By Kennari Sæmundr Hrafnarson
(originally written and posted in 2005)
I was asked to be one of the first of our Fellowship to write an article to be featured on our website. I mused and pondered on what might be a suitable subject. Finally, I decided to answer the question in this article that all of us as Asatruar and Heathens are asked at one time or another: “Why are you Heathen?” On these pages I will endeavor to answer that question, lapsing into autobiographical recollection some times, musing philosophically at others. I sincerely hope my opinions will be found by some to be either illuminating or encouraging.
First off, let me define what it means to me to be Heathen, for I know no better means to set the foundation on further discussion of WHY I am Heathen. I feel Heathenry, in its modern Renaissance, is a revitalization, and most often a reconstruction, of the spiritual and cultural traditions of the indigenous Peoples of Northern Europe. It is a reconstruction, for without knowing our past, how we truly have even an inkling that what we are doing is pleasing to our Ancestors and our Gods? It is furthermore a revitalization, for the very reason we are NOT our Ancestors, and without growing and evolving, we will stagnate as a People and a Faith. Emphasis on reconstruction insures our Ways grow upon a stable foundation of a proper cultural context. That context, or Worldview, is all-pervasive, and is what elevates Heathenry from what most understand faith or religion to be. From Our Gods and Myths down to things as simple as games and food, there is no place that this Worldview does not touch. From a philosophical viewpoint, one could follow the Life Path of a Heathen, and never once believe in any God, and still be truly Heathen; in truth, our Ancestors knew such…the “Godlauss” (Godless). Heathenry at its roots is the same Family of Beliefs that honored the Tribe of Gods known as the Æsir and Vanir, and whose Myths and Ways informed the tales and sagas of our Heroes and Sagas.
Why am I Heathen? I could launch into flowery rhetoric, and may still (lol); nonetheless, my reasons can be expressed in two simple words: IT WORKS. As a Life Philosophy and Way of Living, it truly provides a better life for those who follow it, regardless; it is a sound, practical, and pragmatic way of life. I have yet to find someone whose life has not been enriched by following a Heathen way of life, whose life has not improved using the Nine Noble Virtues and Six-Fold Goal (or some other compilation of Heathen Virtue, such as the Twelve Atheling Thews or Hôher Muot) as a guidepost in their day-to-day existence. Furthermore, the Way proves itself in the living. Odin says in the Havamal, “From a word to a word I was led to another word, from a deed to another deed.” In my travels as a Heathen, I have come face to face with many wondrous things, and when consulting the Lore, find it to be so, that our Ancestors too were familiar with those things. When in my life I have found the Heathen approach to life has borne rich fruit, I find it only natural that I am drawn to consult Lore when confronted with new experiences. On a subjective level, my reasons are manifold. For lack of better words, it stirs the Blood…on a deep, bone-deep level, there is a great sense of being at Home. There are many things that are appealing in a Tribal way of life, and at one time, I took interest in Native American Spirituality and Shamanistic Practice. When confronted with the Lakota Declaration of War against Cultural Misappropriation, I took those words literally, and looked to the ways of my Germanic Ancestors. Much to my delight, I found that we as a People had just as rich a Culture as any Tribe we might have sought to emulate. Do I still take interest is Shamanistic Practice? Absolutely…but I practice the “Medicine” of our People, the Soul-Craft and Oracular Practice known to most Heathens as “SeiðR”. I am not a Shaman…I am a Seiðhmaðr. Last, but not by any way least, is the most important reason I am Heathen. I love The Gods and Goddesses, and They love me, and they show that Love in ways too powerful and obvious to ignore. All the Kith and Kin of Asgard are my Kin as well…and in the end, that is what matters most…Family.