I was an animist before I was pagan. From earliest childhood I had a sense that the world was alive, I could sense the spirits in the land around me. I was a loner growing up and spent a lot of time outside, enthralled by the magic of the land, the wonder and beauty. I loved the changes in weather - I still love walking in the rain - and the changes of seasons. The outdoors, and some particular pockets of forest, were my solace during those years; in my teens I took up hiking and frequently went on ten-mile hikes, just to immerse myself in the woods and their mystery. When I became pagan, I got my greatest spiritual charge out of doing ritual and magick outdoors, the Powers always felt more present there... and eventually I found my way to the Vanir, and felt drawn to Them as the Powers of the Land.
With my connection to nature, I was environmentally conscious from a young age. This was back in the 1980s during the Reagan administration. I used some of my allowance to donate money to Greenpeace. I spent time cleaning up litter, I dutifully recycled before recycling was a convenient and popular option (I recycled before it was mainstream *hipster glasses*), and I lectured peers and adults about littering and not recycling; I got my elementary school to switch to using recycled paper after giving a speech on destruction of the forest.
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 third virtue, Naturalism, 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:
-Spend some time outside every day, even if just for 5-10 minutes. (Spending a half-hour to an hour would be ideal, but not everyone can do ideal, for health reasons or other reasons.) Look at the land around you. Observe the weather. Observe the changes of the land with the weather and the seasons. If you are visually impaired, you can utilize your other senses - feel, touch, smell, listen. (You can do this even if you're not visually impaired, doing things like holding a fallen leaf, smelling wildflowers, etc.)
The Vanir are, among other things, the powers of Nature and all it encompasses. To then claim to worship them, and deny the agency, importance, and power of their domain and subjects is gross blasphemy. Those who honor the powers of nature should be first to embrace their non-human kin on an equal level, as all part of the great design. This may take many forms, as all of us have different strengths and spheres of influence, but the trifecta of reduce, reuse, recycle should be at the core of any practical and truly-honoring Vanic practice.
Of the Vanic virtues, passion has been the hardest one for me to embrace and express in my own life.
It's not for lack of passion... it is precisely because I feel things so deeply, am so passionate about so many things (love and hate, enjoyment and displeasure), that I have a harder time with this virtue than the others.
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 second virtue, Passion, 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:
-Think of at least three to five people who you love, or otherwise care about strongly, deeply. (For all intents and purposes this can include pets.) Why do you love/care for them? What is it that inspires that intensity of feeling within you?
Accompanying beauty is passion for life, for love, for enjoyment and doing the work of right living. Those without passion are adrift on the waves, and outside of the confines of mental illness (which is often an antithesis to passion but is not to be considered a personal fault), those who choose not to embrace passion are indeed lifeless, hopeless, and could easily be mistaken for automata.
One of the most important things you can know about my practice – and one of the few things about my personal practice that is not too out-there-in-woo-woo-territory to discuss publicly – is that I am a Maker. What this means in terms of my practice is making art, jewelry, and other things that have been enchanted with the presence of spirits, or to open doors into the Otherworld, or serve specific purposes (like protective or healing amulets, etc).
One of the reasons why I wound up on this path is that beauty is an important personal value. Most people like pretty things. There is this, and then there is needing to have beauty in your life. For me, beauty is not a luxury, but a necessity. I am one of those people who cries at beautiful things, and enthralled by beautiful people. I see beauty in other people, I cherish what is beautiful within them and try to encourage it. I find beauty in experiences, beautiful moments in every day life. I have a continual sense of wonder that has carried me through the worst times, kept me going when there was otherwise too much ugliness and pain.