(Note: I started this article a couple of days ago. The weather is nicer now, and I was off work today.)
It’s on a chilly April night, after a long day of work, my head is primed to explode from what is bound to become a nightmare sinus headache in the morning. Morning in relative terms. Morning for me is from noon to three in the afternoon. Here I am, though, wondering what to tell you good folks. My last post was full of kitschy metaphors about trees and seeds. I don’t think this one is going to be so much about that.
At first I thought I wouldn’t have anything to share, but really what I’ve thought about is what custom entails. Someone had asked, and I think it was on Reddit, but I’m not positive, they asked how our custom affected our daily lives, outside of something like a formal ritual. I gave that person a long winded speech about how it isn’t something that flips like a “Heathen Switch”, and I meant what I told them. I’m also glad they found the answer satisfactory. However, it really got me thinking about it.
That fundamental truth holds. You really don’t stop after ritual. Other than our lives being a series of them. Some involving the mundane, others, the sacred. What being Heathen has given me is the awareness of all of those tiny little facets of my life. The little building blocks that put it together. Sometimes I think the pieces are like that old Jenga game, where you could pull so many pieces before the thing comes tumbling down. We can take little things out, and the structure still stands. A few pieces here, a few pieces there. However, of course, if you take too many, it falls apart.
The truth is, everything is as well as ever at the Heorþ. There are days, though, where it’s the only place things are going well. It’s taught me a bit about the human condition, and another very important lesson on frith. The lesson being: If things don’t go well in the home, things don’t go well anywhere else. Though, no converse from my experience exists. Even if everything goes well at work, or in the online sphere in which I communicate, or amongst my folks and friends, if I dread going home, it casts a shadow over everything else. My luck must be pretty strong. As that has not been a problem in a very long time. I have never felt as complete as I have in sharing this home.
The old value of frith still applies. To have frith in the home shields you from the ills of the world, whatever those may be to the person in concern. It’s one thing to read that in a book, or for someone to tell you. It is another thing to dwell the mind upon, and truly appreciate. To be honest, the past few weeks have been kind of rough. I tell you all this, because it is that fact that really helped me understand frith, in its truest sense. We’re always “guarded” at various levels, and without that chance to be at ease, and ourselves, I think most of us would go insane. Without the comfort of sanctuary with those of whom one is comfortable enough to let the “guard” down, can anyone truly be whole?
As a reminder, Frith is defined (roughly) as the sense of sanctuary, peace, and good relations of a home or community.
I would hope that all of you have it, or find it. It’s maintenance has become one of the central parts of my practice. As I realize, I can read every book, write every myth, do every ritual perfectly, and none of it will substitute frith. I could win that “Best Heathen Trophy” that doesn’t exist, and be the most well loved Heathen persona, and I would still feel empty without frith. It’s mind boggling to a modern mind that people knew this over one thousand years ago, but for us, it’s a matter of study!
So, it is this that radiates outward, frith. I liken it to the beacon of a lighthouse to a sailor, or the warm fire of a hearth after a long winter’s day. That time when you are home, and around those who make you feel at home. There are few, if any, feelings that could compete with this joy. Some would say that frith is action, and I agree. To me, it is an action, as well as a feeling. It takes work, and diligence to maintain frith, and inaction is nearly all it takes to break it apart. That “cardinal Heathen sin of inaction” that often comes up.
What I have set out to do is build my practice around the things that matter most. A tribe of other Heathens may come later. I have my hearth. I share it with someone who makes me feel at home wherever we are. I have a wonderful cast and crew of family and friends. I learn about and commune with my Ancestors. I know the House Wight, how to commune with local Land Wights. I’m getting better at figuring out which gods figure in to the picture as well. I have a worldview that helps me piece it together. All of that comes into place and makes more sense with that all important foundation of frith.