Unlike my co-workers, I am not a writer, unless you count lines of code. I am more of a speaker – a storyteller. My element is in front of a microphone, not a keyboard. However, when there is something I feel passionate about, I feel that I have an obligation to put fingers to keys, especially when it is something that is not as widely discussed as I would like – local reputation.
This post is political, but it won’t be about politics. I am not going to tell you what issues to support or who to vote for this next election cycle. Ultimately, that is going to depend on your own tribal thew and values.
This post also works from the assumption of two well known Heathen axioms: “We are our deeds,” and “That which is good for the tribe is good.” I am also working from the assumption that the reader desires to be a person of worth and reputation.
I live in a predominantly Fundamentalist, Evangelical Christian city. To most people here, a Heathen is somewhere between a “Devil Worshiper” and an atheist. If the person has a tiny bit of education, they might think I am Wiccan, or someone associated with Prisontru beliefs. I’ve been told by Heathens that what those “outside my tribe” think doesn’t matter. That I should only care about the inner yard.
But how is that good for my tribe?
We are a minority religion. Our narrative is being written by a media culture that values flash over substance. My beliefs are hijacked by radical, right wing bigots who have about as much knowledge of the Arch Heathen culture as they do science and general reasoning skills. If I want my tribe to prosper, I have to do whatever I can to fight that narrative, otherwise I risk reputation in my community of being exactly what I described above. This kind of misinformation can cause people to lose their jobs, custody of their children, and other negative consequences that come with subscribing to a belief system that has been twisted to fit into racism and other forms of bigotry.
Some may argue that the actions of those outside their tribe don’t matter, and I would say they are being incredibly short sighted. Look at what small groups of radicals do to almost every movement, and add to that we live in a Christian over culture where many associate anything not Christian as “devil worship” and a “if it bleeds it leads” twenty four hour news cycle that thrives on sensationalism. The actions of others in the name of Heathenry is going to affect us all one way or another, and we can’t control that.
It would make sense that if this negative narrative is happening, it is good for the tribe to counter this in any way that builds the reputation of the religion as a whole. So then how do I do that? I’ve argued this point to many folks, and in my opinion it requires us to step out of our comfort zones, and start being Heathen.
“Being Heathen?” you are probably saying to your computer right now. “I’m Heathen all the time!” Now, before you close the browser window cursing my name, let me expound on that thought. We need to be Heathen in public spaces. We need to show our values and be willing to get involved with our neighbors and communities, both as individuals and as tribes.
I can’t tell you what that is going to look like in your tribe. I can only tell you what it means to me and what I hope to achieve with mine. To me, it means being involved with the things that most directly affect the tribe. There are many things that fall into this sphere, everything from neighborhood watch to local elections. What happens locally is going to have the biggest impact on you and yours, and you and yours will have the biggest impact when you think and act locally.
This also means not being quiet about who we are. As Heathens, we are people of reputation. We need to take the opportunity to be publicly Heathen, and to do deeds under the banner of our tribe. I’ve seen tons of tribes already doing this, from adopting a highway to participating in park cleanups. My own kindred has spearheaded clothing and food drives. You can’t expect the normalization of the idea of there being an active, productive culture around the worship of the Aesir to happen on its own.
So, what have you done for your tribe lately?