That’s me in the corner. That’s me in the spotlight. Just like the old REM song I’m losing my religion. And I’m not at all in a panic over it.
I’ve had dry patches before. This is different. I feel a profound sense of change sweeping over me. People change. People grow. And that’s what’s happening to me. I’m shedding an old skin. One that has served me well for over a decade. But I’m evolving.
This has been coming for the better part of the past year. I’ve been branching out. Trying new things. Learning new things. Things about myself. Especially spiritually. I have come to a clearer better vision of myself as a spiritual being.
What has precipitated this change? I can simply no longer call myself a practitioner of Asatru. Why not? In one word — race.
I’ve been an Asatruar for well over a decade. And in that time people have been discussing the role of race in the religion. Or at times screaming about it. I venture a guess that nearly no other religion talks about this issue as much. It seems that every post I read online and every Asatru publication talks about it. Till they’re blue in the face. Which needs to be done I suppose. But this is one fighter who is bowing out of the discussion.
As a gay man with a Jewish husband a black daughter and biracial grandchildren I fight the fight locally and personally. I expect my religion to be a sanctuary not a battlefield. No matter how worthy the cause.
If this means I’m just not of a warrior mindset I would beg to differ. I fight the fight against MS daily. I fight the battle of being in recovery from alcohol dependency. I fought the battle of being the only openly gay man in a farming community. I fight constantly. Some battles I win some not so much. But I do keep fighting when necessary. I just feel that Asatru as a religion should have settled the race issue years ago.
What does this mean after all? For me it’s adopting a new label. I’ve decided Neopagan Druid suits me best. I’m still a Vitki. I still work with the Norse pantheon in that respect. No need to change that. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. So I’m not abandoning the gods. Just opening myself to something even bigger. And in my mind better.
So Asatru! Grow up! Get over the whole race thing already. Both sides of the argument spend way too much energy on it. Energy that could be put to better use. Like feeding the homeless. Or any other of a host of spiritual problems. That’s what I intend to do.
I am a Vitki. For me it is a big deal. Huge deal. It is my full time profession. It is about all that I do. Being a Vitki composes about a half of my total life. It fills my days and sometimes my nights too. It offers me structure and a clear path to follow.
Being a Vitki is a calling for me. Just like the clergy. I received this calling to devotion of this path about six years ago. I had already had years of runic training which is a large portion of the Vitki path. I was suddenly unemployable due to my MS. I started studying seidr. All the pieces were falling together. It was time to do it. The gods had provided me an opportunity. I decided to grab it and run.
A big part of Vitki work is ministering to your tribe. Over the years my tribe has grown. It is now multinational. My tribe grows in an age of internet to include those I’ve never physically met. It offers me a chance to broaden my world view. It shows me that no matter where we live our challenges are basically the same. In some ways as it’s gotten bigger it’s also gotten smaller. As I discover the universal sameness of us they remind me of what tribe truly is. A group of people who try to face and conquer challenges together.
There are certainly powerful vitkis who are not full time. Just like the clergy of other religions there are definitely those who serve in a part time capacity. There are even lay clergy members. Being called for full time service doesn’t make one superior. Just different.
A large portion of my Vitki work deals with offering clarity to members of my tribe. Whether it’s through rune reading or seidr work. We all need clarity in this hectic modern world. Wanting guidance that we are on the right path. Seeking insight when we’ve lost our way. Being a Vitki allows me the privilege to assist in these matters. And it is a privilege. I do my best to assist those who place their trust in me. Of course I do get a lot of assistance from the gods!
I in no way feel that being a Vitki somehow makes me superior to others. If anything it humbles me. It always reminds me of my true place. To serve. And bear witness to the amazing things the multiverse puts into play.
I am proud to be a Vitki. I have no idea what else I could be.
I was recently treated to a rant on Facebook. The gist of it was that Americans are ruining our tradition of Seidr and runes. According to the attacker we have no right to do so. We are taking things too far in our practices. I did not engage the attacker so I have no idea what further nonsense they may have spewed. What they said initially was enough for me. But it did get me thinking.
Does anyone have the right to take things beyond the lore in their practice of seidr and the runes? I say absolutely yes. Not simply because I personally take things beyond the lore. But because that is the way we grow and keep our traditions alive. What good are ideas left in ancient manuscripts and not taken any further than that? Our spirituality becomes moribund very quickly if that is the case. If we want a living breathing spirituality it is our duty to take things beyond the lore.
The lore serves as a strong solid foundation. But it is up to us to build on that foundation. We are called by our ancestors to keep things growing and alive. I’m certain that they would have embraced innovation. They too were living breathing beings with all of the same challenges and needs as us. They would have turned to the lore for inspiration and then do what they did best. Adapted.
And as far as American practitioners being the most guilty of this trend I say of course. American thought has always been forward looking. We tend not to live in the past but look toward what may become. And Americans tend to be practical. If something works they use it.
I’m not saying that all innovation is good. There’s a lot of crap produced. But it’s my job as a Vitki to dig through the crap to figure out what works and what doesn’t. That’s one of the reasons I read so much. I’m weeding through the crap to find hidden jewels. And there are jewels to be found. You just have to be willing to get a little dirty in the process of finding them.
So if I would have engaged the Facebook attacker I would have told them that’s how I feel about things. Americans not only have the right but the duty to take things beyond. And so do vitkis all around the globe. Keep innovating. Keep things alive. It is our duty.
Once again we face it. The shorter days. The cold temperatures. A time to stay in and stay put. As this time is upon us I personally find myself with more time on my plate to contemplate. To wander about the reaches of my shrunken brain and rattle around. Dangerous territory for me to be in.
This time of year always brings about depression for me. As often as I’ve been through it you would think I would prepare. But oh no. Not me. I’m taken somewhat by surprise every time. The thoughts of self doubt. The negative thinking. Thoughts of inadequacy. It’s not my favorite time of the year to say the least.
This year I have some ammunition to combat all this nasty stuff. I’ve been building up a nest egg of positive deeds to fall back on.
Spirituality tops my list of ways to take on the blahs. Whenever I’m feeling my lowest a good swift kick in the spiritual pants helps put things right. And this year has been crammed with spiritual activity. I founded the Vitki/Volva Forum which now has over 900 members. I started this blog. I took on more vitki apprentices. I was told by my departed father to explore Druidry which I am. Lots of great stuff spiritually. I can take a breather and relax a few months.
But I know I won’t. I still am accountable to my apprentices. I still need to monitor the forum. I have bucket loads of things to learn about Druidry. And of course I need to keep growing in my role as vitki. Plenty to keep me busy during these dark months. Plenty as always to learn.
So this year the season changes and I’m not curling up into a ball over it. I’m looking back at the deeds of this past year and smiling. And looking ahead at the work to do with an even bigger smile!
I’m struck sometimes at how a certain rune can seem to be holding sway over my life. As I travel this path I guess it’s only natural that I would also travel under the influence of different runes at different times. It’s all part of what the runes do. Some are more powerful than others given where I am on my path.
Right now there’s a lot of Ansuz energy in my life. Inspiration. Transformation. Communication. All the things we associate Ansuz with. Especially in my work with my apprentices. And I’m grateful for its energies. Things are really opening up for me on so many different levels. And I can’t forget Odin. It’s his rune after all. I’m sure he has a hand in all of this!
There have been other times when things were much darker. During those periods I felt the chilly hand of Hagalaz. Everything seemed to be a crisis. I would put out one fire just to find another had sprouted up. During those times I have to remind myself this is a journey I’m on. Something completely different may be waiting around the bend in the path. It’s not always an easy thing to remember. But as sure as I continue to put one foot in front of the other my journey will change.
There are also times of such joy and happiness that I’m convinced Wunjo is well at work. Times when I find myself giddy and at a loss of words to explain what I feel. Such times may be rare and spread out. But they do exist. These are the times I remember when things are at their bleakest. I remember to hoard those moments like a squirrel with nuts saving up for winter.
And times of Fehu. New beginnings and wealth. Seems I’ve had more than my share of Fehu this year too. Starting the Vitki/Volva Forum. Taking on new apprentices. Starting my blogs. Being called to the concurrent path of Druidry. So much wealth in wisdom and understanding. And so many new beginnings.
That’s how I see things. Different runes influencing different times of my life. What about you?