Heathens in Profile is a monthly blog series featuring the lives and practices of self-identifying Heathens across the world, in an effort to dismantle the stereotype of Heathens as looking a certain way and living a certain lifestyle. The individuals featured in this blog series come from all walks of life and have differing perspectives of the world, but nevertheless all consider themselves Heathen. All answers to the series questions are their own words.
Tell us a bit about yourself, such as what you do for a living, what your hobbies are, what your favorite books/movies/TV shows are — anything you feel comfortable sharing.
My name is Elgmóðr. I am 28 years old, former military, proud husband, and a father of two. Currently, I am a student, as well as a Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation Specialist. My focus is primarily computed radiography and I work in the aerospace manufacturing field.
I love to camp, and my household also games frequently. I spend a good portion of my free time interacting with our Heathenry server Skíðblaðnir. I also spend quite a bit of time with my neighbors and family, so I am often pressed for time.
What kind of Heathenry do you practice?
I am an Eddic Heathen, so my flavor is Icelandic/Norse. Of course, I look to Anglo-Saxon Heathenry for some clarity on practices. The Norse pantheon is my focus, though.
Did you have a religion before Heathenry? What caused you to leave it?
I was raised agnostic/atheist. I had a sort of an ambivalent approach, since my family was “spiritual” but not religious. I am (to my knowledge) the only religious person in my family, and certainly the only Heathen.
When did you decide to explore Heathenry as a potential new religion?
I joined the military at 17, and it was my first foray into the real world. It was a little jarring at first. I had always felt the calling of religion, but I took a lot of time to explore different systems. I was fascinated by polytheism as a kid, as it mirrored my upbringing.
I started investigating my family history, found out where our roots were based, and decided to investigate the Norse pantheon. I immediately identified with Tyr, and as many young and uninformed newbies do, I dedicated to him for some reason. Tyr has treated me well and he is a big source of inspiration to me. My relationships with the other gods have blossomed and flourished as I began to investigate more.
Now that I am no longer a soldier, I feel that my goals and desires are more aligned with Thor, and my hopes are that one day I can enter his hall.
What compelled you to look into Heathenry in the first place?
I felt something was missing in my life. I turned to Reconstructionist Heathenry about three years ago. Because I was raised in an agnostic household, I was clueless in terms of how to worship. Heathenry gave me the tools to properly observe my faith and add the touch of authenticity to the sincerity of my beliefs.
What made you decide to stick with Heathenry after learning about it?
Heathenry is not just a religion to me. It is a cultural observance. The Norse people were diverse in their professions, and as a soldier, the Hávamál really spoke to me. As I started to explore certain cultural concepts, I found that I already was observing them, and Heathenry was a natural fit to the way I already conducted myself. I am also the type of person who appreciates the rustic life, since I grew up on a farm, so self-reliance was a big motivator. I think that Heathenry connects me a bit more to my life and overall has made me more at peace with myself and others. It has been very healing for me.
Has Heathenry influenced your perspective on your role in modern society? If so, how?
I will be the first to admit that I believe society is beneficial in a lot of regards. That being said, when I finally accomplish my plans, I will make a fast exit from it. I have nothing against society, but my beliefs don’t necessarily jive well with the overculture here. I think that society is getting too restrictive, and now there seems to be a lot of tension that I would prefer not to participate in. However, I understand that at my current position in life, I must play along and support others. My focus in my area is to be a community-minded person. I enjoy building relationships and supporting those I can.
Even in Heathenry, I feel like an oddball. I am very reserved and have some traditional views that my wife and I both share. I get to interact with an incredibly diverse group of Heathens, and I really enjoy it. Heathenry has really driven in the concept of hospitality, and I am the type of person who can entertain ideas without accepting them. So I welcome everyone, and learn about them, and focus on our similarities rather than the differences.
The other thing that Heathenry has taught me is the strength of your family. I am of the mind that a strong family can build and support a strong community. I will admit, I am less concerned about things outside of my immediate area. My focus is local, sometimes up to the state level. Outside of that, I have little concern unless it impacts my household.
I think, when utilized properly, Heathenry can fit in well with modern society, but tweaks will be needed.
Are there any aspects of the Heathen worldview that you felt the need to modernize? Which one(s) and why?
This is a tricky one for me. I believe in history and the preservation of it. Religion is also tradition to me.
I have heard people advocating to remove history because it has no place in modern society. My only disagreement with that is that it doesn’t need to be removed, it just needs to not be observed. Clearly, we do not adhere to a violent vengeance cycle for slights against honor. At least, one hopes we don’t. I do believe in consequences and personal accountability, but I would struggle with the concept of an honor killing. We rarely (if at all) make blood sacrifices. This is a tricky one, too, and I have heard stories of the horrible treatment of animals and inhumane handling or dispatching. For those who butcher their own meat, I don’t see a live sacrifice as an issue. Every mundane act can be religious.
The concepts of ergi/argr do not fit in our modern society. Somehow, the less-than-tolerant folks love to lean on this concept as an insult. Some members of the LGBTQIA+ community actually identify with the term, though. So I am ambivalent about it, but I will not support it as a slur. I can support it if it is beneficial to people who identify with it.
I would also like the folkish movement to die out. I started out on that path, but got to meet some people that gave me the opportunity to explore and revise my beliefs. I am personally a tribalist, but my exclusion is based on merit. Have good deeds, uphold the culture and values, be respectful with disagreements, and support the others in the tribe.
Do you find yourself focusing more on Heathen beliefs or culture?
A mixture of it, actually. I have a strong hearth cult and a strong household. I also feel that a lot of veterans gravitate towards the culture, since quite a bit of it is what we lived. The military is not a job; it is a lifestyle. You would be surprised at how many people love the culture, but don’t necessarily hold the belief. I try to facilitate that the best I can, and I don’t personally care who or what you believe in. As long as you are respectful to those who believe differently, you are okay in my book.
Do your family and friends know about your religion? If they do, are they supportive?
Absolutely. My household converted to Heathenry after I showed them what it was. Some of my friends have converted, some that have not are even heads of my potential organization. I am, of course, the spiritual leader in my family, and I do my best to be recognized by my community in that capacity. It is a slow process, but it is picking up steam. Even my parents and sister are starting to come around. I hold local Heathen meetups, and we get up to twenty people that show up to explore. We built an outdoor vé and will be looking at building a hof as well. I have found an incredible amount of support from my family, friends, and local community.
I also do my best to answer every question to the best of my ability when asked by an inquisitive person. I don’t proselytize very often, unless there is an expressed interest in exploring the faith.
What do you think makes your hearth cult unique or personalized?
I live in Oregon. We have some beautiful geology here, and dangerous geology as well. My hearth cult specifically honors Skaði, Loki, and Sigyn. We also honor the landvaettir and the entirety of the Æsir. I honor Skaði quite a bit, as I am surrounded by mountains, and I honor Loki and Sigyn because of their role in seismic events.
I have also made a pretty elaborate altar, which I think is pretty unique. It sits above my hearth in my living room, positioned in a liminal corner at exactly cardinal east. I think I got lucky, but it hits every aspect of an ideal altar set up.
Have you had any divine experiences (hierophany) that you are willing to share?
Unfortunately, I cannot share my most defining moments, as they were pretty violent, but I will say that in every instance I have been watched out for.
How would you say Heathenry has changed your life?
I think Heathenry has given me the tools to actually live in the way that I see fit. I am completely at peace with my life. I have strength, conviction, honor, reputation, and community. I live my life in a way that makes me valuable to others, and I certainly don’t do it for some sort of eternal reward. I am also animistic, so I have found an even deeper connection with my surroundings. I think the Hávamál is the best source of wisdom tradition that I have seen, and it has really improved my life and my dealings with others.
Is there anyone (Heathen or non-Heathen) you look up to? Why?
I respect hard work and academic work. In terms of Heathenry, I would say that I look up to the mod/admin staff of the Skíðblaðnir Discord server, myself excluded. We have some prolific work producers in that server.
Angelica, the owner of this site, is my co-admin on Skíðblaðnir. This site is an amazingly precise resource for those who want to know the important concepts without needed to purchase a book immediately.
Max always has wonderful insight into theology and the metaphysics behind belief. We have had many conversations that allowed me to pinpoint my belief system.
Dom and Widu are amazing community managers and are very passionate about providing a place for the Norse Heathen/Asatru community.
Ocean Keltoi is a remarkable philosopher and Heathen apologetic. He is constantly being scrutinized and interviewed, he never cracks, and is an amazing public figure in Heathenry.
Joe Beofeld, although not a server staff member, is also someone I really respect. He is also a contributor with Marc and Wodgar. He is an incredibly intelligent man, and I am very excited that Joe and Ocean got the Berkano Hearth Union up and running.
I also look up to my buddy Clay, who is also in Berkano Hearth Union. He’s a super good family man, a wonderful man, and great Heathen. Most importantly, he has a beard that ZZ Top should recruit.
I also look up to my grandfather, my fathers, my mother, grandmother, sister, and wife. My family is a big source of inspiration for me. They give me strength, guidance, and the tools necessary to be successful. Their advice and support is always appreciated as I navigate my journey.
What advice would you give to new Heathens?
It is okay to be a solitary practitioner. Some people will say you are wrong. Take their disagreement with a pound of salt. Ask questions, or find a supportive community online to explore when you’re feeling lost. Read as much as you can, and do your best to cross reference. Establish a hearth cult that is personal to you. Remember that heathenry is orthopraxic and not orthodoxic. We will all have a slightly different interpretation or focus.
You are not a Viking. Look for sourced and cited arguments and texts. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Keep up with modern archeological findings, as oftentimes we use dated materials and they can get debunked periodically.
Don’t be afraid of unverified personal gnosis (UPG). Heathenry gets a little defensive about UPG, so do not claim your experiences as some sort of fact. They are your personal experiences, and they are what cement the faith in your life. Always make a disclaimer when addressing UPG in conversation.
Race and ethnicity are not a precursor to Heathenry or faith.
Most importantly, find out what makes you peaceful and explore that avenue in your personal approach to the faith.