A Heathen Manifesto
Heathenism is about promoting the flourishing of life by supporting the Good Order of the world. The Good Order is that order where all the elements of the world are in a good relationship to one another.
A Heathen life is one of alternating struggle and enjoyment. Each day there is a struggle to produce the necessities of life followed by time to enjoy them - the daily labour followed by the food and drink and warmth and companionship of others. Each year there is a struggle through the hardship and scarcity of winter, followed by the abundance and pleasure of the summer. Over a period of years there will be times of peace and good harvests and other times of social strife or bad harvests. Over a longer period there are times of freedom and justice and times of slavery and injustice. Whatever the cause where the world is disordered then the Heathen struggles to bring it back into good order. Once it is back in good order then the Heathen enjoys the fruits of their struggle.
Heathen society is often divided into three classes - the wizards - the professional wise people, the warriors - the professional strong men, and the producers such as the farmers and craftsmen.
Heathen wizards in particular develop a fine awareness of the world - a world constantly in motion in patterns that may exist only in a tiny speck or else reach across the globe. They are aware of all these layers of patterns of processes and activities and how they interact with each other and how an individual person, and a household and a village and a clan and a tribe may interact with them.
To help impart some of their knowledge to the rest of their tribe wizards will give these activities and processes names like people and tell stories of them as if they were people in order that these processes come alive in the minds of their listeners. Some of these processes can be interacted with or need special attention given to them - and these may be called deities or some other name like wights, elves, giants etc.
Wights is a generic name for any kind of being, while a deity is often a kind of power that may be evident in the natural world but which has its counterpart in the spirit that moves in the human soul.
A giant is a large being. You need to be wary of giants because usually they don't much care about you. You are so small and insignificant to them. If you are a mouse get out of the path of the elephant! There are natural giants like the causes of the seasons which provide the conditions for life in spring and take them away in autumn and winter. There are also intelligent giants. Some go their own way without seeing you. Some are benevolent and make an effort to deal properly with you. Some are tyrants who see you but do what suits themselves anyway regardless of the effect.
Who is a giant is relative to the beholder. To an insect a human being is a giant - one who usually walks about without thinking what they might be treading on. Some humans are specially benevolent to insects and try not to harm them and may even help them. Others are quite malevolent - getting out the spray can or powder and exterminating them cruelly with chemical poisons.
In the human world the giants are large associations of people. Some of these are organised in pyramid fashion to serve the wishes of the few at the top of the pyramid. These are usually (but not invariably) self-serving tyrant giants which have little concern for the welfare of the little man in the field. They are often Expanding Giants who gobble up all the sources of life-giving activity into themselves getting larger and larger til they have consumed the whole world. Some may also be Mindcrafters - manipulating the environment around them - the minds of ordinary men - to make them more pliable and unresisting to their power schemes.
While all giants are potentially a risk to those much smaller than them, they are not always bad. Indeed some giants are necessary as they can do things that nothing smaller can do. Some economic activities of man are best served by giants. Also some governmental activities need to be served by giants. Heathens organise themselves into clans and tribes with their own leadership. However Heathens are diverse and there need to be also territorial governments which manage areas of the earth and of the whole planet in a coherent way regardless of the different cultures of their occupants.
The Old Heathens didn't recognise the common cause of Heathens world-wide to have a Heathen order. They didn't distinguish between the rival Heathen king and the new imperialists secular and religious who wanted to end the Heathen order altogether and sometimes supported the former against the latter. Todays Heathens need to be Universal Heathens - making common cause with Heathens across the planet and feeding the global Heathen Giant - the association of people which loves local freedom and diversity but is still sufficiently coherent to act with common cause against the Tyrant Giants who want to bring the people of the world into slavery.
Feeding the Heathen Giant means supporting those activities which build good relationships between people and between peoples minds and reality so that they act in a coherent and wise way to serve their own interests and that of global Heathendom and the cause of the flourishing of life.
Most importantly this means building small communities - those which are small enough that the leader is close enough to those he leads that he pays attention to their welfare and where ordinary people are close enough to the effect of their actions that they are concerned about those effects and also see how to change their actions to get a better result.
It also means building a global citizenry able to act coherently and wisely in support of good government on the planetary scale. Not every person needs to be a global citizen, indeed most people do not need to be and couldn't be. But those who are need to be in communication with other global citizens, to share a common understanding of how to achieve good territorial government, and feel themselves to be kind of global super-tribe with things in common with other members of this super-tribe while also maintaining their association with their ethnic tribe to keep their feet on the ground and their links to the ordinary person.
Heathen Autonomists accept that with modern technology making it so easy for people's actions to have effects outside the boundaries of clan and tribe and across the world it is necessary to have some form of planetary government. There is no single viewpoint as to how such government should be arranged - nevertheless we can say that planetary government should be mindful of the welfare of the people and creatures of the earth and limit the scope of its activities to those things that need to be managed on a planetary scale.
Typically modes of governments are divided into two kinds - the republican with no single powerful leader and the monarchy which does have such a powerful leader. Some Heathen Autonomists favour the latter approach with a hereditary monarch selected by agreement of global citizens from one particular aristocratic clan. Such a system could encourage stability and a long-term approach to planetary governance as long as there remained an independent global citizenry able to monitor the activities of the imperial monarch and clan and discourage bad rule.
Progressive Heathens work to create Heathendom in a step-by-step way from the ground up - through the setting up and strengthening of small scale organised communities such as clans, and by strengthening the glue that binds Heathen clans in a common cause without strangling them. This might be done by promoting multiple global movements such as the Small Farmer movement, the Transition Town movement, the Intermediate Technology movement, the Open Source Software movement and the Global Justice movement.
Heathen Survivalists are not so optimistic as progressive Heathens. They believe that the world is on a course to disaster, and that this disaster could well happen soon. Rather than trying to influence the big picture they are focussed on the safety and well-being of their immediate family and friends. They consider all possible future scenarios and plan for them. They prepare for the worst now in the hope of gaining a better prospect for themselves when the storm strikes.
Both Progressive Heathenism and Heathen Survivalism are valid paths. Heathens don't insist that everybody think the same, indeed they value diversity. The richer the tapestry of human life, the more likely there will be someone who knows just what to do when the time comes and then gets on and does it.
June 2010 - amended 2011