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.
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.