The Way of Heathen

This word has a very long history, and like many such words has both negative and positive aspects.

For most of its history, it was a bad word ! Its time to correct that
Please note : I intend no bashing here, I respect all faiths of honor. I am merely stating facts related to the words history and usage.

"Heathen, in English and Scots originally meaning someone who lived in the wild, uncultivated heath that was outside the village system and not covered by the parish boundary nor blessed by the protective presence of a local priest, was often used as a synonym of "pagan". Like the word pagan, it came to mean a person holding onto pre Christian customs and beliefs, often used in a pejorative sense of an unbaptized savage (as opposed to a heretic). Viking raiders were "heathens".

A general term, sometimes still referring to (often in a pejorative sense) non adherents to a certain religion, it may have originally applied only to those who lived "on the heath," (though this etymology is disputed) or in the underpopulated areas of Europe which were slow to convert to Christianity during its period of expansion.

In more modern, neopagan circles, it often refers specifically to the ancient religion of the Germanic peoples, which in its modern form is in the US more widely known by the term Asatru. In Britain " Heathenry " is the most widely used term for those who are recreating and reinterpreting old Germanic/Scandinavian religious practices and world views from the literary and archaeological sources and who describe themselves as " Heathen " in part to distinguish themselves from other pagans whose rituals come from other sources.

The term has historically been used as a pejorative by adherents of monotheistic religions (such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam)
to indicate a person who doesn't believe in their religion. "Paganism" is also sometimes used to mean the lack of (an accepted monotheistic) religion, and therefore sometimes means essentially the same as atheism.

"Paganism" frequently refers to the religions of classical antiquity, most notably Greek mythology or Roman religion, and can be used
neutrally or admiringly by those who refer to those complexes of belief. However, until the rise of Romanticism and the general acceptance of freedom of religion in Western civilization, "paganism" was almost always used disparagingly of heterodox beliefs falling outside of the established political framework of the Christian Church. It has more recently (from the 19th century) been used admiringly by those who believe the monotheistic religions to be confining or colorless.

In modern times, the heathen label has been applied to "savages" and "primitives" around the world.

The word is also used as a generic derogatory term for an unruly (usually young) person"

Description by Wickpeida

Ok, that's according to history and up to the current day. But it does not stop there, to make matters worse, a great many of the " unruly young people " seem to take great delight in the term and use it to define themselves. Check the web under heathen, Asatru, and lots of other Germanic terms and you will find hate groups,  neo nazis, white supremacists, and so called Black Metal bands. All using the names and signs of the Germanic heathens.

Which have nothing to do with faith.

Needless to say this makes matters a bit complex for anyone trying to learn about it.

This is not new, the real nazis of Hitler's regime used commonly known signs and symbols in Germany, twisted to mean what they wanted them to mean.

The Swastika being one of the most known. Used because it was so well known and perverted into a sign for war, not devotion
The original meaning of the word swastika comes from the Sanskrit  sv asti ka "su" meaning "good," "asti" meaning "to be," and "ka" as a suffix. The swastika was used by many cultures for 3,000 years to represent life, sun, power, strength, and good luck.

Which, thanks to Hitler, has taken on such negative connotations, that to this day many people still wont use the sign, as it would be misunderstood immediately and treated with great hostility.

Historical note:
" Adolf Hitler is quoted as opposing any open revival of belief in the Norse pantheon, and there is no evidence of official activity in the Third Reich fitting the description of Ásatrú, despite the Nazis' use of runic symbols in various contexts. Nonetheless, many people in Germany today associate Ásatrú with the Nazi movement and neo-Nazi groups, whereas in Iceland it has left wing associations."

Perversion of a commonly know sign or name has been done by countless others throughout history. Like the Pentagram for example. As a Rune Mistress and Devotee of Odin, this perversion of the signs and symbols of the old ways of the Heathen, effects me personally.

But what to do about it ?

Take back the Heathen !
In Germany and elsewhere this has begun
This page is my little bit to help

" Ásatrú was recognized as an official state religion by the Icelandic government in 1973, largely due to the efforts of Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson. At about the same time, Else Christiansen began publishing "The Odinist" newsletter in Canada. In the United States, Steve McNallen, a former U.S. Army officer, began publishing a newsletter titled "The Rune stone". He also formed an organization called the Asatru Free Assembly, later renamed the Asatru Folk Assembly, which held annual "Althing" meetings. An offshoot of McNallen's group was the Asatru Alliance, headed by Valgard Murray, publisher of "Vor Tru". The Odinic Rite was established in England, and, in America, The Troth. Today, followers of Ásatrú may be found all over the world, but principally in Scandinavia, Western Europe, North America and Australia/New Zealand."