Well, there was no way I was going to be content with spiritual but not religious. I had been silently judging those people for years! Too vague, too soft, too lazy. There was no way I was going to allow things to stay in such a state. Time to step up my game, and move from theory to practice.
I knew that what I believed was very close to Hegelian pantheism, but I needed something beyond a theoretical structure. There was so much about First Nations spirituality that I found incredibly attractive, but it wasn’t my tradition and I didn’t want to be the guy who was one turquoise bolo tie from being a white New Mexican commune dweller.
So: pantheist, indigenous tradition appropriate for a white guy of European descent…fair enough. That left with me a couple of choices: pagan or heathen. If you don’t know the difference between the two, it means you’re cooler than me. Sigh. Or, I could put it like this: what paganism and heathenism share is that they are both “reconstructed” religions. They existed prior to the introduction of Christianity, which effectively wiped them out. The rise of Romanticism in the 19th century, with its emphasis on resurgent nationalism, saw the beginning of a renewed interest in traditional European, pre-Christian religions. These movements were given a huge infusion of energy with the rise of the counterculture and new age movements of the 1960s and 70s.
Paganism was largely a creation of British environmentalists and Celtic revivalists. Heathenism was an artifact of German and Scandinavian nationalism, which crashed messily into the Nazi movement before starting to untangle itself.
It’s heathenism that spoke to me. Bear with me, I promise I’m not a Nazi.