Saturday, July 30, 2011

On Raven Radio on Sunday, July 31, 2011 at 2 PM Central Time

This Sunday at 2 PM Central time in the United States, I'll be on Raven Radio. We'll be talking about regional practices, the Midwest Tribes, and the upcoming Lightning Across the Plains heathen gathering. I've been on once before, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Tune in or check out the archived podcast later (#60).

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Friday, July 29, 2011

Iceland Trip - Day 1

Two members of Jotun's Bane Kindred, Will Burris and I, traveled to Iceland from April 2-10, 2009. These are some of our photos from the trip. It was an absolutely amazing experience. I really dream about a day when I can take my wife and children there, so they can see and experience what we saw and experienced. Hail Iceland! Hail Asatruars in Iceland!

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

The Transition from Childhood to Adulthood

In our modern American culture, at what point do we mark the transition to adulthood?  At 16 when a teenager gets a driver license?  At 18 when a teenager can vote, or when young men must register for the draft?  Is it at 21, when the legal drinking age is reached?  The truth is, in our modern American culture, there is not clear point where childhood ends and adulthood is reached.  No dividing line.  No rite of passage.  No signal to everyone that this human being is now considered a full-adult, and must meet the responsibilities of a full-adult.

Our definition of when adulthood begins is blurry, at best...and even then, the blurry line keeps getting moved further and further along into the lives of young people.  We're at the point, where we have "children" living at home at the age of 22, 26, 30, and many of these children have never really taken responsibility for themselves.   They don't hold steady jobs, have their own place to live, pay all their own bills, or make decisions in the way that an adult can and should.  I think at times, the tranisition to adulthood can be enormously confusing, and a methodical well-thought out transition can ease some or most of the confusion involved.


Our kindreds and tribes are an excellent place and mechanism for providing this guided transition to adulthood.  A healthy kindred that includes families, is likely already organizing activities and learning opportunities for the children involved in the kindred.  By purposefully shaping these children's activities and learn opportunities into a process of learning and action, we can provide our children with a guided process that logically and inevitably leads to their roles and responsibilities as adults.  This process and the rite of passage at the enf of such a process, make it very clear to a child that its time to take on the role of adult.  The process itself is a proving time, with the rite of passage as the final test that communicates to them that they have learned, they are capable, and that their relationship and participation in the kindred or tribe will be different from this point forward.

The rite of passage also clearly marks for all the adults of a tribe, that a child has made the transition to adult. It makes it clear what the expectations of this new adult in the tribe will be.  It marks the point in time, that the thew for adults now applies to this young adult, and that they have proved themselves ready for those responsibilities.

The rite of passage is not something that you can throw together over a weekend, and think it will have much of an impact on the anyone. The rite of passage itself should be the culmination and completion of years of learning from and interacting with the tribe.  It should incorporate the things the boy or girl has learned, and it should incorporate things that will be expected of them as adults.  It should reinforce the thew of the tribe, and set the young adult on the right course within the tribe.  But it takes time, resources, and effort on everyone's part to make this happen properly.


So, how should this process work?  What should be included in it?  That is going to vary greatly from kindred to kindred.  Every kindred is different...sometimes enormously different.  Thew varies from kindred to kindred.  The responsibilites, activities, and deeds expected from adults in each kindred are different.  There is no cookie-cutter way to do this.

This process and the rite of passage that marks the point of transition is not simply for the boy or girl in question. It is something that serves a purpose for the entire tribe.  Jotun's Bane Kindred is in a position, where we need to seriously start looking at this.  We have two boys and two girls who are at a point, where we need to begin a process of transitioning them to adulthood within the tribe.  We've been trying some things, to see what works, and really examining what we hope to accomplish in this process.

Here are some thoughts on the matter, that we have considered...

1. Whatever method we choose, it should have a male and female path. Boys growing into men, need different knowledge, responsibilities, and experiences than girls growing into women.  To some degree, there will be variations in the process, based on the needs and personality of the child who is going through it as well.  Just as some adults are more spiritual, or intellectual, or physical, or do our children differ in their skills and strengths.

2. There has to be a methodical build up to the rite of passage. It can't just "happen one day" out of the blue.  I think years of methodical preparation are needed, with the last year or so featuring an increase in the rate of learning and activities. There are skill sets to be taught and learned.  Mental conditioning applied and learned.  Lore, Thew, and the expectation of the tribe to internalize and understand. 

3. The rite of passage itself should be over a weekend. Perhaps a long weekend, but it should be a weekend. The rite of passage should include the application and of skills and mental conditioning that the boy or girl has learned up to that point. This is a test to ensure they have learned and can apply what they have learned, and a way of showing the boy or girl in very concrete terms exactly how much they have learned and what they are capable of...

4. There should be symbolism and a certain level of drama involved. It should mean something, and truly communicate to all involved exactly how important that moment in time is.  A child has become an adult within the tribe.

5. There should be a clear understanding and expectation of behavior put in place, that EVERYONE understands and agrees to follow from that point forward. The new adult's responsibilities and privillages should be spelled out, and everyone should clearly understand them. 

6. The new adult, should from that point forward be welcomed into adult activities. After the right of passage, the new adult should sit in Symbel with the other adults from that point forward.  They should participate in the Fainings.  Participate in the Study Groups, the kindred meetings, etc.  If we train a child to be an adult, and then ritually transition them to adulthood, then they need to fulfill the adult role and responsibilities from that point forward.  They should also enjoy certain privilages and trust in return for fulfilling these responsibilities. 

7. This should be done at a fairly early age, by today's standards. 13, 14, or 15.  Males and females are capable of exercising adult responsibilities within a kindred at these ages. A 13 or 14 year old at a heathen gathering, should be participating with the adults, rather than running about the whole time with the little ones.

The whole process really comes down to preparing our children to fulfill their adult responsibilities, and to be mature enough to enjoy adult privelages without abusing them.

When I've talked about this in the past, there are some that like to point out that among our ancestors, it was often the norm for children to grow up and remain living at home at the age of 30 and beyond.  You might live on the same land and the same grouping of homes until your parents died, and then you would take over as the patriarch or matriarch of the familiy and land. 

But even in these situations, the grown children were working the land and fulfilling enormous responsibilities. They were expected to act as adults, provide as adults, and contribute as adults. They would often build an addition to the homestead for their family (wife and kids), or a separate building nearby.

They were not underachieving. They were not sponging off their parents. They were not in a perpetual state of childhood, wifeless, childless, and without adult responsibility.  In our modern world, there is a stigma on adults living at home with their parents, because in a majority of cases, 30-year-old children still living at home are not great examples of success, responsibility, and achievement.  Certainly there are exceptions to this rule.  There are adult children who temporarily stay at home, working and saving up for a house.  Some adult children move home temporarily while recovering from some crisis, after getting laid off, etc.  But, beyond these exceptions there are a lot of people not acting their age. 


Jotun's Bane Kindred has reached a point, where we need to make some decisions about this issue and plot a course. Obviously we can't just wait for our oldest children to be 13, and then start worrying about it. We need to start forming our plans on this, and putting them into action.  We already take our children camping throughout the year, and teach them skills we feel adults should know. We involve them in Fainings and Symbel. We read lore to them, and now that they are getting older, we're giving them materials to read on their own. We are already preparing them for adulthood.

But we need to create a more organized and systematic way of preparing that we don't miss anything. So that our training of our children is a little more complete and consistent, and that we do the best job for them that we can.  I envision that this is going to take a lot of time and effort on our part, but like all things worth working for, the results should be well worth it.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Kindred Trip to St. Louis on 3-28-2009

Back on March 28th, the members of Jotun's Bane Kindred (kids and all), travelled to St. Louis, MO to meet with heathens in the St. Louis area. We gathered at a pizza place where the kids could play, and then went to Sean Cook's house for a going away party and a Symbel.  Click on the play button to view the slideshow:

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of our Heathen Gods

JBK Heathen Pubmoot - March 1, 2009

These photos are from back in March 2009.  Jotun's Bane Kindred has always held Open Pubmoots every couple months so that we can gather with other heathens, eat, drink, talk, and laugh a lot. This pubmoot was our largest up until that time, with about 26 people there. As I type this in 2011...our pubmoots are usually right around 40 to 50 people.  Click the play button to watch the slideshow...

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Leaving a Kindred Gracefully

This seems like an odd topic for an essay about heathenry. But life is complex. People are called up for active-duty by the military. People are offered better jobs, that are in other cities and states. Marriages break-up, and sometimes one must move to stay close to one's children. The circumstances of one's life can change, and this can make staying with a kindred difficult, if not impossible.

Let me first say, that I would not leave my kindred. I was one of the founding members of Jotun's Bane Kindred, and the formation of our kindred was based on a oath I made directly to Thor and our Gods, prior to me personally knowing even one other heathen. The formation of JBK was something that I had to do. And it is difficult to imagine a situation that could pull me away from my tribe. It means too much to me.

But there are times, when you will have to pull away from a group of people for circumstances beyond your control. If you care at all about your honor, your reputation (Gefrain), and your established friendships within that group...there are things you should do that will make your exit from that group more graceful. Less damaging.

First, you should face the group in-person and explain to them the circumstances of why you must leave. This should happen at an existing meeting, or if need be, a special meeting of the group. An email to the group, or the group's leadership will not suffice. Actually, an email to the group or its leadership completely lacks the directness, the honesty, or the courage that we expect to see from Tru heathens. An email will cause anger and disgust by the group towards you. But a face-to-face explanation to the group, allows them to all hear the facts at once, allows them to see your emotions and attitude about leaving, and allows them to ask questions and have a conversation with you about it.

If you must leave immediately, and a face-to-face meeting is impossible with the group...then its your obligation to call every member of that group, starting with the leadership, and explain to each of them that you are leaving, and why you have to leave. You begin with the leadership of the group out of respect, and so they can begin making the adjustments that need to be made to limit the damage to the group done by your leaving.

If your reasons for leaving are good, and any reasonable person can see why you must leave...telling the group you are leaving will likely not be confrontational. If you are a tight-knit group, telling them will be emotional, but not confrontational.

If you reasons for leaving are sort of sketchy, then expect some fairly serious questions to be asked of you about your reasoning and your motivations. There is no obligation on the members of the group you are leaving to “automatically” accept your reasons for leaving “without question.” After all, you are leaving the group...a group that you committed to. And while you control whether you leave or not, the group itself (and its members) are in control of how they react to your leaving. You have no control of their reaction.

Now, what I've explained above does not seem to be what most people leaving a group seem to want to do. I tell you this from the standpoint of having seen it in various types of groups during my lifetime, including our heathen tribe. Most people seem incapable of facing the group face-to-face and simply explaining why they must leave. For some reason, they can't just come and say:

“This isn't working out for me, I'd like to leave the group but I'd like to remain friends with this kindred.”

“This isn't working out for me, I'd like to start my own kindred, but I want to stay on friendly terms with this kindred.”

“I have to move away for (insert reason), but I want to stay in touch and on friendly terms with this kindred.

Instead, what most people do, is come up with justifications for their leaving that involve being angry with the group. They fear the reaction of the group to their leaving, so they build up anger and emotion towards the group. They begin looking at the group as their enemy, based on the reaction they “believe” they will get. Even though this reaction they “believe” they will get is probably farthest from the truth. And this frustration and anger builds, until they lash out at the group. Essentially, its easier for them to start some kind of fight with the group, so that they can blame their leaving the group on the group itself.

That sounds a little odd, but I've seen it over and over again. Rather than just face the group, explain their reasons, and then pulling away with friendships and their honor intact...people will often take the cowards way out, cause a fight, and then run off. Somewhere in their head, they feel this has shifted the blame and responsibility from their shoulders...but it actually makes things worse. They actually cause more damage to the group and themselves by leaving in this manner.

To limit this sort of damage to your group, kindred, or tribe, its not a bad idea to address the subject of “how to leave the group” in your group's by-laws. Talk about it with new members, so that they know what is expected of them should they ever have to leave. This will not completely prevent people from leaving in the worst of ways, but its better than not addressing the topic at all.

Mark Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Kansas City Area

Carved Purpleheart Godhi Hammer

A Mjolnir necklace...a Thor's Hammer carved from purpleheart wood. It is a large hammer fit for a Godhi or Chieftain, and I gave it as a gift to Magni Thorsson, the Godhi of Mjornir Kindred in Denver, CO on a recent visit by Jotun's Bane Kindred to an event Mjolnir Kindred was hosting.  Click on the photo slideshow to start it:

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Carved Steam Birch Mjolnir

This hammer necklace was carved from "Steam Birch." That rich brown color is essentially the natural color of the wood, though there is a bit of linseed oil on there that enriches the color. I gave this as a gift to Jsun of Fimbul Winter Kindred when we were in Colorado this past weekend for a gathering.  Click here to start the photo slideshow:

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tips on Hosting a Successful Heathen Gathering

Lightning Across the Plains 2009 was attended by 120 Heathens from around the Midwest. Lightning Across the Plains 2010 was attended by 240 Heathens.  Kindreds.  Hearths.  Families.  Individuals.  As the hosting kindred, we feel that both events went very well, and met all of our goals and expectations.  The feedback we received from our guests was enormously positive, and we are very much looking forward to LATP 2011.  

Hosting a weekend Heathen gathering is not as simple as picking a time, date, location and then posting that information on the web and hoping for the best.  There is a lot of thought and planning that goes into it.  The hosting kindred is very busy both prior to and during the event ensuring it goes well.  This essay shares some tips on how to hold your own successful heathen gathering...

1.  Sit down as a kindred, and fully discuss the pro's and con's of holding a gathering.  Ensure that everyone is on-board.  If one or more people in the kindred are hesitant about hosting a gathering, find out what their concerns are, and fully discuss them.  Hosting a gathering can be a lot of work, and it will take your entire kindred to really pull it off well.  

2.  Consider whether there is a need for another heathen gathering in your region.  In most regions, there is still a need for additional gatherings.  Take the time to really research the existing gatherings in your region.  Talk to the other kindreds in your region, and really do your homework.  Where are the other gatherings and what time of year are they held?  You don't want to make Heathens choose between your event and another event they could go to.  And you certainly don't want them choosing between your event and one they they already regularly attend.  There is a limited number of heathens.  When we split our efforts and schedule competing events, everyone loses.

3. Give yourself plenty of time to promote the event. Don't sit down and schedule an gathering for 2 or 3 months from now.  You won't have time to plan it and prepare properly, nor will you have time to promote it properly. Plus, your guests need time to get your gathering on their calendar, make their own preparations for it, schedule time off from work, etc.  Jotun's Bane Kindred usually plans out our travel plans a year in advance.  It can be difficult for us to attend a gathering that is announced just a few months before it is held.  If this is a new gathering, set the date at least a year out, if you can.

4.  Once you find a date that works and does not conflict with other gatherings in your region, reserve a location for the event.  You need to take into consideration the level of comfort your guests will expect and the cost of the location you are reserving.  Some gatherings involve camping in tents, and these events usually cost a little less to attend.  Some gatherings involve cabins, and can cost quite a bit more to attend.  When choosing a location, keep in mind the weather that time of year, the need for bathrooms, etc.  

5.  Organize your gathering well. Plan it, make a schedule of activities, and really think through what you want to happen at the gathering. People don't want to travel to something that is disorganized, or has very few activities planned.  When you have a rough schedule made, go through every single activity on the schedule and thoroughly examine what you will need for every activity.  Make sure that you can realistically accomplish everything you have put on the schedule.

6.  If you have Heathen workshops on your schedule, make sure the subject matter and the tone of the workshops are something that will appeal to Heathens in your region.  Workshops that might be a big hit in one region, might not work in another region.  While you can certainly have members of your kindred give workshops, it is always nice if some of the workshops are given by knowledgeable guests in attendance.  It takes more pre-planning to have people outside your kindred give workshops, but it can definitely be worth the extra work.

7. Plan the event so that it will work whether it is well-attended or sparsely-attended.  This is especially true if it is your first time hosting the event.  You have plan the event so that it will be a success, spiritually and financially, if there are 20 people there...or 100 people there. That means choosing a location for the gathering that is not immensely expensive. If you set up a gathering that only financially breaks even if 60 people are there, and only 30 show is unlikely you will have a second gathering.  If your Godhi prepares a blot or faining that works well for 30 people, and 100 people show up, the blot or faining can go really badly.

8.  Don't make the gathering about YOU and YOUR kindred. For instance, if you are Folkish...don't make it just a Folkish gathering. If you are AFA, Troth, or OR, don't make it just an AFA, Troth, or OR gathering. Make it about Heathens in your region gathering in mutual respect, and focus on your similarities with other folks...not your differences.  A Heathen gathering should be about our Folk gathering to honor their Gods, their Ancestors, the Vaettir, and to get to know one another face-to-face.  If you focus on this goal in all that you do in hosting the gathering, then you are more likely to keep on-course, and have a meaningful gathering that people really enjoy.

9.  Personally, I believe that a Heathen gathering that focuses on being regional...will draw together kindreds, hearths, families, and individuals from that region that are likely to get to know each other, and that will be likely to want to continue gathering.  A gathering that focuses on being national, will have a different feel to it.  I've written extensively on the importance of regional face-to-face relationships between kindreds and Heathen individuals.  Your regional gathering will spark other regional gatherings, and over a relatively short number of years, bonds can be built between Heathens in a region...bonds that strengthen and enliven all that are involved.

10.  Heathenry is about families and communities.  There is nothing more disturbing, than the idea of a Heathen gathering with very few children and no activities planned for children.  Our children are the future of Heathenry.  So, if you are planning a gathering, put your money where your mouth is.  Don't just talk the talk, walk the walk.  Set up your registration fees in a way that encourages families to attend.  Plan activities for children, and communicate these activities are part of your promotions for the event.  Lightning Across the Plains 2010 was attended by 70 Heathen children...nearly a third of those in attendance.  We're enormously happy with this ratio of children at the event.

11. Keep the price to attend the gathering as affordable as possible.. Heathens tend to be middle class...lower-middle class...and working-class folks.  Especially the Heathens with children. They aren't made of money, and you want your gathering to be affordable for them to attend.

12.  Some gatherings don't provide any food for their guests.  Some gatherings provide one or two feasts, and ask guests to provide their own breakfasts and lunches.  Some gatherings provide all of the food, throughout the entire weekend.  If you do provide food, you need to make sure everyone walks away satisfied from any meals you do provide.  Running out of food is absolutely not acceptable.  

13. Make the gathering both fun and spiritually meaningful.  Plan for one or more blots or fainings, one or more Symbels, and ensure that the event is as "Heathen" as possible.  But, also plan activities that are purely for fun and enjoyment. If you know the folks in your region fairly well, then you'll have a better idea of what they will consider to be fun.  Viking games, contests of poetry and song, and a lore game-show are all activities that can be really enjoyable, if planned well.

14.  Once you have a location reserved for the date of your gathering and a thorough plan for the gathering, announce the gathering as widely as possible.  Find ways to clearly communicate the details about your event. Share everything about it you can. The schedule, the plan, the details. People do not like the unknown, and will not travel to something that is sort of nebulous and mysterious.  Traveling to a gathering is a big commitment of time and money, and the more they know about your gathering, the more likely they are to commit to attending.

15. Heathenry is about reciprocal relationships.  Gift for a Gift.  You need to get to know and forge bonds with other kindreds and Heathens in your region. Communicate with them. Get to know them. Travel to their open events and gatherings they are hosting.  People are more likely to travel to something you are hosting, if you have already traveled to visit them.  This seems like common sense, but a lot of people just completely miss this whole concept.  In the year 2010, Jotun's Bane Kindred traveled 2843 miles to gathering with other Heathens.  We'll probably end up traveling more miles as a kindred in 2011.

 Well, those are the tips I could think of tonight.  By the time I publish this article in the Heathen Tribes book, I will likely have added a few more.

BTW, if you are in a kindred or a you are a Heathen family or individual here in the Midwest, I want to invite you to Lightning Across the Plains on September 23-25.  All heathens are welcome, regardless of where they live, but we specifically interested in gathering with Heathens from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  LATP 2011, will be the second year for the Regional Midwest Thing...and we want your participation and friendship.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Bringing Our Folk Back to Their Ancestral Folkway

It is one of those "cardinal rules" of Asatru, that "Heathens do not proselytize."  This has always left me with this impression that we, as Heathens, aren't allowed to tell people about our religion, and we certainly can't tell them that our religion would be better for them than whatever they are doing now.  And this impression is reinforced by the occasionally warnings I will receive that I am either dangerously close to proselytizing or outright proselytizing.  But, let's get a little deeper into this issue.

I wrote an essay on "Raising Awareness of Heathenry Among Normal Folks" that discussed various methods we could use to educate non-Heathen members of our Folk about our Gods and our Ancestral Ways.  It is located here on the blog.

And very recently wrote an essay called, "Your Ancestors Were Heathen...," that explained to any non-Heathen members of our Folk, that regardless of their religious beliefs, it is interesting to note that their Ancestors were Heathen.  It explained that modern Heathenry is attempting to reconstruct our native Folkway.  It is located here on the blog.

These are the kinds of essays where I will occasionally receive the knee-jerk reaction from some Heathens, suggesting that what I am suggesting is "proselytizing," and that we as Heathens should never proselytize.  Usually the person suggesting this, goes further and suggests that proselytizing is something that Christians do...and it is one of the reasons they are no longer Christian.  And it is implied that I'm crossing a line that should not be crossed.  


First off, let's look at the definition of the word "proselytizing."  A proselyte is "a person who has changed from one opinion, religious belief,sect, or the like, to another; a convert."  And to proselytize is "to convert or attempt to convert as a proselyte;  to recruit."

The word itself is very simple and straight-forward.  It is the simple act of trying to convince someone to come over to your side of things.  It is most often used in relation to religion, but it can also be used in relation to politics, debates, business meetings where sides have been drawn over an issue, etc. 

Now many people read all sorts of other meanings into the word.  Pushiness.  Manipulation.  Fear-Mongering.  Threats.  Passing Judgement.  "Quoting Scripture."  Bothering People.  Insulting People.  But these meanings that we often seen read into the word, have more to do with HOW someone proselytizes...the methods the employ...than it does with the actual meaning of the word.

There was a time when nearly all of our Folk were of our Folkway.  But that time was taken away from us.  Modern Heathens are but a very small percentage of our Folk, with the vast majority of them being Christians, Agnostics, or Atheists.   Most of our Folk don't even know they have a native Folkway as a religious option.  Most of them don't even know Heathenry exists.  We should communicate to non-Heathens who we are, how much Heathenry means to us, and how well it works for our families and ourselves.  I feel it is my obligation to let non-Heathen members of our Folk know about our Gods and our Ancestral Ways.  I personally didn't even know Heathenry existed, until I was 37 years old.  We must do better than that.

Now, that doesn't mean we should be pushy, manipulative, fear-mongering, threatening, or bothersome in our approach to these non-Heathen members of our Folk.  We should be honest, straight-forward, and simply provide the information that our current Christian-dominated culture has completely suppressed. 


First of all, our ancestors were not a quiet, meek people, constantly worried about stepping on someone's toes with a contrary opinion. They didn't constantly bite their tongue for fear of offending people with the truth. And I won't do it either.

I'm not suggesting we run about telling people to be heathen or they "will go to a fiery Hell."  I'm not suggesting we scare people with fearmongering that they won't see their beloved family in the afterlife, if they don't convert. I'm not suggesting we tell people they are evil or reject them from our lives because they are not Heathen. I don't think we should fire people from jobs or ruin their careers because they aren't Heathen. We as heathens, don't do anything that even slightly resembles what we hate about Christian proselytizing...the form of proselytizing with which we're almost exclusively familiar.

I'm talking about sharing information with non-Heathens.  Letting them know we exist.  Explaining the conversion of Northern Europe to them, and the fact their ancestors were Heathen.  Describing to them what our Ways are, and why they work for us.  Celebrating our Gods, and letting non-Heathens know how and why we do this.  And, as always, we must be living good lives...lives that illustrate that our Ways truly are natural and healty for our People.

A hard-core Christian who is satisfied with their Christianity, will likely disregard anything we say.  They may even be offended that someone would dare communicate anything to them that was non-Christian.  But, the satisfied Christian is really not the target of our communication efforts anyhow.  They have "bought-in."  They are comfortable with being in servitude to a foreign religion, and getting on their knees to a foreign god.

The target of our communications should be those members of our Folk that are dissatisfied with the foreign religion.  Those that are half-living it, out of obligation or habit.  Those that will literally come alive when they learn of our Ways and begin to investigate them closer.  I reject the idea that sharing information about our Folkway with these dissatisfied member of our Folk will offend them or chase them away.  We often talk about how Heathenry felt "like coming home."  If we truly believe this is spiritually true, should we not trust that those we share information with will eventually feel the same way?  Will not the waters of our faith run down familiar courses within them as well?

There is this automatic reaction among many Heathens against anything even vaguely Christian.  To some degree, this automatic reaction extends to any effort to tell any non-Heathen that Heathenry is a good thing and maybe they should look into it.  This reaction "against Christianity" is natural and understandable, but we need to get over it.

At some point Heathenry needs to be beyond Christianity, and not in reaction to it.  We need to make sound and logical choices about our actions, that are driven by what is good for us and good for our Folk.  These choices should be made free of any need to be against anything that is even vaguely connected in some tenuous way with what Christians do.  Who cares what they do?  Who cares that they do it badly?  That is their problem.

We need to set our own course, and do what is right for our descendents.  I want my kids to live in a world where more of their Folk have returned to their ancestral Folkway.  I want my grandkids to see even more Heathens in the world...and my great-grandkids even more.  This is something we can do.  If communicate properly, if we work our asses off, if we live lives that show we walk the walk, as well as talk the talk...then Heathenry will grow as it should.  These Ways we follow are natural to our Folk.  It stands to reason, that if they know about these Ways and see them as a viable option, then Heathenry will grow.


Occassionally, I will hear Heathens say that new Heathens must be called by the Gods.  If the Gods don't call them, then they won't be "coming home" anyhow.  This has always confused me.

In almost no other area of our lives as Heathens do we ask the God to do it for us.  In almost every other area, we say that we must do it ourselves.  We accomplish things through our own hard work.  We don't beg the Gods to do things for us.  We don't sit around waiting for them to save us...or do us personal favors.  As Heathens, we get up off our duff and make things happen.

Why should it not also be so in bringing our Folk home to their ancestral Folkway?  I think the Gods watch us.  I think they may give us a nudge now and again.  But are a religion that truly believes that the Gods help those that help themselves.  And if we believe that more our Folk should be Heathen, then that's something we're going to have to work for and earn...just like everything else in this life.


Myth #5 is similar to Myth #4, in that it puts the future of Heathenry in someone else's hands.  It diverts responsibility for the health and growth of our ancestral Folkway to some unseen force.  It relieves us of any responsibility or fault in the matter.  I'm just not that kind of person.  I don't think our ancestors were those sort of people.  If they wanted something, they made it happen...or wore themselves out trying to make it happen.

Wyrd will take its course, but I'm certainly going to make every effort to earn the things I want in this life.  I'm going to work my ass off to shape this world through my own hardwork and determination.  Of course their will be setbacks, and problems, and bumps in the road...but that shouldn't stop any of us.  Perhaps our Wyrd is that we should work our asses off and bring more of our Folk home?  I certainly reject the idea that our Wyrd is that we'll sit on our hands and wait for some unseen force to bring them home.


Communicating to non-Heathen members of our Folk about our Ways, and letting them know that these Ways work well for us will be called proselytizing by some.  And by definition they are not wrong.  We are trying to educate our Folk that their ancestral Folkway is a viable religious option...and can enrich and improve their lives and their families.  We are trying to bring more of our non-Heathen Folk home to the Ways of their ancestors.

And we do so on our own terms.  We don't use the manipulative and fear-based techniques the Christians use.  We don't bring them this information in an obnoxious or inappropriate manner.  We bring them this information in a straight-forward and honest manner, as we try to do in all things.

We should be telling people about our Faith, for knowledge of our Faith has been suppressed.   We should be telling them why it works, because as members of our Folk, they deserve to know.

If it is proselytizing to tell non-Heathen members of our Folk that their Ancestors were Heathen and that they would be happier if they returned to the Ways of their Ancestors, then I'm happily guilt as charged.  I'm just not going to follow that old heathen chestnut that "heathens don't proselytize."  We have an obligation to communicate to our Folk who their ancestors were and what they really believed, and to share with them why it works so well for us.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods