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Thread: Different Styles of Heathenry

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    Different Styles of Heathenry

    Modern heathenry, much like its ancient counterpart, has evolved into several distinct styles, with, of course, many falling in areas between those styles. I am by no means an expert on any of them, and I am somewhat poorly-versed in some, but I will do my best to give an overview of them all the same.

    Main Categories:

    The most common variety of heathenry today is called Asatru, which means “True to the Aesir” in Icelandic, or Old Norse (I misremember which, but they are pretty close, anyway). It pretty much refers specifically to Old Norse and Icelandic sources for its lore material, and uses Anglicized versions of the Old Norse names for the gods, rituals, and all else (i.e. Odin instead of Odhinn, Frey instead of FreyR, etc.). As I said, this is the most common form, and despite the fact that the name “Asatru” is only a few decades old, it is the name most likely to illicit recognition from others. Most Asatru groups seem to either make decisions as a group, or else have a small group of members that for the most part lead their larger group.

    The next most common form of heathenry, to the best of my knowledge, is Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, which is exactly what it sounds like; the practitioners of this branch draw their information from the sources of the Anglo-Saxons. They use the Anglo-Saxon god names (Woden instead of Odin, Frea instead of Frey, Freo instead of Freya, etc.), and attempt to pattern their rituals after those of the ancient Anglo-Saxons. This is a somewhat harder task than that of the Asatruar, as heathenry was nominally wiped out in England several centuries before it was officially (but not entirely) cast out in Iceland, and thus source material is scantier, forcing the student to draw from surviving folk customs (which the Asatru should, and do, as well). Most Anglo-Saxon groups of which I have heard are Theodish (see below), while the solitary practitioners are more often, and for obvious reasons, less tribal in their beliefs.

    Theodism is another form of heathenry, and one that most commonly overlaps with Anglo-Saxon Heathenry. Theodism is, so far as I can discern, a formation of a group of heathens to make a more tribal structure. Theodism could feasibly be used with any form of heathenry, as at heart it seems to be more about the structure than the particular culture of origin. Many of them believe in sacral kingship, or the line of thought that one man (or possibly woman?) has the gods-given right to rule the tribe. They will form Theods around one person who they acknowledge as a lord, and in the past there have been confederations of Theods whose lords (and hence their followers) swear to a higher lord, or king. This is most common in groups of Anglo-Saxon heathens, but I know of a Frankish theod, and there used to be at least one Norman theod. Bear in mind that this is just what I know of the practice, and that there are far more detailed perspectives on it available (for example, Swain Wodening, who has both blogs and books on the subject).

    Subcategories:

    These next styles, while no less heathen than anyone else, nevertheless seem to me to be smaller in number. Now, feasibly, there can be a different form of heathenry for every Germanic tribe that ever existed, which in my opinion would be chaotic and often impossible. So, I will only list those that I know have or had at least a few followers.

    Frankish – The reconstruction of the culture and religious practices of the Frankish tribes, who ended up settling it what is now France and Western Germany.
    Saxon – Contrary to Anglo-Saxon heathens, Saxon heathens follow the ways of the Saxons who stayed in northern Germany, rather than sail over to merge with the Angles, Jutes, and Frisians in England.
    Norman – The practice patterned after the inhabitants of Normandy, which was, first, settled by the Franks, and then resettled by Norwegians.
    Frisian – The Frisians are a people group that once owned most of the land that is now the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. They have since been absorbed into those countries, but many of them still hold to their culture, and those of them that are heathens recreate the Frisian way of honoring our gods

    I feel I must add here that each and every person’s worldview and personal beliefs are different, and while the outlines I have given above are (in my opinion) fairly decent generalizations of the different styles, in actuality the range pretty much covers the spread, as it were. For example, there are Anglo-Saxon heathens who believe that no part of their lore should be borrowed from outside sources, while others take no issue with learning from the Eddas and so on. There are general Germanic heathens, who just go with everything, and there’s every flavor in between. I encourage each and every one of you to find what feels right to you, regardless of the words of others. I, myself, have a fairly large range of different Germanic tribes in my ancestry, and while I feel connected to the Anglo-Saxon culture, I would, perhaps, have as much a right to focus on Norman, Frankish, Saxon, Norwegian, or even central German tribal ways. Instead, I use Anglo-Saxon god names in rites, sometimes, and other times I use the Asatru names, and I don’t feel bad about either one. I personally believe that Woden and Odin are one and the same, and that so long as a person isn’t throwing in non-Germanic deities, then they are of the same religion as I, and I will gladly share a horn with them.

    Again, choose what is right for you, but don’t alienate yourself from a group simply because they’re Norman and you’re Frankish, or whatever the case may be. However, if they’re Danish, like a certain kindred member of mine, it might be better to just string ‘em up at once!
    https://thenickferraro.wordpress.com...-of-heathenry/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Pride View Post
    Excellent summary. Does anyone know of a reconstructed paganism that is rooted in the South Germanic lands, and specifically the Suebi/Alemanni? I've been unable so have been in contact with Asatru people (still at the studying phase) and, even though we generally had much the same myths and lore throughout all the Germanic realm, I would like to see more of a reflection of continental Germanic paganism.

    In any case, its great to see Indo-European people the world over rediscovering our own indigenous spirituality rather than look to the Middle East or other parts of the world for "guidance" and "wisdom".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Jobst
    I would like to see more of a reflection of continental Germanic paganism.
    I too would like that very much, and it is difficult to research this.

    In the past I have trouble with some of the organized Heathen groups as some the worship seems made up or borrowed from middle Eastern faiths. Mainly I just go by feeling usually in nature.
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

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    Die Nibelungenlied is a Frankish mythologized history but actually from Christian times, unbeknownst to most people.

    The original LOTR


    This is such a touching film! I really feel for Brynhildr and Sigurd. What a tragedy...

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