Nearly all of my practice is centred around honouring my dead and tending to my hearth.
It was something I immediately gravitated toward when I discovered Heathenry, as it seemed more ‘accessible’ to me. I had been raised in a fairly Agnostic/spiritually nondescript home, so my real jumping-off point, religiously speaking, was in the belief in alternate realities, spirits, the intangible worlds overlapping our own. While the other newbs were jostling to get a taste of high divinity, I was keen to explore the more terrestrial, grass roots aspects of pre-Christian religion, the cult of the dead.
The general consensus is, that the high divinities are unconcerned, or at least less so, with your general well-being than your deceased kin are. It makes sense, really. I’d assume those who knew me personally, who I share DNA with, would be more eager to see me succeed, and perhaps impart some of their luck to that end. Either way, it is certainly where the true foundation of my religion lies. Strip everything away, the Old English words and ritual invocations, and I’m essentially an ancestor-worshipper at my core. It’s about how I approach this worship, how I practice it, which makes my practice distinctly Heathen. In understanding the Anglo-Saxon worldview, I’m able to approach it as my ancestors may have, and by doing so, I do it in a way they might understand and respect. Sure,the offering is made, do ut des, a gift for a gift, but the ritual is also a tribute in and of itself.
There is another dimension to this as well. All ritual takes those participating in it outside of linear, profane time and into the mythic atemporal. Bearing that in mind, when I perform ritualized offering, I am essentially able, albeit briefly, to perform the same act, at the same time with my ancestors in the distant past. There is something exceedingly powerful in that idea, but there is also a weight of responsibility that comes with it.