It’s a well known fact that most Pagans are solo-practitioners. It’s also pretty common for that to be the case in Heathenism too. The reasons tend to be a little different, but the end result is generally the same.
As it stands, I’m a solo-practitioner. I have loose ties to a kindred, and with the grace of the Gods I might be starting one up if a few people I’ve been introducing to Asatru. But for the most part, I’m a solo, and recent events have been such as to make me moderately happy about it.
When I first got into Heathenism I considered myself a “reconstructionist,” someone who looked to the lore to build my practice. While I still value that attitude, and think it’s a good place to start…I don’t know that I fall under that category anymore. I’ve picked up the talent for “Eclectic” sorcery, and I’ll add knew things I like to my practice. I make sure that they are acceptable to my Deities before I start, but I’m not as hardline about stuff, mostly because through my own personal experience…I can’t be. There’s too many gaps in the lore, either not enough information in the original sources, or they’ve been corrupted in too obvious a manner. A thousand years has passed since they were recorded, if not more, and the Gods change slightly as new things are introduced both to them, and their people.
But the biggest reason I’m a solo practitioner are the dogmatists. Not the Universal/Folkish/Racists dogmatists. No, I’m still folkish and that doesn’t seem likely to change. It’s what I would call “Lore Hounds.” People so caught up in “proving” things via the lore they will literally attack and tear down their fellow heathens for having any sort of different practice that can’t be drawn from “chapter and verse” of the lore.
The kind of people who will insist that Odin doesn’t use the runes for divination, simply because they can’t find it in the source materiel…even though said materials state that Odin found the runes, took them up, and taught their many uses (including divination) to mankind. I know this because I ran across it in a thread on an Asatru group yesterday. Said people also laughed at me for being Hel’s Gothi…one of whom even claimed that Hel never had priests (and that means she never can, apparently) because it wasn’t in the Lore, so I had to be making shit up.
This is where we run into problems with “lore hounds.” See, I am Hel’s Gothi. Not because I say so, but because of a series of events. It is well documented in the Lore that people would sometimes dedicate themselves to specific Gods. Odin, Thor, Freyr, etc. This is what I did, only I dedicated myself to Hel. In my dedication to Hel, I declared myself her cleric, someone who would see to the spiritual needs of my people and realm in her name. Because I used the term cleric, not intending claim I was a Gothi yet, because I didn’t feel worthy of the title. But my worth was judged by my fellow Heathens both in person and through this blog, and they named me a Gothi. Kinda like appointment by acclimation. So I am what I am by the traditions of my people.
But I can’t prove who and what I am with siting the Lore.
The Lore in invaluable…but it is not the only source of value. It cannot be, because otherwise Heathenism stagnates as a culture and a religion before it is even born. And while I’m not saying you have to take what every Loki’s bride says at face value, denigrating your fellow heathens just because they can’t site chapter and verse is only going to harm our people and our religions. We have lost so much of our lore, only the barest fractions survive out of all that was. Mocking people who gain information via UPG, or even who are something new like me but that work within the old system, is only going to hurt everyone, including the people doing the mocking. And I sometimes wonder if they mock people who have these new experiences because they are jealous, because they are so close minded that the Gods will not speak to them. Which seems to be the case, actually. They mock anyone who claims the Gods spoke to them and told them something…but never give any evidence that the gods have said anything to them. They have only the Lore…dead pages of a historical record recorded sometimes by friends, sometimes by enemies, but never by people who gave us the whole picture.
That’s why blog runs as a safe place for all Heathens and Pagans. Because sometimes the Gods speak to us, and sometimes that speech can’t be backed up by the lore. It can only be backed up by our faith and our trust, with the occasional verification.