Sunday, March 9, 2008

What is Hethenry

The following 300-word essay was written by Bernulf Oswin of, A Heathen Blog, which is linked to this site. I have posted Bernulf's essay because it is the best short discreption of Hethenry that I seen.

Heathenry is the modern continuation or reconstruction of the religious practices of pre-Christian, northern European peoples, specifically those of Germanic / Teutonic origin, going as far back as 2000 years and farther. At its core, Heathenry is a polytheistic religion, honoring tribes of gods referred to as Æsir or Vanir. This contrasts with pantheism, where all gods are seen as being different aspects of one or a few gods. Along with reverence for the gods, Heathenry emphasizes reverance for our ancestors (regardless of where they come from), Elves, the Disir, as well as the landvættir and sjóvættir (land and sea wights). Heathenry is a nature-based religion, animistic and totemic, that embraces technological advances. With all of this considered, Heathenry is also a family and community-based religion: the true essence of Heathenry is found in the home and community.
Rules and roles in Heathenry are determined more by community than by gods, and are made to increase the Wyrd and Luck of the community and its members. The Nine Noble Virtues, a list of personal qualities drawn from the corpus of Heathen lore, is perhaps the simplest way to describe what many Heathens aspire to: Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance, Perseverence.
Four primary holy tides are observed in Heathenry, with some Heathens observing several more (or less). These holy tides are Yule, Winternights, Eostre, and Midsummer (although sometimes Eostre and Midsummer are combined). Blot (sacrifice to the gods) is the most common ritual in Heathenry. Sumbel is also common in Heathenry - it is a form of ritualized drinking and toasting, whereby participants have the chance to learn of each other’s deeds and intentions. Magic and shamanism are also utilized in Heathenry.
Other names (or forms) of Heathenry are Ásatrú, Forn Sed, Odinism, Theodism, and Heithni.

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