About Heathenry

As stated on our front page, Heathenry is a revivalist religion seeking to bring the practice of the ancient Germanic peoples into the present day. In simplest terms, it uses information inferred or represented in scholarship to form the foundation of a modern, polytheistic religious tradition.

For the purposes of this website, a Heathen is considered someone who:

  • possesses a worldview aligned with the cosmological concepts of the Well and the Tree, and accepts wyrd and orlæg as cosmic forces;
  • engages in the gift cycle through reciprocity with appropriate divine figures — the gods, the ancestors, and the wights; and
  • is animistic, polytheistic, and/or panentheistic.

It is a common modern misconception that pre-Christian peoples all over the world strictly adhered to pantheons based on their native cultures. In reality, ancient peoples exchanged religious beliefs, customs, and gods as easily as they exchanged goods, currency, and ideas. Therefore, not only is it difficult to draw boundaries between different pre-Christian Germanic peoples, cultures, and religious practices, it is not recommended.

Despite this, modern Heathenry is broken down into branches or denominations based on the different ancient Germanic cultures and societies. These denominations are generally based on the beliefs and practices of those specific cultures. Some examples are:

Norse Heathenry, drawing on the culture/beliefs of the Norse, who came from Scandinavia and spread far and wide across the world during the Viking Age. Many Norse Heathens worship the gods mentioned in the Poetic and Prose Eddas and value the Icelandic Sagas as resources.

Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, drawing on the culture/beliefs of the amalgamated tribes of Saxons, Angles, Frisians, Jutes, and Old Franks, whose kingdoms would become the foundation of England. Many Anglo-Saxon Heathens look for inspiration in the pages of Beowulf and worship the gods mentioned in Old English literature.

Continental Germanic Heathenry, which includes (but is not limited to):

  • Alemannic Heathenry, drawing on the culture/beliefs of the Alemanni, who lived north of the Alps and had a major influence on Central European history.
  • Frankish Heathenry, drawing on the culture/beliefs of the Franks, who lived along the Rhine and whose kingdoms continue to define the face of modern-day Western Europe.
  • Frisian Heathenry, drawing on the culture/beliefs of the Frisians, who were Angles and Saxons who continued to live along the coast of the North Sea, never migrating to what is currently England.
  • Gothic Heathenry, drawing on the culture/beliefs of the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, who spoke now-extinct East Germanic languages and whose kingdoms spanned the European continent.
  • Saxon Heathenry, drawing on the culture/beliefs of the Saxons, who lived in northern Germany and had a major influence on Northern European history.

Despite their differences, these denominations share the same central concepts. These concepts form the foundation of any religion within the overarching Heathen umbrella. They are:

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