So, I’ve been watching a series called Cadfael on Netflix, which is one of those crime dramas centered around an exotic detective, namely the titular monk Cadfael, who with his knowledge of herbs (and warcraft) solves crimes.
And, while I may despise Christianity, I have to say that there is something rather interesting and appealing with the idea of Monkhood. Monks are, while not universal by any means, well known and well respected throughout the world, mainly through the most famous Catholic Monks and Buddhist Monks. The fact that back in their day, both monks tended to be rather badass (there were branches of warrior monks in Christianity, just as there were the famous Kung Fu Monks of Asia).
Now, of course, the ideas behind monkhood don’t translate all that well from Christianity and Buddhism to Heathenism. Both Christianity and Buddhism are more religions that focus “beyond” the earth, seeking to rise about mortal concerns and the like, where as Heathenism is all about the earth and mortal concerns. The fact that they focus on “salvation” or “enlightenment” while we focus very much on kin, honor, and glory, does create something of a barrier to “tradition” ascetic monkhood.
But what if we turned that around and embraced our Heathen Aestheticism as the way to build on this idea of “monkhood.” A style of monkhood based on seeking and embracing the aesthetic rather than rejecting it for the ascetic putting away of the world.
Some of the other things that would come with this would of course be a complete lack of poverty and celibacy. Christian and Buddhist monks embrace those due to them being distractions of “this world” and things that keep one away from salvation/enlightenment. While we can argue the place and desirability of wealth for Heathen Monkhood, as the focus off Heathen monks would be our religion, same as it is with the Christians and Buddhists, unarguably is the place of sex in our religion. To embrace celibacy would be to spit in the faces of many of our Gods and Goddesses, especially the big three of Thor, Freyja, and Freyr. It is little for a Heathen monk to swear off the worry of day to day finances and travel into the woods to embrace the gods (at least for a time, for one must always return to kin, the foundation of our ways). It is not so little to insist that chastity equals piety, as the Christians do, when you worship gods of fertility and sex.
Now, I have no idea if that means there’s orgies on Fridays at the Heathen Monastery, but I certainly think they should be co-ed and people allowed to be with whom they desired, so long as they sought spiritual knowledge in their lovemaking, as our ancestors did.
The fact is though, that an order of Heathen Monks and Nuns might not be such a bad idea. We’re already building the ranks of our Priests and Priestesses, and certainly we could not be harmed by having dedicated sites where holy rituals could be developed and performed, history preserved, martial arts re-created and practiced, magical, alchemical, and herbal knowledge could be kept and studied, and a safe place for Heathens to go in our world which is all to often not so friendly to us.
Not to mention the fact we could come up with some kick ass red and black robes to wear and mead to brew. Monks have long been the brewmasters, and I think it wouldn’t be so bad if we got into that. A good quality mead, made by our own holy brothers and sisters, blessed by Gods and Goddesses, would certainly be a welcome thing in a world where you’re tossing dice and praying your local liqueur store has something. 🙂
I’ll probably be touching on this idea more, but I’d love to hear your thoughts about it, so drop them in the comments section.