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.
I’m the owner of Rise Up – the Empowerment Project. I’m a personal coach who educates, supports, and empowers people through financial literacy, fitness, and nutrition. I’m a beekeeper, gardener, yoga teacher, and a chocolatier. I enjoy knitting, running, reading, red wine, and cooking. My favourite shows are Dr. Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Wynonna Earp, and Avatar: the Last Airbender.
What kind of Heathenry do you practice?
My husband practices Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, but I lean towards Norse Heathenry, so our hearth praxis is somewhat syncretic.
Did you have a religion before Heathenry? What caused you to leave it?
I’ve been a practicing witch for over 25 years. When I came to Heathenry, I incorporated my witchcraft into it.
When did you decide to explore Heathenry as a potential new religion?
When we attended our first Well and Tree Gathering at Raven’s Knoll, I found the event so profoundly spiritual that I needed to learn more about Heathenry. We attended several Heathen gatherings at Raven’s Knoll over that season and our devotion deepened.
What compelled you to look into Heathenry in the first place?
My husband became interested in Heathenry, which led us to the Raven’s Knoll community where we found a welcoming, supportive, and eclectic group of people. We now consider many of them “chosen family.”
What made you decide to stick with Heathenry after learning about it?
The worldview, the ancestor veneration, and the reverence for spirits of the land were already a part of my practice, so Heathenry was a natural transition for me. I feel like I’ve always been Heathen, but I just didn’t have a word for it until I started researching and becoming close to the Heathen community of Raven’s Knoll.
Has Heathenry influenced your perspective on your role in modern society? If so, how?
It has underscored the importance of being active in the community, both Heathen and non-Heathen. Although I’ve always tried to be involved, I now volunteer at several different charitable organizations. Giving back has become a large part of my practice because, as the saying goes, you are your deeds.
Are there any aspects of the Heathen worldview that you felt the need to modernize? Which one(s) and why?
Absolutely. The perspective on equality needed to change. While women’s roles in pre-Christian Northern European beliefs were significant, by no means did they have rights equal to those of men. I stand for the equality of all people and I support the fight for women’s rights.
Do you find yourself focusing more on Heathen beliefs or culture?
While I find it important to research the culture for context, and we do own and wear garb for blót and Heathen celebrations, our focus is on Heathen beliefs.
Do your family and friends know about your religion? If they do, are they supportive?
Most do know, and those who know are very supportive.
What do you think makes your hearth cult unique or personalized?
Every hearth cult is different. We focus largely on ancestor worship, and we’re fortunate to have the space for our own hearg, which allows us to divide our praxis evenly between indoors and the outdoors. We are also blessed to have a large real life community in Raven’s Knoll.
Have you had any divine experiences (hierophany) that you are willing to share?
I have had divine experiences, but I hold those experiences as intensely personal.
How would you say Heathenry has changed your life?
I have met so many amazing people through Heathenry — people who have changed my life for the better and people who I hold dear. It has provided me with a very large extended family, and people who inspire me.
Is there anyone (Heathen or non-Heathen) you look up to? Why?
Far too numerous to name individually here.
What advice would you give to new Heathens?
If you are interested in Heathenry because you have a desire to serve your community, and the worldview regarding devotion, honour, and deeds attracts you, then you are in the right place.