When we think of religion we usually associate it with world religions such as the Abrahamic religions or Buddhism. More modern religions are the New Age and Wicca. Although Wicca certainly borrows many old, pre-Christian ideas and concepts my perception of it is that it’s a light religion for people who are not religious, but don’t wanna be merely gray atheists either. A fad to occupy your time with. Yet, I don’t really see any of these religions connecting their followers to any spiritual reality. The only spirituality that comes out from them is consensus spirituality, i.e. as long as everyone present agrees on a pseudo-spiritual concept they can pretend it’s true.
True religion, or true spirituality, is something quite different. My definition of spirituality is connection to the truth. This can be contrasted with science which is intellectual knowledge of the truth, or pursuit of it. True spirituality is something that comes naturally to you, not something you have to learn at a lecture or from some hierophant. This natural religion would be the ethnic or racial religion of each individual ethnic or racial group. Every culture on this planet has its innate Pagan pantheon or animistic system of spirituality. Connection to these beliefs was something our ancestors did quite naturally. They did not need to argue over theology and form countless different sects and denominations to have their own version of the same core religion, as it is for Christians, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. It was understood that different locations can have different gods and spirits, and certainly that different people have different gods. These religions are in our blood, whereas the world religions are in our minds.
The world religions are more of a spiritual ideology or philosophy than a religion. It does not mean that they are innately false, but must keep a certain intellectual distance to them. There are several Christian and Buddhist ideas that I agree with, yet overall I abhor the notion of following their robotic rituals and believing all of the dogma. The world religions give us various ideas such as an author gives you ideas in his book. You might agree with many of the ideas the author proposes, you might even say that you whole-heartedly agree with the overall message, yet you would not proselytize that everything the book says is holy, and to disagree with it is heresy. Not unless you are insane.
The natural, ethnic religions are different. You are a part of your personal ethnic religion whether you like it or not. It takes you back to the past of your ancestors and can also direct you to a future that you should be heading. One reason why it looks like we have no future, especially in Western countries, is that we have lost connection to our tribal gods. We either don’t care, or simply think they are childish fairy tales. But we should care as they are a part of us, those stories, those archetypes are a part of us, and knowing of our ancient religions is a necessary process to knowing ourselves. If you don’t know yourself, you cannot know anything at all.
I won’t conjecture on the possible metaphysical significance of our ancient gods here. It would take too much space.
My first hands-on experience with ethnic religion was in Japan almost 10-years ago with Shinto. Shinto (神道), the way of the gods, is the original religion of the Japanese. The name Shinto did not exist before the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, since they had no need to differentiate between the religion that was natural to them and another faiths. It was simply something natural. I too enjoy Shinto-shrines greatly. The aesthetic, the atmosphere and so on, but since I’m not Japanese I cannot fully understand it.
More recently I went to Hong Kong and Taiwan. The people there too had small shrines in their homes or even in some restaurants. Some of them had Buddhist deities (?), other Daoist or Confucian, but overall I got the impression it’s really just the Chinese ethnic religion, which has adopted Buddhist elements into it. Daoism and Confucianism are originally Chinese religions too, of course, but in some sense they have become disassociated from the ethnic religion. Not necessarily by the Chinese people, but by scholars.
Anyways, based on these experiences I though why don’t we have anything like that in Finland? Every Finn knows some stories about our pre-Christian beliefs and gods, but not that much. Maybe we should re-discover them. Another inspiration for this post is the recent trend of Red Ice Creations to promote Asatru, the Norse religion. I’m happy to see its resurgence, even though we Finns are not the descendants of Norsemen. I’ve always found the Norse myths such as Ragnarok quite fascinating. I first heard the word Asatru around ten years ago, and thought it sounds fascinating. Then I heard it was “racist”, even though I didn’t really see how, but I didn’t look further into it. I’m now very embarrassed of my past wussiness. But all true religion is racist. Deal with it.
It does not, of course, mean that if spirituality is related to your race that you should impose it on others or persecute others based on religion. It’s the opposite. Only with the advent of the “universal” religions that religious persecution has become a common thing. A sane Norseman would not presume that a Japanese man would have to follow his religion, or wise versa. Only when you take race out of religion is that this has happened.