Recently there has been sort of a… movement? Or, at the least, a change in the previous status quo as to the forms of practice that have emerged recently in discussions. In other words, in the years and decades before us, there have emerged many successful kindreds, theods, and fellowships that, in some degree or another have made their way into the world. Heathen, or otherwise, Fyrnsidu, Forn Sed, Aldsido, and such. Some looking to build on the Old Ways, in whatever form got them their start. Others still have taken more liberties.
There have been such, and then there have been what some may describe as “loners”. Though, this isn’t in truth the case. Be it as it may that they may be the only person in their area, or the only with whom they are comfortable in sharing their Way, the Ways of nearby more established folks may not suit them, or some other reasons may come to mind. There is hardly a sure formula, or an answer that fits all. Less flatteringly, these folks may be said to be in “the Wild”.
It is that, that I find to be a disservice to those who are truly genuine, but for whatever reason, may practice alone. Though, if it needed saying, they’re never truly alone in practice. Unless one doesn’t count Old Ones, Wights, and Gods as beings. If so, they’re not folks who have any common practice with any of the aforementioned people, anyway. So, it doesn’t much matter. Regardless, these practitioners aren’t really people “of the Wilds”. No. Far from it, in truth.
No, they are not merely “solitaires”, either. They might be the only one of their kind that they personally know, and what of it? This doesn’t exclude them from being important people in the lives of those they care about, and who care about them. Some of them have taken to calling themselves “Frīfolc”, literal “free folk”. Or, as what else might be said, “Freeholders”. I use this distinction as well. This applies to many who call themselves Heathens. Many would-be Freeholders. Or, Freehold Heathens.
This is a way, in my opinion (if I need to qualify that what I write is in fact, my opinion and view) that positively affirms, as opposed to adding some tagging and qualifier as to being “without”. Many are not finding themselves “without”. They are not without frith. They are not without gifting to those around them, and to the recipients of their offerings. They are not without deeds. They are not without worth. It begs a fair question: What, in fact, then, are they?
I might be of some help with that, being one myself. To answer the question of what a Freeholder is as opposed to what they are not. As even in this very piece, I’ve answered and spoke in the negative. So, allow me to turn it around. What is a Freeholder?
– A Freeholder is unbeholden to the rules of people who do not have the best interest of themselves, or those close to them at heart.
– A Freeholder is one who believes and acts in accord with the knowledge they have sought in the best way that they can.
– A Freeholder sees the basis of interaction with the Other starting in the home. As the home, in times past, was something of a microcosm of the world, and as reflected in the home is the world, the reflection of the interaction of Man (general sense) and the Other is enacted on that microcosmic level, in said home. Though such interaction and understanding may extend beyond the home, it at the least starts there.
– A Freeholder is one that acts as a mediator for themselves and those in their lives to the Other.
– A Freeholder recognizes their place in that scheme, and must, with that knowledge, dutifully live up to that responsibility. They recognize that there are limits (can’t have a one person symbel, after all, amongst other things) but, in the spirit of those before them, in accord with the timeless ingenuity of the Old Ones, they make do with what they have. As opposed to bemoaning what they don’t have, they take what they do have and make it work.
– As in accord with the spirit of Reconstructionist methodology, for those who employ it, they enact that which they can within reason, based upon past knowledge. Though I may seek a foundation and frame from the past to construct the present and future, others may seek the walls and roof as well. With proper application, all will have shelter nonetheless. How good or bad that shelter is can only be known to its fullest extent by those who live within it. Like anyone else, they are continually finding their way.
The Freeholder lives in that which is the situation they have deemed worthy and working. Like anyone else, we make do with what we have to make the situation that is practice and living in accord with what might be dubbed “Heathen Worldview” work. It has been said that the Hearth practice is inviolable. I believe there is truth to that. After all, one has no right to come to another’s home and tell them how to practice. However, this does not mean that we do not have knowledge to share that may be of worth to others in a similar situation. There are voices currently not well represented in the currents of popular Heathen discourse.
It is time for those voices to be heard.
I am here, and I am proud of the traditions that I am building.
I am crafting the start of what I hope may resonate with others like me. There may be some who disagree, and who criticize, and that is okay. There is time, I hope, for our tradition to grow, and I am willing to give that tradition the time that it needs to grow.
I have a “tribe”, full of people who have proven their worth to me, and I to them. We engage in reciprocal deeds to one another, and it’s okay that they aren’t always like me. There is frith in our home, and warmth in our hearth.
I also exchange gifts with the Old Ones, Wights, and Gods. It is they who decide the worth of those gifts, and it is they who decide whether they are worth reciprocating.
I am proud.
I am whole.
I am free.
I am a Freeholder.
I am not going anywhere.
So, it looks as though I am not in the Wilds after all.