There has been, and I suspect there always will be, some contention over what our faith is called. Some go with Asatru. Some use the phrase “Northern Tradition”. I have always preferred the term Heathen, as it seemed the least complicated. It also involves taking a pejorative term and turning it on it’s head, which has been a proud American tradition since we used “Yankee Doodle” to mock the British.
So while I consider myself a Heathen, and I primarily venerate the Norse pantheon, I don’t think that either of these things would be the core definition of my spirituality. They are important things, but I think that Frith has a far greater day to day impact. Out Heathen communities and our pantheons may help define our spiritual practice, but I think that Frith defines my spirituality more then anything else. How I interact with other Heathens. How I pray. How I make offerings. How I display myself as a Heathen to non-Heathens. For all these things, I use Frith as my compass.
Some of us speak at great lengths over innangards and utangards, and how we must give great consideration to those we allow into our lives. Some are simple about the matter, while others get into the nitty gritty. Mark Stinson, for example, expressed his beliefs on things in black and white, and with a great level of detail into the order of important that people should have in your life. I can say that I understood his point and found it contained some validity, even if I also found it terribly pedantic.
To my mind, that perspective is trying to shoehorn things into a nice, neat, box; no matter how much you may want black and white, things are just going to be purple sometimes. As such, I try to view such things in simpler terms
My innangard is made up of those who show me Frith, and my utangard is made up of those that don’t. That is all.
Let me tell you about “HB”. HB is a young lady who I work with. She is devoutly Christian, and is studying to be a missionary in Norway. We have discussed spirituality and religion many times, and we have done it in a spirit of respect and with the legitimate desire to learn the perspective of other faiths. How she regarded Jesus or how she felt about my faith was irrelevant; she showed me Frith. She has been considerate, helpful, and a true friend. I’ve been there to call her on her bullshit, and she has been able to remind me of the family I have waiting for me at home when I get more then my fair share of garbage at work.
If my innangard is a house, frith is the cement that binds the bricks.
There are Heathens I know that I don’t talk to if I can help it. One such example is an unrepentant white supremacist; I don’t go to events at their house, because I will not mix wyrd with someone who looks down on my Hispanic step-daughter. There is another couple that has chosen to remain immersed in petty feuds that everyone else put down years ago; I wish them nothing by joy and happiness, but that doesn’t mean I seek them out.
I will take the Frithful Christian missionary over oath-breaking, racist, or overly dramatic Heathens any day of the week. I am inclined to believe our ancestors would as well, and I suspect our Gods have no issue with such a thing. I do not care who or what you pray to, or whether you pray at all. You show me respect, hospitality, and goodwill? Then I will seek to match your example.
You do not need to be a Heathen to act with Frith, and not all Heathen actions are attempting to be Frithful.