Kind of a short post here, but the sentiment is from my heart: stop creating “Heathen” groups. It doesn’t make any sense.
Heathenism is powerful because of its decentralized and unorganized nature. Families on disparate farms had their own ways of tracking and marking holidays, prayer and sacrifice were — for the most part — individualistic (Uppsala was a huge center for worship where yearly feasts were held, however, and is an example of there being some kind of organization). Part of this decentralized nature could be attributed to regional weather, travel difficulties, distances between farms, perhaps; though it must be said that if any group of people took to travel, the Northern Europeans did. I think, though, that the greater proportion of reason for a lack of centralization lies in the very nature of what Heathenism is.
To be a Heathen is to simply be. To live as a human and get the most out of each day. To strive forward and live with a code of ethics based on honor. To care for your family and friends, to help your neighbors if they need it, to treat each day as though it could be your last. To be a Heathen is to enjoy the hell out of living. You don’t need an organization and weekly meetings and reading assignments to do that. In fact, it’s better to start your own kindred among your family and close friends. Share old heathen stories with each other, vent about the work day, make a good meal, revel in your shared and personal existences. Work together to understand your place in the scheme of things, and let your common sense guide you in how you will represent heathenism to your neighbors and community.
The constant influx and arguments from the neo-Heathens about which organized group best represents “true” Heathenism is absurd. Those are the arguments for Christians, not for us. There’s no need for a Heathen Martin Luther with his 99 points. Each kindred is going to have different needs, experiences, and expectations out of life. There’s just no way or need to force all of those people to follow the same tenets, rituals, rules, etc. If you must have an example, look to the philosophers.
Existentialism in its simplest form is Heathenism. The understanding that our reason for being here may never be known, that there is no universal moral compass, that we are in charge of our own destinies and decisions. There is great freedom in these things. Great freedom and tremendous responsibility and room for error. These are the foundations upon which an ethical and powerful life can be built if one chooses to do so. These are the foundations of Heathenism. Unfortunately, attaching yourself to a pre-fab neo-Heathen group’s not going to help you. It’s going to turn you into a sheep who cowers from the adventure of free choice, who follows instead of leads. A sheep who might as well be Christian. This is something we each have to find and understand on our own.
So in closing, there’s nothing wrong with a good bonfire a few times (or more) a week, some good mead or beer to clear the head, and a few raucous cries to the heavens in case the gods are listening. Just don’t let anyone else tell you when or how you should do it. Make your own noise as you barrel through life. Laugh at your troubles. Brace yourself for the challenges. Live full and proud and as long as you can. It’s what life is for, after all.