Paganism from a new perspective
Since the past couple of years, there has been a rising interest in paganism and pre-christian customs, which were of course
influenced by Christianity, but do have a pre-christian origin nonetheless. For example the “Perchenläufe”.
Yes, paganism has arrived within modern society and especially certain subcultures. There’s pagan music bands, magazines, clothing, and even festivals with a lot of pagan symbolism. While talking to followers of said subcultures it becomes often very clear that this topic is an emotional one, and also, highly charged with certain emotions. People dream of ancient warriors, valhalla, and of course the Vikings. Well, if you find it fun to dream about these topics for the sake of pure entertainment, then there is nothing wrong with that. But what if you indeed would like to find out the true pagan worldview of ancient european tribes? the proto-indo-europeans…? the neanderthals…?
It is not my intent to write this text and blame “christianity” again. It is time to grow up and study the pagan remnants with a sincere heart. Also, I do not want to put furthermore emphasis on the Vikings, mead and tales of Odin. It leads to nowhere, if we want to find out about the origins. Also, new-age ideologies are not my speciality and have got nothing to do with this writing. To me it is important what the pagan worldview can teach us even today and what if, it can lead us to entirely new perspectives on life and our place and origin on this planet?
Europe is an ancient continent. There is no doubts about that. Here, ancient hunter and gatherer tribes have lived for a long, long time and if we would like to grasp something as undefinable as “paganism, we need to take a closer look at the early settlers of the european continent, first and foremost. It is the Indo-European tribes that we should study closer and deeper!
It is the ancient tribal movements that we need to pay attention to!
If we take a look at hunter and gatherer tribes, be it in Europe or North America, Asia, Siberia… we will find out rather quickly that there was a primeval idea or belief amongst those tribes. And that idea and belief was pretty much almost the same across the continents. Today we refer to that “primitive spirituality” as Animism, deriving from lat. Anima, Soul.
There is force, a soul and consciousness within nature and we as human beings can connect to it. There is a lot more to it, of course, such as the early bear-cults and totemism, and there is also a lot old neolithic places around Europe that one can go to and get a feeling for the archaic cultures that once roamed these landscapes. When people study norse mythology they almost always go right to the Viking Age, without having done their homework about the Proto-Indo-Europeans first and the pre historic tribes of Eurasia. But this is so important that I cannot stress it enough.
We need to look there first in order to understand the “pagan roots”. As a matter of fact, it seems like we have to say farewell to a lot of idealized images that modern people have created about paganism. They will lead us nowhere and teach us nothing. Except entertainment.
The very famous Viking Age has had its significant impact on the world. there is no doubts about it. But most of todays revelations about this Age is so full of warrior-images and xena-movie type of appearances that it couldn’t be further from the truth of what actually happened during this Age. It certainly was not the beginning and the origin of european paganism. Although, while taking a look at neopagan scene, one could think that all that mattered to european paganism were the Vikings. Of course this couldn’t be further from the actual truth. Vikings, deriving from Old Norse Víkingr, dweller of Vik, were sailors and traders first and foremost. But what about the local folks who have stayed back home in Scandinavia on their little settlements and tried to establish Agriculture? They weren’t Viking. But were they of pagan beliefs? Of course they were. But they almost don’t get any media attention at all.
it isn’t as easy as portrayed in modern entertainment and subculture… to be honest, it is really complex and it takes many lifetimes of serious study. All we have left is shattered pieces. We have to go far back in time, far beyond the Viking Age, to grasp the shamanic, animistic, pagan past of ancient eurasian tribes. All these terms… we have created these terms. These terms are trying to grasp something that is so archaic, anciend and old, and in many ways, alien to our modern way of thinking… that all we have left is a list of labels. But there is more to that. Most of the “pagan teachings” today lead is nowhere. some try to establish a “new wave of paganism” while clearly trying to create a completely new type of what we think could be “paganism”. some wrap it around to make it fit their ideology.
What we know about Germania is not a whole lot. Most of the informations came from the Roman Empire. And to be honest, the Romans clearly were not neutral about the Germanic tribes. Their information is flawed. The same with the Edda. Who wrote the Edda? It is definitely not a “genuine and true source” of paganism, and of course not “the holy bible” of paganism either.
We don’t have a lot of sources. That’s the honest, terrible and painful truth. We have shattered pieces and most is lost. But if we choose to preserve of what we have left, then we definitely should refrain from making new stuff up or add a fantasy version of a pagan past. That will hurt the old wisdom in the end and not preserve it.
What we can clearly see and understand, though, is that those tribes had a very significant bond and relationship to nature. Nature. it meant survival, life and death. It meant light and darkness. It meant fertility, and food. Nature, it meant everything. The mother, the source, the origin. Nature nourished, but also gave birth to our entire existence. Furthermore, we are part of nature.
And if we choose to let that sink in for a second, we might get a little bit closer to the pagan worldview…