Anglo-Saxon Heathen religion
The elder trow and thew of our English ancestors has been known by many names (as one might expect from such a poetic people). Here are but a few of the more common:
Angle-Seaxan Hæðendóm – Anglo-Saxon Heathendom (Heathenism)
Angle-Seaxan Hæðenscipe – Anglo-Saxon Heathenship (Heathenism)
Eald Geléafa – Old Belief
Englisc Hæðendóm – English Heathendom
Englisc Hæðenscipe – English Heathenscipe
Ésatréow – “trow of the gods”, an Anglo-Saxon rendering of the Norse term Ásatrú.
Fyrnsidu – Old Ways
Seaxisc Hæðendóm – Saxon Heathendom
Seaxisc Hæðendóm – Saxon Heathenship
Þéodisc Geléafa – Tribal Belief
Wiccecræft – Witchcraft
Hæðengyld – A heathen fellowship/guild or the worship and offerings of such a fellowship. Early Anglo-Saxon guilds were not the later trade-guilds of the middle ages but rather societies formed for the holding of religious offerings, feasts, and services. The word gyld meant “yield/offering”, “guild society”, and the membership dues paid to the guild.
Ealdorman – The head of a hæðengyld
Gereáfa – A reeve, someone who holds an office in the gyld.
Gereáfscipe – A reeveship, the office held by a reeve.
Gilda (pl. Gildan) – a member of a hæðengyld or, more generally, a heathen worshiper
Leornere – a learner, a provisional member one seeking to join a hæðengyld.
Witan – the council that advised the Ealdorman
ælf/ylfe – an elf, elves
cófgod/cófgodas – household god, house wight
dweorg – a dwarf
eóten – a giant
ides/idesa – ancestral matron clan warders (ON: dísir)
ieldran – ancestors
landwiht/landwihtas – land spirit, land spirits
ós/ése – a god, gods (ON: Æsir)
þyrs – a giant
wán/wána – a god, gods (ON: Vanir). This is a reconstructed term.
wiht/wihtas – wight, being, spirit
béd/bédu – from the verb, abiddan, “to bid, to ask”. A béd is a request made to a god, elf or other wight.
begang – a ritual procession
béot – a promise-boast
blót – an offering
fægening – a celebration. Often called a “faining” in Modern English.
gebéorscipe – religious toasts and drinking, much less formal thatn a symbel
hearg – stone altar, temple. Often used for an outdoor altar.
heargweard – priest, literally, “altar/temple warder”
hálig – holy
háligdæg – holy day, holiday
hlot – lot, as in “casting lots”
húsel – housel, a holy feast
gelp – a brag-boast
gemót – Somtimes just mót, “a meeting or assembly”. Often called a “moot” in Modern English.
lác – sacred dance
mægencræft – magic-craft, magical working
récels – incense
récelsfæt – censer
rún – rune, secret, mystery
rúnstæf – a runic letter
steng – stang, a staff carried by the heargweard, often set up behind the hearg or weófod as a weoh.
symbel – ritual toasts made to gods, ancestors, and heroes.
þeáw– thew, custom, tradition
Þunreslecg – a replica of Þunor’s sledge/hammer, sometimes used in hallowing
wéofod – altar table. Often used for an indoor altar.
wéofodsceorp – ritual attire, most often a white tunic, cloak, and cap worn by the heargweard.
weoh – idol, image of a god or goddess
weorðscipe – worship, to acknowledge the weorð (worthiness) of the gods.
Greetings & Partings
Éadig gebyrddæg – Happy birthday
Hwæt – What!, Listen! (a call to attention)
Drinc hál – Drink hale (in response to Wassail)
Ferewel – Farewell
God spéden -“Gods speed”
Wes þú hál – “Be thou hale” (singular)
Wassail – A Middle English contraction of “Wes hál”
Wesað gé hál – “Be ye hale” (plural)
Other commonly heard terms
cynréd – “kindred, clan”, used to designate a heathen fellowship
frið – “frith”, the peace and order of the community
gér ond frið – (ON: ár ok friðr), literally “year and peace”, with the connotation being “harvest and abundance”
háta – An Old Norse poetic term (heiti), used by contemporary heathens to denote the “heathen names” they frequently use in place of their legal names.
hróftréow – “Roof-tree”, household
tréow – “trow, troth, trust”, with a general meaning of “religious belief”