One of the things we need to do if we are to move forward as a religious movement is to define the terms we use precisely and reasonably. We do not want to be accused of knee-jerk reactions or simply responding with buzzwords that might help win an argument. The point is to know, to define clearly, and to inform.
With this in mind I would like to take a moment to define exactly what New Agism is, so that when we point out New Age beliefs we are doing so correctly. Almost always when you point out that someone is a New Ager or they are practicing New Age ideas they will scoff and act like you are crazy for even suggesting it!
It’s funny because a lot of the division we have seen over the years in Heathenry has been political, not religious. When you actually observe what it is many people practice the differences are few and far between and these groups have a lot more in common than they realize. This is why we have to move towards Traditional Religion (Sedianism) and away from the feel-good, anything goes belief that evolved from counterculture movements in the 60s and 70s.
So let us define the basic principles of New Age belief:
1. Self-Deification: This is the foremost ideal of New Age belief and is recognized by researchers as a unifying tenet within all of its many incarnations. It is the idea that the Self is either higher than or on par with the divine. From this has come notions of rejecting humility before the Gods, claiming that one can become a God, and denouncing any other form of expression as “Christian,” or “Abrahamic” without any evidence to back these claims up.
2. Rejection of Religion: Although sociologists do recognize that New Agism does indeed contain all of the aspects of a religion, the word itself is emphatically denied. The claim by a New Ager is that they are Spiritual, not Religious, for they equate ALL religions with those that engage in Crusades or Inquisitions. This has also fostered an intense Anti-Christian reactionary belief that many have melded into their practice.
3. Rejection of Order: the one thing that New Agers do not like more than anything is the imposition of rules or the recognition of divine law, no matter how much evidence you show to the contrary. The New Age movement has been and always will be a hedonist movement, and thus the placement of rules and order becomes contrary to their worldview.
4. Modernism: For many New Agers, their true religion is their politics. These quaint traditions and dramatic displays are nothing more than a platform for their political beliefs. Challenge their view of a particular deity and they will shrug their shoulders. Challenge their view of a particular party and they will seethe with all the wrath of the most virulent Crusader.
5. Rejection of Divinity: Why follow a religion that isn’t a religion? Because of all that has been said above. This is why so many New Agers must emphatically support academia, for they provide the justifications needed for any and all of their beliefs, when the primary source material does not. No one worships symbols, and no one ever has.
These are some of the most common unifiers that can be easily recognized as part of New Age belief. Please understand that we are not putting this here to disparage anyone or how they practice anything. We are simply trying to gain a better understanding of our ancestral belief, while examining various social and religious phenomena that may have developed within the last half century. When we ask a question such as “do we kneel before the Gods?” Or “does damnation exist for polytheists?” and we get a response we want to know the origin of that response. That way we move forward not only with a better understanding of how our ancestors viewed this religion, but also with a better understanding of how certain fallacies may have developed.
In looking at our sources, and hashing out the beliefs of our ancestors, many will find themselves at a crossroads with how they view these beliefs. We have to reach a point where we ask ourselves: am I a Teutonic Polytheist, or am I a New Age Atheist? Do I believe in the Gods or do I dismiss them as symbols and superstitions? Do I believe in holy law and a divine sanction of order, or do I believe that I am accountable to no one and nothing? In reality you have to ask: is my life centered around the Gods or is it centered around myself? When you say "these are MY Gods and I worship them how I see fit!" you are essentially saying "I bend the faith to my will, and therefore I am the only divine one around here."
In order to remove our ego from the belief, we have to look to the source material and discern how we can embrace a life of piety before the divine. I would say that the first big step in doing that is to embrace the notion of divine law. You cannot escape it, and no amount of "reasoning" or making up stuff or cherry picking is going to erase the fact that divine law does exist within the Teutonic belief system, and it would be an oddity if it did not. In the Voluspa, an ancient polytheist source, we see that the very first thing the Gods did when they began ordering the worlds was establish their Thingstead. "Then the Powers all went to their Thing-seats" (v. 6). A Thing is a court of law. "Thence come maidens (Norns), who know much, three from the hall, standing under the tree. The lots of men and LAWS they laid, chose the fate of the children of time." (v. 11)
Transgression of these laws were called "nid" and one who committed a disgraceful action a "niding." From the Vigfusson Dictionary: "níðingr, m. [A. S. or Early E. nidering = slander], a nithing, villain, legally the strongest term of abuse (like Germ. ehrloser), for a traitor, a truce-breaker, one who commits a deed of wanton cruelty, a coward, and the like." A nid is a violation of divine law, and is thus subject to punishment within Niflhel. We see such concepts in Vedic sources, Egyptian sources, Greek sources, and so on. No longer can we allow New Agers to simply pass over things as "Christian" or "Abrahamic," simply because they do not like it. If you can prove your case with primary source arguments, then by all means do so. But if you cannot, made up arguments and modern "academics" do not trump what can be proven from the sources and cross-cultural comparisons.