My spiritual journey has been a long one. It all started when I was in junior high; I’d lost two of my grandparents in a short amount of time.
The family was Catholic by and large so, of course I’d been baptized Catholic and went to Sunday school. Between Confirmation and eighth grade I became lax in my faith. I was a disillusioned preteen and had little time or use for religion.
After the deaths though, I had a hole that Catholicism wasn’t filling. I wasn’t hateful or angry. I was scared maybe? I wasn’t getting the answers I needed. So, I went to find my own.
I’d interviewed holy men and women of any faith I could find. I read books. I did very slow tedious internet searches with dial-up. I’d always been interested in mythology, so this wasn’t out of character for me.
Three years came and went. I tried on religions like people try on shoes. Nothing really fit. They all provided different answers and views. I made some peace with death, though we still didn’t get along. I gave up for a while. Agnosticism set in and I was content.
The Wicca movement began around that time. It did nothing for me. “New Age hippie crap” I’d called it. Then a friend started practicing. I sat in for a few of their rituals and while it still wasn’t for me, it got me thinking. I started my journey anew, repeating my steps.
I researched modern pagans and discovered how widespread it was. It was accessible and inclusive. It wasn’t judgmental. I became a solitary practitioner of the Norse Pagan faith. Years later I joined the Asatru formally. I go to a festival every year in Bloomington, where we celebrate all Pagan faiths and educate people. Misconceptions are prevalent, we like to combat that.
I joined The Asatru Community last year and I’m trying to join their clergy training program. I’d like to make a pilgrimage to Iceland and the old country in the coming years. “Next year in Iceland!”
How can a man of science like me, well educated and modern, believe in magical gods and rainbow bridges? I get that question a lot. It is no more farfetched than any other faith. Pantheism is a main component of the faith and many of us are not literalists. Like you, I celebrate similar holidays, in similar ways. We feast, drink, and make merry. We honor those who came before. We live as good honorable people should. We don’t sacrifice people or anything living for that matter. Pagan does not equal Satanism (which gets a bad rap too). Neither equate to evil.
My choice to write this was in hope that those who demonize us will try to learn about us. I hope other solitary practitioners now know that they are not alone. Faith is both a crutch and a balm. Religions set moral guidelines and create afterlives. I’m not strong enough to consider the lack of an afterlife; a great eternal nothing. I encourage people to visit theasatrucommunity.org to learn more. Fellow heathens; join the Shieldwall, we fight intolerance and injustice. Be good to each other. Strive to live a life worthy of song.
“Our Gods are Stronger than our Differences.”
NATE MUNSON, Utica native, warrior poet. Living the nerd life. A farm boy at heart who moonlights in cosplay on the weekends. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.