Legacy

There’s an emphasis on community within heathenism, and a more subtle focus on family, ancestors and generations yet to come. Far-right heathenry overtly identifies this as a duty to bear children and continue personal legacies with direct lines of parent, grandparent and into the future, in the hope of creating new generations with faith in their path, and directly associating this with personal worth and status. In heathen online groups there can be posts about DNA and bloodlines, from the curious family historian to the purist proudly tracing their line back to kings. But: legacy isn’t where and when you’re born, it’s based in your actions and the remembrance of those.

For inclusive heathens, I feel that the focus is still present, but perhaps less narrow. There’s an awareness of ageing, generations and a deep respect for ancestors, but perhaps we can include an awareness on a wider scale.

An awareness of what legacy we are building, not only as individuals but also as communities. An awareness of what impact we have in our lives and our homes on Jord: our travel to and from work, study or visiting friends and family, how we power our homes, the efficiency of our windows, appliances and rooves, what we choose to recycle, mend or donate, the packaging on the deliveries we receive, to our environmental considerations for holiday choices, down to what washing powder and fabric conditioner we use, how much packaging it comes in, whether it’s tested on animals and what effects the residual waste might have on the environment.

In our heathen communities we build and maintain bonds with each other (as Hoskuld and the Njallsons in Njals Saga), as Kindreds or hearths we may choose to attend social justice protests, help with a litter pick, represent our faith at local or national interfaith groups, work at a members home to clear land, tidy a garden and give greetings to the landspirits. We may choose to help replace our neighbors worn wooden steps with an access ramp, attend a school, college or university as a guest speaker to talk about our faith and share understanding, or help draft statements of response to national or international events, such as condemning far right attacks carried out by those with heathen symbol tattoos.

Is it expected for heathens to have children of their own to have a valid legacy? Or can we create a legacy in our own way: by the work we do, the art we choose to create, the heathen organisations we belong to, volunteering our time, skills, knowledge or finances to help others? Can that be part of our legacy as inclusive heathens? To look out for our neighbours, share our knowledge, keep to the principles of our faith in the workplace, at home, in social situations, to help campaign for fair and just representation, equity and access to goods, services and knowledge? To speak out against discrimination and wrong doing (such as Havamal verse 127), to celebrate our faith, to choose our own family? To have children is a choice for many: some choose not to, or are unable to. Can our legacy as inclusive heathens contain other options that we make deliberate and conscious choice about?

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