Shutting Down the Project

It is with a lot of conflicting emotions that we announce that The Open Halls Project is shutting down all operations. We’ll be sunsetting our Facebook page, Facebook group, and we will no longer be doing any activities moving forward. Our email and website will stay up for now, but when we’ve determined the best way to shut those down, we will do so.

We’ve come to this decision after a lot of soul searching, attempts to get reenergized, and attempts to find a new element of heathen military support to focus on. Our original mission to connect heathen military folks with a community when they move from one place to another never went away. Still, it fell behind the goal to get our religious preferences added to the Department of Defense lists. We continued to provide other support, including care packages, community events, book donations, and at times documents of support for various religious needs of our community. With the reduction in deployed service members and the successful culmination of our mission to get Heathen and Asatru added to the religious preference list, we never really consolidated behind a specific goal or project for us to work toward.

At the same time, the military heathen community chose to embark on various quests that ran counter to our goals. We were asked repeatedly to support beard requests, which we just never wanted to get behind and we feel ultimately detracted from things we believed in more strongly as being important. On top of that, we had started the Open Halls Project as an organization that tried to be free of specifically heathen political points, because the organizational politics of the heathen sphere were occasionally detrimental to the needs of heathen service members. But, that has become more and more distant from our needs and goals as individuals. There are bad actors in the heathen world and the heathen military world in particular. We’ve occasionally taken a stand against specific bad actors but our stated goal of being there for all military heathens put us in a moral bind more than a few times and we’re just… done trying to thread that needle.

This isn’t to say we don’t think military service members, veterans, family members, and the various people in the heathen military space don’t need support.  We believe that is still true and will continue to be true moving forward. We just can’t do so any longer as this organization. We had already divested ourselves of our 501c3 status several years ago, we are no longer a licensed corporation, and we have no funds on hand any longer. 

If you want to belong to an organization that is doing good things, that is creating a good future for heathens as a whole, we recommend joining The Troth. They have a strong military support function, they are inclusive, and they match our personal values. The Troth was the first heathen organization to support us and our mission all those years ago when we were starting the request to add religious preferences. Are they perfect? No. No organization of human beings is, but they are trying to do better and be better and provide a growth mindset to heathen religion and culture moving into the future.

There are hundreds of people who have supported us over the years. We thank you for the care packages, the donations, the shares, the discussion, the various ways you’ve stepped up to help heathen military folks. To our heathen military folks, we did this for you and we thank you for being there for us while we’ve been there for you. 

May your ancestors watch over you and the gods bless you.

-Josh & Cat Heath, Open Halls Project Co-Directors

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Form 990 and Current Fiscal Year Update

Hey folks!

Currently, The Open Halls Project INC has $1000.98 in funds for the fiscal year. We started the year with $200 leftover from previous years expenses. We had to re-file our application to be a 501c3, which cost us an extra $275. We made a mistake with our Form 990, and we are refiling and fixing the issue.

We have earmarked $500 for the purchase of some dogtags to be sent to a large service member group on Ft. Leonard Wood. We expect to have just under $500 for any costs afterward.

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Back in 2016 we produced a wonderful resource in partnership with The Norse Mythology Blog. Over the last 3 years, we’ve received several requests to have an easy to print out version of this resource and we have decided to host that here on The Open Halls Project.

This guide is something you should be able to hand to your Chaplain to give them a brief understanding of the basics of heathenry.

It’s our hope that you’ll take this resource and give it to anyone with questions.

-Open Halls Project Leadership

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So, You Want to Be A Chaplain

Hey everyone,

While it has been some time since we’ve updated the blog. The Open Halls Project has been hard at work on various projects. We’ve supported several new groups starting up with books and other materials, and if you need some for your heathen military religious group, let us know and we’ll help you get set up!

We get asked on a regular basis what someone needs to do to become a Chaplain. I’m going to lay out the requirements here in a blog post so that we can refer to it, and get you all set-up if you want to try and make this journey. Let me be clear. This is not easy. No heathen has yet to become a Chaplain. No Wiccan has become a Chaplain. Most chaplains in the US military are Christian. There are a tiny handful that are non-Christian of any form whatsoever. That doesn’t mean this is impossible for you to make the thing happen, but it does mean you are in for a tough journey. We’ll support you however we can, but it’s not going to be a short process so get ready to set your trajectory and run.

For now, we’re just going to focus on the US Army. The other services have very similar requirements, as like the faith code system, this is a rule that is pushed from the DoD. However, some minor specifics may differ from branch to branch. If you are in the Navy, Marines, or Air Force and want to add some amendments to this post from those branches, please let us know and we’ll go about updating it. Many of these requirements can be found here:


-No older than 42 on the day you commission

-Have completed basic theological education for your denomination or faith tradition (usually a Master of Divinity degree). For a Heathen or pagan chaplain, this will mean you’ve got to do a MDiv as well as any training for your organizational religious requirements. We’ll cover this in more depth soon.

-Ordained or endorsed by your denomination or faith tradition. This means you’ve got to have a 501c3 church that thinks you are clergy, treats you like one, and you have to serve that organization as clergy.

-Have completed at least two years of professional experience in your denomination or faith tradition. This means you’ve got to have been a Gothi of an organized group for at least two years, actively engaged in the process.

Religious Endorsements

You must have an ecclesiastical endorsement from your faith group. You’ve got to have a 501c3 church that recognizes you as clergy/Gothi/priest.

-Must be qualified spiritually, morally, intellectually, and emotionally to serve as a chaplain in the Army.

-Sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel. That means you’ve got to be willing to act in service to all service members, even if they are Christian or of a faith you may personally disagree with. We have experience with this as Heathens, don’t we?


-Bachelors Degree of no less than 120 semester hours

-Graduate degree in theological or religious studies with at least 72 hours in graduate work. That’s a big graduate degree requirement.


-U.S. citizens can apply for active duty, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.

-You must be able to obtain a security clearance.

-You must pass a physical exam at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).

-You must be at least 21 years old and under age 42 at the time of active duty commissioning.

-For Army National Guard or Army Reserve commissioning, you must be under the age of 47 at the time of commissioning. If you have prior service in the U.S. military, please talk to your recruiter.

What isn’t said here. You’ve got to be the perfect candidate to become the first heathen chaplain. You’ve got to check all these boxes and more to pass through the gauntlet of frustration that will get in your way. You should be younger than this, likely around 31 at the oldest, you need to have a perfect PT score, you’ve got to have fantastic grades, and you’ve got to stand out as a candidate early on. The Chaplain’s Corp is loath to offer a seat at the table for all of the reasons you can imagine that they might not want us there. They will question your sponsoring organization. Constantly. They will question their credentials. They will fine-tooth comb everything about you. If anything is not in the proper order they will not approve you to the position.

On top of all of that, a sponsoring organization has to be approved by the
DoD Armed Forces Chaplaincy Board. That is another layer of gatekeeping, and at the moment no Heathen or pagan credentialing organization has that approval. So, any chaplain is going to have to push both at the same time, most likely, and it is this process that is likely to cause the most problems.

If you are still willing to put yourself on this journey let us know. We will support you 100% of the way, but do not anticipate this will be an easy fight or one that is clear. There will be roadblocks we cannot anticipate that will fly up and bit us all in the rear end. Until we get there though, we’ll have to keep plugging away together.


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The Importance of Oaths

The Oath

In the Heathen / Asatru belief there is no more sacred act than taking an Oath.

An oath once taken must be followed, and the letter of the oath is as important as the intent. Of such great importance was the oath that when sworn upon the sacred ring (or other sacred object), said Oath was made before all the Gods and upon the honor of the individual taking the oath. Below are a few select quotes from sources that show the power of the oath to the heathen worldview. There are hundreds more. The oath is one of the central elements of being a heathen. Yes, cultic thew may be different from tribe to tribe, but the importance of the oath and reciprocal gifting is central to all heathen religious practices.

“The actual oath that was sworn probably varied from person to person and from place to place. The oath binding a warrior to his lord was of supreme importance within the warrior’s life: “All oaths are important in heroic society, but most important and most binding is the oath of loyalty to one’s lord. This oath takes precedence over any oath which may conflict with it (Cherniss, p. 63).” – Viking Answer Lady

“The oath depends on exchange, a feature integral to both the pledge and the vow as well, to assure that any violations of the integrity of swearing receive an appropriate penalty. While monetary surety is frequently attached with the pledge or vow, the heightened religious nature of the oath requires collateral of a higher value, most commonly including intangible aspects such as spiritual wellbeing and social reputation.” Bound By Words

“The relationship between the Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon terminology suggests that both cultures valued the oath for its ability to convey the truth with an appropriate level of solemnity and authority. The deeply religious bonds created by the eiðr, just as with the áþ, are symbolically expressed during swearing by the individual connecting with the religiously significant objects, especially relics, used within this process.” Bound By Words

“It is argued here that eddic poetry, where oaths were sworn on items like rings and weapons, can provide insight into practices of swearing oaths in the real world of the Vikings. It is problematic that the earliest surviving manuscripts of the eddic poems date from the late 13th century, but other sources, including written sources from outside Scandinavia, evidence the existence of such oaths. The workings of the oaths rested on beliefs that the gods, and the items invoked in the process, would take vengeance on oath-breakers.” Performing Oaths

It is the belief of the leaders of the OHP that before all requests are made that may conflict with a sense of good order or military discipline, that service members must adhere to their sacred Oath. It is our understanding of Heathen theology that upholds this belief. In a Heathen context, The Constitution is the binding force for one’s oath. The Constitution takes the place of one’s Lord in an arch-heathen sense. The Officers appointed above you are the equivalent of Thanes and other leaders. We must adhere to military law or face the consequences of our actions, both spiritually and physically.

In a Heathen context, oaths are also important to how and when they are taken. The Oath of Enlistment comes first for many, and should. Pre-Existing tribal oaths may exist for an individual. If so, that person must seriously consider if they will forgo that oath to enlist or become an officer, and if so, what impact that will have on them. Sikhs have had to commit a form of religious sin to join the US Military when they are forced to shave. That is because of their preexisting oaths. We have sympathy for that rock and hard place they are stuck between. But, it is not the same for most Heathens. Most Heathens do not have a tribal thew that requires a beard. Most Heathens do not have a pre-existing oath that they are breaking to keep a beard, prior to joining the military.

We do believe that there are legitimate accommodations that Heathens can request that we would support. This includes, but is not limited to, requests for mead during a deployment ritual, the right to have a copy of any works from the Poetic Edda, time off to attend blot or other heathen festivals and rituals, and the right to have worship spaces set aside on Post/Base for religious events. These are things that do not conflict with the oath and regulations one takes to become a member of the US Armed Services.

We remind our Heathen service members to reflect deeply upon the following, before making personal or group requests.

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

New York Times

Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1300.17, Accommodation of Religious Practices Within the Military Services.
10 Februrary 2009 [Updated 22 January 2014]
Primary document guiding all military services in their interactions with religion.
Of note, from paragraph 4.b:
“Unless it could have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline, the Military Departments will accommodate individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs (conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs) of Service members in accordance with the policies and procedures in this instruction.”

Daron Regan and Joshua Heath

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Fundraiser – Money In – Money Out

Hi All,

We ran our first fundraiser that ended last month on the 26th. With fees, we raised 1198.05.

Prior to the fundraiser we spent 145.08 on books to deployed service members, and we spent $30 on Facebook boosting our fundraiser post.

That leaves us with 1022.97 for the fundraising campaign to cover our 501c3 Federal Paperwork, and to manufacture the rewards for backers. We’ll be trying to get those rewards completed in the next month.



501c3 Paperwork submitted $275 for filing fees.

Shield donated by Michael Gilmour value $400. Sold in auction for $167.50+50 shipping and handling. S&H donated back to OHP by Mr. Gilmour.

Deployed service members requested more books: $119.25 spent to fulfill that order.

Money Spent on shirts, mugs, and hats to fulfill OHP fundraiser order. 22 shirts, 2 mugs, 2 hats, and 20 stickers. Spent: $337.26

Current balance of funds $508.96

Thank you!

Open Halls Project

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Roll Call of Honor

As you might imagine, we at the OHP are delighted by the news that ‘Heathen’ and ‘Asatru’ have been added to the DoD religious preferences list. It’s been a long fight to get this done.

Under the old system, we needed a sponsoring org to even submit a request. Well, we did that, and somehow ‘Troth’ got added as a preference.

However, more recently (in Ent time, of course), the system changed. Whether or not it was the level of noise they were getting or number of requests from groups who, just like ours, were trying to get their preference added, we don’t know. But it was changed, and we’re exceedingly thankful for that.

About those requests for ‘Heathen’ and ‘Asatru’ though? They were submitted by military service members who were working with us, and we don’t want their work to go unnoticed in all of this. So here is our Role Call of the service members who made all of this possible:

MSG Matt Walters – submitted and pursued the request that made ‘Heathen’ and ‘Asatru’ official religious preferences for AF personnel under the old system.
Omar Bailey
Daniel Head
Chris Gibat
Blaine Morton
And lastly, Daron Regan. Daron has been pushing the last leg of this journey the most. He was in regular contact with the Chaplains making this change. His efforts to keep our request in their sight cannot be understated.

We would also like to give special thanks to civilians like Vince Enlund, and for all of you who spread the word and joined our various letter-writing campaigns. Because while the requests had to be made by service members, civilian supporters played a key role in making sure there was also some degree of political pressure.

Further, we want to thank everyone that assisted with various documents we created to support this project. Including, Robert Creed, Luke Burroughs, and Jason Kelsall.

For those news sites and blogs that help publicized this, thank you. Bringing awareness to this case was highly beneficial to our success.

If you played a part in making this momentous change come to pass and do not see your name here, please do not hesitate to contact us so that we might add you. We want to add you! It is important to us at the Open Halls Project that everyone is given their proper recognition.

So with that said, please join us in recognizing and thanking these fine people!

Cat and Josh
Open Halls Project

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Beards – A Clarification

At the Open Halls Project, we are often asked about the matter of beards as a religious requirement, and if we can somehow help service members in gaining permission to wear beards.

Unfortunately, this is not something we can help with for two main reasons:

1. There is no religious requirement for beards in Heathenry. Sikhs are allowed to wear beards and turbans because it actually is a religious requirement of their faith that they do so. Kesh, or ‘uncut hair’ is one of the 5 religious requirements of baptized Sikhs. We as Heathens, have no such religious requirement with regards to hair.

2. While some cite the historical example of warriors refusing to shave or cut their hair until they have fulfilled an oath, this is also not supported as a religious requirement for Heathens in the military. The oath to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” taken at enlistment supersedes any further oaths.

In other words, without an explicit religious requirement to wear a beard, the likelihood of the military changing the regulations that you oathed to uphold in order for you to keep a beard, is very unlikely. This is not a matter of religious rights, this is matter of trying to get the entity you oathed to, to change the conditions of your oath.

It is for these reasons that we at the Open Halls Project will not involve ourselves on the beard matter. Moreover, it is our view that focusing on this issue not only detracts from far more important issues, but also makes us appear foolish and uneducated in our own religious beliefs in the eyes of the military.

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Department of Defense Approves Heathen Belief Codes

It is with great joy we announce that Heathen, Asatru, Druid, and several others are now official Belief codes. Please see the DoD memorandum below.

-Josh OHP



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Financial Reports for 2016

2016 Financial Records for The Open Halls Project INC

Incorporation Fees: $220

Care Package Expenses: $30

Incoming Funds: $250  (Funds provided by co-directors)

Total Net Funds for 2016: 0

Edited on 4/13/2017 to show incoming funds as gift from co-directors to OHP.

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