What's in a Name?

One of the struggles in writing for this site is that people in our religion call themselves different things depending on which region or language gives them the most comfort. To complicate things, opposition religions sometimes use the same words as a negative, so we have to deal with that. All of this got me thinking, what can we collectively call ourselves without losing the ability for individuals to keep their individual preferences?
The name Asatru literally means, "Troth to the Aesir". This is actually pretty good. There are those who lean toward the Vanir who feel slighted, so there is room for improvement. Also, the words are Nordic in origin, so the continental folks, such as the Saxons, feel that it isn't quite right.

Among the Saxon types, the names Ealdright, Forn Sed, Fyrn Sydu, and similar, with varied spellings, are common. This is because of the linguistic preference, but generally means Following the Old Ways. It's a nice sentiment, but some of our ways are fairly recent and only influenced by what we know of the ancestral paths.

Some call themselves Odinists. You can see how this would sit with those dedicated to one of the other Gods or Goddesses. Unfortunately, some bad people have called themselves Odinists and this has left a bitter feeling with some people.

On the topic of negative connotations, there is the name Heathen. We cling to this one with the idea that the people of the Heath were the last to convert. It also annoys the Christians a bit. In a recent conversation with one of the locals here, we discussed how this word carries a great deal of negative baggage in the popular mind. If we are trying to sway people who are Christian by default, telling them that we are Heathen is right up there with telling them that we worship their imaginary devil. It would be good to reclaim this word but, like with our Swastika/Sun Wheel, we may have to put that fight off for a while.

Many of the visitors to this site seem to like the Modernist version of the religion, but the word "Modernist" itself does not seem like a good name. You have to be a modern something, and the something is the thing we have yet to define clearly. Is our religion the modern version of the old Germano-Norse religion? Any time we start limiting our Gods to one culture or region, it seems like we are saying they are minor and of limited significance, and that does not feel right to me.

We worship the Gods of the Worlds. Different humans may have interpreted Them in different ways, and different heroes may have had different adventures with Them, but They are always the Gods. What name could we possibly use that would cover all of that?

What name would you give to all of us? What do you usually call yourself? What name do you not want to be called? Leave a comment below with your answer to these questions. Who knows, you may have the name that catches on and sticks as the name used for the next few centuries.


I don't want to tell anyone what to call themselves, so please don't take it that way, but I dislike "pagan" for the same reasons I dislike "heathen". In the English language these words have the meaning, or at least the connotation, of "not Christian". I really don't want to define my religion relative to someone else's religion.
That being said, "pagan" is a good way to communicate to others who would not know any better.

To our ancestors, there was no name for our religion; it was simply a description of the fundamentals of the universe. Names are only necessary when there is confusion in communication. There are people who have other religions and they look at the world differently. We use names when communicating with them so we can help show that we do have a difference of viewpoint.
The popularity of the name Asatru is that it means, basically, that we are allied with the Germano-Norse Gods. Most people who aren't us, or haven't encountered us (usually other pagans or groups like the S.C.A.) have no idea what the word means. It would be nice if they did.
Beyond that, there is a tendency among folk of our religion to form into groups and they tend to adopt tribal names for the group itself.