What is Heathenism?

What is Heathenism?

Heathenism is a religion that honors the ancient Norse, Anglo-Saxon, or Germanic gods and goddesses. These are the same gods and goddesses that the Vikings and pre-Vikings worshiped. It is a religion open to anyone who feels a closeness to such gods and goddesses.

How Does One Follow Heathenism?

“The mind alone knows what is nearest the heart…. Each man is his own judge” {Havamal}

Heathenism is a very individualistic path and there are about as many ways to practice it as there are people who practice it. You will find many conflicting ideas about what Heathens believe (the only thing Heathens tend to agree on is that they worship the Norse, Anglo-Saxon, or Germanic gods and goddesses). One follows Heathen by being close in their heart, to one or more of the Norse, Saxon, or Germanic gods and goddesses.

What are Some Variations of Heathenism?

Other terms used to describe variations of, or traditions similar to Heathenism, are Asatru, Vanatru, Odinism, Theodism, Norse-Paganism, and various other more obscure traditions. Asatru is fairly much another way to say Heathenism, though some may consider it a bit more specialized in some aspects. Vanatru tends to focus more on the Vanir, the group of gods and goddesses who are more concerned with nature and fertility. Odinism tends to focus more so on Odin as the leader or head of the gods/goddesses. Theodism is a form of Heathenism which focuses on the Anglo-Saxon aspect of the gods/goddesses and it tends to have a very tribal hierarchal structure to it. People who like to label their practice as Norse-Paganism tend to take a more loose interpretation on rituals and ways of thinking about and honoring the gods/goddesses, or perhaps they prefer to relate more to the general Neo-Pagan scene than to the Heathen scene. Some Norse-Pagans tend to be a bit more into Wicca than Heathenism or like to mix both together in some sense. Even there are some people who consider themselves Norse-Wiccan, but that falls outside of the scope of what can be considered Heathenism or related to Heathenism.

How Do You Worship?

The most common ritual is called a blot. In this ritual one normally offers drinks such as mead, beer, or fruit-juice to a god or goddess. Sometimes one may instead offer other drinks such as milk, spring water, or sometimes some type of food, or any other gift. There are various days which are holy in Heathenism.

The idea is to build a bond of friendship between the gods and goddesses and the worshiper. That is the form of relationship one seeks within Heathenism with their deities. Not that of bowing down or lessening oneself like in many other religions. A common important theme in Heathenism is that of giving and being given in return. Heathenism puts strong importance on balance and fairness in one’s dealings. Always being truthful is very important. And giving back in equalness to what another gives to us.

Another form of ritual is called a Sumbel. This is more free form and open-ended. This is a group-only ritual in which one passes a drinking horn of fruit juice around and each person gets to toast to whichever deity they want. Also sometimes in this one makes a vow to perform some action, or toasts to an ancestor or person they hold in high regard (living or dead).

Do You Believe in Magick?

Many Heathens practice a related form of magick. There are two common systems. The Heathen cosmology is very magickal in nature. Some people practice both of these magickal systems. Some people just one. Even some people practice no magick at all.

One is based on the writing, carving, and chanting of special magickal symbols called runes. Runes are very potent. Each rune has a name that can be chanted in a special way called Galdoring. Also traditionally one would carve the symbol itself into wood. Nowadays people tend to write them with other materials and techniques as well. Odin is the god in charge of this magickal system.

The other magickal system is very shamanistic in nature. It is called Seidh. It is maybe not as popular as the runic magickal system since it is not as easy to actually practice. It involves trances and inner journey work. Sometimes there are tantric-like sexual practices. Freya is the goddess in charge of this magickal system.

Please Tell About Your Gods/Goddesses

There are many gods and goddess in Heathenism. Many have slightly different variations of their names based upon the exact culture and time period one is connecting to. Some deities have a lot of nicknames and aliases. Here are some of the deities of the Heathen religion.

Odin/Óðinn/Woðanaz/Woden/Wodan/Wuotan/Wodans

Odin is Allfather. He was the first god–the creator of man and all the nine worlds. He is always seeking knowledge and magickal powers. He is the one who discovered the runes when he hung himself from the world tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days and nine nights. He has one eye, as he sacrificed one of his eyes to take a drink from the well of Mimir (thus increasing his knowledge). He has two ravens and two wolves as pets. The two ravens Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory) fly forth each day to gather information about happenings in all the nine worlds. He keeps half those who have died in battle in his hall, Valhalla. He tends to like to stir up battle amongst men so he can receive more warriors to his abode. He is a master of disguise and loves to travel the nine worlds pretending to not be himself. He probably has more aliases and nicknames then any other deity. He loves to seduce women even though he is married to Frigga. His favorite color is blue. Wednesdays are sacred to him.

Thor/Thórr/Thunor/Donar/Thunars/Thunaraz

Thor is a big well-muscled fellow with red hair and beard. He is the protector of the gods and men from the frost giants (forces of destruction). He has a quick temper, but a big heart. He has a powerful weapon called Mjollnir (Thor’s Hammer). Many Heathens wear a representation of this hammer around their neck as protective pendant. Thor’s Hammer is a magickal tool used for blessing and protection. Whenever Thor throws his hammer it comes back to him (like a boomerang). The Thor’s Hammer represents phallic might. It has potent fertility power. Thor is always going off to the east to fight the giants. He has a flying wagon pulled by two goats. His wife is Sif. His favorite color is red. Thursdays are sacred to him.

Freya/Freyja/Freo/Frawi/Fraujon

Freya is the most magickally oriented goddess! She is very beautiful and well sought after by many beings but she remains single. It is said she once had a mate who vanished. She has many lovers in all the nine worlds. She has a magickal falcon cloak that allows her to fly through all the nine worlds. She practices a powerful form of magick called seidh. This is a type of sexual shamanism. She comes from the very wealthy Vanir side of things. The gods are divided between the Aesir and Vanir groups. Long time ago both sides fought a war, but later on settled and formed a truce. Now they act as one group. Freya has a very firie type of energy. Fire and gold were associated together to the ancient Norse. She has a magickal necklace called Brisingamen. Her tears turn to amber. Gold is her favorite color. Fridays are sacred to her.

Frey/Freyr/Frea/Fro/Frauja/Fraujaz/Fro Ing

Frey is ancestral King of Sweden. He is the brother of Freya. He has very potent male sexual might and is often depicted with a constant erection. This shows his intense fertile powers. As such he is very connected to material abundance. He is the god of peace and plenty. Though also a good warrior when the need arises. King of the Light Alfs (elves). He is very nature oriented, as are all the Vanir. His sacred animal is the boar and he has a golden one as pet, called Gullinbursti.

Tyr/Tiw/Ziu/Teiws/Tiwaz

The god of justice, order, structure. He is a warrior and always fights with honor. He sacrificed one hand in order to bind the dangerous wolf, Fenrir. So he has only a stump where one of his hands was. Some say he used to be the sky father before Odin took over. Tuesdays are sacred to him.

Idun/Iðunn

She is the keeper of the golden apples of youth that keep the gods from aging. She is connected to health and long life. Once she was kidnaped and all the gods aged and got very weak til she was recovered.

Loki

Few worship Loki (except maybe on April Fools Day, or when worshiping Odin, since Odin swore to only accept an offering if Loki get’s a share as well). He is the god of disorder, chaos, and playing tricks on people. He is always creating bad situations for the gods. But he is always also getting them out of the bad situations. He helps create change and growth by creating challenge, so he is useful despite his negative aspects. He is always somewhat of a double agent and unpredictable and likes to play both sides against each other. Later on he turned actually evil, but was more of a mischief maker earlier. It was after he arranged to have Balder killed that he turned to the “dark side”. The mistletoe is sacred to him.

Balder

A god loved by all for his peacefulness and generally lovableness. He is the most handsome of all the male gods. His mother Frigga made all creatures swear an oath that they would never cause him harm (except she forgot the mistletoe). Later on Loki set Hodur (a minor blind god) up to throw a mistletoe dart at him. All the gods had been having sport of the fact that nothing could harm Balder and thus would spend all day tossing stuff at him and watching it bounce harmlessly off of him. Anyways the dart killed Balder instantly. They tried to fetch him from out of Hel (land of the dead, peaceful place of rest, nothing like the Christian Hell with two Ls) but Hel (the goddess in charge of Hel) would not release him. There he shall remain til after Ragarak. His favorite color is white.

Frigga/Frigg/Fricg/Frige/Frija/Frijjo

Wife to Odin, and mother to Balder. She knows all things but does not speak of them. She is very much connected to all things maternal and to motherly duties. The perfect wife type.

I’d Like to Learn More!

A good place to start is to read as many books on Heathenism and the Norse gods and goddesses as possible. The most important text of all are the Eddas (both poetic and prose form). Also any books that tell about the story of the gods are great to read. Heathenism is a religion that requires much pondering and deciding what makes sense to you. It’s not a packaged type religion like most where you are told what you can and can’t do and everything is spelled out for you. It’s a religion for thinkers and individualists! Of course this is not to say that there are not plenty of groups out there with their own (very strongly held) ideas about what Heathenism is, as there are plenty! But the best place is to start on your own. Once you have decided for yourself what Heathenism means to you then you can search for a group of like-minded people if it’s your desire to be part of a group! Many Heathenism practice alone. Some get together at times with other close Heathen friends to celebrate.

Here are lots of links to explore to learn more. These are best explored in the order given:

YouTube: An Introduction to Heathenry

YouTube: Heathen Ritual Tools

YouTube: An Introduction to the Heathen Festivals

YouTube: The Nine Words

YouTube: The Gods and Goddesses of Battlehall (Valhalla)

YouTube: Gods and Goddesses of Stormbright Hall (Bilskirnir)

YouTube: The Goddesses of Fenbank Hall (Fensalir)

YouTube: The Gods and Goddesses of Vanhome

YouTube: The Gods and Goddesses of Friendly Hall (Vingolf)

YouTube: Gods and Goddesses of Hel

YouTube: An Introduction to Haethen Elf Lore

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: An Altar

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: The Foundation

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: Holy Lore

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: Your First Ritual

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: Meet the Gods

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: Working Daily

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: Prayer vs Spell

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: What is a Prayer?

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: Idols

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: Offerings and Sacrifices

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: Communications Through the Runes

A Heathen Path Blog- Getting Started: Finding the Balance

Wikipedia: Norse Religion

Wikipedia: Vikings

Wikipedia: Old Norse

Wikipedia: Old English

Wikipedia: Polytheism

Wikipedia: Animism

Wikipedia: Magick

Wikipedia: Neo-Paganism

Wikipedia: Germanic Neo-Paganism

Wikipedia: Heathenry in the USA

Wikipedia: Heathenry in Canada

Wikipedia: Neo-Paganism in the UK

Wikipedia: Neo-Paganism in Scandinavia

Wikipedia: Neo-Paganism in Germany and Austria

Wikipedia: Neo-Paganism in Southern Europe

Wikipedia: Norse Deities

Wikipedia: Aesir

Wikipedia: Vanir

Wikipedia: The Landvættir

Wikipedia: Yggdrasil

Wikipedia: The None Worlds

Wikipedia: The Irminsul

Wikipedia: The Norns

Wikipedia: Wyrd

Wikipedia: The Blot

Wikipedia: The Runes

Wikipedia: Seidhr

Wikipedia: Sumbel

How to avoid group failed oaths effecting the group’s orlog (luck, karma)

The Norse Viking Concept of Right vs Wrong..

The issues of immigration, racism, and the Vikings and how it relates to Heathenism..

Heathenism and Meditation..

You might be oriented towards the Vanir if…

The Vanic Virtues:

Page linking to my Heathen rituals

God, Goddess, and Wight Invocations

eBook – Ravenbok: The Raven Kindred Ritual Book

Runes, Alphabet of Mystery

Book: Gods of Asgard – Stories about the Norse gods and goddesses in a comic book form which is based on the lore.

Book: The Norse Myths – The best book to get for starting to learn about the Norse gods and goddesses.

Book: Essential Asatru – This is the best book to get for anyone new to Heathenism. It gives a very well researched, accurate, fair and balanced perspective on things.

Book: True Magick – Though this book does not talk about Heathenism or very much about magick related to it, it is am important book to read to understand the basic concepts of magick and things related to the modern Neo-Pagan scene.

Book: Illusion – This is not a book about Heathenism, or even about Paganism. This is a book that helps one to come to understand how to _think in a spiritual way_ and open ones mind in a way that is needed for properly understanding Heathen, Pagan, and magick. This book is written in story form.

Book: Futhark – This is the first book to start with for learning the runes and the magickal systems related to them. First before starting to study the runes though gain a complete knowledge of the gods and goddesses and Norse cosmology and understand wyrd.

Book: Runelore – This is the second book to get to learn about the runes.

Book: Runecaster’s Handbook

Book: Teutonic Magic

Book: Northern Mysteries and Magick – This should be the fifth book to get in the study of runes and runic magick.

Book: Our Troth Book 1 – Very in depth well research, HUGE, two set of books. Between the both of them they are close to 1000 pages, so not for the beginner anyways.

Book: Our Troth Book 2 – This is the second book of Our Troth. Just as massively filled with information as the first one.

Book: Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner – Once you are already practising Heathenism, this is a must read book. It is all about making your practice more spiritually focused. Ignore the Loki and giant stuff in it.

eBook PDF: The Poetic Edda translated by James Chisholm

eBook: The Prose Edda

eBook PDF: The Well and the Tree – This book explains the important concept of wyrd in Heathenism. This concept is very important for understanding Heathen magick and sumbel.

The Road to Hel – Book that explains the Norse conception of death and the after life.

The Book of the Sagas

The Icelandic Sagas

eBook PDF: Beowulf

Book: The Poetic Edda Translated by Lee M. Hollander

Book: The Poetic Edda Translated by Carolyne Larrington

Book: The Prose Edda

Book: The Sagas of Icelanders

The Viking Answer Lady

Asatru U


Feel free to copy and pass this information out to others so long as you acknowledge the source.

Download this as a OpenOffice Doc – What is Heathenism

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