After hesitating for many months (perhaps more like a couple of years), I finally went ahead and started this blog where I plan to write about topics related to pagan spirituality. I’m doing this because I keep thinking of things to write, and feel that I have nowhere to write them.
One reason for my hesitation is that being an “out” pagan would complicate my life and the life of my loved ones in ways I would rather not have to deal with. I finally decided that blogging might be safe, as long as I stayed a bit anonymous. Hopefully some of my friends who do actually know me “in real life” will read this blog, and if that is the case, I ask that you respect my privacy and not reveal any important identifying information either.
The next hesitation was figuring out what to name the blog. I went with Heathen Naturalist because of a Facebook birthday message I got from a friend that said, “Happy birthday to my favorite Viking naturalist!” I like that, though I’m not really a Viking. However, I could be called a naturalist. I have a Master of Science in Biology, and the main reason I got that degree is because of my love for Nature. Love is perhaps not a strong enough word either. Serving Mother Earth feels more like my calling, my duty in life, something I was passionate about even as a small child, though I’m still figuring out exactly what is the best way for me to fulfill that purpose. That is also why I am a pagan, because “sacred” is a word I feel best expresses the way I view Nature.
I am also a Germanic Neopagan, meaning that the particular flavor of paganism I practice is based upon the culture of pre-Christian Germanic people. However, “Germanic Neopagan” is such a mouthful, that I prefer the term “heathen”, which is the Germanic equivalent of the Latin “pagan”. Both are pretty general terms, but they still mean something, as a label for people who follow a pre-Christian religion.
Finally, I know there are many pagan blogs already out there, and that was another reason for putting this off for so long. Does the world really need one more? Probably not, but like I said, I’m going to go with it because I keep thinking of things to write, and I suppose it’s better than cluttering up other people’s blogs with too many long-winded comments. This is my space where I can be as long-winded as I want!
One thing I think I could actually contribute to the “Pagan Blogosphere” is integrating the “heathen” part of my spirituality with the “naturalist” part. I’m using the word “naturalist” here as “a person who studies nature”, which I am. I’ve been studying the natural world around me, both formally and informally, for most of my life. I think it’s very important for anybody, no matter what your religion, to have knowledge about the Land. What kind of plants and animals are common in your area? Where does you water come from? What kind of soil do you have? What kind of environmental issues affect your local community? Things like that.
On the other hand, I’m also following a religion with its roots in pre-Christian Northern Europe, which is a very different ecosystem from here. I’m in the Heathen Diaspora, following the religion of my blood ancestors, rather than the religion of the land I live on. I’m still figuring out how to make that work out, because both my ancestry and my land are important. As a kid I had a great admiration for Native Americans, even though as far as I know I don’t have any Native blood. It was a great relief to find out that my own “native” religion had many of the same elements of Native American spirituality I admired, and this way I wouldn’t have to “steal” someone else’s religion. But it’s still not quite the same thing because unlike the Native Americans, I’m on a completely different continent from where my culture evolved, and not even a part of this continent that’s similar in climate to my “native” continent, like New England or Canada. While European mythology is full of snow and ice, bears and wolves, yews and firs, here I am in the land of blazing heat and droughts, coyotes and raccoons, cacti and mesquite.
One of the first things I’d like to do with this blog is to look at each of the Runes and see how they manifest themselves here in Texas. I’ve been inspired by others’ efforts to adapt the Celtic Ogham to their local ecosystems (I’ve already seen a Pacific Northwest Ogham and a Texas Ogham), so why not try that with Runes? I’ve already got some ideas for some (Fehu and Thurisaz are going to be easy), but others will be tricky (like Isa). That will be my first “project” with this blog. I’m sure I’ll think of more later.