This topic was brought up at our Althing last weekend, and as promised I have written this article on it.

As we all know, Heathenry is a largely reconstructed folkway, in that most of our teachings and rites are structured based on written records of over a thousand years ago. Now, the difference between us and, say, one of the more mainstream religions like the Abrahamic faiths is that, while we are picking out what we can to better follow our troth the right way, they have had the distinct advantage of existing uninterrupted for this whole time, allowing them to adapt to the changing world around them. We don’t have that luxury.

There are some heathens that feel that, in order to properly honor the gods, they need to reconstruct not only the rites, but also the various other factors of the ancient Germanic culture. This can be good or bad, depending on how far one takes it. Obviously, the rites should remain as close to the same as we can manage, but there are times when we can’t even do that, such as how we sacrifice mead instead of blood, as most of us are not farmers. As well, it is good to make an effort to rebuild the culture and values of our ancestors, because they were pretty damn fantastic. However, we shouldn’t be naïve enough to think that just because we ascribe to certain values that others will as well. While we live with honor, others will continue to live as miserable, dishonorable scumbags who will do anything to get ahead. In that kind of scenario, we can remember the verse of the Havamal:

“If another there be whom ill thou trustest

Yet wouldst get from him gain

Speak fair to him though false thou meanest

And pay him lesing for lies”

In essence, if someone is false to you, be false in return, although there’s no need to do it so blatantly that you cause a big issue, merely treat them the way they treated you. Obviously, never treat someone like that before they’ve done anything to you. Whoops, I’m getting a bit sidetracked. That issue can be covered in another article, if desired.

Another major issue that we see with heathens is when someone takes the reconstruction aspect too far. Remember, we live in the Twenty-First Century, not the Ninth, and we still have to live our lives according to the laws and customs of the land. For example, we cannot simply raid some place because we want money…I mean, we can, but we’d be arrested pretty quickly. I cannot stress enough that we do not live in Viking Age Europe. Pretending otherwise is really not much better than those “people” that dress up as wizards and LARP. A healthy outlook would be to respect and admire our ancestors, and to adapt their philosophy to our times. Knowing how to behave or react to certain things in a heathen way is reliant on you having a decent grasp of our worldview, which (as I believe I covered in the article entitled “Changing World Views”) is the most important thing for a heathen to have.

Now, I’m not saying that people who dress up in traditional garb are in the wrong or anything like that. If that’s something that you enjoy doing, by all means do it. If, for whatever reason, it makes you feel closer to the gods and/or ancestors when you do that at blot, then go right ahead. Just remember that it’s really more about what’s in your heart and mind, in the words you speak that matters to the gods, not what you’re wearing.

In summation, remember that, while we need to have a strong base in the past, because of our veneration of the ancestors, what we as modern heathens should do is work to adapt our faith to the times in which we live, applying the morals and teachings of our gods and forefathers to the situations in which we find ourselves today and, if we come to issues by which we are stumped, there’s nothing wrong with discussing it with other heathens. It will help everyone grow as a result.