Heathen Woman: Tips For New Heathens

Heathen Woman: Tips For New Heathens June 27, 2014

Thor's hammer, Skåne. Image by George Stevens via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.Heathenry involves a wealth of information. For someone who is new to the practices and traditions, it can be daunting to figure out to where to start, whom to consult, and which sources will be the most helpful. Below is an abbreviated list of my personal suggestions, which will hopefully provide a starting point from which to build.

Take everything with a boulder-sized grain of salt…

Opinions abound and while some are quite helpful, others are not. No one would voice their opinion if they didn’t believe it was true, so it’s important to remember that every person is ultimately responsible for doing their own research and discovery. If a discussion makes it sound like nothing short of secret decoder ring is needed to “properly” be a heathen, then it’s likely that better information can be found elsewhere.

Choose carefully where you invest your time and energy…

Arguing with a person who is clearly intent on being as unhelpful as possible is only leads to headaches and frustration. However, relevant discussion is conducive to learning and can open up doors to further insight and answers. Choose wisely and carefully who you engage with. Seek out reputable sources of information and gauge the character of those who claim to be “authorities.” There are many learned individuals who may offer assistance, but there is no such thing as being an expert heathen.

Read and study…

A common saying is “We are the religion with homework.” There are scholarly articles, various books on heathenry, and numerous independent sources out there that can, and often do, provide a wealth of information on heathen traditions and viewpoints. Beyond the Eddas, there exist myriad written historical works that describe the ancient Germanic heathens. Their worldviews are opened up to us, for example, through the works of Tacitus. Don’t shy away from academic research and be willing to explore multiple written sources of information.

Reach out to others…

Network and socialize. I think it’s important that everyone uses a degree of caution when presenting personal information online. That being said, online community can offer the support of social networking via forums and discussion groups. Many heathen groups are also now listing their calendars of events in places like Facebook so that more people can attend and meet other like-minded individuals.

You are your own key to success…

Everyone learns differently, so getting out there and experiencing what works for you is paramount to discovering the fulfillment that comes with attending a moot, constructing your sacred space, or just being outdoors in nature. It’s easy to get caught up in studying, but I’ve learned the most by living heathenry through building real world friendships and actively engaging in practices such as the blot and symble.

Know thyself…

By getting to know our strengths and areas of needed improvement, we discover who we are deep down. It can be helpful to take a personal inventory. Additionally, heathenry encourages a keen awareness of who we bring into our inner circle as trusted friends and family. These are the people with whom we build our own tribe and community, those whom we work to protect. It sometimes becomes necessary to take account of who has been allowed in that circle and to re-examine whether or not they are working to the benefit or detriment of others.

Not everything is helpful…

Searching for (and finding) your own answers instills a sense of pride. But when seeking advice, ask those you trust in your inner personal circle, whether that be your kindred members or a trusted mentor.  I’ve seen people pose questions in general heathen forums only to be left reeling from the discrepancies among the opinions offered. By strengthening your personal circle in your day to day life, you can form a supportive network for continued learning.

Follow your intuition…

Trust yourself. If you enjoyed a particular book, or had a good experience at a heathen-sponsored event, then trust that it was meaningful to you regardless of others’ opinions. Whatever experiences you have, they are no less valid than someone else’s. Trust your own reasoning to guide you.

Look around and explore…

You might find value in studying the Indo-European culture that extends beyond the Norse gods. Perhaps there is a kindred in your area that is hosting an open event. You may get an invitation to a pub moot. Whatever the opportunity, use it to your advantage to explore your interests.

And finally…

Keep an open mind in conversations. This applies to roundtable discussions where a variety of topics are being discussed. Try to remain neutral as others present their views and personal insight. If your close peers are discussing a topic in depth and you have questions, speak up and inquire about their thought processes.

These are not the hard and fast “Rules of Heathenry” – there is no such thing. Ultimately, the sacred is waiting to be discovered, and the methods of reconstruction are in an constant state of development. However, you are the foremost authority of your own life in every way. You set your own standards, and your relationships with those you are closest to is what is most relevant. You have a right to be excited, to be joyous, and eager to learn. To all new heathens, I say “welcome,” and may you find what you seek.

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