The Heathen in the Modern Age
Some people have asked me, how can the Vikings and northern hemisphere religious and spiritual belief system have any bearing in today’s modern world. Some might even think that to hold such beliefs constitutes a lack of understanding, and represents advocating slightly backward thinking for those not wanting to embrace today’s technology,or worse, give the impression that we are living in a utopian dream worlddevoid of reality. For me though, and a growing number of people, the answer is far from crazy. We are, in fact, of the opinion that our ancestors social and spiritual guide lines are needed now more than ever before and thankfully we are no longer on the side lines looking in, but are making our voices heard, ironically, through the technology readily available to ustoday.
When I wrote Heathen Warrior, there were the distant rumblings and murmurings of a reawakening regarding the ancestral belief system of Northern Europe. Obviously, mine wasn’t the only voice stating as much,and certainly wasn’t the last, but until then, the majority of the general public presumed that to hold such regional specific values, was nothing more than racially divisive and that it was all about hate rather than heritage and inclusivity. Thankfully, we are now in the position that a growing number now understand that stating we are Heathen represents more than just the hijacking of our faith and symbols by the far right and its advocates and that the vast majority of Heathens are in fact, decent,hardworking, and socially balanced members of society.
Is it any coincidence that this new wave of tolerance coincides with the rise in popularity of TV shows like Vikings or the period fantasy showGame of Thrones? Or could they have had a profound effect on the collective conscious? Have they tapped into the viewers need for technological devolution, harking and craving for a simpler time when life was deemed to be better?
Of course, to say the late “Dark Age” was better, is naïve and rather simplistic and despite our best efforts we will never truly know what it was like to live in such an age, but maybe it’s the yearning for the freedom to be self-sufficient and not having to rely on technology. In fact,I believe it is man’s true nature to want to live as simple as possible, to be of need rather than greed. Of course, such shows have the dramatic and romantic element to them, some would think themselves mightywarriors, or for that matter, beautiful princess’s, but the reality is that they have stirred something within us, and when we are on the tube or in our car on the way to work, battling through hordes of people, our minds wonder back and imagine that things were different.
Heathen Warrior explored this ethos and transposed the workings of it to modern life, be it physically, spiritually, or socially. In every context, it has attributes that can enhance and enrich. It isn’t about being the Alpha male full of muscles, able to defeat every other living human, but about having the fortitude and focus to achieve one’s goals even when we are at our lowest ebb. To have the courage of our convictions and to be able touse the inner strength that we may not have known existed.
Of course, I received a little back lash from the “purists” who deemed it boarding on Wicca (a less confrontational path of Paganism) but to mistake mine, and others form of tolerance as weakness would be a mistake, for unlike most, our faith demands that we not take the stance of retreat, rather for us to stand tall for our convictions.
To illustrate my point, in my shop we sell a t-shirt with the slogan “Heathen – Paganism with Attitude” and it has been a huge seller, the amount of people that it resonates with has been astronomical. This, in itself, is justification that general attitudes towards the faith are changing and as I stated in my book our belief structure has to adapt to the modern world or fear losing it to the mists of time, but doesn’t that contradict the notion of devolution?
As with every paradox we must be realistic in our reasoning. Yes, it is true that our faith has to move with the times for fear of stagnation but we must also listen to our inner calling regarding a simpler life, free from the pressures and social dogma of the modern world. The Heathen Warrior rationale is that we must be pragmatic and aware of our surroundings yet strive to be as self-sufficient as possible.
I am not for one second suggesting that we should all quit our jobs and run away and live in a cabin in the woods (although the idea is somewhat tempting) but rather, make little changes with regards to our everyday lives that may assist us in living the life we truly desire. How this resonates with you, the reader, is a personal choice, like everything within the Heathen faith, we advocate personal responsibility and make our own decisions, even when others around us are pressurising us to conform.
My own personal path towards being a Heathen began when I was a child, although I did not know it at the time. All my life I held the ideals close to my heart, but never knew it had a name nor did I know anyone else thought the same. In truth, I was never a “Religious” person and today I feel the same way. For me being Heathen is a philosophy, a way of life. I honour my God’s and Goddesses in my day to day actions rather than set aside one special day to “show” how devout I am, in my opinion it doesn’t work like that.
It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that I had my “eureka” moment, a sense of coming home when all became clear. What exactly happened is a private affair but suffice to say it truly was an awakening that I remember vividly. I have spoken to a lot of Heathens over the years and they all have said the same thing, it felt like coming home and that they had always felt like it but were unable to label it. To me, this is fantastic and goes to show that there are more and more people out there finding and exploring the benefits of Heathenry.
In my shop, I have had the pleasure of meeting a vast array of Heathen folk, some of whom have become friends, some of which enjoy my book and a few who didn’t agree with it, and I am happy with that. Being individual means not following the herd, just because I say something doesn’t make it correct, especially if it doesn’t “feel” right to you. And that’s the beauty of it; we can be Heathen yet disagree on things and still remain amicable.
All in all, personal responsibility, self-awareness and the willingness to evolve and grow as humans are the cornerstones of the Heathen faith. Some may scream that this is common sense and that I am telling you how to suck eggs, but let’s be honest, as we look around in the modern world, we can’t help but notice that common sense appears to be in short supply these days.
Stuart R Brogan is a former nightclub bouncer and unwaveringly proud Heathen who loves nothing more than expanding people’s minds with Pagan related Non-Fiction or blowing people’s brains out with fast paced, gut wrenching, thrilling horrors.
Harley lover, extreme metal drummer and avid movie nerd, Stuart has never followed the crowd but instead carved his own path and danced to his own tune. Since his early years, Stuart found escapism in both the written word and the silver screen. A huge fan of 80’s Action / Horror movies such as The Thing, Aliens, Predator & Die Hard and literary heroes such as Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, Richard Layman and Brian Lumley, Stuart endeavours to bring an unapologetic cinematic eye to his fiction in the hopes of rekindling his childhood sense of wonder, all whilst blowing through vast amounts of ammunition down his local shooting range.