The Welfare and Honor of Their Kin

GeboThere was a little break in the writing, which comes with the territory of moving.  Fresh coats of paints and cardboard boxes have a way of fixating someone’s attention on the mundane.  Also, they’re a complete pain in the ass.

Part 3 of the Regarding Loki series is coming, though I’m taking a moment to reflect on some other issues that are fresh in my mind.  Indeed, due to the contention regarding Loki and the act of venerating him, it was hard for me to think upon anything other then Frith.  These thoughts turned me towards research.  That research, in turn, lead me to no small amount of annoyance.

You see, we talk of Frith.  We speak on it at length.  We toast the gods known for the upholding of Frith. We speak of the vital role that Frith must play in our social interactions.  In actuality, there are many that speak on these things then throw them into the trash.  The reading Gronbech (the source of the quote in my previous article) sort of shocked me; here was the centerpiece of our ancestor’s culture…yet there are many of us who will shun, bad mouth, reject, or otherwise treat others in the community as refuse.

I have seen too many instances of Heathens treating Frith as a disposable concept when dealing with someone they dislike, only to praise it around those they are disposed towards.  Frith should not be used upon an axis of favoritism, nor should it be levied with hypocrisy.  There is more chaos and discord in these practices then in any group of Rokkatru.

When I spoke of shame last time, I feel I may have called people to mind of the Christian/Catholic models of shame; I wasn’t even considering them.  I was concerned with our actions, what we hold as our virtues, and how we act upon them.  We are the reflection of our ancestors; how we treat those within our ranks who are not in identical alignment with our world view is appalling.  This is not the Frith I have heard people speak of; this is not our ancestor’s way, and it shouldn’t be ours either.

Recently, I saw conflict arise when an Elder in our community picked a fight with another Heathen.  It was an unprovoked commentary on the Heathen’s personal practices, and a public withdraw of an invitation to an event that the Elder was holding at their residence.  I personally saw the Heathen attempt to accept this turn with diplomacy and humility; they Frithfully attempted to avoid public conflict, and accepted the Elder’s decision without a trace of strife. These attempts were rejected and trampled over, in favor of closing the conversation in a more contentious way; simply repeating themselves as if they were dealing with a small child.

I ended up loosing a lot of respect for the elder, and perhaps for the community as well.  The elder ignored Frith, abandoning it utterly over a personal view.  Perhaps I could have understood the Elder’s actions if the Heathen in question had picked the fight, or had tried to continue it; they didn’t.  It just looked like a big, dramatic, mess.   I am in no way stating that the Elder needed to maintain an invitation into their home if they weren’t comfortable with the guest in question; no matter what I think of their viewpoint, it’s their home.   What I am absolutely disgusted at is the lack of courtesy, respect, and diplomacy that they showed.

I saw this, and quietly declined my own invitation to the event.  No explanation was offered; had one been requested, it would have been provided in private.  It’s as simple as that.  You see,  I looked at that conversation, and said to myself ‘This is what people will see; private conversations turned public, so that people can have their over-dramatic squabbling and whining.”  We’re better then this.  Every single one of us is better then this.

Our Frith should be considered to be more then just our local communities; you can love the internet or hate it, but the world has become a lot smaller since the web rose into prominence.  This is especially true for modern Heathenry; just the fact that we have names like Diana Paxson, Mark Stinson, Freya Aswynn, Galina KrasskovaSteven McNallen, and more then I can easily name or reference is proof of this.  A lot criticize the lack of Frith in “online Heathenry”, saying that you need face to face interaction for real Frith.  I got to tell you, that makes no sense to me.

In order to for me to honestly entertain that sentiment, I have to first pretend that face to face Frith does a lot better then Frith over the internet.  From where I’m standing, the differences are somewhere between subtle and non-existent.  If I ignore that problem, I am then struck by how a majority of present Heathens have the internet to thank for being Heathens; if they didn’t discover the movement via the internet, then they found a Heathen to talk to by the same source.  This is how I ran into members of my local community.  True, I now know them in person…but I’m not about to forget or discount how I met them.  My Wyrd and Orlog has been changed because of the internet; to ignore or discount that does me a disservice.

To put it another way…yes, our ancestors didn’t conduct their faith using the internet.  They also didn’t use the printing press and kept largely oral records…but I don’t think we’re going to denounce the progress brought about by such things.  We recognize that the way we gather information and take it in has changed.  We have changed with it, and in some ways we have become better.  In some ways, perhaps we have become worse.  When we resist change…when we only work with it in selfishness and egotism, we become worse.  When we embrace it, and try and find out how we can make ourselves better via change?  We become better.

Heathenism has changed much since the time of our ancestors, and now Firth is changing with it.  It is our time to define what will become of us during that change.

To hurt one of us is to hurt every one of us; you, who is reading this article, is no different.  If there is one universal quality to the Frith our ancestors practiced, I would suggest that this is it.  This is the Frith the Gronbech spoke of.  This is the concept of Frith that penned the Havamal.  It is the understanding of social debts and diplomacy that incited our ancestors to come up with concepts like “weregild” . We are no longer communities of a few dozen families who need each to survive the winter, but that doesn’t mean we can neglect each other.  We should not empower ourselves at the determent of the community.  No one should.

The definitions of Innangarth and my Utangarth are each Heathen’s to define for themselves.  I will tell you this though; the boundaries of mine shall be made from Frith.  I shall define who should stand with me by how they treat those around them.  I have no place, patience, or time for those who would castigate another member of the community for the sake of hubris and ego.

Neither did our ancestors.


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