Three years ago, I helped a group of people — a couple of which I still keep in touch with — create a server on Discord that we named Skíðblaðnir, after the magical longship owned by the Norse god Freyr. Its purpose: to act as a hub of knowledge and education for those who identify as Heathens, who practice the Contemporary Pagan religion called Heathenry. I like helping with administrative duties, so I volunteered in the role of what is essentially a forum moderator, making sure people follow the rules and engage in civil discourse.
Over time, I became one of the administrators. I possessed full ownership of the server and watched many of my fellow moderators leave — due to drama, a busy life outside of the Internet, or a shift in religion. I also watched members come and go; those who were “regulars” for some time fell quiet, and new ones took their places. The server changed, too. It went through a few iterations: we changed and reorganized the channels, made adjustments to some rules, and removed one entirely. But for the entire time, I did my best to keep it on track. I corrected any mistakes and dealt with the consequences as they happened.
Skíðblaðnir consumed my life. Not in a bad way, but sometimes in a less-than-great way. I love the wholesomeness, camaraderie, helpfulness, and knowledge I find there. It was finally a place where I could explore my religion in the ways that mattered to me. I could talk about the gods, about worship, about holidays, and about research with likeminded people. But Skíðblaðnir was also the source of many headaches and much drama — all of which was my responsibility to address.
For better or for worse, I woke up thinking about Skíðblaðnir almost every day for the past three years. Sometimes it kept me up at night; sometimes I dreamed of it. Being admin wore me down, as all work tends to do no matter how much you enjoy it, and I came to the realization this past summer that I was done. It was time for me to resign so I could focus more of my free time on myself. And today, two months later, I posted my farewell address to our announcements channel and gave ownership of the server to my successor. He’ll strip me of my admin and moderator ranks at the end of the day, and then I’m going on a much needed Discord vacation for the next week.
Funnily enough, I was partly spurred by the song “One Last Time” from Hamilton: An American Musical. For those unfamiliar with the song, during it, George Washington declares his intention to resign as President of the United States of America. When Alexander Hamilton demands to know why, Washington explains, “If I say goodbye, the nation learns to move on. It outlives me when I’m gone.”
I have been thinking about this idea a lot. I don’t think it’s egoistic to say that many people, both in Skíðblaðnir and in other servers, equate me with Skíðblaðnir itself. It’s “my” server; I was in charge for a long time. But I never wanted to be inseparable from it. I absolutely want it to grow, thrive, and evolve even if I cannot be around to oversee it. And I know that the only way to ensure that success is if I force the change myself.
Skíðblaðnir changed my life. I learned a lot while running it, and I got to know some really creative, intelligent, passionate people through it. They introduced me to new ideas, challenged some preexisting notions I held, and overall made me a better Heathen. Some of them even became my friends. I’ve laughed, cried, and vented on the server. I am and always will be grateful for the support, faith, and trust people gave me as both the server admin and a fellow human.
What I did not expect was the outpouring of gratitude from server members after I posted my resignation announcement. People are still sending me messages as I write this. The only thing I ever intended to do was provide a safe haven for fellow Heathens to learn about, explore, and practice our religion. Skíðblaðnir was only meant to be — and, in the grand scheme of things, perhaps still is — a tiny, obscure corner of the Internet where a handful of religious nerds talk excitedly with each other. But as all Heathens know, none of us live in a vacuum; each one of our deeds, no matter how small, ripples outward along the web of wyrd to influence others. And as Heathens, the greatest thing we can leave behind is a legacy we can be proud of.
I never expected Skíðblaðnir to be part of my legacy, yet the kind words of my fellow server members prove that it is. I am proud of it, and I am proud of myself for the work I put into it. For the work I put into Heathenry. I may not have published books, taught university classes, or featured in documentaries, but I did the work. I’m doing the work still. Hopefully, in the future, I will look back at my contributions to Modern Heathenry and see that Skíðblaðnir was only the beginning.