*Disclaimer: Please note that this post reflects my own views and is not intended to be any official statement of policy for the Troth or its members.
So the other day, I finally did something I’ve been planning on for awhile now, which is to join The Troth. My primary motivation in joining is that I want to see Heathenry outlast my lifetime. It cannot do that if we do not come together to build the infrastructure that is necessary for a thriving religion. I see the Troth as being on its way to creating that structure for Heathenry, and I believe that with my help and the help of others who are committed to this outcome, the Troth can succeed.
I’ve begun my work on the “Intro to Heathenry” program that is the pre-requisite for their Lore studies program. I’m excited for the opportunities to learn and grow in my practice, connect with other Heathens, and assist directly with the growth of Urglaawe, which has found an increasing number of devotees within the Troth. I also want to fill in any gaps in my knowledge and just kind of reinforce the lessons that I haven’t looked at since I was a baby Heathen nearly 15 years ago.
I’m a bit out of the way for many of the face-to-face events that the Troth holds, but I’m hoping to get back into having some of that kind of connection too. While much of my spirituality is solitary, there’s nothing quite like having like minded friends to share your practice with. I think that kind of support is especially important in a world where the dominant culture does not even acknowledge our religious choices as valid, let alone support or embrace our faith.
I’ve wrestled over the years with whether Heathenry is the right name for my faith. I don’t actually like it as an umbrella term, not because I don’t think an umbrella term is useful–it helps–but because I think the word itself has negative connotations, or even sounds laughable, to most of the public. I’ve had some conversations where I’ve talked to friends about “trying to be a good Heathen” which is always good for a few chuckles. Urglaawe, of course, is the specific denomination of my Heathenry. It doesn’t really cover the spirit work portions of my practice, but it doesn’t exclude them either. Over the years, I’ve identified as “Wiccan”, “Pagan”, “Unitarian Universalist”, “Reconstructionist”, “Polytheist”, “Animist”, “Northern Tradition”, “Germanic Pagan”. Some of these labels could still accurately describe my practice, while some no longer do. So now, when I identify as a Heathen, I am saying that I am a Polytheist and an Animist, whose worship focuses on the Gods and Goddesses of the Germanic pantheons. My religion is partly reconstructed, but primarily a living experience. Staying grounded in the culture that inspires my denomination is important to me, but does not entail excluding anyone from shared practice. I think that’s about as good of a description or definition as I can manage. Not everyone understands the word “Heathenry” to mean that, and maybe it’s not the umbrella term that will be used in the future, but it seems to be the most common one for now. I believe that we need to unite behind some term, sooner or later, and stick to it, because otherwise we’ll simply see continuing confusion as to what the religion even is, let alone where it’s going.
I hope that I can be one of the people who helps to shape where Heathenry is going, and to make sure it’s still here for generations to come. If that sounds like something you’d like to do, then maybe you should consider joining the Troth too.