I’ve long felt a reluctance at giving my faith a name. Mostly because I don’t find it particularly important. I think the main focus should be your relationship with the Divine. What you call your beliefs or spiritual practice is secondary to that.
Before the arrival in Europe of Christianity, most people didn’t seem to care about having a name for their faith either. The Gods were the Gods, simple as. Many European Polytheists also seemed to believe in some form of syncretism, that the Divine was everywhere the same. The Romans famously associated their own Deities with those of the people they colonised. Egyptian Isis was, for example, considered to be another manifestation of their own Venus.
But then came Christianity, which like its ancestor Judaism and later Islam, believed in a chosen few who alone could have a relationship with the Divine. Suddenly, it became very important what your religion was because it was needed to know whether you were a worthy person or someone who deserved eternal torture.
Today, Christianity and Islam are the two most widespread religions. Probably because they are based on a terrible threat. And in this spiritual climate, I find it important to distinguish my beliefs as non-Abrahamic. I want people to know that I don’t believe the Highest is so incredibly sadistic and petty as these two religions teach.
Another issue is that if you don’t name your religion, other people will. As someone devoted to a Norse Goddess, I am considered a Pagan and a Heathen by default. Which I don’t really mind anymore. I am proud of that particular religious tradition even if I acknowledge and draw inspiration from others. I also don’t believe my own tradition has a monopoly on the truth. In fact, I don’t believe any spiritual tradition has the full and unquestionable truth as only the Highest can know the Absolute.
What has become more important to me recently is to find my path within the Heathen tradition. The most known form of Heathenry is Asatru, where you worship primarily the Æsir (the Gods associated with human affairs). Then you have also Rökkatru, where the Jötunn are worshipped. If chaos gnosticism is your thing then you have Thursatru. And there are probably other paths I’m not familiar with.
The one I’m following is Vanatru, or devotion to the Deities of nature. It’s not only because Freya is a Vanir. In fact, I’m devoted to Freya largely because She is a Vanir. The main reason I follow Vanatru is due to my love of nature and animals but also because I believe the Vanir are not venerated as much as They should be. It’s blatantly obvious by now that humanity as a whole does not value nature and only sees it only as a resource to exploit, even to the point of our own doom. Being a Vanatruar to me means fighting for the earth and the environment, which is the most urgent fight one can be involved in.
So, next time someone asks me what my religion is I’ll say: Vanatru.