Do not become confused by the practices of other faiths. Elaborate temples and shrines are not necessary, no matter how esthetically pleasing they may be. They serve a purpose, but they must not become the purpose. Such things can be a drain on energy that would be better spent on more useful things. What use to make a sacred grove when the world’s trees are in danger? What use to restore the old faith today if tomorrow all faiths will fail? “Faith” is a good word for what you do — To keep the faith is to be true — “Tru” Your faith is something you choose to believe, and to be true to. How many heroic tales tell of men whose troth was betrayed — yet surely it was better for them to believe in something and stand by it than to distrust all. When Loki is in a despairing mood he will tell you that nothing is worthy of trust — especially me. But you can always trust me to be myself, not so? Therefore to be true to me without being disappointed or betrayed by me, you have only to strive to understand me. And then, if my purposes are your purposes, there can be no conflict. (laughter)
I want as many voices as will speak for me. Let each one listen for the voice of mine that they can hear. Each one will hear and say part of my meaning. Together you may arrive at much of it, more of it, at any rate.
You cannot know truth — can you know troth? Can you, any of you, decide what it is with enough certainty to impose your will on others? You are arguing about what it should be, and what you should do to glorify your religion in the modern world. Who among you has asked us what we wish it to be? Do you think this is some game you are playing for your pleasure? It is not a game, and it is not for your benefit; it is not a hobby for the folk to play at, enjoying religion as an avocation as they might take up dog breeding or canasta.
Men battle viciously over the governance of those things as well. The drive to rank and order yourselves is very strong in the human animal. You talk as if the purpose of the religion were to make you happy, powerful, accepted in your communities, respected among the pagans. Perhaps it is true that religion has served those purposes for communities, but most of those things could be achieved just as well through any of the other faiths that are already established among you.
Or is it that you want freedom — perhaps creative freedom to make a new way that will fit you like a hand-sewn garment. Religion is an art, but it is not your art form. Do not go to the Thing to seek glory, or artistic fulfillment, or validation for your own perceptions. Do not go to be praised, or even for good fellowship. The path is strewn with sharp stones, and you must be more single in purpose than ever you have been when you sought the Underworld if you wish to navigate this wilderness.
Is the answer not yet clear? The pleasures of good company may bring folk to the Thing, but that is not why they have been called there. So few of you know how to hear our voices. You are so busy with your own thoughts, your minds are a buzz of useless trivia.
You are called from many places, many races even, not for the glory of the Teutonic folk or your own brilliance, but because the nations to which you belong stand at a crossroads. The sons of Surtr stir in their sleep. Jormungandr shifts and the earth is moved, the balance is more fragile than you know, and the Wolf Age may come sooner than the Norns foresaw. The battle is yet in the mind, in the minds of men. If it can be won there, the bones and flesh of Ymir may remain quiet for yet awhile.
We are the shapes that wait in the darkness beneath the surface of your minds. By bringing us into the daylight, you give us the power to transform your spirits, and through you, the spirit of the age.
Let those who wish to drink themselves into oblivion do so elsewhere. Let those who wish honors seek them elsewhere. Let those who seek to be True open their ears and make their offerings and listen to our words in their hearts. Decide not what will be most scholarly, or most magical, or most politically correct, or most entertaining, esthetic or the like. Do not worry about who has the best amber. Or the most authentic tunic. Such things can be lovely distractions.
We must work together. We must become manifest, not in a favored few, but in many, that the civilization of those that speak the English tongue may be transformed. When the battle is won you may play at creating a religion for your own pleasure. But for now, your task must be to extend Bifrost into Midgard — your spirits as various as the colors of the rainbow, until we all shimmer with the same light.
Trust — that is your current concern. Some things you already know. You can trust a good knife to be sharp, and a sharp knife to cut that which it touches. You can trust the gods to be themselves, to do what they do. To trust them to help you in any given situation, you must properly understand both the god, the situation, and yourself. I admit that this can sometimes be a problem with me. Some of the others are, if not simpler, at least more straightforward. But it is also true that each of you worships the god/dess that is found within, and no one therefore worships exactly the same deity as anyone else. So what you and another may say can both be quite true.
Trust me. Trust me as the bird trusts the wind or the fish the sea. Free your spirit to move within mine as its own proper element. Chant the runes to the wind, and their vibrations will pattern a link between you. You are raw energy which is shaped by concepts. Choose what shapes will define you.
Trust — when you yourself can trust me completely you can abandon your body to my care. One day, it will come. You will know how to trust me when you understand what it is to hang upon the Tree. You must become the Self which self-known is self-offered and self-fulfilled, and all of it happening now and forever. You are your own becoming, always.
(Given after a lecture on C. S. Lewis)
Words… and Beauty… that is the point of intersection, not doctrine. The Christians will honor Jack (A nickname for C.S. Lewis) with the customs to which they are accustomed, that give them comfort. But that will not bring them any closer to the creative spirit that was in him, only to the public man. I do not say men cannot find joy in such a service, but that is not how Jack first found it. You seek me because you seek the same Joy, the sehnsucht. The Germans understood it well. Mahler wrote his symphony about it. The Creative Spirit, the holy Spirit, ruach, önd, and Wod… He found the first hint of it in Northernness, but the way was still shut; we were still blocked and he could not touch us. He found it again in færie lore, and in the tales of Greece. He experienced that bright and beautiful world as one who is in his heart its citizen, but only in fiction and poetry could he allow himself the experience. He found compassion, and a reasoned, willed charity, in his formal religion. But that is not the same thing as delight, ecstasy.
What you seek is the same thing. He showed you one way, but you have found a way to it through me. Beware lest you become as bogged down in the minutiæ of organizational development for your religion as the Christians. They had the spirit too; in the beginning, they had Joy.
You may look at their ethics, however, and see if there is anything usable. They stole a great deal from us, it seems right to take something in return. But be very selective. Identify the problems they solve — do not necessarily adopt their solutions.
They hope for heaven; you hope for what? Not Valhalla, do you wish for Gimlé beyond the circles of the world? Or do you wish to die into the land — and is that to lose heaven, or to recognize that the goal is to recognize and learn to see all that is as holy. All these signs do not point to something Other, beyond, but rather to that which is hidden within. The transcedent is immanent. We are immanent. We are within. This is not transcendence, but transformation of that which is, or in some cases, of your vision of what is.
Do not seek to see someting else, see what is there. If you look at the world in the right way, you will see færie.
It is hard to argue theology with people who do not realise they are starting from a specific set of assumptions. Only when everyone articulates their assumptions about how the world works can you have a discussion. That includes you. When you stay only with your own folk, you grow lazy. Perhaps one day you can talk to these people, but you will have to marshal your arguments very carefully. Perhaps Barfield will help. He has a theology of the Word.
These are the virtues of our tradition: courage, honesty — with yourself and the world, steadfastness, acceptance — of the cycles of the world, so that trouble is as natural as ease. Challenge is good. You do not live in a world that is flawed, but in one that was not made for your convenience. You are not its steward, only a part of it, though one with great power to harm.
The weight of glory — the essence of what Lewis says is true. You are all gods, and must seek to realise it. But gods are not to be grovelled before, but celebrated. Recognize the potential without either pride or abasement.