Heathen , what does it mean ? Not just one race nor religion .

So you probably heard of the term heathen , seen a print or something with that word written on it .Since it is pretty popular these days to wear or use something with heathen on it , you must have . But many people dont know what it truly means or stands for . Some presume heathens are just one type of people with one unified religion but in fact heathenry is so mutch more and is the oldest form of religion in the world . If you search for the exact meaning of the term heathen you will find a few terms ;

Old English hǣthen,of Germanic origin; 
related to Dutch heiden and German Heide; 
generally regarded as a specifically Christian use 
of a Germanic adjective meaning 
‘inhabiting open country’, 
from the base of heath.

or

Of people or their way of life, activities, and ideas 
having no religion, 
or belonging to a religion that is not 
Christianity, Judaism, or Islam .

or

A person who does not belong to a widely held religion  
especially one who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim) 
as regarded by those who do.

or sometimes you get just crap lol .

An uncivilized , irreligious , barbaric , rude ,  
uncivilized, uncultivated, savage or wild person .

Heathen , pagan

People often tend to confuse Paganism and Heathenism.

Paganism ;Pagan is derived from the Late Latin paganus, which was used at the end of the Roman Empire to name those who practiced a religion other than Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Early Christians often used the term to refer to non-Christians who worshiped multiple deities. In Latin, paganus originally meant “country dweller” or “civilian;” it is believed that the word’s religious meanings developed either from the enduring non-Christian religious practices of those who lived far from the Roman cities where Christianity was more quickly adopted, or from the fact that early Christians referred to themselves as “soldiers of Christ,” making nonbelievers “civilians.” Paganism is an wide umbrella term for many polytheistic non-Abrahamic religions.

The definition and etymology of heathen overlap with those of pagan: both words denote “an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible,” and heathen, like pagan, is believed to have come from the term for a country inhabitant, or in this case, a “heath dweller.” Whereas a heathen is one who practices the pre-Christian religion of the ancient Germanic people. They worship the Germanic and Norse gods and goddess.

Both words have developed broader and pejorative meanings over time, with pagan being used to mean “an irreligious or hedonistic person” and heathen “uncivilized” or “strange,” but their original meanings are still in use.


So there you have it , the simple explanation with some basic info , now lets get to the wider picture .

The term heathen or pagan whas given during and after the Christianization of Europe , before that , the term heathen or pagan whas presumable not known or used . Many people consider modern heathens as one unified folk with one religion on a global scale like the 3 big religions mentioned in the introtext .But heathenry is so mutch more ! Its only when you start looking more deeply that you see how far the term heathen goes . What most , if not all , heathens have in common is that we have a polytheistic ( the belief in more than one god ) religion instead of a monotheistic

One way to look at it is ; Polytheism recognises the diversity in mankind and provides for different temperaments and liking. Monotheism is way less tolerant and requires its followers to forgo their belief in any other symbol of belief than their own.

Like you can see there are multiple type of theism . A short comparison ;

  • Atheism is of course a lack of belief in any gods.
  • Monotheism is the belief in one god. A narrower definition of monotheism is the belief in the existence of only one god that created the world, is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, and intervenes in the world.
  • Polytheism is the worship of or belief in multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses.
  • Pantheism means people believe all is god

In the ancient times there where far more polytheistic religions then in the modern days .

Great examples of major ancient polytheists societys are ,

Egyptian , Roman , Greek and other, in the Bronze Age to Classical Antiquity (between the 8th century BC and the 6th century AD )

And Norse , Germanic , Celtic , Baltic , Slavic and other in the Late Antiquity ( 235 to 750 AD ) to High Middle Ages. (1000 to 1250 AD)

To make things even more complicated ,between the polytheists there are also differences .

Polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally, but they can be henotheists, (specializing in the worship of one particular deity ). Or polytheists can be kathenotheists, ( worshiping different deities at different times).

A central, main division in modern polytheistic practices is between soft polytheism and hard polytheism .

“Hard” polytheism is the belief that gods are distinct, separate, real divine beings, rather than psychological archetypes or personifications of natural forces. Hard polytheists reject the idea that “all gods are one god.” “Hard” polytheists do not necessarily consider the gods of all cultures as being equally real, a theological position formally known as integrational polytheism or omnism. For hard polytheists, gods are individual and not only different names for the same being. Heathens are mostly hard polytheists, besides the major gods spoken of in the lore, there are also local gods, ancestral spirits, and various sorts of wights. For us heathens reading and understanding one’s heritage is very important, this is why there is such a heavy emphasis placed on reading the sagas. Heathens take our religion very seriously.

This is often contrasted with “soft” polytheism, which holds that different gods may be aspects of only one god, that the pantheons of other cultures are representative of one single pantheon, psychological archetypes or personifications of natural forces. In this way, gods may be interchangeable for one another across cultures

So far you can see why we heathens might look as one but also differ a lot .

One thing we all have in common is that even when they used the word/term heathen as a mocking word , it is now a word/term we are very proud off .

Still following lol ?

Ok , lets keep going .

Wile some heathens prefer to confess there religion in solitary , others tend to live and confess in community’s . And you know what ? Its all good . Nobody will judge you for it or condemn you. Nor are they any strict obligations like going to church on a determend time . Some heathens have ceremonys in there community , some prefer there prayers and rituals at home in solitude or with famely , other may go into nature . You can contact he gods on any given time and place . There are some rituals that need to be done in specific time if you like to do them but i will be telling more about this in a following post .

There is no higher order that tells us what we must do . We follow the path the gods have set out . And we all answer to the gods eventualy for the things we have done in our lifetime . They also call the heathen path or faith a religion with homework . Nobody is chewing for you or just rambling what is good or not . We have the web of wyrd , what we do in this life will reflect in the afterlife , there is no forgiveness nor sin .So how your afterlife will be is completly in your hands . When you choose a life of crime and dishonor , you will pay the bill when you die , live a life that is honorable and fruitfull you will reap the rewards when you die .

So you see there is not a real designated path , so eatch heathen , tribe or community can be following there path in a different manner . So saying all heathens are the same or one seems less logic now .

Then when you think that all ancient fractions had different panteons or names for the gods things can really get hard ,

I will list all the major pantheons and deity’s in a future part of this post in the coming weeks but for now i will let you take some time , to let it all sink in ,when this is the first time you really look in the term heathen it can be overwelming all this info at once , but i hope you have a wider vision on heathens and that we are not to be placed in one simple word or category .

Hope you follow this next weeks , stay safe and stay truly .

Greetings Dave ,

Leave a Reply