In modern day Heathenry, and or Asatru, many practitioners on a daily basis face a very frustrating, and stagnating force. One that turns many away from this path, the swarm of other Heathens who cannot shake the idea that their way, is the only way. There is a small crowd of Asatruar who think that unless you practice Asatru just how they want, then you're not a Heathen, and "doing it wrong". This type of thought process is, in my opinion, part of the residual sludge from living previous monotheistic lifestyles. Where you are told what you can wear, what you can eat, and when you can lay with a partner; where everything is controlled by others, be it man or deity.
Heathenry, particularly Asatru, has none of this. There is no "just do this a certain way, or face eternal damnation." This mindset is rarely present in those who are fully enveloped in the Asatru lifestyle, and have been practicing for years, typically one will see this behavior from those newer to Heathenry. More experienced Asatruar who have been out in the community longer, have noticed that we all have a lot more in common than we do differently. They have seen and practiced many varying ways, and have learned that they are part of the larger idea of Asatru and Heathenry. There are so many opinions and components, it's impossible for there to be a single right way.
There is always the opportunity to grow, learn more, and evolve as Heathens. Those who tell you that you're doing it wrong, are not focusing on what's important, or what will affect them in their spiritual lives. You're number one priority should be you, then your family, tribe and then the divine. How can you tell others to improve while neglecting yourself? I will never tell someone that I am wholly correct, to take my word and no others. No, what I strive to do, what we are striving to do, with our new book, is to lay the foundation. The ground work of the principles of Asatru and Heathenry so that individuals can start their own path, learn their own ways, and form their own connections with the divine. We will never tell you to do something in a specific way, and that if you don't you fail. Asatru, life, simply does not work by those rules.
The embodiment of this issue, “is the new kid on the block” with a chip on his or her shoulder. They have read a few mythology books, and been to an online blot or two, and now, they are priests and experts in Asatru. Not true. Not possible. No one is “an expert” in Asatru, there will always be someone who knows more than you, and even the things that you know as fact, could easily be disproved by someone else who perhaps has better archaeological knowledge than you. New evidence arises, and our practices based on now false evidence, causes problems for those new to Asatru. There is no right way period, because unless we have a time machine, there is no way to know for sure just exactly how our ancestors practiced Asatru. We must do what we can, with what we can, to create a functioning life style, and faith for us, as individuals, and in a way that we can come together as a community, strong, and resilient.
The problem of religious dogma is not a new one, and has in fact helped to shape much of the world as we see it today, for better or worse. When one first comes to Asatru, they are typically confused, and unsure of where to turn, as humans, they want to believe the first thing that they hear, and this can be a dangerous thing. One should never base their ideas, or conclusions off of just what one person says, or by limited research one may have done. Asatru is a life long path, and it is important to understand this and to never stop striving to improve upon yourself as a person, you do not do this by belittling others, and telling them that they are wrong, and in many cases, driving them from ever learning more about Asatru.
As Mark Puryear from the Norroena society says in The Nature of Asatru, “Asatru is not dogmatic. Although certain methods of reconstruction are being developed, which may help bring this faith to a state that which it had before its corruption by Christianity, it can never be stated that there is only “one true path to the gods”. How people interpret these traditions is up to them… No one can claim to be an authority on our path, since we have the freedom to accept or reject any idea or tradition, so long as we remain within the boundaries of the overall principles.” This is a powerful, and accurate example of what I am trying to illustrate, Mr. Puryear explains it perfectly.
Asatru is a path, one that can be walked alone, or with others, but that has many winding paths, all leading to the same destination. To think that the gods are stagnant, and never changing, is absurd, and we should change with them. You cannot pick and chose which parts of our ancestors lives you wish to live, while telling someone else that they are wrong for choosing a different aspect of that lifestyle to employ in their life, it is not fair of you to judge thusly. You may do your rituals one way, and I may do mine another, but if the main objective is being achieved, for the case of Blot, a sacrifice or gift being given, as part of the gifting cycle, then why do you care what someone else is doing? Improve upon yourself, and realize that there are more was to do something than one, and that perhaps, you, are not an expert on Asatru. Someone is guaranteed to know more about something relating to Heathenry than you. I will even say again, I am by no means an expert in Asatru in any way. But then again, we are all experts in our own forms of Asatru. And that is the key, that is what is important. Asatru and Heathenry are what you make of it, what you put into it, is what you get out. You're not doing it wrong, you are doing it your way.
Why am I in this position? Why am I telling you this, and why should you care? Am I the “Asapope”? Absolutely not, for there is no such thing and the absurdity of such an idea is staggering. So then why? Because people like the way I look at things, they like what I have to say, and my world view, especially concerning Asatru. I do not tell anyone to listen to me, in fact, I am surprised that they do most of the time, but the fact is, for whatever reason, many Heathens all over the world like what I, and TAC have to say and do. If you do not like, or appreciate what TAC does, or the wide variety of Asatru views that it represents, then you are absolutely entitled to your own opinions. Its our opinion, that you are entitled to your opinion. We wish that those who disagreed, felt the same way, and let others have their own opinions. But then, what kind of world would that be?
But don’t listen to me, don't go by what I have to say. Go out, live your life as a Heathen, gain as much knowledge as you can, do as much as you can, and learn if what I speak bears any truth.