Figured the easiest way to introduce myself would be through a summary of my beliefs. This may be long.
First, I am currently 24 years of age (subject to change, and I doubt I'll be able to update this after posting.) My path is best described as simply Pagan, as I pull and apply beliefs and practices from the traditions and cultures of Nordic, Germanic, Celtic and Slavic peoples, as they are my ancestry.
For creation of Midgard - Midgard being the "Middle-Earth"* the world that we inhabit that is between the Spiritual realm and the Underrealm - I do not claim to know exactly how it all happened. Such an event I believe to be mostly unknowable, and so for this event I defer to scientific discovery and understanding.
Yet what started it all? Surely I must believe that my Gods had part in creation of all that is? I believe the universe and all reality to be created through song - not to be confused with named songs created by artists, though. A constant concert that drives everything forward. It - this slovo - can be heard in everything that is, was, and is-to-be, and gives reason to the "magic" of music. Songs and tunes that strike us to our very depths, and give meaning and identity to our cultures and convictions. This is the extent of my beliefs on creation; no fantastical myths of giants and boats.
| The songs of forest,
| Trees of the unseen word.
| That word of the Gods,
| That we have kept.
, | The word is not corruptible, the Word alive
, | Again the river, keeping the mystery
| Family of the Gods in our hands
| Word resurrected from fire
! | For me!"
-A, "" (Akrona, "Slovo")
Slovo is everything that is. It is the sound (whisper) of the grass, the wind, the feel and noise of water. From the greatest rivers to the smallest creeks, the tallest mountains to the smallest pebble. Slovo is the burn of fire, the hardness of rock. It is what separates a thunderstorm from rain, the oceans from the rivers. It is the words we speak, the words we mean, the thoughts that guide our actions. Slovo is the Gods in action. It is their footprint, their hand, their action and their essence.
The Gods are not simply what can be felt through Midgard; they are something greater than us. I do not believe them to care about us any more than any other living thing on this earth, nor do I believe us to be "special" in any outstanding way. Much of what sets us "above" our fellow creatures has more often than not shown itself to be harmful in my eyes, and I imagine much more so the Gods.
The Gods I believe (perceive, feel, hear,) to be the Slovo of Nature. Created by Slovo as much as they create Slovo. The presence of a thunderstorm, the essence of the Earth, the warmth of the Sun, the identity of the herd of wild horses. These I believe to be Thor, Anu, Sol and Epona respectively. (And yes, for the inquiring mind I believe in many more Gods than those four. But I won't bore with extensive lecturing,) To feel the energy and presence of these things is to feel and hear the Gods that give Slovo to them; that make them what they are.
To worship the Gods is not to beg mercy or make pleas, but to give simple thanks for all that is and to recognize that it is greater than one's self. Worship is not always veneration, but may be art, music, and even simple meditation. The Gods do not demand worship - nor forbid "secular worship"** - it is something given freely.
Much like The Gods, Spirits have Slovo of their own. Where the Gods are "Greater Spirits," things such as ghosts, faerie, or the Elements are "Lesser Spirits." Our Spirits, as well, are "Lesser Spirits." These are the energies that course through everything, that spike the hairs on the back of your neck and send a chill down your spine. These also are our Spirits, that which carries on into the next world. They are the Spirits of the earth, of the animals. The trees and the deer.
Unfortunately our Spirit is nothing that we can see. We can see it's effects through such emotions such as love, hate, anger, joy; the intangible realities of the human condition. Personally I believe those emotions to be our Spirit channeling the daemon associated with those emotions. Our Spirit also extends into our dreams and imagination. Our mental image of ourselves, for instance, is the "appearance" of that Spirit. The clearer our depiction of that self-image (close your eyes and imagine what you look like,) the more in-tune we are with out Spirit, and the more "complete" we are in a spiritual sense.
But more than these, I believe our Spirits to be our ability to imagine, to create things. It is our emotions, our energy, and our life. I do not believe it to be some disjointed, magical self-entity trapped somewhere in our bodies that hangs in some precarious balance between good and evil. It's not something that we can lose or sell, or something that can "die." To put it scientifically, I believe it to be our bio-electrical energy, the activity in our brains and throughout our nerves. This is why, as Spirits are energy, when we near a Spirit we get "chills down our spine" or the hair stands up on our bodies. It's the same as being close to a powerful electromagnet.
Spirits are what give us bridge to the divine through dreams. I do believe that some have mastered this act, what is known as Dreamwalking or "Lucid Dreaming." To do this, though, is dangerous, as the farther from one's body they travel, the more detached they become. Which leads into the next point (copied from another thread.)
Dreams only truly occur when we sleep. True, we have "daydreams," but these are really nothing more than thought out fantasies, and don't carry the weight of dreams. When we sleep, our body all but shuts down. Our heart-rate and breathing slow down, our body temperature cools down, and our muscles relax. But is this what leaves us feeling rejuvenated after waking?
What makes us tired? Physical labor can wear us out, and remaining awake and active can do the same. We become sleepy, however, when our Spirits (the source of our energy and life,) wear out our bodies. When we sleep, as opposed to when we nap or rest, our Spirits partially leave our bodies. This is what causes our body to "shut down" to the bare necessities. During this time, we dream.
While our Spirit has left our body (not fully, leaving enough to keep us alive and anchor the Spirit to the Mortal Plane still,) it is "unhindered" by the mortality of our body. This allows us - as Spirit - to essentially "vent" and wind our Spirit down. We wake refreshed because we have a rested Spirit, though as we progress through the day and draw upon its energy the Spirit wears down our bodies. This is the source of exhaustion and aging.
Dreams are bridges to the realms of the Divine. Often we hear of the Gods visiting man in his dreams, or inducing a "deep sleep" so that mankind can be communed with. This is because to commune clearly with us, our Spirit needs to be unhindered by the noise of the Mortal world. While dreams are the primary source of connection to the Divine, this can also be attained through forms of meditation and ritual practice. Certain frequencies (easiest found in music,***) help our Spirit to bridge the divide, making a brief touch to the Divine. This is why some songs or musical scores are "moving," or inspiring.
Through dreams, we walk where mortal feet cannot go, and can even learn to exercise our creative abilities by controlling our Spirits and influencing the realm around us (Dreamwalking). As we are in the Spirit realms, during our sleep we are more receptive and open to Spirits, whether they be the Divine, elementals, angels or daemons. The more darker Spirits influence us in the manner of nightmares. However when we wander the Spirit realms, we take the risk of separating from our bodies. Of course, if this happens, we die.
Often when we wake from a dream, we can't remember it. Such events are due to the veiled nature of the Divine realm. Many religions teach that "such matters" are not for humans to know, and this is true. Often we receive startling revelations or realizations while dreaming, and though our Spirit may think to itself 'I will remember this when I wake!' it is almost never the case. Other dreams, such as when the Gods speak to us, or when we receive a revelation that is meant to change us mortally, we do remember them. Such dreams often stick with us for years, and are hard to "get rid" of.
Fire, Earth, Water, Air, and lastly Spirit that binds them. When I speak of Elements capitalized, these are what I speak of. Yet these aren't Alchemy - so far as I know. They are the essences of the natural world, and many things may fit into one Elemental classification. For instance, Fire is to be found in the heat and life of our bodies, in fire itself, in lightning, in the sun. Yet more than this, the Elements transcend the mundane and permeate through the ideal. I'll list some here, as well as characteristics of those Elements:
Earth: Fertile, moist, nurturing; stabilizing; grounding. Gravity is a manifestation of this Element. Receptive energy. Found in caves, canyons, chasms, forests, groves, valleys, fields, farms, gardens. The base of Herb-work and Rune-work. Personified in music by drums. The Element of Winter and North. Attributed to the sense of Touch, the body and stability.
Air: Flying, moving, fresh, intelligent, suspending. Sound is a manifestation of this Element. Projective energy. Found in mountaintops, wind-swept plains, cloudy skies, high towers, airports, schools, libraries. The base of fragrance crafts such as scented candles, oils, and incense. Personified in music as flutes and other woodwinds. The Element of Spring and East. Attributed to the senses of Hearing and Scent, creativity and love.
Fire: Purifying, destruction, cleansing, energetic, sexual, forceful. Heat is a manifestation of this Element. Projective energy. Found in deserts, hot springs, volcanoes, ovens, fireplaces, bedrooms for sex,) saunas, sunny days. The base of forging and laborious works. Personified in music as Guitars and string instruments. The Element of Summer and South. Attributed to the sense of Sight, passion and knowledge.
Water: Flowing, purifying, healing, soothing, loving. Receptive energy. Found in lakes, springs, streams, rivers, beaches, oceans, showers, bedrooms (for sleep,) health spas, fountains, hospitals. The base of healing and calming arts. Personified in music as cymbals, bells, and other resonant instruments. The Element of Autumn and West. Attributed to the sense of Taste, eternity and wisdom.
Spirit: Spirit is undefined and unpersonified, because it is everywhere and everything. It is all of the actions and Elements above and it is none. It is the space between the lines, the unseen behind the seen. It binds everything and moves everything, and from it all life comes.
*Not to be confused with Tolkien's Middle Earth.
** "Secular Worship," the placing of importance upon man-made things, can severely diminish the connection one has to the Gods. We cannot see the stars in the sky for the lights of the city.
***It has been found that such frequencies caused by drumbeats in areas such as Stonehenge induce a "trance-like" state for people inside the stone circle.