Deity Veneration

How Heathens factor deity veneration into their practices often depends on their views of polytheism:

Soft Polytheism is the view that gods are archetypes as opposed to literal beings. Soft polytheists believe these archetypes are products of the human mind and reflect the human condition.

Hard Polytheism is the view that gods are autonomous beings with an existence outside of our own minds. Hard polytheists believe gods are individuals in their own right.

Heathens can interact directly with deities without the need for mediators like priests or scripture. The relationships Heathens form with deities are just as various as the relationships we have with each other: They can be casual or formal, occasional or regular, friendly, familial, professional, mentoral, and more. Some Heathens may say they “work with” deities to indicate a collaborative relationship, while others may approach deities with veneration and worship.

Additionally, Heathens can choose which gods they interact with, focusing on some more than others. Some Heathens may be henotheists and work exclusively with one deity without denying the existence of others. Other Heathens may be polyaffiliated and work with additional deities outside of the Norse pantheon (a typical occurrence in modern paganism). And lastly, some Heathens may not work with the gods at all, preferring to focus on ancestor veneration, spirit work, or other aspects of physical practice.

Ancestor Veneration

In Norse Paganism, our ancestors are thought to play roles in our lives long after they’re gone, watching over the family and maintaining relations with living progeny (that is, if we invite them to do so). Because of this, Norse Pagans may choose to venerate their ancestors as part of their practice.

Spirit Veneration

Many of us are used to thinking of gods as larger or more significant beings compared to spirits, and thus deserving of more attention, reverence, and veneration. This is not necessarily the case in Norse Paganism. The delineation between “god” and “wight” isn’t always clear, for one thing. For another, wights played a significant role in Norse culture, to the point where they were sometimes more often a staple of daily life than the gods were.

Working with wights is a matter of extending courtesy and fostering a sense of Frith between ourselves and them. Part of this involves adopting the view that all things in this world have agency, and acting in accordance with that view. Instead of treating objects and places as soulless exploitable resources, we instead treat them as partners in a collaborative effort.

Wights like landvætter and husvætter are known to grant good luck and fortune to people that take care of them. Taking care of wights is done in very much the same way we take care of deities and ancestors, by giving them offerings, making sure their spaces are well-kept, and involving them in relevant activities.

Working with Deities & Spirits

While not a desire for all Norse Pagans, it’s totally possible to forage personal relationship with the Norse Deities. Our Deities are not distant and reserved, but present and lively, and on the whole they’re very receptive to those that wish to work with or venerate them. The guide below details how to get started on deity work.

Deity & Spirit Work 101