, it is not our thought. It is the thought of millions of spirits who dream it together. Heathenism always acknowledged those millions of spirits, those others with whom we share the world. So see this as dream or firm reality, it is the thought of all of us together in tandem. While New Thought erases those spirits and reduces things down to a two which is really a one : there is you, and there is God or the Universe, really in the form of a giant teat there to supply all of your infantile needs. To this, heathenism says : grow up. Grow up and acknowledge that the world exists outside of you and your thoughts. Grow up and realize that negative thoughts may affect your own morale and the morale of those around but do not in and of themselves change the reality of forests and deserts and mountains.

Yes, there was an acknowledgement of magic in the old tradition, but significantly, it was always envisioned as a singing with the spirits, a joining the chorus, as it were, and not a solo act before which the world bows down in applause. No, the world is real, even be it a co-dreaming. It is real and solid and soulful. In its hardness and opaqueness and sometimes impenetrability, its roughness and its sharpness, its variable coefficient of adversity, as Sartre puts it, are parts of its soul. We may be drawn by spirits along currents of wyrd that are the way the world works, and in that gushing flow of might, we may be drawn to that which we most need, and be blessed by its magic, but it is the magic of the world, and our nimble, skillful, humble return to the chorus.


Anonymous Lara said...

Excellent post! Alarm bells always ring in my mind if people are saying that one can alter the nature of things just by the power of thought - I always feel it's only going to lead people to misery and disappointment. Plus it diverts one's attention away from areas where one CAN actually have an impact and bring positive change (ie usually in one's immediate circle and environment). Life ceases to disappoint if we accept that some things are unalterable, some things are bound to happen unless we take preventative steps, and not everyone is nice/mature/truthful, (and those who are should be cherished forever!).

I think that simply making wiser choices and taking positive actions in life are worth their weight in gold, as is seeing the beauty in the everyday world, the mundane. Sages have been trying to get us all to see this for years! (Infact some say that once you have the wisdome and skills to live in the everyday world happily like this, you're enlightened!)

There's a definite unseen pattern to things and I think and we can only ever move within its parameters - I supect there's an aspect of ourselves that is "plugged into" and acknowledges fully the graceful perfection and need for this pattern. There's a snippet of Old English poetry/text which says "Of all the gods, Wyrd is strongest" - she has the final say as far as I'm concerned and we don't always know fully the whys and wherefors of how the cloth of life is woven. We can only try to make sure that we add bright and wholesome threads to the weave while we live.

Your post really reinforces to me the reason why I love Heathenry - it's philosophy WORKS and doesn't make any false promises which only lead to disappointment!

6:16 AM  
Blogger Hrafnkell Haraldsson said...

Excellent post. I agree with Lara. The idea that we create our own fate, through our actions, is deeply embedded in the Heathen thought-world. We can rise above our fate, but we cannot simply wish it away. The whole "New Thought" thing is typical of a disavowal of personal responsibility for ones actions.

11:09 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Well-said. Rising above fate requires work, both of discernment and attunement with the disir, and in the actual material world.

4:09 PM  

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