Thursday, July 12, 2007

Advice from the Seidman: Living the Heathen Way of Life

Our ancestors were brave people, and they were the holders of streams of natural wisdom and tradition that can help us today. Trust that their beliefs were inspired by truth and by the presence of their Gods and their own ancestors. To trust your ancestors in this way, and accept the truths they knew, is to place yourself in the line of tradition, of spiritual heritage, and to accept your place in things.

Never consider this world to be flawed, failed, or unnatural. The entire world, with its wilds and developed lands, its heat and cold, its designs and seeming accidents, its triumphs and defeats, is natural and appropriate. Your sorrows and joys are likewise. That may be hard to accept, but life requires heroic effort, and this fact, known through the ages, will never change.

The world did not come from the hands or mind of a creator, but from the unfolding of a great natural process which still governs the shape of things today.

From within that natural and sacred process, which has no beginning or end, arose the Gods that our ancestors knew. From the further creativity of those Gods arose trees, animals, human beings, and the creativity and arts of culture that human beings came to learn and express. To be a human in this world-order, creating things needful to survive, and helping to uphold the peace and stability of human communities, is a sacred way of life that all men and women are called to.

The Gods desire that humans be like them- creative, wise, and protective. From the start, the Gods bestowed beauty, vitality, and their own undying spirit on mortals. The Gods are not alien beings, nor hostile, but elder kin to mankind, sprung from the same natural reality that we all share.

The world-process goes through many stages. The conditions by which the Gods and other powers could arise came about; the actions of the Gods moved along with the unfolding of things, to an age where their role in defining the shape of the world was central. In that age, they played a role in the shaping of man, as well as other life.

Eventually, the conditions will come about whereby the world and life-order that emerged will collapse. The cauldron of time must fill and overflow from time to time, bring a cataclysmic end to every era. All will remain quiescent after that, pregnant with sleeping potentials, until a new beginning cycles around and the worlds are reborn. Thus it always has been, and thus it always will be.

Through these many ages and eras that have sprung up, and which will spring up endlessly, the principle of mankind has always existed and will always exist. This principle is expressed in the lives of every man, woman, and child who is alive, or who has ever lived. We dwell now in this world, as we have dwelled unremembered in many others. We will rise again into the new, renewed world, to know the Gods again, after this world has fallen apart. A few people in every age will learn the deepest wisdom that allows them to remember all that has been, or ever will be.

That this great cycle should repeat endlessly is the activity of Fate, the greatest power of all. All are bound by Fate; there are no exceptions. For you, as a human being striving to do good and gain wisdom, what you must remember is this: life is much larger than you are- we are all in the hands of greater powers. We did not choose to arise as humans; it is Fate that we should have. We do not choose to live and die; it is Fate that weaves these things for us.

Unburden yourself of things that are not in your power. Concentrate instead on what seemingly has been given to you: the power to be a good man or woman, to love your family and friends and make sacrifices for them, and to consciously know and worship the Gods who will protect and guide you through good times and bad. They, and the other powers close to you but unseen, will also guide you through life and death.

Even the Gods cannot change Fate; She weaves as she will, forever. Do not think that you must discover the hidden reasons for all things; some things not even the wisest can discover. Where life came from ultimately is less important than the need to live life well and happily. Who or what the Gods ultimately may be is less important than how they have shared themselves with our ancestors and with us, and how we share ourselves with them every day.

Be at peace with things as they are, and even though the world may be doomed, sliding into its final era under the weight of war, betrayal, greed and hate, it is your privilege to be a good person in the face of these destructive forces. In this enormous effort that you must make, the Gods support you- for your struggle mirrors their struggle to uphold the world-order against the deeper destructive forces that strain against it.

Even though it is Fate that many should suffer injustice and pain, you will find yourself feeling a need to spare them that Fate, or protect them- and so you should, for Fate has also woven that feeling in you. You would not be the person you are without those feelings, and you cannot be a complete person unless you act on them. In this paradox is found the struggle and perfection of each human being.

In common with the many injustices and dangers of the world, each of us will be woven as Fate weaves, and we will feel the need to struggle against injustice and danger. In this seeming contradiction, this Nornic double-bind- itself the perfectly natural way of things- heroes are made.

Do not struggle against this idea, even if it seems absurd to you. As the ancients knew, it is the only sane way of approaching a world that defies belief and which regularly upsets all reason. The heroic person is chiefly concerned with his or her own deeds in the face of danger and absurdity. Where problems come from is less important than how we deal with them.

Your kin will die, your friends, and everyone and everything you know will die, but one thing never dies- the glory on the great dead, and the reputation of the hero or the villain. Bear in mind what you do, and strive to be remembered well. Do not compromise your own deepest morals and truths regardless of pressures from those who are cynical, who are faithless, and those who lack imagination. Give up whatever you must for those you love, so long as they are made well and kept well by the sacrifice.

Be hospitable, do not strive to be over-clever, and be flexible in your everyday life. Only dead trees do not bend when the wind strains against them. Protect life, and be satisfied with having enough- do not be obsessed with having too much. Never trust or befriend people who have proven themselves to be wicked and selfish; they can never be friends to you or any other.

See everything around you as though Fate had woven it, for indeed, She has- and be at peace with what you see. When those woven things terrify you or disturb your mind, recognize those emotions and accept them also as what had to arise in you; see them as Fate's message. Then act on that message with a heart guided by the need to protect others and maintain justice and harmony. Be moderate in how you act, and never abandon yourself to the extremes of cruelty.

If you act this way, you cannot go astray, and the judgment of the Gods will be for you. Nothing you will face in your life has been woven beyond your ability to deal with it fairly and with justice, or to endure it with peace and dignity.

Life, even with its downfalls and dangers, is a great gift, and thankfulness and joy for it is the proper human reaction. There is no greater joy than the joy of belonging together, the peace of one another, and there is nothing more beloved than children.

There is no danger in joy, no shame in celebration, and no need to doubt that all things will ultimately turn out well, even as the world suffers under the burden of its pains and the approach of its inescapable destiny. To endure challenges with bravery, and to keep healthy and honest your bonds with family and friends, are your first and most important duties.

If you succeed at those duties, you will be a successful human being for whom no praises or honors are too much. If you have failed at these things, accept your failures, and in the moment of awareness that follows that acceptance, vow to be better, and live better.