Gods & Other Beings
Heathenry, like all ancient European pagan religions, is polytheistic and recognises a large number of gods and other spiritual entities. Although the Heathen gods are best known from Norse Mythology (and often called by Anglicised versions of their Old Norse names) they were honoured by many peoples outside of Scandinavia. For example, the god known to early Germanic tribes as Wodhanaz became Odhinn in Old Norse, Woden in Anglo-Saxon and Old Saxon, and Wuotan in Old High German. Some of the most well known Heathen gods are enshrined in our English days of the week. Tuesday is named after Tiw (Tyr), Wednesday after Woden (Odin), Thursday after Thunor (Thor) and Friday after the goddess Frige (Frigg).
In addition to the better known 'major gods', the names of several dozen local or tribal gods are known through medieval literature, runic inscriptions, and votive stones. Most Heathens choose to actively honour a subset of gods with whom they have developed personal relationships, although offerings are also often made 'to all the gods and goddesses'. Heathens relate to their gods as complex personalities who each have many different attributes and talents. For example, whereas Thor is popularly known outside Heathen circles as the mighty hammer-wielding God of Thunder, in Eddic poetry he is called by names such as Deep Thinker, Man's Well-Wisher, and Consecrator Thor, revealing a gentler side to his nature.
In addition to gods, Heathens recognise and relate to a wide variety of spiritual beings or 'wights'. These include the Norns - who are three female entities who weave the web of wyrd - and the Disir - who are female ancestral spirits attached to a tribe, family, or individual.
Heathens also work with 'hidden folk' such as elves, brownies, dwarves and etins. They interact with the housewights who live in their homes and the landwights who occupy features of the landscape such as streams, mountains, forests or fields. Having a relationship with landwights is an important feature of Heathen religion and outdoor Heathen rituals will not proceed until the permission of landwights is sought and obtained. Another characteristic of Heathen religion is the respect given to ancestors in general. These may be a person's literal forebears, or may be people now dead who have inspired them in some way.