We are animals, just as the other creatures of the world, but we are the only animals that have the ability to consciously and willfully deny our positions in the pattern, the only ones (as far as we know!) who consider themselves above “all that”. We train our children, those most connected to the truth, to deny their animal selves, to be “proper” and “civilized”, when all the world is calling us, begging us, to remember that we too used to dance in the mud, call out in the night, swing through the trees singing the songs of the birds, that we knew for a certainty that elves and dragons and unicorns lived in the forests and mountains (they still do, you just need eyes to see them!). Shake off the shackles of civilization and dance wild like a maenad or a troop of baboons. Sing to the moon and the sun without care for who is listening.
Of the Vanic virtues, Openness has been paradoxically the easiest for me to cultivate, as well as the hardest save for any but Passion.
As a creative person, obviously openness is a part of the creative makeup. It is hard to actually create things if you are not willing to experiment, trial and error, maybe take it apart and start over again a different way, look at it from a different angle to make sure it's coming together as intended... it is hard to create things if you're not willing to risk failure and risk rejection. Every time I make something, whether it is a necklace or a poem or a story or a piece of digital art, I am building from the ground up, and while I tend to have clear ideas in my mind of what I want out of something (I rarely see just beads, I usually see about seventeen finished products), the getting there is often radically different than how I think it's going to get there and often there may be a few necessary adjustments and improvements to the original idea. So from the perspective of an artist, openness comes naturally.
For each of the Vanic virtues, I plan on writing something on how Vanic pagans can better incorporate these virtues into their daily lives, living Vanatru. So with the fifth virtue, Openness, here is a list of suggestions (not demands, I am not interested in telling people what to do) of activities to better express this virtue:
-At least once a month, but preferably once a week or every other week, try something new. Like trying a new food, or new type of cuisine. Going someplace that you've been curious about, but haven't gotten around to yet. Taking a different route home. Read a new book. Doesn't have to be something major - even just new little experiences can help foster openness.
The guiding principle of nature is More and Different is Better, and left to its own devices without significant outside intervention, it will tend to wild leaps of evolutionary diversity – witness the examples in our own world of isolated islands featuring hundreds of animal and plant species found nowhere else on the planet. With this understanding, we too should seek to honor and respect our diversity, and also that the key to communication and interconnectedness is to remain open to possibility and wonder.
Rather than talk about my own personal views on serenity, I am going to quote from the chapter "The Compass Rose" in my book Voices of Vanaheim, where following a fiery meltdown and some intense soul-searching, the current King talks about wyrd and acceptance; his words echo my own feelings on the matter:
I had started to find a sense of acceptance. In the chaos, there was order. In the random upheavals, there was a pattern. Breaking and rebuilding, breaking and rebuilding, until the structure was sound, shaped just the right way; a serpent shedding its skin again and again, until it had just the perfect combination of colors in the light. My life was a tree being pruned until the fruit was just right… just the way wyrd wanted it. As much as it sucked sometimes – as much as sometimes [expletive] just happened, because [expletive] happens, like the abuse my twin endured – it was [expletive] to fertilize that tree.
For each of the Vanic virtues, I plan on writing something on how Vanic pagans can better incorporate these virtues into their daily lives, living Vanatru. So with the fourth virtue, Serenity, here is a list of suggestions (not demands, I am not interested in telling people what to do) of activities to better express this virtue:
-If you're not already in the habit of doing so, a regular meditation practice can be helpful. This does not have to be the traditional "empty your mind and think of nothing" or "focus on your breathing", but can be something like meditating on a picture (such as a mandala) or one of the elements (like running water or the flame of a candle), or discursive meditation (a practice of thinking about a particular subject, especially something you've read, and jotting down where it takes you mentally, your thoughts surrounding it).
Serenity... is the counterbalance to passion, which unchecked can lead to carelessness and recklessness. Pursuit of stillness, of harmony and balance serves as the bank to control the flow of passion to beautiful and natural ends. Someone in the embrace of tranquility cannot be moved by mere appeals to emotion or manipulation, but seeks to move in ways that are aligned to the pattern.