I've always considered the word "heathen" as an insult... I've noticed a lot of people here call themselves heathen. So, I had to look it up...cause that's what I do.
Oft times used as an insult by Christians against people who don’t worship their god. They tend to confuse Atheism, Paganism and Heathenism. Atheism is of course a lack of belief in any gods. Paganism is an umbrella term for many polytheistic non-Abrahamic religions. Whereas a heathen is one who practices the pre-Christian religion of the ancient Germanic people. They worship the Germanic and Norse gods and goddess’.
Heathens are hard polytheists, meaning they believe each god and goddess is a real and distinct individual not an aspect or archetype of a greater being. Besides the major gods spoken of in the lore, there are also local gods, ancestral spirits, and various sorts of wights. To a heathen reading and understanding one’s heritage is very important, this is why there is such a heavy emphasis placed on reading the sagas. Heathens take their religion very seriously.