What Makes a ‘True’ Heathen?

Recently, all I seem to read are posts regarding ‘true heathens’. But what exactly would one define as the traits of a ‘true heathen’?

This phrase provokes two very different definitions in my mind:

1. The person could be implying that only certain types of people can call themselves heathen, and that others are not ‘true’.

2. The person could be making a reference to the fact that many people, sadly, fake being heathen because they think its ‘cool’.

To be honest, I think this phrase needs a bit of careful thought. Rather than making people feel excluded, maybe we could start using a catch-all alternative?

We are all invididuals, and that’s great, because that’s how the gods designed us to be. Some people are born into heathenry; others choose to follow that path.

Different people have different interpretations of what it means to be truly heathen, myself included. I’ve had many arguments with self professed ‘true’ heathens who refused to accept my own personal interpretation, nor the ways in which I choose to honour the gods. But is this really such a crime? 

My faith is personal, and I alone decide what I do and how I do it. Some people build shrines to the gods – I prefer to feel their presence when immersed in nature. Some people choose to follow a set path that people on the internet or in books recommend – I choose to forge my own path. Just because someone doesn’t agree with the way you do things, doesn’t mean that you – or they – are doing it wrong.

Sadly, many people seem to think that wearing a Mjölnir pendant and growing a beard makes you a ‘true’ heathen automatically. I’m not trying to judge these guys, they are free to do as they wish, but this can be very misleading to others who instead prefer to practise their faith quietly and more subtly.

Perhaps I’m just thinking too much into this, but I’ve seen far too many new heathens being put off by that phrase. Think before you speak/write is all I’m saying! 


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