I have long pointed out that Heathenry is not a religion; and as with all revolutionary ideas, this perspective has been met with opposition. In that most Americans are raised in a Judao-Christian society, embracing a tribal or folk concept is genuinely alien, so understandable. All the more reason when deciding to forego religion for a Pagan template, to not simply apply a veneer, but truly delve into what that older, pre-Christian philosophy was.
Yes, philosophy, the love of knowledge. You see, philosophy is “the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence”, so simply saying “I am no longer a Christian”, but some other, is not enough, because religion is a creator of ‘reality and existence’, or social fact. Meaning, societal constructs dictate sacred truths.
Today, many Pagans have come to realize that Christianity demonized the original folkways of their ancestral homeland; and with that idea comes a romantic notion of ‘by the sword’. Indeed there are numerous historical records that highlight Christian atrocities (many of which continue today), but in truth, the most heinous Conversion was of the mind – a wound that continues to scar, centuries later.
For example, the Judao-Christian construct relates that there are those chosen by god to rule, and those chosen by god to be slaves. This is social superiority, a philosophy that extends to the roles of men and women. The societal constructs of Christianity – that men are primary and that women were created to be his helper, that men are bread winners and women are house wives, that men are righteous and that women brought original sin – is an historical system, not one that arose from nature, so not an eternal or sacred truth.
For example, the Old Ways of Old Europe – from the Iron Age to the Christianization – were rich in not ‘myth’, but the traditional stories and cultural practices of individual families and regional groups, extending prior to the written record. Being both animistic and polytheistic, there existed a sturdy web of overlapping worldviews and practices, rather than a singular religion under one god. Today, many focus solely on the Norse folkway, but there are other ample and richly rewarding philosophies to be had in the Continental Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, and Gaelic records. The very idea that these accounts are deemed ‘myth’ is an example of how the pen came to be mightier than the sword, for again, this Conversion weapon stills fogs the Pagan mind today.
In all, the tribal model can be identified as having four markers:
-Economy, may be seen in the rune Fehu; from Germanic fehu-od (seen in English and French fee, fief), meaning ‘moveable wealth’, or, initially, ‘livestock’ (sheep, cattle, etc). Today this tribal practice relates to gardening, bartering, gift-giving, and overall self-sustainability.
-Society, may be seen in the rune Odal; from Proto-Germanic *ōþalan, meaning ‘heritage; inheritance’. Today this tribal practice relates to ownership of one’s physical and philosophical possessions.
-Politics, may be seen in the rune Tyr; from Proto Indo-European *deiwós, ‘shining one; celestial being; god’. The word *tīwaz is seen in tívar, meaning ‘gods’, and is the root of modern-day diety and divine. According to folklore, Tyr was representative of the Thing, or governing assembly, the original ‘folkmoot’ and ‘thingstead’, where individuals, families, and tribes came together to discuss thew, arrange marriages, formalize business contracts, make alliances, and the like. Notably, all freemen attended and participated in Thing, to include women, who were property owners (fehu). The limitations to women in this capacity seem to be centered on decisions of war, which were determined by Warriors. However, even in this latter, there are numerous accounts of ‘soothsayers’ (Seidwomen, Volvas) being sought out to divine deeper truths.
-Culture and Spirituality, may be seen in the rune Gebo; from Proto Indo-Eurpean *ghabh-, meaning ‘to give or receive’, it has an implied meaning of ‘natural talent’ or that which may be conferred via inspiration. Within a tribal worldview, gifts are social contracts, given to create social cohesion, as such, there is an expectation of reciprocity; the practice of sharing gifts then, further relates to Economy (above). As Above, So Below: Gifts are contractual agreements beyond the horizontal (from hand-to-hand), but also vertical (spiritual reality). The tribal mind did not prayer or beg the gods, but gifted their ancestors in a continued affirmation of familial reciprocity.
Old European Pagans / Heathens today, would do well to examine their Orlog, to carefully tease out the Christianized layers of mental impression and oppression that have left a psychological imprint which continues to form one’s tendency’s, habits, and deeds. Trying to live a Pagan life while maintaining Christian thoughts (even subconscious ones) will only bring about suffering and subjugation. True Wunjo, is more than ‘joy’, but a Conscious Application of Will, which can only be earned through a genuine evaluation of s/Self.