pre-Christian people who lived around the North Sea a thousand and more years ago. They lived in England, Scandinavia, Germany and Friesland.
Modern Heathens are reviving the old Heathen practices. They call their religion Asatru, The Northern Tradition, Odinism, Forn Sed, Germanic Pagan Reconstructionism or, simply, Heathenry.
Iceland did not convert to Christianity until the 11th Century, and they have once again recognised Heathenry as an official religion. Heathens work to build healthy relationships with gods and goddesses, ancestors, spirits of the land, and others in their communities, both through holy rites and through their day to day actions.
The Heathen gods are best known from Norse Mythology. Some of the most well known Heathen gods are enshrined in our English days of the week. Tuesday is named after Tiw (Tyr), Wednesday after Woden (Odin), Thursday after Thunor (Thor) and Friday after the goddess Frige (Frigg).
In addition to gods, Heathens recognise and relate to a wide variety of spiritual beings or 'wights'. Heathens also work with 'hidden folk' such as elves, brownies, dwarves and etins (giants and other not so pleasant folk). They interact with the housewights who live in their homes and the landwights who occupy streams, mountains, forests or fields.
Outdoor Heathen rituals will not proceed until the permission of landwights is sought and obtained.
The Heathen religion is also characterised by the respect given to ancestors in general. These may be either a person's literal forebears, or deceased people who have inspired them in some way. Many Heathens belong to small groups made up of Heathen friends and family members. These groups are sometimes called 'hearths' or 'kindreds'. They meet for religious rituals in members' homes or in outdoor spaces.
Some hearths and kindreds have recognised leaders. Others are entirely democratic.