This isn’t Deitsch or Urglaawe specific. Instead, it’s something that all of Heathenry, and possibly all of Paganism, needs to hear, and something I absolutely need to say.
I’ve had it with seeing self-righteous asses on social media dictating to well-meaning newcomers how they may or may not worship. Over and over again, I see heartfelt questions about worship that are ruthlessly shut down by self-appointed experts on “what our ancestors REALLY did” or “how Heathenry is REALLY done”.
A lot of these questions have to do with offerings. For example, is it ok to offer this food or that drink to this deity? Is it ok to dedicate actions and activities as offerings to deities? Can I make something for a deity? Can I buy something as an offering to deity?
Let me set all these questions to rest: If it comes from your heart, it IS a worthy offering. ALWAYS.
Furthermore, you can, without reservation, talk or pray to any deity, any time your heart desires. No other human being has any right to tell you that you can’t, or to dictate terms to you about it. Your relationship with the gods–or for that matter, the ancestors or other spirits–is between you and them. No third parties need apply. Period.
No one has any right to tell you that you can’t worship any gods you wish. You don’t have to come from any specific race or ethnicity, or have a documented ancestry.
Every soul on this earth is unique, and therefore the relationship between that soul and the Powers is also unique. Even if groups of people come together and worship a deity, using the same words and shared offerings, the feelings in their hearts will be completely, blessedly, beautifully unique, because that is the nature of hearts and souls. No two souls can ever have the exact same religion, the exact same spirituality, the exact same connection to the gods, and that is not just ok, that is wonderful! It is, in the old sense of the word, full of wonder, a deep and precious mystery.
To impose upon that relationship, to limit it, to try to control it or manipulate it for your own selfish ends, is a hideous crime. I chose that term carefully. To attempt to do harm to the soul of another is vile beyond words. To make such statements to newcomers to our faith, who are nervously reaching out to the gods and the community for the first time, looking for acceptance, support, and guidance, is all the more appalling. What if you drive them away from the beginnings of their spiritual path? What kind of damage might you do, to a young faith? What kind of painful roadblocks are you going to set up between this person and the gods?
So many people in our world are painfully separate from the worlds of spirit, from the loving support of their ancestors, from the guidance and compassion the gods can offer us in our struggles through this physical world. So many people are lost, cut off from purpose, cut off from roots. When those who have been lost in this way, find their paths home to our gods, we should welcome them with open arms and open minds. We should give them guidance in the form of “This is what works for me” and “This is what I have learned about from this source, you might like to read it.” When we disagree, there are ways to do it that don’t drive people away and hurt their spiritual growth. “I don’t personally do things that way because of this reason.” “I don’t agree with that theory on what our ancestors practiced because I agree with this theory, which has X, Y, and Z merits.”
If our religion is not taken seriously, if it does not survive the coming decades, if it does not take off to become widely available to the general public as a viable spiritual option, it is because we have failed. We have failed as a community to welcome newcomers. We have failed to foster spiritual growth. We have failed by imposing hardline, ignorant views on those with a sincere, heartfelt desire to make personal connections with the gods and with the practices of our faith.
I too, was treated this way, when I was a “baby Heathen”. When I first stepped into the online world of reconstructionist religions, a little over 11 years ago, I asked questions openly, and freely admitted my background in Wicca. I was treated so rudely, even cruelly, by some of the people that I encountered, that I avoided finding a face to face kindred, and practiced the faith on my own for nearly a decade. I was used to being a solitary and I had a lot of support from the gods, my ancestors, and other spirits, to pull me through, and I’m very thankful for those blessings that granted me resilience.
To those of you who have been treated this way by members of our community, I am sorry. I am sorry that we don’t currently have the structures in place that we should have, to welcome newcomers and give them needed guidance. I’m sorry that to walk into any given Heathen group on social media, with only rare exceptions, is to walk into a disgraceful shitstorm of internal politics, negativity, rudeness, and confusing “advice” about everything from how to pray to what to study.
I offer myself as a resource, and a friendly face. I promise that if I receive sincere questions on Heathenry, I will answer with patience, kindness, and an open mind. I promise to direct you to the best resources I know of whenever I can’t help directly. And I say to you with deep sincerity that your heartfelt offerings and prayers to the gods are worthy, and that no one needs to give you permission to talk to the gods in any way you feel moved to.
If you are a Heathen, Asatru, Vanatru, or any other worshiper of the gods and goddesses of Northern Europe, by any name, I call on you to stand with me and be this same friendly face, this same hand extended in welcome to newcomers. The current state of affairs cannot and must not continue. We must be the change we wish to see. Please join me.