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  • Jarl Arngrim Aethelwulfar

What is Heathenry?

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

Our religion was and is called by many names, past and present: Forn Seidh, Theodisc Geleafa, Asatru, the Elder Troth. These various terms describe different styles and varieties of our ancestral faith, however. Heathenry is the all-encompassing name that generally comprises all of them. The name stems from the times when Chrisitianity was being spread (forcibly or otherwise) across Europe. “Heathen” means “people of the heath” and referred to the fact that most of the people in the cities had been converted after a certain point in history. The conversion started in the south of Europe (in Roman territories) and spread gradually northwards. The country-dwellers, not as exposed to the social pressures and changes sweeping the urban landscapes, tended to continue to practice the pagan religion of their ancestors, whatever that religion happened to be. In many places in Northern Europe, Norse/Germanic Paganism (Heathenry) was what they continued to adhere to. You may have heard the word thrown about in a derogatory fashion at one point or another, and indeed, historically it has become so. However, modern heathens have by and large decided to claim the title and imbue it with positive connotations. We bear the name proudly.

Our religion is both polytheistic (involving the worship of many deities rather than just one, and they are both male and female) and animistic (we believe in the inner soul and divinity present in all facets of nature: animals, rocks, trees, rivers and springs, etc.) Animism also means a belief in a wide variety of supernatural beings that are below god-level in soul might (elves, trolls, etc.) Our stance, when it comes to other pagan religions, is that no one has the correct answer. There is no one path that ALL people must follow. However, we believe that Heathenry is the correct one for people of Northern European heritage and descent (an indigenous folk religion.) Every ethnic group on earth in the pre-Christian era had its own religion, and ideas of converting everyone on earth to a single religion was a strange and incomprehensible idea.

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