‘Beliefs’ is a very nebulous, covers-all-ground kind of term, I know, but I think when you’re working with deities and walking a path that makes a goodly number of people go “…wait, what did you just say?” it’s always a good thing to have a basic framework slash explanatory sort of post that you can point people to and say “I mean that!“, which is what I’m going to try and cover with this post. Likely it will just be sprawling and ramble-infested, but damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! ;P
My statement: I believe in the Valar: I believe in a group of Powers from “the universe-next-door”. I believe that said universe-next-door is real, and connnected somehow to the one I am currently living in, though I’m unsure how precisely.
So let’s break those statements down. I believe in the Valar: I believe in a group of Powers from “the universe-next-door”.
Most people know the Valar from JRR Tolkien’s Legendarium, that is, the entirety of his works concerning his imagined world of Arda. For those who don’t: the Valar are fourteen powers (‘Valar’ [singular vala] translates to ‘powers’), or demigods, with seven of them considered kings and queens, who watch over the world but exceedingly rarely intervene directly. They feature primarily in the posthumously released The Silmarillion.
Why do I believe in such a thing? I’m afraid the answer is sprawling and complicated, but despite that, basically boils down to “I just do”. Because it would be silly of me (and unconscionably rude) to stick my fingers in my ears, squeeze my eyes shut, and hum when it comes to the Valar, who have made their presence in my life known since before I even knew of them.
Many years ago, I was a baby witch who could feel a great power when I reached out, a little dangerous but mostly quite benevolent, but I wasn’t sure what to call it. Or who it was. Having my head all whirled up in Wiccan dogma, I simply decided I was feeling the God and the Goddess, and worshipped them as best I could.
Then I first read The Silmarillion and suddenly, things seemed to click into place. I knew those Powers, they sang in my blood and my head and my heart. The mythology sunk into me and it felt right. I found myself reaching out to the Valar — particularly Varda and Manwë, I think mostly because I could think of them as forms of the Wiccan God and Goddess — as themselves. They responded, of course.
I was terrified. I was convinced I was going mad. “Kate, this is all from an author’s imagination. There is no way they can be real. You’re a silly fangirl at the best, and at worst, you’re completely bonkers!” But to deny something that made so much sense to my mind and my heart…that surely would have been more bonkers?
I tried fitting the Valar into a Wiccan paradigm. It didn’t work, I think most because the Wiccan paradigm doesn’t work for me. It was what set me off down my witchy path, and I will never not be thankful for it, but it wasn’t for me.
I’d like to say there was a big revelation where suddenly everything clicked and fell into place, but nothing like that ever happened. I continued to follow the Valar, continued to wonder if I was completely mad, and continued to be very vague about my pagan beliefs whenever asked, referring to my pantheon by kennings only — the Star Queen, the Wind King, the Earth Queen, so on and so forth. The closest I came to making peace with what I believed was reading this article when I was seventeen and realising I wasn’t alone. So many things the author’s “irritating inner voice” said to her sounded exactly like my own!
I think it was a simple combination of time and dipping my toes into the pagan blogosphere as a lurker that brought me to the point where I stopped thinking I was insane, or a silly fangirl, et cetera and ad nauseum. I wasn’t the only witch in the world who followed a ‘fictional’ deity (or deities) — I wasn’t even the only person who followed the Valar! And really, who is to say one myth or legend is more real or accurate than another, really? When I discovered the theory of imaginality and the imaginal realm, my faith became rock-solid, no more chiding myself. But that’s another post for another letter. ;)
I believe that said universe-next-door is real, and connected somehow to the one I am currently living in, though I’m unsure how precisely.
Here’s where things get a bit “woo”, to use a hilarious term that means, sadly, “anything outside the socially acceptable plethora of spiritual beliefs”. Hilarious as the term is, I have a few issues with it, but again, that’s something I’ll touch on in a different post.
The Valar are not from my world. Obvious, right? I believe that in my heart of hearts, I know that from the nóre, I know that from my journeying to their realm. Their universe is akin to my own, but is not my own. I believe it is real, for reasons I’m actually loathe to speak about even under a semi-anonymous cloak — they’re highly precious and personal reasons, for the most part. There’s also the reason that I believe all ‘fictional’ worlds are ‘real’ somewhere, which I actually share with quite a few people (almost so many it’s hardly considered strange, these days).
So. My pantheon are not from my world. They’re from another world! Which is connected to ours! Nifty — but how does that work? Here’s the thing: I don’t entirely know. And over the years, I’ve started to wonder…does it matter if I do know or not? Is that the core question I want to concentrate on in my spiritual life?
Well, no. It isn’t. I don’t walk this path with the Valar because I want all the answers to life, the universe(s), and everything. That’s not my reason; never has been and never will be. I follow this path because I feel called to it, because my spirituality is how I feed my soul, guide my spirit, and illuminate my life. (Do I sound like a fluffy bunny yet? :P) I’m not bothered by not knowing all the little details. Perhaps that’s choosing ignorance willfully, but really…what I’m most worried about is living out my life as best I can, not harming anyone as I do so, and making strong connections with those who reach out to me. I’m quite content leaving the little (or big!) details to someone else.
That’s not to say I don’t think about the whethertos and whyfors of it all! I certainly do, quite often. But I don’t see any point in working myself into a bind over it. I know what I know, and what I can’t understand, I know someday the Valar will help me to understand. Maybe that day’s tomorrow, maybe that day’s not until the End of Days. It will come when it comes, and I’m fine with that.