TWH — Sex, gender, and race issues are churning among Heathens. For example, Declaration 127 was published at Huginn’s Heathen Hof as a denouncment of bigotry seen as the official position of the Asatru Folkish Assembly. The formation of Heathen Women United occurred in early 2017. That summer, the Twitter hashtag #HavamalWitches began to appear in social media. Most recently, late last month Heathen Men United was formed in response to misogyny and toxic masculinity; we turned to its organizers to learn more.
Heathen Men United is a Facebook group with four administrators: Ryan Denison, Nacht Engel, Michael Rollins, and Odin Tunningley. The administrators, who live in both the U.S. and U.K., report that the group emerged after they “saw the issues heathen women were dealing with and how these women created Heathen Women United, and sought action to address those issues.
“We hope for affirmative productive change in the Heathen community by focusing on positive, supportive examples of masculinity. We are our deeds!”
Group organizers see a unique role for Heathen Men United. The group can provide both cyber and a face-to-face spaces for discussions among men. Tunningley and Engel have already met in person twice to discuss various issues affecting Heathen men and will do so again. In the U.S., Denison and Rollins are planning to meet up in Atlanta with the the aim, as they said, to further the bonds between them. They also hope to hold international meetings in future.
Discussions with Hilary Wehrle, a founder of Heathen Women United, sparked the founders’ interests in creating Heathen Men United. They had discussed problems in modern Heathery, from racism to misogyny. Other Heathen men had similar conversations with their spouses or friends in the women’s group; this was the starting point for the new group.
No formal relationship exists between Heathen Men United and Heathen Women United, according to the founders. They remain separate groups, although members do work together. “We are partners of HWU and will work with them to improve Heathenry,” the founders explained in their joint response to The Wild Hunt .
One clear position of the group is there belief in inclusive Heathenry, which is reflected in its non-racist and non-exclusionary policies. Its membership is open to males and male-identified people, they said.”We adhere to Declaration 127 and are open to all ethnicities who feel a calling to the Aesir and Vanir.”
While Heathen Men United has yet to sign Declaration 127, they do intend to do so. As of press time, 180 groups have signed this statement, with members in 20 countries. Individuals can also sign the declaration.
Prospective members should visit Heathen Men United’s Facebook group to request inclusion. Applicants have to answer three questions. First, “What is Heathenry to you?” Second, “Do you accept the anti-discrimination policy of Heathen Men United towards the LGBTQ community and that potential members are male or male-identified?” Third, “Do you understand the strict policy against racism or any form of bigotry?”
The founders feel strongly about the issues that they will be raising and repeated the often heard Heathen saying, “We are our deeds.”
“We will look to the Havamal and the Eddas for positive male lessons as well as bringing those works into contemporary society by showing how there are some antiquated ideas in them that don’t fit in the modern world,” the founders said.
“These works are not infallible canon. For example, instead of assuming outdated and inappropriate traits such as dominance, repressing emotions, and being ashamed asking for help, we instead promote affirmative behaviors seeking to how we can be better husbands, fathers, and friends through listening, sharing, and learning. As it says in Havamal 44, ‘If you find a true friend, whom you can trust and want that friendship to stay strong, You should share your thoughts with them, exchange gifts, and go often to their house.’”
The group was formed on Facebook late last month, and as of this writing has 42 members.
Heather Greene contributed to this story.