As stated on our front page, Heathenry is a revivalist religion seeking to bring the practice of the ancient Germanic peoples into the present day. In simplest terms, it uses information inferred or represented in scholarship to form the foundation of a modern, polytheistic religious tradition.
For the purposes of this website, a Heathen is considered someone who:
- possesses a worldview aligned with the cosmological concepts of the Well and the Tree, and accepts wyrd and orlæg as cosmic forces;
- engages in the gift cycle through reciprocity with appropriate divine figures—the gods, the ancestors, and the wights; and
- is animistic, polytheistic, and/or panentheistic.
In ancient times, the beliefs of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples differed based on region. Gods had different names, and sometimes they had different attributes, too. There were differences in the folklore, mythologies, and heroic stories as well. No two regions practiced in exactly the same manner, even though there may have been commonalities among them all.
Similarly, today’s Heathenry is not a single, monolithic religion. Just like there are denominations of Christianity and Judaism, there are different traditions of Heathenry based on the ancient regions. Some examples are:
- Norse Heathenry, focusing on the culture/beliefs of the Norse, who came from Scandinavia and spread far and wide across the world during the Viking Age.
- Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, focusing on the culture/beliefs of the amalgamated tribes of Saxons, Angles, Frisians, Jutes, and Old Franks, whose kingdoms would become the foundation of England.
- Continental Germanic Heathenry, which is split into:
- Alemannic Heathenry, focusing on the culture/beliefs of the Alemanni, who lived north of the Alps and had a major influence on Central European history.
- Frankish Heathenry, focusing on the culture/beliefs of the Franks, who lived along the Rhine and whose kingdoms continue to define the face of modern day Western Europe.
- Frisian Heathenry, focusing on the culture/beliefs of the Frisians, who were Angles and Saxons who continued to live along the coast of the North Sea, never migrating to what is currently England.
- Gothic Heathenry, focusing on the culture/beliefs of the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, who spoke now-extinct East Germanic languages and whose kingdoms spanned the European continent.
- Saxon Heathenry, focusing on the culture/beliefs of the Saxons, who lived in northern Germany and had a major influence on Northern European history.
Despite their differences, these regional traditions share the same central concepts. These concepts form the foundation of any religion within the overarching Heathen umbrella. They are:
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