|Pagan Pride 2014|
There's a few Heathens out there that will tell you Heathenry is entirely about culture, that if you're not raised German or Swedish or in some other Germanic culture, you're out of luck. You just don't have the cultural reference to be a Heathen. Now, I tend to think that is just plain wrong. But it does occur to me that the 'human' side of my practice is something I don't think about because it comes so naturally to me. It is part of who I am, how I was raised - but that doesn't make it any less a part of my religion.
I am involved in a lot of groups locally. I hang with the Wiccans three or four times a month, I plan and lead rituals with the Druids, I'm always there for a sumbel with the Heathens (if the kids aren't sick!). I do a lot to help these groups function - and they do a lot for me too. Having a large group of friends, a circle of people that I can count on and call on if something goes wrong, has positively impacted my life in so many ways. It's also not something that I'm used to; I'm usually a bit of a loner. I haven't really had friends of my own since I left college almost eight years ago.
In ancient Heathen culture, the giving of gifts and the reciprocity of these gifts was essential both to spiritual practice and to everyday life with those close to you. Exchanging gifts established a relationship. This is something I've practiced with the spirits for a long time, but it was only after entering into my community and giving of my time and talents that I realized how deep and profound a relationship it brings to people as well. It certainly doesn't have to be with fellow Heathens, either! Joining a group, making an active contribution and receiving fellowship and service in return can be a profound human experience - and also inherently religious.