Why worship at all?

For me, worship is an act of celebrating.

When I worship nature, I celebrate its beauty, its clockwork perfection, balance, and lack of malice.

It also gives me focus, and a means to commune with something I know to be much bigger and greater than myself, in personal, not detached terms.

When I give worship to the gods of Asgard who my ancestors worshiped, it is my way of celebrating the ideals they embody– in Odin, the omnipresent and never ending quest for wisdom. In Thor, I find the value of strength, and the value of restraint of that strength (via the stories of how he failed to restrain himself). Loki teaches me the value of freedom, running against the current when needed, and being myself even when the world demands I conform, but also when that is not appropriate.

When people tell me that I must worship one or the other, I repeat my mantra that the gods I follow are of nature, not above it. They are imperfect as I am, but that does not mean I cannot learn from them.

And through these gods, I gain another means by which I commune with that thing that is so much greater than myself.
It fills a personal void for me. Others may follow so-called “perfect” deities, but to me, nature is the only perfect deity that can exist. Nature can only be defied in temporary terms, always wins in the end, with absolute power over all that exist in its domain, bears no malice or preferential treatment, rewards the hard working and punishes the slacker, and presents the only measurable afterlife: the cycle of life, death, decomposition, and renewal. Nothing is destroyed, only reused and repurposed in a new run of the cycle.
When I look for God, I don’t see a man in the sky, waving a finger at me saying “Do it or I’ll effing spank you!”, I see Nature as the World Tree supporting and connecting everything, and the gods of Asgard and Vanaheim which care for and preserve the Tree– because without nature, even the gods will perish.

And when I read about anything scientific, it becomes so easy to integrate what I learn scientifically with what I know to be true spiritually– there is no conflict for me.
But my gods aren’t perfect! Why follow them if they cannot be perfect paragons of everything I believe in?

It is in our imperfection that we seek perfection, and they share this quest with me.

Odin taught that “you are never so wise as to negate any need for the further quest for wisdom”. Through this, he turned his imperfection into a goal to always be more than he was the day before, and this is a model I strive to emulate. Even if we know perfection is unattainable, and perhaps not even real for us poor, miserable slobs, it serves as a goal to follow. If perfection is unattainable, then yes, perhaps you can never be perfect… but on the flip side, it means that you can always be better.

Who should be so content with who and what they are that they never desire to be better? Human ambition would take a nasty path after that.

As for the fact that everyone dies, even my gods are not above death (Baldr was slain by his brother on accident, and a large portion of the gods will fall defending the Nine Realms at the battle of Ragnarok, as two famous examples). This teaches us not to fear death: even the Gods, the highest form of thinking being, are not above death or exempt from it– so why fight needlessly against something which cannot be defeated? Through this, comes the assertion that we fill the time we have with deeds and things that make it worthwhile. The greatest fear of my ancestors was to be forgotten, not to be wiped out, and so ensured that they survived in the memory of others. They did this through monuments, stories, and deeds, which can live forever with proper care.

“Their song shall be sung forever” were words of condolence to those who had lost a loved one or friend– as long as we remember something, it is never truly gone.

No struggle is in vain– the Gods are said to take to a battle in Ragnarok where they know they will die if they fight. Why do this? Why do something so obviously suicidal? Because their lives and deaths aren’t for their own glory in the end, but for those who survive them. They fight and die for us, and their children– just as we will one day live and die for our children.

In that I know that the gods are allies who share in my struggle, friends and role models, as opposed to lords and masters, and no more above nature than myself, I am more comfortable with this than with some unseen father figure claiming he is perfect and ineffable and that I can never be completely like him, or know the complete truth of him.

When I ask Odin “I do not completely understand you”, the answer is “Neither do I. Let us discover that truth together, comrade.”

And that is so fulfilling.

 

 

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