Western Esoteric Paganism

Knowledgeable people typically distinguish between Western Esotericism and Paganism. It is the purpose of this article to convince you that these two distinct traditions can be combined in a beautiful and complementary synergy: Western Esoteric Paganism.

Paganism

Paganism comes from classical Latin paganus, meaning “rural” or “rustic.” It was a term used by early Christians to denote all the non-Christian and non-Jewish religions of the world, the ones enshrined to local places and that were usually polytheistic and focused on things such as ritual sacrifice to the gods. It became a generic term to denote the religions of the peasantry outside of Christianity and Judaism.

Modern paganism/neopagan religions such as Wicca are reconstructed pagan religions that often center around polytheistic worship, ritual, and veneration of Nature.

Neopaganism as a whole has exploded into a million eclectic pathways that are impossible to define comprehensively. Some pagans consider themselves witches. But not all. Some witches consider themselves pagan. But not all. Some believe in “magic.” Some don’t. Some pagans even consider themselves atheist (though this is a minority position). But it’s generally recognized that modern paganism is usually polytheistic and centered around Nature. Polytheism itself can understood literally (“hard polytheism”) or in more psychological/metaphorical/archetypical ways. 

A subset of paganism is Asatru or Heathenry, which is a modern reconstructed religion focused on reconstructing the old pre-Christian polytheistic religion(s) found in Northern Europe. Many Heathens distinguish themselves from what they perceive to be “neopaganism” such as Wicca or eclectic witchcraft, due to their distaste for anything reeking of magic or the occult.

The irony, of course, is the Heathenry is by any reasonable definition a subset of paganism insofar as it is attempting to reconstruct pre-Christian pagan religions. Furthermore, a reconstructed paganism is not the same as an original paganism and since Heathenry and the religions like it are technically newer than Wicca it is actually Heathenry that is “neopagan.”

The Western Esoteric Tradition

Technical definitions of paganism aside, the Western Esoteric Tradition is usually defined as a tradition distinction from the polytheistic Nature worship typical of modern neopaganism.

With that said, giving a precise definition of the Western Esoteric Tradition is difficult for it is at once one and many things. 

The obvious place to start is with the distinction between esoteric and exoteric religious teaching. Exoteric teaching is meant for the masses, the general public. Esoteric knowledge, on the other hand, by its very nature, is intended for only a select few. In contrast to exoteric teachings, esoteric knowledge is often hidden; it is not available to be read off the surface. One either has to be initiated into a tradition, or one has to do a certain amount of deep reflection and introspection to go past the surface into the inner meanings.

Some people might try to define the Western Esoteric tradition in terms of a single perennial esoteric tradition running through all of Western civilization starting sometime in ancient Egypt and running through modern Europe until peaking with magical orders such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Otherwise, we might deny a single perennial thread and just define it via a family resemblance of related conceptions, traditions, and philosophical systems. This is my preferred approach.

Frequently mentioned traditions/tools/societies that fall within the Western Esoteric “family” include:

  • Hermeticism (“as above, so below”)
  • Greek philosophy
  • Christianity
  • Gnosticism
  • Neoplatonism
  • Christian/Hermetic Qabalah
  • Grimoires
  • Alchemy
  • Astrology
  • Tarot/cartomancy
  • Rosicrucianism
  • Freemasonry
  • Theosophical Society
  • Spiritualism
  • Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
  • Thelema
  • New Age
  • Chaos Magic

This partial list only scratches the surface of the “family” but it should be enough to get the picture. As one might say, the Western Esoteric Tradition is difficult to define, but “you know it when you see it.”

Western Esotericism vs Paganism

While both Western Esotericism and Paganism might be lumped under the general category of “heretical devil-worship” by the dominant culture of monotheistic Christianity, it is important to distinguish them for there are important differences.

Whereas paganism is often:

  • Explicitly pre-Christian or anti-Christian
  • Polytheistic
  • Focused on returning to the “Old Ways” before Christian colonization
  • More in-tune with indigenous approaches to spirituality and religion
  • More Nature-focused and animistic
  • Grounded in seasonal rituals

Western Esotericism is often:

  • Compatible with Christianity if not outright a form of Christianity albeit a subversive, heretical form outside the mainstream
  • Inspired by theological emanational metaphysics such as Gnosticism and Kabbalah
  • Either monotheistic or monadistic (relating to the concept of God as a “Monad”)
  • Frequently works with entities from Christianity such as angels and demons
  • Focused on “inner work,” gnosis, and spiritual enlightenment
  • Associated with the European enlightenment and subsequent intellectual developments
  • Idealistic in its rejection of the Natural world; more likely to see the Natural world as spiritually corrupted in some way
  • Associated with “secret societies” and magical orders such as Freemasonry

While there are many differences between these two traditions, they are both united in rejecting the view of the world as being entirely devoid of sacred, holy, or spiritual dimensions.

Western Esoteric Paganism

Now that we have outlined the respective differences between Western Esotericism and Paganism, it seems obvious they are incompatible. Or, at the very least, it seems like the type of person attracted to paganism would be turned off by Western esotericism and vice versa. 

The main sticking points between the two traditions are Christianity and the idea of the natural world as corrupted.

So why would anyone ever want to combine these two into a syncretic whole?

This article will not be enough to fully establish that they are compatible, but let me attempt to convince you why I am motivated to combine these two traditions.

But first, I want to emphasize my personal belief that logical coherence is an overrated epistemic quality; usefulness is what I care about and I would rather have a pragmatic but incoherent set of beliefs than a coherent but boring/non-useful set of beliefs. When it comes to magic, it makes a world of difference.

With that said, here’s why someone might want to combine the esoteric and pagan traditions:

  • Reverence for Nature is deeply encoded into human spirituality; we ignore it at our peril
  • On the other hand, the transcendental metaphysics of systems like Gnosticism and Qabalah tell us an important truth about the nature of divinity and provide a needed philosophical explanation for the very possibility of polytheism
  • As a Westerner, occult and mystical traditions within Christianity are some of the most potent forms of spirituality available; Western Esoteric Paganism allows us to not throw the baby out with the bathwater
  • On the other hand, reconstructing pre-Christian pagan practices is an excellent way to honor our ancestors who lived before Christian colonizers attempted to destroy pagan religions; there is much deep, natural wisdom in the pagan/indigenous/pre-Christian worldview and decolonizing our spirituality is critical to competent, modern magic.
  • Pagan polytheism provides a more psychologically accessible form of divinity than the supernal abstraction of monadical Christianity, where God can only be spoken in terms of abstract, negative qualities
  • The mystical focus on gnosis and transcendent union with the Divine that we have inherited from the esoteric tradition is a deeply rewarding spiritual gift

Esoteric Heathenry

The paganism I will mostly be focusing on in this article comes from Heathenry. I first became attracted to this tradition when, after a decade of atheistic materialism, I had my spiritual awakening because I reasoned that reconnecting with the magical traditions of my Northern European ancestors would be the least appropriative “spiritual home base” that wasn’t Christianity. 

Brief aside: in the ancient pre-Christian world, diversity and localization was the name of the game; there is no sense in which there was a single pan-European paganism.

Before I go any further, I need to absolutely emphasize that I believe Heathenry, with its pantheon of gods like Odin, Thor, and Freya, is in no way “more powerful” for me because of my ancestry compared to somehow who has a different ancestry. That is to say, I absolutely disavow any “Folkish” or “meta-genetic” ideas commonly associated with racist, fascist bastardizations of Heathenry.

The reasons why such “Folkish” ideas are dangerous are wrong-headed are numerous:

  • The Gods of Heathenry were not and cannot be confined to mere DNA molecules or the spiritual/cultural boundaries of any particular culture. Odin is the Allfather for ALL humanity, not just a limited subset. 
  • It is pure hubris to tell the Gods who they can or cannot work with. Anyone, from any culture, can feel the draw of the Old Gods
  • The vikings themselves were multicultural sponges who were not afraid of a little syncretism, especially as they were well-traveled and interacted with many foreign cultures. 
  • The idea that the vikings were a “pure white race” is a complete fabrication based on nothing more than racist fantasies and not grounded in history. 
  • The concept of “whiteness” itself is a colonial social construction utilized as a weapon of white supremacy and, in reality, trying to essentialize races in terms of biology is not supported by scientific or critical analysis.
  • Since modern Heathenry is a modern reconstruction and not a preexisting indigenous spiritual practice harmed by the ravages of white colonialism, there are no grounds to say that Heathenry is a closed practice except to maintain white supremacy
  • While it is OK to believe that, personally, I am in my “spiritual home” when connecting to a reconstruction of the religion of my own ancestors, I have no right to claim that Heathenry “works better” for me than someone who was called into it but who did not have that direct ancestry, for like I said above, the gods of Norse mythology were the gods of all Humanity; if someone not from that lineage shows respect and interest, who am I to turn them away? If I truly am a believer in Odin, why would I not want more people to worship him and follow Norse traditions? Wouldn’t that only serve to strengthen his power?
  • Northern European culture has long since been forced upon the world via colonization so it is too late to “take it back” and suddenly say it’s closed to just people with direct ancestral ties
  • Skin color by itself does not define cultural heritage/ethnicity; classifications of races based on skin color alone are products of modern colonizer thinking
  • Being proud of your specific ancestral heritage (Irish vs German vs Danish) is OK but being proud of being “white” is not; Black pride is valid and white pride is not because white colonizers and slavers stripped many Black people from the chance of ever knowing what specific country or tribe they come from; in contrast, due to my privilege, I can directly trace my lineage back to the Norman conquest

 

An Anti-Racist Argument for Pagan Eclecticism

It is a widely documented and well-known fact that Asatru, Heathenry, etc. have a long and sorted history with white supremacy in the form of “Folkish” beliefs such that the actual history of Heathenry was from its beginning rooted in some kind of spiritual-cultural “meta-genetics” that restricts or reserves the true power of Norse paganism to those with a direct ancestral lineage to Northern Europe.

Even among so-called “universalist” organizations, it is well documented that Folkish and crypto-Folkish Heathens with alt-right leanings have co-opted the “moderate” supposedly anti-racist variations of Heathenry by maintaining the essentialism and reality of “race” as a construct, in contrast to the post-colonial perspective that recognizes the ways in which modern concepts of race and ethnicity, particularly among “whites,” have been repeatedly utilized to uphold oppressive power structures.

Thus, the question remains: is the very concept of a reconstructed Heathenry of the “Old Norse Ways” inherently racist? Or can a radical left-wing and decolonized version of Heathenry be rescued from its crypto-racist origins?

It is my contention that embracing eclecticism represents the best path forward for creating a truly anti-racist Heathen paganism. It is the very attempt to hold onto a “pure” ancestral past via rigid reconstructionism that creates a fertile breeding ground for white supremacy.

This is not to say it is wrong to be spiritually inspired by the traditions of your ancestors or to feel a strong spiritual connection to your ancestors. Ancestor work is by no means reserved only for non-white people. However, because modern Heathenry has never not existed except within the dynamic tension of Folkish racism balanced against supposed “moderate” forms, it is not possible to “rescue” a pure anti-racist version of Heathenry except through the tolerance of eclecticism.

However, that does not mean the historical methods of research employed by reconstructionists hold no value. They are indeed very valuable. But since the modern efforts of reconstruction specifically within Heathenry have been, historically, done via a lens of crypto-Folkishness, the explicit nods towards universalism ring empty against the weight of alt-right corruption.

But that is not a reason to give up entirely. It just means that anti-racist Heathenry must make itself syncretically open to multi-cultural adaptation in order to explicitly position itself against its own modern origins. This entails an openness to eclecticism.

However, eclecticism does not necessarily imply any kind of New Age occultism (though such a syncretism would not be by definition invalid). Rather, the eclecticism would itself be merely a recognition that to move beyond the cultural “blood-logic” of reconstructionism, a certain amount of progressiveness must be explicitly incorporated into the mythology.

That is my opinion, at least.

Objection: if indigenous people like Native Americans are allowed to define their religion relative to an ancestral tradition without being racist, then why can’t Northern Europeans define a new religion relative to an ancestral tradition?

The answer to this question lies in understanding the relationship between colonization and White Supremacy. 

What is White Supremacy? It is not merely the belief that the white race is superior to all other races. It is far more than just such open, explicit forms of discrimination. To quote critical race theorist Frances Lee Ansley,

“By ‘white supremacy’ I do not mean to allude only to the self-conscious racism of white supremacist hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily reenacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.”

In other words, White Supremacy in its true form involves power structures and systems of oppression that operate within institutional and systemic networks of dominance. Understood with this definition in mind, the reason why certain Native American practices are “closed” is precisely due to their long and brutal history of subjugation by white Americans. This relation of subjugation is still in operation today and so to uncritically steal and appropriate their culture is a perpetuation of the very same violence by which the white colonizers attempted to wipe out indigenous practices in the first place.

In contrast, the modern reconstructed religions of Heathenry do not have such a long history of being subjugated under the thumb of white supremacy. If anything, given the historical contingencies of who exactly started the reconstruction efforts and their varied political affiliations with right-wing, Folkish beliefs, modern Heathenry has done more towards perpetuating White Supremacy than dismantling it.

Accordingly, it is misleading to appeal to the fact that, historically, ancient Norse pagans were themselves colonized by Christians and subjected to their own forms of system, imperialist oppression. While this is certainly true and forms an important basis for fighting for the religious rights of modern pagans and Heathens to openly practice non-Christian religions, one cannot just straight-forwardly claim modern reconstructed forms of Heathenry experience oppression from Christianity in the same way ancient heathens did.

We cannot be naive to the fact that modern heathenry evolved within a modern context and was developed by modern people in a post-colonial world still operating within the context of widespread white dominance and power structures.

Why Transcendentalism?

tree of life reimagined
My own “reimagined” Qabalistic Tree of Life

Why is Heathenry enhanced and strengthened by transcendental metaphysics? The reason is that it provides an emanation metaphysics whereby we can ground the divinity of Norse gods in a transcendental One/Many relationship.

Many religious/philosophical systems across time and space have articulated a vision of the One/Many distinction. But essentially, it just makes good philosophical sense that All Is One and One Is All.  

According to this view, everything is ultimately an emanation of a single All Mind/All Consciousness. This forms the foundation of a kind of metaphysical idealism whereby the material world of Creation is ultimately the emanation of Mind.

However, pure Oneness is unstable and many religions tell the story of The One dividing itself into an infinite multiplicity so as to experience reality more directly. 

Once split up, The One becomes The Many. It is important to understand The Many and The One exist at the same time. The One never fully ceases to exist just because it is split up into the Many, for The Many by its very nature implies The One, just like left implies right, and top implies bottom. 

We Live in a Large Reality

Another reason to modify Heathenry with transcendentalism is to account for phenomena that are difficult to explain within its cosmological/mythological structure. According to Norse Mythology, the physical planet Earth exists in only one realm, Midgard. 

While not completely incompatible with Heathenry, it seems difficult to reconcile the anthropocentrism of Norse Mythology in light of our modern understanding that the Universe contains billions of galaxies, all of which are capable of sustaining alien life. Not to mention the possibility of conscious life existing in alternate dimensions.

In other words, we are probably not alone in this Universe. While perhaps there is a way to account for all this in Norse Mythology, I believe it would require some mental gymnastics to do so. Accordingly, a transcendental metaphysics of Oneness is important so as to create an abstract principle of Divinity capable of subsuming ALL of reality, and not just the narrow slice available to human observation.

 

Gnostic Paganism

One of the most powerful conceptual tools in the Western Esotericist’s toolbox is Gnosticism. Let’s apply it to Heathenry and see how it works to create a Western Esoteric Paganism.

The way I think of it is that Gnosticism is a philosophical/spiritual/metaphysical framework to answer transcendental questions about the nature of reality and Heathenry is cosmological/mythological/polytheistic/cultural “content” that gives reality its texture and richness.

One might not think Heathenry requires such a metaphysical framework insofar as it is typically construed as “pluralist” whereby it eschews any sort of monist, dualist, and framework that reduces everything to an all-encompassing “Source” or Ur-principle.

However, it is a lesson from the esoteric tradition that “The One” and “The Many” are complementary principles of operation. The existence of a transcendent One does not negate the independent operation of the Many. Indeed, The One is a pre-condition for the existence of The Many and The Many is the logical conclusion of The One, insofar as Oneness is unstable and liable to splinter into The Many. Just as you cannot have the top without a bottom, you cannot have The One without The Many and vice versa. 

Where the esoteric tradition can learn from paganism is that The Many can and should be a focal point of worship and reverence. This is the logic and psychological appeal of polytheism.

Polytheism gives us the small “g” gods that provide the cultural, magical, and polytheistic material from which to reconstruct a modern spiritual/devotional practice and Gnosticism gives us the “God above gods” that gives us the means to think logically about what came “before” the cosmogony of Heathenry as well how divinity itself is “structured.”

For example, in the Norse creation account Ginnungagap is a primordial void from which springs order:

 It was the earliest time when Ymir lived. There was no sand, nor sea, nor cold waves, nor earth, nor sky, nor greenth, only Ginnungagap. Völuspá, stanza 3.

At some point however, out of Ginnungagap, two large realms began to form, Niflheim in the north (land of fog and ice), and Muspelheim to the south (land of fire). It is from these two realms that the rest of creation is formed.

From the textual evidence, it seems that Ginnungagap is not a true void, i.e. No-thing, because it is spatialized: it has “regions,” for example, a northern region and a southern region. A true metaphysical void, a true Nothing, would lack both space and time.

Thus, although Ginnungagap is a void insofar as it is formless, it is nevertheless a region or realm in some sense, which begs the question: what came before Ginnungagap, if anything?

This is where the metaphysical system of Gnosticism comes into play because the Gnostics were particularly thoughtful when thinking about the origin of all things. In The Secret Book of John in the Nag Hammadi Scriptures, the Gnostics have a term for what came before everything else: The One.

With their concept of The One, the Gnostics provide a clear metaphysical answer to the root cause of the universe:

“The One is the Invisible Spirit. We should not think of it as a god or like a god. For it is greater than a god, because it has nothing over it and no lord above it. It does not [exist] within anything inferior [to it, since everything] exists within it, [for it established] itself. It is eternal, since it does not need anything. For it is absolutely complete. It has never lacked anything in order to be completed by it. Rather, it is always absolutely complete in light. 

The One is 

illimitable, since there is nothing before it to limit it, 

unfathomable, since there is nothing before it to fathom it, 

immeasurable, since there was nothing before it to measure it, 

invisible, since nothing has seen it, eternal, since it exists eternally, 

unutterable, since nothing could comprehend it to utter it, 

unnamable, since there is nothing before it to give it a name. 

The One is the immeasurable light, pure, holy, immaculate. It is unutterable, and is perfect in incorruptibility. Not that it is just perfection, or blessedness, or divinity: it is much greater. 

The One is not corporeal and it is not incorporeal. 

The One is not large and it is not small. 

It is impossible to say, 

How much is it? 

What [kind is it]?

For no one can understand it. 

The One is not among the things that exist, but it is much greater. Not that it is greater. Rather, as it is in itself, it is not a part of the aeons or time. For whatever is part of a realm was once prepared by another. Time was not allotted to it, since it receives nothing from anyone: what would be received would be on loan. The one who is first does not need to receive anything from another. It beholds itself in its light.”

It is important to recognize that The One is eternal. It will not stop existing once it gives birth to its emanations. Unlike Ginnungagap, it can never be “filled in.” Thus, the Gnostic concept of The One provides a conceptual toolbox that one can use to give Norse Mythology a transcendental metaphysics to shore up any logical holes in its cosmogony.

It is clear then that the conceptual tools of Gnosticism can be of great use to the philosophical-theologically minded Heathens who might have doubts about the metaphysical coherence of their cosmogony. But a question arises: what benefit does Heathenism provide to Gnosticism?

Gnosticism is typically paired with a Christian worldview but it is my contention that the cultural-historical baggage of Christianity and its colonizer metaphysics makes it a poor fit for the universalist-transcendental focus of Gnosticism. Indeed, Christian history attempted to wipe Gnosticism from existence and branded its followers as heretics, calling for all texts to be burned. It is only due to a miracle that we have extent Gnostic literature thousands of years later in the Nag Hammadi texts.

Western Esoteric Pagans believe that Gnosticism would have been better served if it had been developed in a Pagan tradition instead of a Christian one. 

For starters, due to the general inclusivity of Northern European pagans and their tolerance for foreign religions, I believe Gnosticism would have been less likely to have wiped out of existence compared to how it fared under the influence of the Catholic Church.

Objection: Gnosticism and Heathenry are incompatible because the gods of Norse Paganism are “lower powers” not properly divine like the transcendental Pleroma

One possible Gnostic argument for why the Norse gods are not properly divine is that they eventually die in Ragnarok, the End of Time. However, not all the Norse gods will die in Ragnarok; most of the goddesses survive, as does Baldur, the god of light and solar god of the Norse. Thus, with Ragnarok, we get an eternal cycle of divine life and death, which seems pretty divine to me.

Also, why would ALL powers of the physical Cosmos be ethically problematic (“demiurgic”) when you could have some being neutral or good (Odin, Thor, Freya, etc) and others being chaotic or evil (Loki, for example).

It seems one could make a purely pragmatic argument that it is much easier to worship “lower gods” like Odin and Freya than it is some Transcendent Abstract principle like The One in The Secret Book of John.

It’s spiritually good to know The One exists, for it provides a transcendental metaphysics to ground emanation but I think one of the reasons why Gnosticism isn’t very popular is because it seems weird to “worship” such an abstract thing/non-thing described in The Secret Book of John as

“The One is not corporeal and it is not incorporeal.

The One is not large and it is not small.

It is impossible to say,

How much is it?

What [kind is it]?For no one can understand it. “

Hard to worship something that “no one can understand.”

Objection: Pagans are at home in the natural, created world whereas Gnostics are alienated from the natural world insofar as they believe it was created by the less-than-divine Demiurge. Doesn’t this contradict itself?

I will be the first to admit that Western Esoteric Paganism is syncretic i.e. it is an evolutionary combination of these two viewpoints and makes no claim to be historically accurate with respect to the original intent of either one (which is difficult to reconstruct anyway.)

The purpose of Western Esoteric Paganism is to correct what I believe to be deficiencies in both modern Gnosticism and Heathenry alike.

I am of the personal belief that Gnosticism is sterile for all but the most esoterically-minded folks. Eschewing all the gods of mythology and culture and calling them demiurgic or archonic (i.e. spiritually corrupted) robs us of the religious and symbolic content so critical for making religion relevant in the modern age, and not just an academic exercise in historical reconstruction devoid of genuine emotional or experiential elements.

On the other hand, I am of the opinion that modern Heathenry rests on shaky metaphysical foundations, and combining it with Gnosticism gives it the philosophical resources to understand the forms of transcendental divinity understood in the Western esoteric tradition, including Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Esoteric Christianity, Qabalah, and their many magical evolutions.

In other words, Gnostic Paganism is the best of both worlds. It takes the deeply human instinct to feel at home in Mother Nature, rejects the metaphysical alienation of Gnosticism, and instead focuses on the Transcendental Nature of Divinity to answer theological puzzles that make it difficult for the modern mind to come to terms with a literal belief in pagan polytheism.

Why My Polytheism Involves “Foreign” Gods

My pre-Christian heritage is undoubtedly pagan. Colonizer Christianity was ultimately a destructive force on the pagan world, and for this reason, many modern pagans want nothing to do with Christianity.

This is completely understandable. Nevertheless, Christianity and Christian Gnosticism have had an important spiritual, religious, and intellectual influence on Western Europe, my ancestors, and my own religious/cultural upbringing as a child.

When it comes to religion and spirituality, I hold to the pragmatic principle of: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. And ultimately, my problem with Christianity is less Christianity itself, but rather, the particular Christians who have championed its cause in the name of White Supremacy, settler colonialism, violence towards non-Christians, and its “my way or the highway” brand of arrogant proselytizing.

But none of that is intrinsic to the teachings of either Gnosticism or Jesus Christ in the New Testament. I have no problems with incorporating some of the teachings of Jesus Christ into my spiritual worldview. Both Gnostic Scriptures and the canonical Bible contain some beautiful passages (and some less beautiful).

It is my understanding that in ancient times, pagans, under the Traveler’s Praxis, would honor local gods when traveling in foreign lands. Ancient pagan polytheism therefore would likely not have been unwelcome completely to the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

Where Christians faltered is their attempt to violently force their beliefs on literally the entire world and killing and destroying the indigenous religious practices of local pagans, leaving a wake of literal and cultural death behind them everywhere they went. The Catholic Church, in its quest for power, could not tolerate the existence of religious diversity and plurality and instead saw itself as the “One, True Religion” and attempted to forcibly convert or kill every other culture on the planet.

Christianity today continues to be a destructive, bigoted force in the world despite some Christians being good, decent folks. As I said before, I understand completely if modern pagans or Heathens want absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. But for me, personally, there is too much power and wisdom contained in Gnostic and Christian Scripture for me to reject it completely.

It is for this reason that I am not a Heathen in the historical reconstruction sense. Because my actual life has involved a wide array of spiritual influences from many different traditions, I feel no compulsion to reject these diverse sources of wisdom and exclusively focus on only a single pathway.

However, the path of the eclectic syncretist is often lonely. Understandably, a large part of the appeal of Heathenry is the sense of Tribalism and Community that comes from joining a religion with a circumscribed and internally consistent worldview such as Asatru or Heathenry.

I often find myself jealous of people who have found such community in the form of shared religion. But every time I find myself contemplating joining the ranks of such a community, my freethinking individualism rears its head and I feel repulsed by the thought of circumscribing my spiritual interests and proclivities to only a narrow subset of beliefs, however rich and powerful they might be.

With that said, I do feel deep in my bones that Heathenry is a powerful spiritual “home base” for me. This is partially due to the intrinsic beauty and power of the religion itself but also due directly to my ancestral lineage. Part of my spiritual beliefs involves working to form a connection with my ancestors, and mathematically, the vast majority of my ancestors who have ever lived were pre-Christian pagans so it makes sense for paganism to be my ancestral/spiritual homebase.

With that said, I must state forcibly that I eschew any view that Norse paganism is reserved exclusively for people with a direct genetic ancestral linkage to Northern Europeans. Also, I reject any claims that working with Norse gods is in fact more efficacious for those with a direct genetic ancestral linkage to Northern Europeans. I am only stating the fact that for me, personally, and for me alone, the ancestral linkage is important because it feels like spiritual home.

At the same time, I am strongly attracted to the Western Esoteric tradition. I am, after all, a philosopher by training and inclination. Accordingly, I hope to have shown that Western Esoteric Paganism is an attractive and mostly coherent view.

 

Related Links

Can you be a Christian pagan?

Why Is Polytheism Important?

Tarot Spirituality: A Neopagan Practice

Rainbow Heathen: Is a Left-wing Multicultural Asatru Possible?

 

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