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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Radical Heathen Universalism
Article ID: 15105
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 468
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Posted: November 25th. 2012
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I want to outline a particular form of universalism in Heathenry that stretches beyond the regular meaning we are used to in the ‘Universalist vs. Folkish’ debate. This form of universalism does not simply embrace a notion of inclusivity as far as genetic or cultural heritage goes (i.e. anyone, of whatever genetic or cultural background can be Heathen) , but also the idea that there is an objective, universal spiritual truth behind all spiritual traditions which transcends our dogmas and desires, and exists, whether or not we believe in it. This is radical in Heathenry because up until now, it seems that the opposite point of view has been the norm, i.e. we look to the past and what can be gleaned from lore, archeology etc to decipher what ancient Heathens believed, and that then becomes our "truth" - there is no concept of universal spiritual truth, especially concepts which do not fit in with what our ancestors apparently believed.
Many Heathens will state that they find this idea an unpopular one because they link such ideas of universal truth with the "one true way" ideas of Christianity and Islam, and will point to the destructiveness of these faiths in the world (especially of many native traditions, including Heathenry.) However, believing that there is only "one true way" is not quite the same thing as believing that there is "one universal truth which can be expressed in many different ways."
For example, our cultural relation in the Indo-European world, Hinduism, embraces this latter concept of universality, without the rigid and narrow (and indeed very destructive) concept of "one true way"-ism. Hindus seek always to see the common threads in different faiths, and claim that they are all, in one way or another, in great ways or small, attempting to express something or other about the ultimate reality, which moves all things. This is the sort of universalism that I am talking about here.
Radical Universalist Heathenry therefore runs somewhat counter to mainstream Reconstructionist Heathen thinking, in that reality is not "constructed" or filtered in any way by a reconstructed "ancient" worldview and its attendant practices, but rather that ancient worldview and practice is filtered through the lens of what can be gleaned of objective spiritual truth. Thus a Radical Universalist will, as well as studying academic material on ancient Heathens and how they lived and worshipped, delve into modern scientific studies on the paranormal, afterlife, NDEs, OBEs etc. There is not so much cause in RU Heathenry to say "you can't believe in that because it's not Heathen", rather an RU Heathen would ask "well, is it true?" and set out to actually look at the available evidence. Not that we'll just believe in anything mind you, but we will not necessarily dismiss an idea just because it isn't supported by the lore or the latest academic interpretation of it. In short, we adapt our lore to fit what we are convinced is actual truth, rather than adapting our truth to fit the lore.
Radical Universalist Credo
*We are not bound by the beliefs or ways of our Heathen forebears, rather we seek to use our modern resources in terms of scientific knowledge, enhanced global communications, observation and empirical evidence to examine the validity of the ways of yesteryear, and forge our own modern belief and practice in line with our findings.
*We seek to appreciate the similarities between the different spiritual practices of mankind, rather than necessarily focusing on the differences. We may prefer our own distinctively Germanic forms of expression, but this does not mean that we cannot learn anything from others, nor indeed that we cannot impart wisdom of our own to them too.
*Indo-European lore is very important to us, and thus we greatly appreciate such as the Vedic scriptures, which we feel can lend deeper understanding of our own holy mysteries (especially since Hindu lore encourages a direct experience of the divine, rather than expecting seekers to rely on what may simply be outdated philosophical concepts invented by human beings.)
*We do not discount unverified personal gnosis, even if this differs from our own - the Gods would seem to speak to different worshippers in different ways at different times, perhaps depending upon the needs of the moment and the individual or group (and yes we do believe that they speak to us, because it is the experience of far too many Heathens to be simply ignored as fantasy!) How we view and worship the Gods and other wights is between us and them, and what we have found to work, and need not be the business of outside parties (unless what we're doing is illegal or dangerous of course!) We know that ancient Heathens were very diverse in their practices (and perhaps also their beliefs) , and so it is today - there are no "Esa-popes" or rigid codes of practice in Heathenry!
*We believe that human beings, allowed the space, time and freedom to do so, will quite naturally come to forge a strong connection with Gods, Ancestors and Landwights, which will be of benefit to their communities, and the land upon which they live. We believe that we already have the apparatus hard-wired within to be able to forge an experiential connection to other beings, since this is the experience of humanity the world over. We therefore do not dismiss such as shamanic techniques, seership, oracles and omens, as these would seem to be extremely primal human methods of making contact with the unseen.
The above is just a rough sketch as it has come to me of what this sort of Heathenry would be all about. I have myself been a Radical Universalist, I suppose, for the whole of my time in the faith, but I just hadn't called it that. I think there is definitely a gap in the Heathen community for it, and it would be perhaps a place for all those people who want to mix with other Heathens but cannot subscribe to a completely Reconstructionist mindset to go, an "umbrella" if you will under which such folk can stand. I've long felt a bit alienated from the Reconstructionist mainstream, since I just cannot trim all the necessary bits from what I've come to believe is the actual spiritual truth to fit into that paradigm.
I know I'm not the only one either. We therefore need an alternative and a name that we can rally under...
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