The Gjallgard Kindred

Asatru/Northern Tradition Paganism

What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan/Heathen

If anyone had told me 10/15 years ago that I was going to become a Heathen I would have laughed in their faces. I have come a long way since then. In 2010, the same year I joined this Kindred and read my first books, my life changed. I changed. Not always for the better, but looking back now I believe it was all a process. I had to learn to listen. Until I did, I couldn't learn. I was raised in a very Christian way though in retrospect, I was luckier than most. I had few in my life who shoved dogma in my face, and a wide range of life around me. My childhood was a combination of old and new, of Christian and Pagan/Heathen magic and the incredible wonders of nature. I didn’t know or understand it then of course as I just lived day to day and never thought of the future. I had several family members who were Wiccan and when I showed a tendency to seek out ghosts and pixies and Gods in the woods they automatically marked me to join them when I was old enough. I almost did. I studied a little and watched and found that it just didn't appeal. The same thing happened with Judaism, and with Buddhist philosophies and native cosmologies. Everything kind of fit, but not in my heart.

In 2010 I read A book of troth by Edred Thorsson. Something inside of me clicked. Some glimmer of recognition that touched my soul. Still being headstrong and far too immature in my own reactions I failed the first what I call a test. It started as dreams. My grandfather, long since passed had kept entering my sleepless nights telling me 'remember who you are'…

It wore me down and twisted me, my hurts and jealousies intensified and I became completely different. My world changed after that. I had lost not just my path, but my light. I had lost me.

I have often thought of that time in my life, reflecting on the message I had been given and shut away determined to be in control(which I wasn't). Today I look back and I see those nightly messages differently. There is a saying that I treasure now, " In order to remember who you are, you need to forget who they told you to be". When I remember my dreams and my grandfather's words that saying always comes to mind. I had somehow, somewhere through time lost the ability to trust the real me. I mean I was still there. Still me, but the walls I had created within me and the fears and hurts I had seen over the years stifled me, choking the genuine person and it was like I was watching a clone of me in its place almost. I was there, I was me, but that version of me could be hurt and angry and my soul would be sheltered. I was so afraid of being lied to, being cheated on, being humiliated and degraded, but rather than face it I hid and just reacted instead of communicating. Then I was in the accident. I would rather it had never happened, but it did and it helped to bring me back to create a new true beginning of following the Northern path.

Everyone who follows this path reaches that decision differently. What I discovered in the Norse Pantheon that was lacking in the other beliefs I had seen is a steadying of my spirit. In Odin I found Inspiration and wisdom and through his guidance I seek out the Runes and the light. Thor has taught me that strength isn't always physical. Frigga helped me to open my mind and heart and to trust and live honourably and through those truths to have faith. Through Heimdall I have learned to listen, both to my inner being and to the world around me. He often guides my meditations and challenges me to look deeper. And last but not least by a long shot there is Freya whose presence always helps to stop my fears and gives me wings to fly. This is just a tiny part of what I have learned. There are so many more things that I have found that these living Gods have to share, and I always feel their presence now.

I will never be one to do re-enactment but there is a place for that as well when it helps those who revel in the acting out of the stories in order to learn. I am a firm supporter of not trying to usurp our ancestors places at the feast of the Gods, but I also am in favour of showing them respect, and tribute for what they themselves achieved. I do not like the horned helmets and gangster-like bullies that are often portrayed as Vikings but I realize too that all people have different ideals and needs and will change when it is their time, if it ever is.

So what does it take to be a Heathen? Well for me it meant becoming me. It meant tuning out the mainstream, and accepting that all things are possible if allowed to be. Following the Northern Path isn't about cartoons and movie theater characters. It is about trust, and honesty and honour. There is no one way to be. That is one of the things about being a Heathen that is amazing. There is no dogma, no rules that say you have to believe this way or that or you go to hell. Being a Pagan/Heathen is about being a genuine individual. We are all different, but we all have our place on the path!



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