Imaginary Friends

As you might imagine, if you've noticed the blogroll at all, I read more than a few atheist blogs, or rather, blogs written by atheists. And one particularly snarky comment I've noticed from time to time on some of them is the reference to the (usually Christian) god as "your imaginary friend". And it got me thinking.

So what? I'm sure a lot of Christians would take that as a churlish thing to say, but for me as a Heathen it's simply stating the obvious. Yes, they're my "imaginary friends", and that means ??? It's meant to imply childishness and stupidity, but which part is childish and which part is stupid - "imagination" or "friends"?

Of course, to a large extent this depends on exactly what is meant by "imagination", and I'm sure that I view these kinds of "imaginary friends" (aka gods and goddesses) not as the sole product of my imagination, but as the product of our imagination - the collective imagination of a culture or a people. They are the seeds of visions, planted in the World at the Beginning, coursing though it and setting it's cycles. They are the Powers That Be, reflected in the lore of their people.

These Holy Beings have been expressing themselves in our folklore, our language and our culture since we climbed down from the trees. They are our deepest ancestral memories - the Jungian "collective unconscious". Which is precisely what makes them "holy", not sanctified or purified, but in the sense of venerated, respected, and often admired: our Elder Kin.

Now, does this mean I'm an atheist myself? Do I believe that gods actually exist? Of course - how can they not exist? They're the cultural expression of the World, and as the World exists, so they too exist. Did they create the world? No, or rather, not necessarily. I view the "creator" vs "the created" dichotomy as a type of "chicken or egg" problem - insoluble, and largely irrelevant. They're here, I'm here, we can deal with it.

Many Heathens develop quite close personal relationships with the gods and goddesses. I'm pretty fond of my imaginary friends - I stand with Thor when the sky roils and lightening splits the clouds, I stand with Freyr in the midst of my pastures as my herds frolic in the spring rain. Frigga holds the spindle when I shear the wool.

And when asked what I've been doing late at night, when the glow of the terminals are all that light the room, it's not for nothing that I often quip "Codin' for Odin..."

Do you kneel before your friends? Most Heathens won't kneel to pray or give worship - we stand beside the Shining Gods and Goddesses, not beneath them. This is the essence of friendship - equality and respect.

Heathenry is a way to maintain your rationality (and thereby your sanity) while still celebrating the spiritual exuberance of the natural world.

This is a way of viewing reality that fits perfectly with your soul - because it is your soul. Heathenry is a surrender to yourself, the essence of humanism, the pragmatic heart of the Stoics.

Why are the gods many and not one? How many things in this World do you know of which there is but one? Every living being on this planet except identical twins and clones has an absolutely unique genetic sequence - every single living thing is utterly unique. There's only one of everything! So is everything God? That way lies pantheism...

But how many kinds of living being are unique? In other words, which species has exactly one member, and has never had more? None, zilch, zero, nada.

As below, so above. Since the gods are in the World and of the World, why should I expect that there is but one?

Is this schizophrenia? It gets worse - my fields teem with wights and pixies, each with his or her particular rock, tree or patch of Earth. Nixies playfully splash through the drainage ditch and hide beneath the roots of the cottonwood tree. And I'm imagining them all.

And so are you. Right now. If you have any imagination whatsoever.

There is wisdom here if we can find it. There's a home here, if we'll but make it.

23:00 /Asatru | 1 comment | permanent link