One of the greatest things about this era is that, in many ways, we are already a global people. The invention of the printing press and world travelers allowed books and papers to be published even before the internet. Books and papers that would allow an individual in one culture to learn about and feel the call of the gods of another all-together different culture. The internet only made this exchange of information easier, and despite a lot of the things going on in the world and some of the Trolls lurking on the "information superhighway" this is a great time to be alive. 

But I'm not writing this today because I want to express overt positivity, (it still sounds very weird and out of character coming from me…) instead I wanted to write about the act of learning another language as a devotional act for your gods or spirituality of choice.

I am studying Japanese. And I would personally recommend a similar discipline of any individual honoring gods primarily of another culture.

Language expresses ways of thinking that can often be different between groups of people and are often difficult to translate directly. So though gods and spirits are not limited by human language, it would behoove us to try and see the world, at least partially, in the way the original practicers of the faith might see it.

From a purely academic perspective, it will also allow a seeker to make their own judgment without the inevitable bias from translators, no matter how well-meaning. 

But learning a language is hard. Especially when doing so on your own, which is why I also feel the effort makes a great offering to the spirits and gods. A way to show your love, serious devotion, and respect.

What do you think? Would you recommend Heathens/Asatru learn Norse? Or Hellenistic Pagans learn Greek? Though certainly not a requirement I would personally recommend it!

Views: 46

Comment by Enigma on July 23, 2019 at 9:20am

Language holds the inner keys to a culture and its religion. The colonizers of the Americas realized this and in order to destroy the ancient cultures of the Americas they sought to forbid speaking of its languages. Learning a language living outside of a culture is helpful in the pursuit of its religious experience, but it falls short in attaining the completeness of living and learning the language within the culture itself.

Comment by Dave Pellani on July 23, 2019 at 10:24am

The two basic schools of thought are indigenous, and universalist. It is undeniable that all religious paths on this planet are ethnically based, and to all the early indigenous tribes, their spiritual values was the cement that held them together, even if it didn't always work out that way.

Two other scenarios, one is before the various tribes and cultures of the earth had any connection to one another, but had well developed systems of indigenous religious beliefs. 

The other is as humanity evolved and became more civilized via intelligence, came the ability to become more mobile. This was not always a welcome scenario, and in some cases, breaking the indigenous lineages turned out to be quite disastrous.

However, once it started, there was no stopping it.

So in the modern world I see it as strictly an individual choice, if  anyone decides to adopt another theology and language from an alien landscape. But more important, to have the unfettered choice to practice the indigenous old ways as it was ethnically and originally intended, and interpreted by the practitioner..

Comment by Shawn Cameron on July 23, 2019 at 3:11pm

that is a beautiful story, @Olivia Moffitt! and I personally think a great way to connect to an ancestor who is making contact with you. Personally, I also agree with not limiting one's self to one aspect of our being, wether that be DNA ancestry or whatnot, but just because one has a focus on one part doesn't mean they ignore or cut out the other parts *shrug* if that makes any sense. Just because my focus has shifted to Japanese Shinto doesn't mean I will give up my connection to the Norse gods (they have done so much for me, including pointing me in this direction)

@Enigma - Living and studying in the culture itself is the eventual goal but sadly I am not in a position where I can pack up and move. My husband and sons, in particular, would make it difficult and I would never wish to be unfair to them. that being said I totally agree with you! but we have to take what we can get sometimes and take the slow small steps. 

@Dave Pellani - I tend to be universalist. though I understand and respect peoples opinions and decisions to think/be more tribal. they make good points but so does the other side *shrug* just as you say it is up to the individual to decide for themselves and simply agree to disagree with those who see it the other way.

Comment by Dave Pellani on July 23, 2019 at 4:21pm

If there is one thing Judeo Christianity taught us, is how to squander the langage and culture of those whom they overlorded as missionaries. The word of god was in breaking treaties and ignoring prior agreements of land re-distribution.

There was no "brown man" prerequisite, there was no need to do that in a society that at one point had not been influenced by the influx of invaders.

The Norse and Germanic tribes were very lucky in that respect. Even though largely absorbed and influenced by Chrisitianty, they were in a unique position to keep their ethnic, religious, and cultural values intact. Only problem is they had to rely on reconstructionism, in order to keep the lineages alive for the future. The interference made it all the more difficult, and confusing.

These are well known historical affairs, and this was devastating to the indigenous paganlike cultures. Languages squandered, records destroyed, as well as ritual, dance, dresscodes, and the creation of societal taboos in order to crush the human spirit, and the very fabric of what held these people together.

One can qualm with the indigenous ritual practices, the same way one can qualm with the Dark Ages, the Inquistions, and the draconian moral codes enacted into law for two thousand years..

It took centuries for these cultures to recover their original identities. But they had to do it in the shadows of their captors, and they will forever be tainted by it. They just simply accept it, and move on with what freedom and dignity they had left.

Revival of the language was an integral part of the process, because in their customary diologue, from ritual contact with their deities, to communciation with each other, you don't have anything left without those components.

This should be a very powerful lesson in terms of resononating with ones ancestry, and even for those of alien ancestries. It makes the connection to ones ancestral lineage all the more special.

This is not always, but often is the basis for the foundation of what people identify with, ie their cultural ancestry, in order to c hart a pagan path for themselves.


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