I don't remember having a singular moment of revelation where I suddenly knew the Gods were real.
I was initially skeptical of Ásatrú because I didn't believe in the supernatural and my faith was science or secular humanism. Time did its thing and I found myself wanting more than that selfish worldview could ever provide. I wanted a community with deeper roots.
So, I went back to the Catholic Church of my upbringing. I had a true crisis of faith, rebelled against Yahweh and had held an anger at "God" for years. But in the decade that I had been away from it, that church had dramatically failed. The old folks wouldn't touch each other during the sign of peace because they were afraid of swine flu or avian flu- whichever fad flu it was. There were no young people. The Irish parish was full of Asians...
I was also becoming racially aware at this time. I was growing frustrated with the erosion of traditional roles and status that I had been raised to expect and of the broader cultures’ rejection of natural order. I became interested in political movements, but ultimately was underwhelmed by the quality of the people involved compared with the ideals.
Along the way, I was introduced to "Norse paganism" and binged around various groups. Some were universalist (even though in practice it was all white people), some were "tribal" whereby the importance was on being adopted into the tribe, and some were Folkish with a focus on the kinship between the Aesir and the Folk.
One of those Folkish groups was the Asatru Folk Assembly which was relatively small in Pennsylvania at the time. I was very much a tire kicker. I hung around but didn't join any. Our local AFA Folkbuilder at the time, Pat Hall, managed to arrange for the McNallens and senior leadership (which included Alaska Folkbuilder Matt Flavel) to come to an event called Winter Nights in the Poconos. This was the first time I was able to participate in Blot and Sumbel with Folk who truly believed in our Gods, rather than using them for various political and social reasons. I still wasn't there. But I did make up my mind to choose to "believe in believing in the Gods". I still didn't join the AFA for almost another year. I began a practice of devotion to the Gods, with much guidance from Folkbuilder Hall. I learned about the runes and ways to use them. I read the Elder and Younger Eddas, various retellings of the Eddic stories that were easier to understand, and the Völsung Saga. I didn't read much contemporary material, which I think benefited me. Steven McNallen hadn't published "Ásatrú" yet.
I began meditating and I began a gift cycle first with my ancestors- after all, even as a skeptical person I knew for a fact that my ancestors were real once. I started to become more confident in myself in ways not related to religion or politics. I then chose to assume that this was my ancestors blessing me, and if this were true that I would also assume that other spirits were real such as Vættir and the Æsir.
I joined the AFA, and by the time I had done this I had enough real proof in my life that devotion my ancestors, that honor to the wights and that worship if the Gods made a real and positive difference in my life that they must be real.
I decided to become a Folkbuilder. I met my wife in the AFA. All my closest non-blood friends I know because of the AFA. My children were born into the AFA. I have the great privilege to serve our Folk in a way so much more important than politics. I share in the chance to really change the course of our history for the better in a permanent way.
It's now over 25 years since I had a crisis of faith with Roman Catholicism. I was a snobby, know-it-all atheist for ten of those years. I thought the universe was there for me to observe. I'd have loved simulation theory if it were more mature at the time.
It's been 15 years since I was first aware of Ásatrú as a modern religion, and 10 years since I made a gamble of a choice to treat it as real even if I was intellectually resistant to such things.
And that has made all the difference in my life. I know some people have a moment of revelation. But for those who have not, you should know that it is okay and quite normal. Devotion will yield a slow “drip, drip, drip” of blessings that make you stronger and more confident. It will win your fame. It will win you the girl. It will build your wealth. Things will happen when and in such a way so as to make it undeniable that your devotion is working. That energy builds up in a way I have trouble describing.
That will be all the proof that you need.
Witan Clifford Erickson