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What is the core of Heathenry?

The other day, I had someone visit at my apartment. While there, they noticed my altar and the statue of Freya on it. They asked:
”Who’s that?”
I said that She is Freya, one of the Goddesses of the Heathen faith. They asked if I was a Heathen and I said yes. Then they asked me something I’d never really thought about:
”What is the core of that religion?”

The core? I didn’t know what to answer at first. The purpose of any Theistic religion is to foster a relationship with the Divine. We might have wildly different views of the nature of that Divine, but we all aim to know Them through our beliefs and practises.

Because the person asking used the Swedish word ‘grundläggande’, which can mean both ‘core’ and ‘fundamental thing’, I figured they meant the thing that sets this religion apart from others. So, I said:

”That you should be good to people because everyone is part of the web that is the world.”

While this view is actually not unique to the Heathen faith but is common to many Pagan worldviews, it’s still the best answer I could find. And it’s something that I love about Heathenry: the idea that we are all connected, that even with our own uniqueness and idiosyncrasies, we are all part of the Web or Wyrd and can participate in the sacred work that is the weaving of the world.

After being brought up with the sheep and goats/saved and unsaved/eternally accepted or eternally rejected theology of Christianity, it’s something I still struggle with sometimes. Surely, the Divine can’t be this grand and tolerant? The idea still feels revolutionary, somehow. And yet: this worldview is far older than Christianity.

Of course, not all who call themselves Heathen or Asatruar have these views of universal belonging and acceptance. Norse and Germanic Pagan spirituality has a long history of being appropriated by fascist and there is a folkish branch of Heathenry that believes the religion is only for white people. But there really isn’t anything in the religion itself to support such views.

In the end, we are all weaving needles in the tapestry of existence. We all have something unique to bring to the table, as well as a responsibility for what sort of threads we choose to weave into the world.


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