In a recent conversation with someone I found myself talking about religion as fashion accessory. It seemed a bit odd to me at first but I have noticed that this is a pretty common state of affairs for so many, Heathen and otherwise. Honestly, it’s not all that surprising to me that we can so easily treat it that way. After all, we are constantly surrounded by consumer messages that tell us to satisfy our desires. If it doesn’t make us feel good then it should be discarded. Religion is just another thing that we accessorize our daily lives with. We slot it in where it’s convenient and when it’s not, we just sort of “forget” that it’s there. Why shouldn’t we? We compartmentalize so much else that we naturally remove religion from an all the time thing to make it a some of the time thing.
There are all sorts of stereotypical behaviors that one could attempt to cite as evidence of “Fashiontru” but none of them, on their own, are inherently dismissible and some of them are activities that a sincere person might engage in. In truth, there’s really only one key element that I look for when I’m trying to see if I am falling into the trap of treating my Heathenry as a fashion statement; does it serve only to aggrandize my ego? This one question tells me more about what I’m doing than anything else.
As a personal example allow me to bring up my Jultid offerings. I have spent far too much of this month fighting a nasty version of the flu. I am still partially without my voice. For someone who talks as much as I do, both for a living and because I am a bloviating cretin, this is a downright problem. At the onset of Jul, when I make the majority of my offerings, I was croaking out very few sounds at all and it hurt to even attempt to do so. I was whining to a friend about not knowing how I was going to speak my biddings when I could barely make a sound. Frankly, I was making a right ass of myself because I was more concerned about me than doing what I needed to do. In his less than subtle way he reminded me to stop whining and just do it. He was right. In my self-pity I was making a holy act about me. I was wearing my Heathenry as a fashion accessory to show how “Heathen” I was while not putting in the full effort. So, I went outside, said what I needed to say, and croaked my way through it. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. Frankly, it hurt like the dickens, but it was done and it was done right.
I tell you this story not because I want to look good but because I want to illustrate a point. We do what we do because we must do it. It doesn’t matter if it is easy or convenient. We make the offerings because we have been given gifts. We continue the gift-giving cycle and we reaffirm our bond with the Aesir, the Vanir, our ancestors, and the wights around us. Sometimes this is a down-right pain in the butt. That doesn’t matter, however, because it is the right thing to do. It is the proper thing to do. If we are only Heathen when it’s easy for us, then we are treating our faith as nothing more than a fashion accessory that we can show off. It becomes no more meaningful than a token and that does more harm to our relationship with the numinous Other than anything.