Many Heathens aspire to live similarly to their ancestors, working to find ways to incorporate their spiritual views into their everyday lives. It’s a way of living their path instead of only having faith and understanding in the gods. One way to do this is to become more self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency was the way of life for the Norse (and most cultures) whether they wanted to or not. The Vikings everyone loves so much were mostly farmers. Raiding isn’t exactly a great year round profession. Or even a doable one with their methods of travel in that time. We may have endless options today to be anything but self-sufficient but is it hurting us spiritually? Making a personal change for potentially the better and progressing as an individual or as a group such as with ones family is both spiritual and practical. Working hard and achieving results makes not only yourself proud but honors the gods and your ancestors as well. Hard work does not go unnoticed by them. Some deities such as the Germanic Frau Holda (who can be connected to Frigga, Hel and even Odin) even look down on those who do not work hard. Being lazy during her time of the year (Winter) is especially insulting in my experience.
Self-sufficiency is being able to satisfy your basic needs without outside help. This mostly concerns food as you cannot exactly survive long without it. This can also cover housing and clothing as well countless other things one may need in their environment for survival. Today, we are living in a time of resurgence. Where one is encouraged to DIY (do it yourself) once again. Not out of necessity in many cases as products and establishments of convenience are still growing and widely available. More out of a desire to better oneself. To learn skills, save money, tap into creative energies, to live organically and more. Whatever ones reason may be…they are doing it and that is what matters.
Homesteading is part of this resurgence. Homesteading was once just owning a homestead (or being granted one). Now it is learning skills and crafts to help one become more self-sufficient. You do not even actually have to own a homestead to do this. Cooking from scratch, preserving food, creating jams from seasonal fruits, crocheting, knitting, hand spinning yarn, weaving fabric, gardening, curing meats, having a small window garden, mead making, et cetera can all be done even in a small apartment. Being creative about utilizing space, funds and time comes into play here. Not much of a creative person? No worries. That is what Pinterest is for. After you dip your toes in and find the route you want to take then a trip to the library for more in depth research or a quick Google search for local groups can help you on your way. You can’t find a group? Start one. Not much for socializing? Well, that is ok too. Homesteading needs your time so having more to devote to it is not necessarily a bad thing. It could be quite positive in fact.
Does this really relate to Heathenry? And if so then how? Often, when we describe the gods we speak of their achievements, patronages and particular talents. How many times have you heard or seen artistic depictions of Frigg’s distaff and spinning? Or Freyr’s connections with fair seasons and the fruits of the earth? We can honor the gods by doing something instead of simply speaking of them or to them. Learn to raise livestock, shear wool, spin yarn, weave fabric, sew clothing for your family, butcher and cure or cook your own meats (if you eat meat), grow your own fruit, veggies and herbs and whatever else you can. There are many skills one could learn. Hard work and dedication sounds like a lot and it is. It is also worth it.
Homesteading may also save you money in the long run. Creating your own things from scratch will do that. It really just asks for your time. Many of us were (or are) taught time management in school as our teachers tried to prepare us for the work of higher education. If you were not one of the lucky ones who were stressed out and frustrated as you tried to figure out how an hour or more of scheduling your time actually gave you more time you are not alone. If you need help with this there are some great resources that are free online. Find one that clicks for you and put it into play.
Once you have the time you can learn the skills you want. Another benefit of developing these skills? Skilled crafters can also sell their creations to help fund their homesteads. Goats milk soap, distilled herbal and floral oils, handspun yarn, canned and pickled foods, hand carved bowls, ceramic mugs, woven items like shawls and fabric among other things are actually quite popular. More and more people are willing to pay extra for handmade. Just look at the quantity of shops alone on the handmade site Etsy. This is not the only site of its kind. Farmers and Handmade or Crafts Markets are even better for people to find your work. When I used to sell more handcrafted items such as soaps and oils I often found inspiration in the gods and mythological beings. I shared my path with my customers by giving short biographies on my products as well as making YouTube videos to give even deeper explanations and discussion on what I was making and what inspired them. This was my way of showing opening people up to a pantheon and folklore that most Pagan groups I had been in prior to finding Heathenry jumped right over. Thinking the gods too harsh or scary as opposed to how I saw them. Much more realistic and hard working than other mysterious and sometimes flighty deities I had only read about. This made them easier to connect to personally.
Choosing a craft inspired by the lore is a way to benefit yourself and strengthen your connection with the gods and others we honor in our stories. Choosing more modern adaptions of crafts can still do this. You do not need to be a metal smith in the same fashion as the Medieval Scandinavians did to connect with them. Or make mead using their (actually kind of gross) recipes. Heathenry has grown and changed to survive and our gods have with it. Making and canning your partners favorite pickles or making frosting from scratch for a bake sale is not any less of a craft or way to connect. Find the connection that works for you. Trust me, there is one.
It is never to late to start learning a new craft or skill. In this day and age endless bits of information are free on websites and helpfully (one can hope) given in groups. You just have to make the decision to do it.