Yggdrasil is a Gumtree: Australian Heathenry

I got an ask on my tumblr recently about the differences in practicing in Australia. Turns out the practice is pretty similar, but the flavour is different. I’m working on adapting Heathenry to be more Australian.

I’ve mentioned before (on my about page) how Australia is different from Scandinavia. Some things should be pretty obvious but I’ll recount them just in case. It doesn’t snow where I live, or in nearly any other place here (if you want snow, you have to go to “the snow”, because there’s that little of it). The trees are mostly different species of eucalyptus, although we do have introduced European trees, too. Some mountains, lots of desert, many beaches. The wildlife is different. No bears, wolves, or (natively) deer. Instead we have wallabies and possums, kangaroos and kookaburras, magpies and parrots. Sharks, octopodes, jellyfish. We do have crows and ravens. And a few introduced species, again, like sheep and the plague of foxes and rabbits.

The sky is different, more thin-looking somehow. The sunlight is harsher and more warm, somehow. Everything down here has a different spirit, somehow. Instead of the constant battle against cold, conscious or not, we have a battle against heat and bushfire. Even the winters here are not as cold and dark; trees are still green through the cold season.

I haven’t come up with many things to substitute for Scandinavian. Mostly, it’s the symbols that need to be adapted, since the values and beliefs work universally. I associate kookaburras with Heimdall, and bats with Hödr, but apart from that, I haven’t pursued analogues for the things we don’t have: bears, wolves, deer, all those animals that are totemic in Scandinavian mythology and folklore.

If the Prose Edda had been written by an Australian, Ragnarök would have ended in bushfire and dust storms, preceded by years of drought.

If Skadi were Australian, she would be at home in the Blue Mountains and hunt the non-native animal pests.

Yggdrasil is a gumtree, great and ancient, whose leaves never go brown, and which needs fire to regrow.

My question is, how else can I adapt my Heathenry to make it more Australian? Which elements are significant? I can’t change history or the historical cultural context for Heathenry, but what can be changed?

I guess the other question is, how Australian can I make my religion before it ceases to be Heathenry? Strict reconstructionists would say, ‘if you change it at all, it’s not Heathenry’. Good thing I’m not a reconstructionist. Others might say ‘it will always be Heathenry to you’, which is probably true, but not super helpful for others who may want to follow, uh, “Aussietru”.

The answer? I guess I’ll get back to you.


4 thoughts on “Yggdrasil is a Gumtree: Australian Heathenry

  1. caelesti 8. September, 2015 / 09:01

    I actually know a lot of reconstructionists (of various cultures) that do modern, urban and regional adaptations. I think there is this theoretical ideal of reconstructionism that no one actually fits into- a lot of people that are pretty recon won’t call themselves that because of that perception! I’m an ADF Druid, so my approach is midway between recon and general paganism.

    • Katla Hrútsvinr 13. September, 2015 / 21:47

      I’ve only just today discovered the “local cultus” practices that people do, and I think it’s wonderful! It’s probably pretty uncommon actually to be 100% recon – I don’t think I’ve met anyone who is, but then I haven’t met many pagans in Meatworld.

  2. Mike in WA 5. October, 2016 / 14:16

    How to make Asatru more Australian is a really good question that i hadn’t really started to think on but thank you for putting into the front of my mind! 🙂

  3. Matt 5. January, 2018 / 11:41

    Interesting subject.Ive thought on this quite a bit.We need to follow our seasons.No Yule in December for example.Where I live we are lucky enough to have a lantern parade that takes place on or near winter solstice.(June)It is done in honour of the returning sun and length of days.I use it as part of my yule activies.Most of the town is involved and weather they know it or not, it is quite a nice celebration of returning sun and quite heathen in flavor and theme.Also I beleive the local wights need to be acknowledged and honoured.This I do , and have knowledge of the indigenous stories.Just as the early settlers in Iceland came with the Gods , they became aware of the local wights of the land ,and gave offerings I think we should do the same.
    It doesnt really matter what type of tree Yggdrasil is ,just what you feel is best for you to visualise.I think that Asatru is a living spiritual path.It has always been elastic and variable. Think of the differaces between german and scandinavian Asatru. That is its strength.It has basic tenents and underlying energies stay the same whereever you go , but is also a path of time and place.Valhalla’s benchs may be lined with bullet proof vests these days ! In Australia we are on the opposte side of the world.Our people have travelled far.The Gods have travelled with us.Its important to remember nothing in this multiverse stays the same.The Gods can appear however they wish they are not fixed or static.I think our faith is the same.I hope that we can develop our own Australian Asatru and honor the “Powers” as best we can , and gain their favor

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