Hinduism and Heathenism are closely related. I argue the point on three levels…
1. Hinduism and Pre-Christian Heathenism (along with Druidism, Greek Paganism, Zoroastrianism etc.) evolved from the same basic source, Proto Indo-European Paganism.
2. Hindu and Buddhist philosophy has been hugely influential in the Neo-Pagan movement from which Recon Heathenism was born. (And for anyone who’d like to argue that Recon Heathenism is NOT a form of Neo-Paganism, all I can say is “grow up and stop kidding yourself”.)
3. The connection just makes a lot of sense to me personally, on an intuitive level. I’ve learned a lot from studying the eastern religions and clearly I’m not alone among Heathens in feeling this way.
So where does that leave us? Actually it gives us a fantastic new tool, an idea we can use.
The ordinary conception of Heathen history is as a broken line. If we accept the influences of Hinduism and Neo-Paganism on contemporary Heathenism, we can mend the break. Consider this…
We trace our history backwards from Pre-Christian Heathenism to Proto Indo-European Paganism.
We then trace our history forward from Proto Indo-European Paganism to Hinduism and then Buddhism.
From Hinduism and Buddhism, we again trace forward to Neo-Paganism.
From Neo-Paganism we trace forward to Reconstructionist Heathenism at which point we reconnect with our ancestors and realize our religious history is no longer a broken line. It has now been revealed as a circle.
Our tradition is a very ancient one. I find great comfort in that fact.
And, this idea can be used in other ways. Let’s see how we can apply this new knowledge to a common uncomfortable scenario. Someone from work asks you if you’re religious. You have a few different options. You could…
2. Refuse to discuss the issue.
3. Explain to them honestly that you practice the reconstructed polytheistic religion of pre-Christian northern Europe (and deal with the fact that they now think you’re a raving loony).
4. Say something clever.
What I usually say in this kind of situation goes something like this…
“I feel a lot closer to Hinduism and Buddhism than I do to Christianity, though I’m not really a Hindu or a Buddhist. (Or, I am and I’m not.) I feel I get a lot out of studying philosophy, psychology, history and mythology. Personally, I really get a lot out of mythology, even more than academic philosophy.”
How’s that for magic? Just few simple words, nothing but the truth, and I’ve transformed myself from “potentially dangerous psycho” into “sensitive, intelligent and obviously well read”. This routine probably would not work if delivered to a Christian fundamentalist, but living in Southern California it tends to go over pretty damn well.
Let’s face it. Being part of a new minority religion sucks. Regular people think we’re crazy. They put our books next to the reptilian conspiracy theorists instead of in the religious section and we’re classified as “miscellaneous” on the census. Buddhism and Hinduism, however, are big. They’re old. By accepting ourselves as part of that family we gain a very healthy measure of social acceptance and respectability. And the best part is you don’t need to convert! You don’t need to change a thing! Heathenism is a form of Indo-European Paganism. It is a western variant of Sanatana Dharma. Our tradition is ancient and we are a part of a great and proud religious family.
Aum Siva-Wodinaz Aum