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A More Personal Heathenry


Xander is a student of Anthropology, and a general history nerd. He focuses on studying Heathen Lore and reconstructing the fragments of the ancient traditions, in order to see how they can be applied to a modern community of believers.

BEHOLD! THE ALMIGHTY THUMB! (Oh yeah, and the empty corn bed behind it…)

I wanted to write about a something a little different today. Over at Ranting Recon, I usually stick to exploring Lore, Tradition, and ancient history, but at times even I can feel like there can be too much emphasis on Academic Heathenry. That’s not to say it’s not important (Hel, I wouldn’t be much of a Recon if I didn’t think learning the history was essential), but that’s not the ENTIRETY of Heathenry. So, since I have occasionally been accused of being little more than a dusty book-hoarder, I wanted to take a step back and talk a bit about how Heathenry impacts my life on an entirely personal level.

I can’t really think of a better example of how Heathenry moves from theory to practice in my personal life, than my current ‘springtime’ project. (As if Arizona has a ‘springtime’. Bah! Our seasons come in ‘pleasant’ and ‘FIERY BURNING DEATH ON A STICK’…)

Believe it or not, for all that my articles frequently go on for days about Odin, the majority of my semi-devotional activities involve Freyr. I’m kind of what happens when a homesteading enthusiast is forced to live in the big city. I believe that if one had land, one should use that land efficiently. I also believe that if you can grow food, that means you don’t have to go out and buy it AND your diet will be fairly diverse as the crops will change with the seasons. Win Win!

It’s for that reason that I’ve expanded beyond my tiny backyard garden (currently laden with the last crop of beets, broccoli, and peas) and started a new endeavor. Garden2Right next to my home is a large, barren, shallow ravine. It’s mostly on my neighbor’s property, but it’s nothing but a mass of gravel and huge stones. So a week ago I went to my neighbor and brought up the idea of putting the empty space to use. Thus my surprisingly backbreaking plan began to take shape.

You see, I feel too many Heathens focus only on ‘community’ when it involves other Heathens. I believe that Heathens need to work to build up relationships with other people as well, particularly in their local neighborhood communities! Now I’m a booking introvert who honestly dreads the idea of speaking to most people, BUT I know the value of forming connections with other families, especially now that I’m raising my daughter in this neighborhood. Our Lore is chock full of lessons about hospitality and generosity, so as a Heathen, I can’t really justify hiding in my office all the time. (As much as I’d love that.)

So I worked with my neighbor, got their permission, and hatched a plan. I’m building a community garden. For the past week, I’ve gone out almost every day to shovel gravel, haul rocks, till the soil by hand, and cart compost from our back yard, slowly building up this garden one section at a time. Right now there are three rows of corn and two heirloom tomato plants. By this afternoon, there should be a large bed of watermelons. By next week I hope to have a range of summer squash, zucchini, and herbs like rosemary. Within a few months, if all goes well, I plan to start going around the neighborhood and handing out fliers. Pick some weeds, pick some veggies, and enjoy all of the free resources of the garden.

Now I’m not one to shove my religion down anyone’s throat, so I’m not about to put a great big ol’ Heathen stamp all over everything. Most of our neighbors are Mormons, so that wouldn’t go too well anyhow. However, tucked in the back near all the flowering bushes I use to attract the bees, will be my own little God-Pole. A happily places Freyr, surrounded by growing things. Once I can get enough people involved, I hope to start a community composting program.

“Save all your nasty food waste in a separate bucket. Bring it to the garden on Fridays and we’ll compost it for you!”

To the neighbors, it’ll just be a handy way to feel like their recycling, and help grow more tasty food. ‘Just drop the trash next to the little wooden gnome in the back and that one guy will take care of it for you!’ Meanwhile, rich and fertile fuel will be getting offered to Frey and the wights of the garden. I’ll take them around back to compost, and in time those offerings will be brought back to help grow new plants with each season.

It’s rough work, and it’s already hot here in Arizona, but it’s worth it. It’s my way of honoring the gods, the landvættir, the community, and our traditions. It’s a connection to the land I call home and a bridge to all the others around me who do so as well. All of those dusty books are incredibly important, but they wouldn’t mean much if we didn’t put what we learned from them into action. This, right here, is my Heathenry.

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2016 Huginn's Heathen Hof