Organization · Outreach

You are Surrounded by Heathens

Dr. Karl E.H. Seigfried, proprietor of the Norse Mythology Blog, has published the full results of his 2013 Heathen Census, along with some analysis. I thought I might take a few minutes to examine some of the results, and crunch some numbers (recalling my days as an election pollster).

First, it should be pointed out that the census only asked one question of the Heathens who responded; their country of residence. It is thus a straight-out count, rather than what we in the United States think of the Census, which collates a lot of extra data on income, education, etc. It would be very interesting to see the results if Dr. Seigfried included some demographic questions in the next iteration of the census.

I’m going to focus on the United States, since that’s where I live. The census yields the following information:

  • The United States had 7878 respondents, or 47% of the total respondents
  • That represents 0.0025% of the total population of the US

However, Dr. Seigfried then introduces an interesting corrective measure, based on the data from Iceland. Since Iceland (uniquely) has an exact official record of just how many Heathens are in the country, he discovered that the census under-reported the number of Heathens in that country by a factor of 2.173. So, multiply the census results by that number to get the corrected numbers.

That methodology, while ingenious, does have a few drawbacks. First and foremost, it assumes that Iceland is representative of the Heathen community worldwide. I personally think it might be a little over-represented. However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that it’s a valid corrective factor. That gives us:

  • The United States has 17,119 Heathens
  • That represents 0.0054% of the total population of the US
Let’s stretch the demographic possibilities even further. If roughly one person out of every 18,000, or 54 people out of every million, are Heathen, there should be (roughly) 450 Heathens in New York City alone. That’s the equivalent of almost the entire membership of the Troth, an international organization, in one city! The largest Heathen gatherings don’t even come close to that number.

Here’s the breakdown by state (based purely on population):

 California 2,070
 Texas 1,428
 New York 1,061
 Florida 1,056
 Illinois 696
 Pennsylvania 690
 Ohio 625
 Georgia 540
 Michigan 534
 North Carolina 532
 New Jersey 481
 Virginia 446
 Washington 376
 Massachusetts 361
 Arizona 358
 Indiana 355
 Tennessee 351
 Missouri 326
 Maryland 320
 Wisconsin 310
 Minnesota 293
 Colorado 284
 Alabama 261
 South Carolina 258
 Louisiana 250
 Kentucky 237
 Oregon 212
 Oklahoma 208
 Puerto Rico 195
 Connecticut 194
 Iowa 167
 Mississippi 162
 Arkansas 160
 Utah 157
 Kansas 156
 Nevada 151
 New Mexico 113
 Nebraska 101
 West Virginia 100
 Idaho 87
 Hawaii 76
 Maine 72
 New Hampshire 71
 Rhode Island 57
 Montana 55
 Delaware 50
 South Dakota 46
 Alaska 40
 North Dakota 39
 District of Columbia 35
 Vermont 34
 Wyoming 31
Roll those numbers around in your mind for a minute. If you’re a “solitary”, and are convinced that there just aren’t any Heathens around you, look again. Unless you’re in Wyoming or North Dakota (in which case the odds are that there isn’t anyone around you, period), you are surrounded by Heathens
To put this in perspective, in the area immediately surrounding my house (within a 30 minute drive), in rural northwestern New Jersey, there should be nearly fifty Heathens. I personally know of 7, including my family. There should be more than 400 more in my state.
Tell me again why there’s not a kindred in your area? 
It’s not because there aren’t any Heathens. There are! It’s because we’re not connected. We’re not aware of each other, even though we might pass each other in the grocery store every week and never realize it. 
Hel, if we could get all 480 Heathens in New Jersey to each chip in $10 a month, we’d have enough money to buy land in less than a year. In two there’d be a hof. And in three… You get the idea. The Heathens in NYC, Los Angeles, and Chicago could each rent terrific spaces full-time tomorrow if they would all get together and DO it. California? I get angry when I think of the opportunities that are being wasted by two thousand Heathens all going off on their own, squandering the gifts of fellowship and potential that are right there all around them. 
Get together! Now! You are not alone. Go out and find those other Heathens. Look in the obvious places. Online – Witchvox, the big Heathen message boards, Facebook pages, G+ communities, and Offline – put up flyers in pagan bookstores, Scandinavian gift shops and fairs. But beat the bushes in the less-than-obvious places too. Try putting up a flyer in your supermarket, local library, Starbucks, or wherever people congregate. Start up a Scandinavian mythology discussion group. Do you have a chapter of the Vasa Order of America nearby? Join it!

And for goodness’ sake, wear your hammer, or valknut, where folks can see it. And don’t be afraid to ask someone you see wearing one, if they’re Heathen. Swap contact info. Don’t let the moment pass by.

Find those Heathens around you. Get together. Blot to the Gods. Study together. Grow together. Form a kindred. Form a tribe. We’re out there. All we need to do is find each other.

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