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Nov 7 2010

Some Quick Basics on Heathenism

Many neo-pagans have attitudes regarding the various “heathen” faiths that range from suspicious to openly hostile. Much of this is due to some misrepresentations of heathery as a whole by academia and the media. A quick personal story will illustrate this.

A little while back Village Voice “journalist” Steven Thrasher contacted me for an interview regarding the candidacy of Dan Halloran for a city council position in New York City, Queens I think. We arranged a time to do a phone interview and and I spent almost an hour talking religion with Thrasher and made three things very clear

1) I was not a Heathen but I was (very) loosely affiliated online with some. I myself am a Pagan with no connection to any organized faith.

2) As I am Bi-racial and not shy about it I conclude that most Heathens, and even some “folkish” ones, aren’t racists since they’ve been nothing but polite and honorable to me

3) The idea that all Heathery is some sort of neo-Nazi cult is bigotry that was spread by certain academics (like Daniel Levitas who wrote the awful Terrorist Next Door) looking to cash in on the fear of Nazis in the 1990s and some Wiccans who ran with the smear for political and economic reasons.

When the piece came out I had a few of my more salacious quotes wedged between “experts” claiming anyone who ever worshipped Woden was a neo-Nazi and a page long examination into the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang and it was strongly inferred that I was a racist Heathen.

Halloran, who won his seat by the way, belonged to a kindred with Black members but Thrasher’s interest in doing a hatchet job on a Republican ended up further cementing the image of Heathenism as one step away from White Supremacist groups in the minds of most.

But that’s not the Heathenism I know. Thor Sheil uploaded this quick 20pg basic guide to Heathenism on Scribd and it’s a great place to start for Pagans looking to learn more about this tradition. It also gives a brief description of Heathen views on magical practice that practitioners of all kinds might be interested in:

What is Heathenism