Culture is fluid, topical mostly. According to the dictionary it’s “the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.” At multiple times in a single day, one’s personal values come into conflict with those of the society in which they live. These occasions create rifts in individual thought that, compiled, may manifest as self-doubt, anger, depression, longing, and the like. Overall, the challenge with culture is that it is considered societal instead of individual.
This certainly explains the wide variance of beliefs and opinions even among admittedly like-minded groups. One’s personal family rearing becomes one’s culture, coupled with religious and/or educational settings, employment and/or college, and innumerable other factors that literally shape individual perspective.
Following the line of my people – in large measure to discern their culture to better bring it into my world today – I tend towards the Germanic Philosophers. Mostly, I sense in their words a continuity of Old Ways, a thread within the tapestry that is my Heathenry today.
For example, I have long contended that the operative phrase is not ‘we are our deeds’ but ‘you are you deeds’. For example (and linguistics aside), rarely does society or community act in a ‘we’ manner. In fact, the actuality is that, increasingly, individuals today feel more isolated from their surrounds than they feel drawn to interact with them/it.
Note how I left out tribe in the above. For, as often as that word is lobbed about (mostly with grandiose imagery), I count on one hand the tribes in Vinland that actually exist.
Clearly, as the word includes: culture requires cultivation.
Knowing I hung, upon a windy tree,
nights all nine, spear wounded and given to Wod,
self to my Self; upon this tree which no man knows,
from where its roots originate.
-Hávamál 138 (Wright translation)
Which is why randomly ticking-off nine virtues means nothing without living expression (let alone attempting to reclaim a Viking or ‘arch-Heathen’ culture).
One must stand where they are.
Which is why I prefer the word bildung over that of culture (or at least, as it is so unwittingly applied today). Bildung is a process which begins with self, and that eventually leads to Self. The same process that Wodan took, the process that has been left to us by example, the process that creates kinship of an individual’s heart and mind into union with their identity within society. And, ideally, tribe.
As a Seiðwoman, I know who my tribe is (reference my essay on Seiðr Lineage); and that is a process that began some 36+ years ago, and remains a journey I remain upon. Returning to Wodan, another name he is known as is Herjan, the Lord of Hosts, leader of the EinHerjar.
Ein – only, only one; firm, trust, incessantly; decided, firm will
Herjar – to go harrying or freebooting; to lay waste
Removed from the fanciful, this is a powerful image: A singular Leader, leading by example, those who would enter an ecstatic relationship. To ‘hurriedly’ ‘lay waste’ to self ..
“At the heart of the Wodanic Mysteries, there is the einherjar; and of them, a great deal of speculation. More than Wodan’s warriors, these few can suggestively be considered as self-slayers, or slayers of Self. For example, eina means, “only, alone”, and herja means, “to go harrying”, which is to “lay waste”. If Wodan progressed from Warlord to Seiðu then would not his men do the same? If so, then Berserks and Seiðus – roaming the Utgard – would rigorously maintain a strict physical discipline, take counsel only from their isolate ethos, and actively work to defend the Folksoul. All total, this would be the ultimate expression of Wyrd Consciousness; or, a condition that reflects their inner Wodan.”
-Hávamál: The Language of Being (book, forthcoming)
In addition to these thought-forms, those who would Know, recognize too that they have been left a symbol – a singular Rune – to guide them in this very personal journey: The Valknut. It is the premiere symbol of Self-expression, Self-evolution and Self-enshrinement. In short, Wyrd Consciousness.