Headcanon (sometimes called personal canon) refers to personal beliefs held by members of the Otherfaith about our gods, spirits, otherworld, or religious matters. It is related to canonical belief in the Otherfaith. Headcanons can involves what offerings a god prefers, the specific of an individual spirit, or the landscape of the otherworld. Personal practices - such as the details of how one prays - do not truly fall under 'headcanon' as the term refers to beliefs or opinions rather than actions.
The People borrow this term from fan communities in which people differentiate between the official canon in fictional universes from the personal ideas and fan theories that pop up in fan communities and fanfiction. We use it instead of unverified/unverifiable personal gnosis (UPG) or shared personal gnosis (SPG).
Some, but not all, headcanon falls into Divergence. Headcanon is not intended to encompass theologies, such as monotheism, monism, duotheism, etc.
Headcanon may eventually refer more broadly to any belief that is not attested to in our myths, but we currently do not have enough established mythology for it to be used meaningfully in that way.
Purpose of Headcanon
The Otherfaith has a concept of continuous revelation, meaning that our canonical beliefs and information are constantly growing and changing. Headcanon is both part of this and its own intensely personal matter. It can involve an individual's relationship with gods and spirits, their spiritual gifts, or just beliefs of how spiritual reality functions. It can refer to any belief that is not attested to in current canonical belief.
An example of a headcanon would be an Other Person believing that they are the child of the Clarene. (Though this is more complex once a Person decides to take action based on that belief.)
An example of a headcanon-turned-canon would be the Darren, who is being considered for canonical inclusion.
Conflict with Canon
Headcanon may conflict with established canon. An example of this would be the belief that a spirit has different parents that according to myth or established canon. Considering the thorny nature of parentage in the Otherfaith, this could well be true. Another conflicting canon could be associating a different color with a god than is established in canon.
Conflict that does not vary radically from canon is seen as natural, part of having individual spirits interacting with individual people. Conflict that would stretch into the realm of disputable would be claims such as our god of fire actually being one of water, our god of consent being one of rape, the order of the gods being different, etc. Headcanon is not a term that removes ones beliefs from challenge but rather a way for us to deepen our personal understanding of the entities we worship. Headcanon that is radically different from basic canon would have to either conform to established canon, be brought as a challenge, or categorized into Divergence.
- Main Article: Divergence
Headcanon that falls in line with established Diverging belief is called Diverging headcanon or Diverging belief. This is different from conflicting headcanons, as 'Divergence' has specific meaning in the Otherfaith.
To see what beliefs are considered Diverging, please click the main article.
Utilization of Headcanon
An individual person with headcanons about a specific god or spirit may interact with those spirits in different ways, influenced by their headcanon about the entity. Headcanons such as that are seen as vital to the living relationship between a Person and the Otherfaith. These deepen our understanding of the gods in our lives.
Headcanons may eventually lead an individual to be initiated into one of the gods' initiatory orders. They may lead an individual to take residency in one of the god's Holy Houses. Such situations change the way a Person is allowed to interact with other spirits.
An Other Person can present their headcanon to the Other People for feedback as possible canon. It is encouraged that the People submit headcanons relating to the larger community rather than themselves individually - people are encouraged to hold almost any headcanon they wish as long as it does not conflict with the basics of the Otherfaith.
Examples of such would be the revelation of new gods, new spirits, associations and correspondences, House residencies, or spirit-relations (whether to other spirits or to humans). You can read more about canonical inclusion in the section on establishing canon.
Headcanon that conflicts with established canon but is offered forth to the People is considered a challenge to canon.
One of the (currently) most useful ways to utilize headcanon is the in the creation of new mythology and stories for the Otherfaith. The People are encouraged to write their own stories about the gods and spirits. A small headcanon can expand into a beautiful story that others can draw from and eventually be established in canon through its inclusion.
The majority of the current Otherfaith myths are simply ideas or theories about the gods that were explored until they became fully fledged stories. It is important to build up our mythology as it allows us to better understand our gods. Stories should be treated playfully as we seek to better understand our spirits; there is no need for a story to be perfect. Indeed, one myth may be told many different ways. Just as a headcanon is a tiny understanding of an entity, stories built on them contribute a tiny bit of knowledge.
UPG and SPG
The Other People do not use the terms 'unverified/unverifiable personal gnosis' (UPG) or 'shared personal gnosis' (SPG), terms common in the Pagan and polytheist communities. Those who practice the faith may use the terms outside of the faith, but they are not considered useful or relevant in Otherfaith discussions.
Because the Otherfaith is a new religious tradition, it is made up of new information about the gods and spirits and otherworld. All of our information would be considered UPG by members of Pagan and polytheist communities; using such a term in our own community would mean we could not differentiate between currently held beliefs and developing ones. Canon and headcanon allow us to differentiate more effectively.
Beliefs that are accepted as accurate are simply incorporated into canon, not called SPG. Those beliefs that diverge from canon but are held by a few members of the faith are considered, appropriately, as Diverging beliefs.