Heathens Moving Forward: Moving Past Our Differences

During this period of time the ideological fault-lines fell away, the politics and cat-fighting were mostly put where they belong: out of the way. What we saw was a tremendous outpouring and response from all sectors of the Heathen community toward others in need. To my mind, that was one of our finest hours, and much credit must be given to Tee for somehow organizing everything between those who generously gave and those who were so desperately in need.

My hope for our future is to see us grow, to see the cat-fighting disappear. Do I ever believe we'll have one homogeneous religion? No. That didn't even exist in antiquity. But I would like us to move beyond our differences, accept the fact that we have them, and work together to build up the community for those things that we do have in common.

This is not a foreign concept to our ways. If we look to our history, there is a prime example of this principal at work. In 1000 CE while Iceland was on the verge of civil war, torn between the contentious Christians and those who loyally clung to their ancestral ways, it fell to the Icelandic national assembly known as Althing and the national leader of it at the time Thorgeirr to determine the fate of his fellow countrymen. King Olaf Tryggvason, who had quite a staunch reputation for slaughtering those who did not convert to Christianity, backed the Christians. Thorgeiir, with Solomon-like wisdom, after much contemplation ‘under the cloak' delivered the answer: Iceland would become Christian, but people could continue to practice their ancestral ways in the privacy of their own home. The wisdom of this edict would become overshadowed in later years as Christians became intolerant even to this tiny religious freedom. But it demonstrates to my mind, a heathen concept... that the frith-building of our community is more important than petty squabbles.

Frithful codes were a part of all of the various thing assemblages found throughout Germania and Scandinavia, and also seen in the processions of Nerthus described in Tacitus' Germania. Those codes existed at these gatherings and religious rites because when you had a large number of people gathering together who may or may not get along, it was important to have a means to protect the peace. This enabled people to come together in neutrality to conduct business and legal affairs, honor the Gods, and even arrange marriages.

I want to see us growing to the point we are coming together in local groups to buy shared land for temples, shrines, and holy groves. I want to see those temples being used as places of shelter, like churches that open their doors in conjunction with the Red Cross for people who have just lost their home in a fire. I want to see true Heathen charities created, serving both our religious community but also serving to better the physical communities in which we live and worship.

I want to see our Heathen artisans flourish so that there is a flood of new artworks of our Gods, and works for our way of life found in all mediums: metal and jewelry, glass and ceramic, illustration, sculpture. I want to see holy temples bedecked in their works, so that when someone enters the holy space they can feel the awe of our Gods.

I want to see and hear more of our Gods being named in ritual. Since our historical sources are limited, there is not a lot of information known about many of our Gods and Goddesses. I can understand that the deities we know the most about tend to be the ones most commonly hailed in ritual (Odin, Thor, Freya, etc.). But if we're only ever always hailing the same handful of Gods how can we as a religion grow? If many of our long established veterans, as well as in some cases even our godhi/gythia cannot seem to muster more than "Hail " before passing the horn on, how can we as a community grow? I can understand that there are times when sometimes that can even be a struggle to say... but shouldn't our long-standing members be able to put together more than just this? Our tradition is steeped in the power and importance of words.

A personal saying of mine is that if you treat your words like children, one day they may grow up and change the world. I want to see the growth of our religion--of our understanding, of our connection to our Northern Traditio -- dazzle like the midnight sun because we go beyond what is comfortable, and push ourselves to both learn more and to share more of ourselves.

I look forward to the day when we see third-, fourth-, and eventually fifth-generation Asatru children, when our local kindred grow to the point they begin offering specialized programming for all ages, children, teens, adult singles, married couples, and even programs for senior citizens. We must grow to this end, for studies show that many pagans go back to Christian churches later in life because there are programs there that can assist them that our own community is unable to provide at this time. I'd love to see us have a Heathen summer camp, where children can be exposed to the agricultural background our religion is steeped in, in the spirit of fosterage that existed so long ago.

8/23/2010 4:00:00 AM
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