- Apr 29, 2012
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The times they are a changing.
A Kindred Spirit: Heathenry at Sea
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74)
Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacob L Greenberg
Sailors’ puzzled faces strain to make sense of what was just passed over the one-main circuit: “Heathen lay service will now be held in the Ship’s Chapel.”
Heathenry, a religion with roots in Norse culture and mythology, is being practiced by a small, committed group of Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
Aviation Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Joshua Wood, from Eagle River, Alaska, is John C. Stennis’ Heathen lay leader. Wood has practiced Heathenry for over five years.
“I took a world mythology class in high school and that opened my eyes to the Nordic Gods,” said Wood.
Wood, who was raised Roman Catholic, found Heathenry’s teachings within the religion’s Eddas aligned with his personal beliefs more than the monotheistic philosophies he was raised with. The Eddas, two separate works of poems and prose, are the largest collections of Viking mythology and are essential pieces of work for Heathens.
Wood said that he found a kindred (a community of practicing Heathens) local to him in San Diego, which enabled him to further connect with the religion.
“They are my surrogate family,” said Wood. “They helped me understand the religion, and with their help, I transitioned from someone who was merely interested in the religion to someone who is well-versed enough to lead others in prayer. I went through them to get certified to lead services on the ship.”
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