The Importance of Belief
Updated: Feb 21, 2022
It is a common saying in the world nowadays: "seeing is believing." It is also anathema to the line of thought held in this theod, to say nothing of any genuine pagan revival group that truly seeks to restore the practice of paganism as it truly was held by the ancestors. Why is it important to believe? Some might point out that Christians, too, insist that their adherents believe without questioning, and so pagans must be no different from them in that respect. This is not so, because here at The Loyal Thanes Theod, at least, we do not ask our members to have totally "blind" faith, but merely to begin their journey by cultivating the attitude that they will give alternate possibilities about the nature of reality the benefit of the doubt, even if they are not currently mainstream. In our opinion it is a truly appalling trend in modern pagan groups (and heathen groups in particular) when the majority of the membership hold the view that we need to keep our spiritual experiences (and the sharing thereof) sufficiently toned down and out of the limelight so as not to ruffle the feathers of wider society or so as not to "scare off" prospective new members. What is the point of forming a religious group if you don't really believe, and can't show it?! If not outright symbolic atheists, some pagan groups espouse only a nominal, lukewarm belief but frown upon the individual spiritual experiences of members, as if it is something embarrassing and undesirable. There may be a few that truly believe (and experience) these things, but the rest of the membership drag them down and attempt to silence them.
In contrast to these lamentable situational examples, we ask our members to open their hearts and minds to the idea that they can experience our gods and the spirits of the Elder Troth (and any other beings or phenomena out there) for themselves, and are happy to say that they don't just have to take our word for it and leave it at that. The religious experience does not and should not stop with mere belief: belief must lead to direct experience of the divine and the supernatural. Belief is the gateway through which one may experience these things. Without it there is little if any hope that this will happen. Rather than "seeing is believing," our new members should endeavor to reverse this maxim, and read it as "believing is seeing!" We realize that this goes against the hyper-rational dogmatism of the current age, but it is true. The deliberate, calculated abandonment of this principle by the "learned" segment of European population a few centuries ago (and the shaming of the rest of the population into doing the same) is what is to account for the current psychic "blindness and deafness" of a good segment of the modern population.
Why is this, though? From a metaphysical standpoint involving states of consciousness, the insistence that one witness something before believing it (and hence to disbelieve until this otherwise occurs) is to close oneself off from the spirit world. It is an affirmation to one's higher self instructing it to deny the individual's conscious awareness access to these higher realms. You are saying to your higher self "I do not want to experience these things" even if you are not doing so deliberately. Some readers of this blog may have heard the expression that "we create our own reality" as New Agers have been saying for decades, and it is very true in this case. Consciousness is much like a programmable computer; you get out of it what you put into it. The problem is that for much of our formative years, parents, teachers, peers, etc. have been trying to stomp out all vestiges of "fantastic thinking" and "overactive imagination" from our worldviews. We are expected to begin to doubt and disbelieve anything that cannot be experienced with the five basic senses that modern science acknowledges the moment we cross the threshold into adolescence and adulthood (there is no such thing as ghosts, faeries, elves, werewolves, vampires, etc.) For many children, this process of desensitization and reeducation begins even earlier. In the average Western household, parents try to eliminate belief in everything except the Christian God (and perhaps the angels) and even that is starting to go into decline as atheism moves to supersede Christianity. So many people have been burned by the falsehoods and abuses of Christianity, it seems, that they are ready to throw out ALL religion and embrace unbelief (it is not uncommon to find that a good majority of the most militant atheists were psychologically and emotionally abused by the religion of their parents at some point in their lives.) Children often do experience spiritual phenomena and are psychically open to such things, but parents and caretakers dismiss such experiences as mere "figments of the imagination" and as the children get older the caretakers insist more and more to them that these things are not real, continually reinforcing a state of disbelief into the soft, pliable minds of the children until it hardens and calcifies as adamant doubt in adulthood.
Imagination is the very door of spiritual perception; you see the spirit world with your heart, and behold it in the "mind's eye" superimposed over the vision of your physical eyes. When someone sees spirits, they use their inner vision to perceive beings and events outside of themselves. That is why everything you "see" with the minds eye cannot all be chalked up to mental constructs and imaginative figments. They can hear them in much the same way that we "speak" to ourselves with an internal voice. It is also possible to use an extended version of the other senses to interact with the world of spirit by becoming more aware of the etheric and astral bodies. To our ancestors, the gods and spirits of the Elder Troth were (and ARE) very real, and since they were not subjected to such early, unrelenting assaults on their beliefs, they could experience and interact with them quite vividly.
What is "real" anyway? Most people would answer that reality is what all the other people they know can commonly experience, and anyone claiming to experience anything more than this "must be lying", "crazy", or "seeking attention." Sadly, I have heard such opinions on more than one occasion from self-styled "pagans." What is the point in being pagan if you really feel this way?! This paradigm is called "consensus reality" and many people erroneously believe that this socially constructed definition of reality is indistinguishable from absolute reality. Just because one person cannot witness non-physical phenomena from a higher plane of existence does not mean that others cannot. Many modern people cannot countenance the idea that some people be able to use psychic senses that are above and beyond what most people currently possess. Nevertheless, anyone potentially CAN develop these senses if they can find it within themselves to believe that it is possible and cultivate the drive to develop them. Why is this? Certain individuals, for one reason or another, are able to escape the materialist reality paradigm and their innermost beliefs are not compromised by it. They stay in touch with their "inner child" and retain that sense of wonder, awe, and acceptance of incoming perceptions that our ancestors had. As a result, they continue to experience these things into adulthood, but many of them wish they didn't, because they are so terrified of what other people might think of them were they to be open about it. They may be afraid of being labeled crazy. It would be helpful for them to know that spiritual experiences of otherworldly beings and psychic phenomena like telepathy or astral projection are not mere hallucinations.
Our consciousness is the interface between the spiritual universe outside ourselves and the microcosmic universe WITHIN ourselves. When you look at it that way, anything that you experience is "real." There is no "unreality" when it comes to experience. It all boils down to who is able to see, hear, or otherwise perceive these things and who cannot. The people that can may be at odds with their higher selves, and are unable to alter their internal programming because deep down, despite the influences in their social lives, they know that there is more to life than the material universe and the bland social life that modern people insist everyone should lead. If you are one of these people, and feel ready to cast off the bonds of society and seek a higher truth that you know deep down exists, then this theod may be for you. No one within our ranks need feel self-conscious or embarrassed about such matters. We openly encourage dialogue about spiritual beings and phenomena and interaction with them with the attitude that these things are every bit as "real" as the material world. This was the attitude of our ancestors, and it is no different with us. You might consider our organization an enclave in which such views and behavior is not only permissible, but encouraged. Our theod's mission, in part, is to form and maintain strong, lasting relationships with the benevolent gods and spirits of our Elder Troth, just as our ancestors did in times past. It should be known, however, that even when someone makes a conscious effort to believe, and strives to do so with conviction, some amount of spiritual work may be necessary to fully open the psychic centers of the astral and other higher aspects of the soul. In this theod, we are fully prepared and happy to insist new members in achieving a greater awareness of the universe and everything in it, and helping them to truly experience our gods rather than merely believe in them and "hope" that they are "real."