In the modern world, the concept of a religion is often understood to be a belief system. We are taught that the deities must be believed in without the need for evidence. This is referred to as “having faith” and it’s core to most major religions.
I’m not trying to persuade you that Heathens don’t have a religion (in fact, as of March 31st, 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense even began to recognize Shamans, Heathens and Pagans as faith groups). Ásatrú (pronounced OW-suh-true) is the revived religious belief in the Norse gods. But unlike other religions, faith is not a central component to heathenry.
Heathenry is a spirituality whose primary focus is community. There are no rules that tell you who to worship or that you must worship any gods at all. We strive to live by community based ethics such as: honor, honesty, compassion and sacrifice. These ethics are applied to our interactions with family, friend and neighbors and our greater community.
Heathens will often invoke the names of gods such as Odin, Thor or Freya. They will also invoke the names of their ancestors. Some do this with a belief in the existence of the gods in the same manner that Christians believe in the literal existence of their God. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, either.
The take away is this: faith in the existence of gods is not an essential trait of heathenry. Some of us have faith, some may not. What we all have is a bond with our brothers and sisters. This is not a bond of blood or race. It is a bond of community. It’s a personal conviction to the sanctity of our words and deeds first and foremost.