In the past, I have talked about how Ásatrú is a folk religion. One of the key things about being a folk religion is that there isn’t some central authority that dictates dogma. Our religious activities develop organically from our culture. This means that our culture is not something that can be separated out from our faith. The two are so deeply intertwined that they are, effectively, the same thing. To say that we are Ásatrú, Heathen, or whatever other term we want to use means that we are proclaiming not just religious beliefs. We are also expressing cultural identity.
So, what does it mean to defend our cultural heritage? After all, these words can come across as meaning something truly terrible if you are inclined to see it as promoting racist ideas. Let me be very clear about this; defending our cultural heritage does not mean it is acceptable to denigrate or disparage others for any reason. Defending out cultural heritage means not permitting the norms and beliefs of others to prevent us from acting and behaving in ways that are in accordance with our cultural and social norms and behaviors. It means we do not allow others to denigrate or prohibit our customs. Defending our heritage also means we must look at supporting those of us who are actively engaged in living in accordance with Germanic cultural norms, even if we don’t express ourselves in the same way. We are not afforded the luxury of saying “This does not impact me directly, therefore I won’t get involved.” In order to re-legitimize our way of life, particularly in a Christian dominated world that continues to oppress our ways of life, we must support our own, even if they are doing things differently than we are and we aren’t invested in their concerns.
Promoting our faith means living our lives in accordance with our cultural heritage and not according to the cultural norms of Outsiders. This doesn’t mean that someone is “less trú” than someone else because they make different choices in how they express elements of cultural heritage or by expressing elements from a different Germanic culture than another. For example, I identify with Swedish customs from within the Norse cultural group. If someone else identifies with Anglo-Saxon culture, they are not “less trú” than I am because they aren’t living in accordance with Nordic customs. We also need to be careful about condemning someone who isn’t “100% Germanic™.” We are all in a process of rebuilding our cultural identity and that means none of us are “100% Germanic™” because we all have behaviors and understandings that originate with Outsiders.