For each of the Vanic virtues, I have written something on how Vanic pagans can better incorporate these virtues into their daily lives, living Vanatru. With the seventh and final virtue, Love, I suggest (not demand) that those who want to better cultivate a sense of love do this simple exercise:
Make a list of the people who you love. Note that this does not have to be romantic/intimate love. This can be family members, friends. For each person, list at least five things that you love about them, reflect on these things. Allow yourself to feel love, how it comes, even if it makes you cry (especially if it makes you cry).
The most powerful force in existence, it keeps the planets and stars in their dance, connects us to the surface of our world, and draws hearts together. It should never be scorned or mocked as weak, and when love is returned, all the spirits weep for joy. We are all family on this earth.
As indicated in the introduction to this blog above, I discovered Jungianism and Neo-Paganism at the same time, through the writings of Vivianne Crowley, Margot Adler, and Starhawk, and the two have remained intertwined for me ever since. In fact, the first Pagan writing I ever read was an essay by Wiccan priestess and Jungian psychologist, Vivianne Crowley entitled, "Wicca as a Modern-Day Mystery Religion", in Graham Harvey and Charlotte Hardman's Paganism Today (1994). Wouter Hanegraaf has written that Vivianne Crowley’s Jungian perspective “is so strong that readers might be forgiven for concluding that Wicca is little more than a religious and ritual translation of Jungian psychology.” And, in fact, that is exactly what I believed. Even after realizing that that Paganism is far more diverse than I had originally thought, Crowley's vision of Wicca has continued to influence me.
As with naturalism, wildness is the Vanic virtue that seems to have been with me from the beginning. One of the main complaints I hear about "kids these days" is that they need to go outside more. In the 1980s, kids were just starting to have things like video games, which I was Not Allowed to play, my mother wanted me to read books or play outside. And I did a lot of that. Nature was my solace, my sanctuary. My heart spoke the language of the wind and the rain, my feet danced the rhythms of the Earth, changing seasons in New England. I spent enough time outdoors as a kid that my mother used to make jokes about me being a "feral child" and "raised by wolves", but it wasn't entirely a joke. There was this constant feeling of other-ness from childhood onward, that was further reinforced by my outdoor adventures. Kids played outside to play with each other, usually games of conquest and domination - I played outside to connect with the land, sometimes pretending I was a tree, or a bird or an animal, when I wasn't exploring or just watching the world around me.
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 sixth virtue, Wildness, 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 do not have mobility challenges that would contraindicate this, go barefoot once in awhile. Go outside barefoot. Go barefoot in mud, go barefoot in the rain. Doesn't have to be for long distances, can just be outside around where you live. However, the more frequently you can go barefoot outside, the better it will connect you to the land, and the more primal parts of one's psyche.
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.