journaling reads: when people hear the word “heathen,” the image that comes to mind is generally that of a wild, ill-mannered sort with no respect for decency or religion. one certainly doesn’t imagine a law-abiding, college-educated homeowner who speaks a couple foreign languages and enjoys a fine single malt scotch. and yet that’s exactly what i am—a heathen.
but the word means something different to me. “heathen” was the word originally used by christian missionaries to northern europe to describe the people who held to the old religion, who honored the gods of their ancestors. thor, protector of earth. frey, bringer of peace and good crops. odin, mystic and warrior.
those people, those “heathens,” are my ancestors. i’ve chosen to walk with their gods as well. there are a very small number of us worldwide who share the desire to return to the spiritual ways of our ancestors. we honor both the gods and our ancestors in simple rituals of food and drink, giving them offerings and boasting their praises. we look to the sagas of iceland and other historical writings for clues to how the northern peoples lived their beliefs, and we strive to emulate them as best we can.
so while i look like the stereotypical “austin yuppie” (complete with hybrid car and apple computer sticker in the back window), there is something very different about me just under the surface. something that moves me to leave small gifts for the land spirits now and then, something that inspires me to shout “hail, thor!” during a good thunderstorm, something that drives me to live my life with honor: the examples of my ancestors—the heathens—and their gods.