Thoughts

My #HeathenHallJoy Story

I had, roughly a couple of weeks ago, come across something new that was going around the Heathen Internet. I’ve seen some folks using it, and I’ll wager some of you have as well. One of those hashtag things I never quite caught on about.  It’s called #HeathenHallJoy. As usual, I’m late to the party, and well out of the loop. I hadn’t posted any statuses on social media with it. The reason why is that when searching for positivity in my life as a Heathen, or Heathendom in general, was at first because I was so caught onto the negative side of things. It is no secret that just about any online gathering of just about anyone is bound to have conflict. Sometimes it is vigorous, intelligent debate. Other times, it is callous bullying. When it comes to the latter, it doesn’t really get anyone anywhere.

All it ultimately does is create animosity where there didn’t need to be any. We don’t all have to get along. We don’t all have to like each other. However, I myself was regrettably caught up in that game after so long of swearing away from it. Sometimes I see someone, or some people say things I don’t like, or feel is wrong, and I just feel like I have to jump in. It achieves nothing. Heels just get dug in deeper.

Regardless, it took me back to a time when I was just starting out, fresh off of Gaulish Paganism. Finding my practices being based more and more off of Germanic ideas, I had finally decided to make that leap. Being a couple of years younger, about twenty four, I still felt I had something to prove. Of course, this is common with people in their early twenties. I was right about having something to prove, but wrong about to whom I had to prove it.

I found people very advanced in knowledge, and at the time, I didn’t feel worthy of approaching them. They were smart people, and they knew it. They had no issue with letting everyone around them know that fact. I thought that this is what you needed to be. It brought to mind the idea of the Germanic “war band” attitiude. These were the people who wanted to emulate that mentality, though more reasonably adapted to the modern day. However, I didn’t talk to them. I’d watched them tear people apart, after all. Who wanted that kind of embarrassment? I didn’t. So, I conformed to a way that those folks would have likely approved of, however, I didn’t dare ask. Nor would I lower myself to people whose character was unknown. After all, anyone can read books and learn something. Even then, I knew I wanted to learn from people who were at least friendly.

I found those people. It was like setting foot on fresh grass after a long winter. These folks kept me at an appropriate distance, but at least seemed approachable. They were welcoming and friendly. Affording me the best an outsider should expect. They didn’t “bro” me, but they didn’t put on airs either. They were straight shooters and honest. If I made sense, they’d say so. If I did not, they were able to correct me without dehumanizing me. Admittedly, though, the first group of people were in the back of my mind.

For some reason, I didn’t want to think anything about practicing Heathenry that would disappoint them. Can you imagine that? I wanted, briefly, to be worthy of people who would never accept me because even if I could learn as they did, I couldn’t look down on people for no good reason. One who is unproven doesn’t need to be greeted with a smile, but they don’t need to be greeted with a scowl, either.

Still, it took a long time to shake that influence off of me, but I finally did. Once I did, I found that I was somewhat different from the latter group of people. However, that didn’t change much of anything. I am still friends with some of them today. This was my warmer welcome to Heathenry. They were the first people to hear my silly ideas, and helped me round them out to make sense. Though we don’t always see eye to eye, their willingness to share their knowledge has made an impact beyond measure. This was my first, as far as meeting other Heathens, #HeathenHallJoy.

The second came from starting to grasp and understand worldview. Learning from other people taught me more, if I am to be honest, than books did. The books helped me see where these folks learned it, but real life examples, and reading through stories often was, and still remains, in my opinion, the superior choice if one can grasp the poetic understanding of the world that the Elder Heathens had. Though my practices are rooted in Anglo-Saxon Heathnendom, Fyrnsidu to be specific, I very much enjoy Norse stories, as much as I do Old English ones, and when more experienced people broke them down for me (both Norse and English stories), I learned the most that way.  When folks more experienced than I broke these stories down, I learned that they weren’t as often about the chest thumping that Viking wannabes seem to get when they read stories.

In time, I would read again these stories and understand them better. Learning through stories, and reading history books have been two of my favorite things since I was old enough to read them. Though some were incredibly dry and boring, the learning was always worth it, and still is. Reading and talking, learning that these weren’t just relics of a bygone age, but that there are many real remnants of these traits in many of us. Including elements of our own society, particularly on the familial and local level. Christianity did erase some things, but mostly, it just diluted them.

I’m not the only one who was raised to value ones mate, family, and close friends above others. Nor am I the only one who was raised to judge people by their deeds. I wasn’t the only person raised to put pride in their name, and to defend it. I wasn’t the only person who was taught that I should pick my company carefully, because I would be associated with what they did.

The irony of hindsight, that pouring through books taught me that my mother taught me the basic, interpersonal parts of Heathenry. All I needed to learn, in that hindsight was ritual, lore, demarcation of sacred vs profane, and worship. The realization of this, since we’ll take into account the two to two and a half years that I have been Heathen, instead of the span of my life makes the second of these a no brainer. Reading great books, and learning to appreciate my upbringing has to be the second #HeathenHallJoy.

The third I will share with you is the reason I keep going. I have learned a lot of life lessons in this pivotal time of my life. It was when I found another with whom to share this hearth, that put me in the position where in order to be a better person, I had to really learn these lessons cannot be understated. At this point, I had to learn that my actions could truly affect another. After all, who would have to deal with me if I got annoyed in an online argument?

However, it is that I see just how much better my life is with her in it that I facepalm at the thought of stupid feuds with strangers behind a screen. Does it matter if they know more than me, or vice versa? Who is giving out “Best Heathen” medals? If negativity is what spawns me to learn, I am learning the wrong way, I believe. It isn’t though. If I am in a group and just end up arguing, I’m in the wrong group. Online arguments rarely make anyone a better Heathen, or anything but more of an asshole, from what I have seen. The world has enough assholes, though, does it not?

This isn’t a lesson I would have cared to learn if not for sharing a hearth. If not for finding the love of my life. Someone who not only has tolerated my practices, but has shared them, and has even had a hand in shaping them. That has been the biggest difference maker. Thanks to her, and the care I must put in my words because when I speak, it is a voice of not only myself, but of Þunresfolc Heorþ, I have learned that it is the positives I should look for, not the negative. Highlighting negative things is a survival trait. However, online interactions aren’t typically life or death. Fight (well, argue) when you must, but otherwise, there’s no reason to stick around toxic places. I have finally learned that. There are toxic people who like to play games, and that’s okay. Let them play by themselves.

Almost anyone with a little time around other Heathens has a gripe or two about Heathenry. Nothing’s perfect after all. However, seeing as how I’ve managed to establish my hearth, cultivate experiences, practice with sincerity and integrity, embrace an identity that it provides, I’m willing to be patient and see if Þunresfolc Heorþ grows to be more than just a hearth. Whether it does, or not, I have been granted much more than I had expected out of life. I never thought a simple laborer with a hearth practice and Thunor cult could be given such a good life. So, my third #HeathenHallJoy is finding the other and better half of Þunresfolc Heorþ, and watching it grow to become something that doesn’t just fit a small convenient label. It is who I am.

Though, with all of this joy going around, and my gratitude, the last #HeathenHallJoy of mine, is that you took the time to read this. So, in spite of my usual lateness: What is your #HeathenhallJoy?

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts on Reconstructionist Methodology

I’d like to wax a little on Reconstructionism, and where I feel I stand within it. It’s a methodology that is familiar with anyone who has been involved with Polytheistic revivals. Reconstructionism relies on historical and archaeological record, as well as the theories of scholars in order to get a feel of how Elder Heathens and Pagans practiced, what they believed, and their general worldview. All of which are, regardless of how often one employs Reconstructionist methodology, still used nonetheless. That knowledge is where even the least Reconstructionist oriented person gets an idea of what to practice. Whether or not they choose to use it is on them.

Still, Polytheistic Reconstructionist methodology is relatively modern, as well as historically unprecedented. This may be its greatest irony. However, this is something I am a part of as well. I couldn’t say anything against Reconstructionist methodology without saying something against a part of myself. However, I don’t see these types of terms as absolute. I see Reconstructionism as a tool, and only a tool, and at that, a range in a spectrum of approaches to practice.

So, to me, it has always been a tool in the creation of the expression of my own understanding. With said understanding informing both practice and belief. That which it is for likely anyone else. Not that I think that such a statement makes me remarkable. I don’t know how many people have said these things already, and definitely no idea if implication is involved. Anyone who has had a conversation with me online knows that I am terrible with implications. With that being said, I may be saying what other folks are already thinking, but I haven’t heard it.

Why we look back to these older cultures fascinates me, partly because, as I noted a moment ago, the revival of Pagan customs is unprecedented. Nothing like this has existed in history. There aren’t a lot of accounts of anyone saying, “You know how people thought, and what their customs were, like fifteen hundred years ago? Let’s see how much of that we want to revive.” Yet, here we are. For me, there are many reasons as to why I have looked back to move forward.

The first being that I simply don’t fit in well with the over culture. I, like anyone living in the modern Western world know enough about it, but I don’t understand it. If I did, I don’t think there’d be a good reason to Reconstruct a fifth century worldview. It isn’t that I hate the over culture, or want to “rebel”. I simply don’t feel very in touch with it.

There’s some technology that I don’t trust, but for the most part, I’m not against it. In fact, I think the Internet is one of the best things ever invented. However, the attitudes and morals of the over culture simply do not resonate with me. So, naturally, I looked elsewhere to find a meaningful understanding of the world. Though there are of course, good things about the over culture, I’d be a liar if said that I didn’t see it as mostly something I have to put up with.

For that, I eventually found Fyrnsidu. Though, other cultures than those called Anglo-Saxon (a term the pre Christian Old English speakers would not have recognized) have been an influence on my practice. Mostly other Germanic language speaking and Celtic language speaking peoples. There are slighter influences from other Indo-European peoples beyond that, but less so. It’s only fair to note these influences when we must “fill in gaps” of understanding in practice. Thus, to be fair, those influences should be noted now and again. As the notion of a cultural “purity” is one that only exists in the minds of either those isolated by remoteness, or by fools. The practice here is made by making sense of the tools of understanding those in the past gives us.

Taking these older cultures, Reconstructionists are in turn, creating new ones in a way. Local and regional adaptations to practices are being made. We’re aren’t making one Heathen religion. Nor should we. However, I don’t have to tell you all that. As those interested in building customs from older ones communicate and cross pollinate, and different ideas are shared, the blue million customs that will come from it are an inevitability.

Since we all came to this by choice, we have to decide, each of us, our parameters in our processes. There will inevitably be some who try to push practices one way or another. Though this is not always a bad thing, our different backgrounds and experiences will naturally bring us to variations and differing conclusions.

Once worldview is understood (those who do not have even a mediocre grasp of worldview are not those I consider having a practice anything like mine, so they would be considered something else to me) sufficiently, study and time makes everything else fall into place.

What I speak of is how things have worked for me. It has been a wonderful wayfaring, and every time I think I have things figured out, I realize that I still have a lot to learn. These have been my thoughts on the state of practice. More is sure to come.

The Worlds According to Þunresfolc Heorþ

Introduction

When we look at the subject of cosmologies, we are found wanting with respect to our Old English ancestors. How many worlds did they know? So, as it were, it often falls upon us to look at other Indo-European cosmologies, in order to try to make sense of the worlds. However, when we do this, we need to be sure to ask ourselves, “Does this make sense?” It is not enough to merely “copy and paste” the beliefs of other Indo-European peoples onto our own. We must believe this, too. We must understand it, as well as know it! With that being said, let us take a brief look at what we have to work with.

The Anglo-Saxons

Of course, it makes sense to start with the people who practiced the customs that have inspired us, right? We, unfortunately, don’t have much. Not much was written in the old Futhorc, and literacy wasn’t a big “to do” until the conversion to Christianity. Not that I think that made them less intelligent, because that means you had to be able to absorb more information. This was of course, done orally. Knowledge was spread by word of mouth. You had to learn and remember, since you didn’t have a book around to look stuff up.

That being said, a bit here and there survived conversion and some folks wrote a bit of the old knowledge down. Albeit unintentionally, (Just ask the spirit of Bede! I wonder what he’d think of the Heathen calendars some of us have been making thanks to him…) these Christian boys may well have left us some hints and clues about the Old Ways. One such instance is the ‘Nine Herbs Charm’. In it, while trying to rid the poor victim of “Flying Venom”, caused by elven spears, the charm mentions seven worlds, in line 39:

In Old English:

“(Ƿoden) sette and sænde, on seofon worulde”

In Modern English:

“He (Woden) brought (them) and sent (them) into the seven worlds”

            Seven worlds? No one can say for sure what that means. Some would say that it’s the planets, as perceived by ancient peoples, who counted the Sun and Moon amongst them. That gives us the Sun, Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. It numbers seven, and so that is a fair guess. However, here’s the catch to that: The planets, amongst the people we know of to have named the planets, as far as the Indo-Europeans are concerned, the Greeks and Romans, who, in turn, got the idea from Babylonians, before that, Sumerians, named the planets after some of their gods. Another problem with that is that, according to ‘The Laws of King Cnut’, in its section on “Heathenism” (obviously translated) states this:

We earnestly forbid every heathenism: heathenism is, that men worship idols; that is, that they worship heathen gods, and the sun or the moon, fire or rivers, water-wells or stones, or forest trees of any kind; or love witchcraft, or promote morth-work in any wise.

In other words, what I’m trying to say is that the only sources for planet namings that we have come to us from the Near East, through the Greeks and Romans. Other than the Sun and Moon, the planets, from the naked eye, look like stars. Though the Sun is obviously a star as well, it is, of course, the only one that looks like something other than a small glimmer in the sky. Though I believe the Anglo-Saxons knew there was a difference between stars and planets, by their movement, most likely, I’m not convinced that these are the seven worlds the Nine Herbs Charm was talking about. Thus, we are looking at seven worlds, seven realms. In some way. Let’s see what we get from looking at other Indo-European peoples.

Ancient Greeks

Here, we have more details. The highest realm, Mount Olympus, abode of the Greek gods, of course, the Earth, and the Underworld, ruled by the god Hades. Though, if you look at the Underworld, many destinations are given as possibilities. Some of which are hard to imagine as under the Earth, such as Elysium. However, three key points are: An above world, Olympus. Then there is world in which we live, of course. Lastly, the Underworld, with its different places within, practically differing realms , themselves.

However, we’re actually looking at, not counting the division of the Underworld, at four realms, and not three. The first being the heavens, which are, of course, the top of Olympus, and abode to the Olympian gods. Second, the seas, which are, of course the domain of Poseidon. Third, the Underworld, the domain of Hades. Lastly, the Earth, which is affected, and connected to all three in some way. In this case, I’d like to refer to Emily Lyle’s view, which is found in her book ‘Ten Gods: A New Approach to Defining the Mythological Structures of the Indo-Europeans’, where she discusses this at greater length. I don’t really see this as much of an opposition to Dumezil’s tripartite mindset, but more of a supplement and further breakdown. (I know that it’s kind of expensive, the book, but the PDF that references it in this discussion, thus giving the necessary info is titled ‘On Indo-European Cosmic Structure’ by John Shaw, and it’s free.)

Norse

The Norse cosmological view has fallen out of favor with some Anglo-Saxon Heathens, but, is there good reason for this? Or, better asked: Are other Indo-European cosmologies, and other Indo-European answers to questions always, or even often better than what we know of the Norse? Could we really say that, looking at the time span between the conversions of the English and the Scandinavians, that the English in their Heathenry was any closer to the Greeks, Romans, or Vedic peoples than people who were closer in language and culture? I do not think that is the case.

However, the belief that language and a bit of time is all that separated them is a nonsensical answer as well. So, we should look to Norse sources in a fashion that employs common sense, and filling in gaps, as opposed to a wholesale copying of their lore. Filling in gaps is fine, and I’m honestly in the middle when it comes to those more eager to shy away from Norse sources, and those who very eagerly embrace them.

Looking at the cosmologic structure offered by our Norse friends, it is often said they thought of nine realms, as opposed to three, four, or seven. Though, to be fair, the most listed at once is six worlds/realms, as opposed to nine, which is done in the Alvíssmál. In this case, the synopsis of the worlds listed are Midgard, Asgard, Alfheim, Vanaheim, Jötunheim, and Helheim.  In other tales Niflheim, Muspellheim, and Svartalfheim are added, making nine. That’s quite a lot, and only later Hindu cosmologies add more than that. However, it is my opinion that these needn’t be taken literally, and there may not have been a reason for them to have been in the first place. However, it is not a question for me to answer, and is a subject for Norse Heathens to discuss.

Making A Working Model

So, after our brief little exploration there, you might be wondering how a working model might go. After all, we aren’t the only folks that have an idea of how this might be done. In fact, this isn’t even the dominant model in Fyrnsidu. So, out of respect for them, this comes from the custom of Þunresfolc Heorþ. This is a product of study, and intuition. I am making an effort to consider both equally. If we look at all three sources, there is a little that can be pulled from each. We get the number seven from the ‘Nine Herbs Charm’. It is possible to make sense of seven worlds if it is kept in mind that they aren’t quite separate like literal planets, they often overlap and could, in some cases, be thought of as lands, in a sense. The Old English language does give us a wealth of words to use to describe these places. Old English “ham” is said to not quite be cognate to Old Norse “-heim”, this being potentially the case if “-ham” doesn’t mean “world”. I’m not quite convinced that it does.

If that is not the case, then what suffix can be used? I’m going to, in those particular words, use something more simple, like “land” which is more open ended and vague. Some of these “worlds” overlap, and it seems to paint a better picture to use “lands”, which will be more fluid. So, for a more refined Þunresfoc Heorþ cosmology, along with an “axis mundi” that goes well with it, so here goes…

Eormensyl

The great pillar, borrowed in name from Old Saxon “Irminsul”. Whether it’s perceived as a pillar or a tree is of little consequence, there are Germanic, as well as other Indo-European sources that could go either way. Personally, I’ve always been fond of perceiving Eormensyl as a tree. Donar’s Oak from the Old Saxons, and the old name of a place in Essex, Thurstable, in Old English, “Thunrestapol” meaning “Thunor’s Pillar”. This fits neatly with Thunor cult (wink), however, the interpretation of this pillar is likely something that varied from tribe to tribe, region to region.

From the Mists

Mist, of course, forms when heated droplets of water rapidly cool. Elementary science, right? So, I actually have to give credit to that part of the Norse creation myth. I think in literal formation, the fire and ice motif work really well. Where I differ from the Eddic interpretation, is that I don’t think that this equates to two whole realms. I think this combination represents a type of creation, and are present throughout the worlds, thus they could not be contained in mere realms, they are just too big. Their product, steam, mist, however, might be more easily seen. As it is harder to see heat or cold. From the mists spring life, and perhaps the worlds. Mist has the obvious hazy appeal to it that is reflective of the uncertainty of origins. This primal mist is at the bottom of Eormensyl. So, we have what holds the realms, and what may have made them. Let’s learn about the realms, lands, worlds themselves.

Underworld (Hell)

Easy enough, the word Hell has existed in Germanic tongues since well before English or Christianity. It is likely a resting place for the dead, or at least one of them. It is, of course, under the Earth, Middangeard, and would be known for being dark and damp, most likely, as the underground normally is. Though such a place seems ideal in many cases for a place of rest. I’m not sure about reincarnation, but if that is something that happens to people, this would be the place for it to happen. The word “Hell” comes from words meaning “to cover or conceal”. In this instance, it’s pretty clear that burying the dead conceals them. An argument for a womb in which life springs, or is reborn is a case that could be made, even though I am not interested in making it.

Wyrmsele

This is one that often gets neglected, and I think that is unfortunate. Something has to be at the roots or base of the pillar, and wyrms are a perfect candidate for that. To me, this one is rather logical. Those who Hell rejects, be it Hellgods, or simply Hell’s residents, may find themselves cast out here. If there are outlaws in life, I do not see why particularly bad people would be accepted into the company of everyone else. This is where the Helldraca from the Þunresfolc myth ‘Thunor and the Helldraca’ lives. So, be it a reasonable historic base, or a naïve hope for justice for those who do terrible things, Wyrmsele is at the roots of Eormensyl.

Middle Realm

That which exists between the Upper and Lower Realms is clearly the Middle Realm. Here is where man lives, and the beings of the living world are. Be they Man, Beast, Elf, Thyrse, or Éoten. The Middle Realm is acted upon by the Upper and Lower Realms. It is influenced by both.

Éotengeard

Éotengeard and Útangeard sound close for good reason, they’re relatively close in nature, and the Éotengeard is certainly, without a doubt, Útangeard. This is where Éotens dwell in numbers. The places where man either cannot, or often do not live. Volcanoes, glaciers, great deserts, all hold powerful Éotens. These are all places that Éotens rule. These are forces kept at bay by the gods. A literal world of its own? Maybe not. For all intents and purposes, however, it practically is.

Ælflands

The places that are Ælflands are those places that are not quite places we live, but places we are often near, or may pass through. The woods is a great example, elves can also be found in the sea, and mountains. It is also said that they are found near burial mounds, and could even be spirits of the dead. We may traverse or hike in woods, we may sail on the sea, go through a mountain pass, or visit a burial mound. However, these are not places most people would choose to live. These places can be dangerous, just like elves, but are navigable if you are careful. These environments all reflect the nature of Elves, and so it is this that leads me to believe that they live there.

Middangeard

This is the center of the worlds for us. The safety (supposed to be) of our tribe, kin, and society. This is where man lives, and is affected, because of its central location, possibly, by almost all of the other realms. It is our home. Towns, villages, cities, and probably the countryside where man has control over the land. Where man lives and truly reigns, it is Middangeard.

Above World (Heofon)

The Upper Realm, Heofon, like Hell, is a word that is older than English and Christianity (So let’s take them back, eh?) and can be traced back to Proto Germanic. This is, generally speaking, the home of the high gods. Home of the celestial, as opposed to the chthonic. Birthplace of law and sacred. This is the place of the not only the gods, but perhaps of some dead.

Neorxnawang

This one is looked at a little controversially, admittedly. However, Neorxnawang, the “Heavenly Meadow” or “Land of No Work” is not at all a foreign concept to Indo-European peoples. It is seen in Greek mythology in the Elysian Fields. It is also mentioned in the accounts of Ibn Fadlan on his visit in the lands of the Rus Vikings. Mag Mell, “land of delight” is found in Irish lore. I’m not sure if, like Elysium, there is a metric of deeds that must be seen as worthy to get in, and I’m not much interested in speculating on that matter. Considering that there were two different methods for treating the dead, burial and cremation, it is but a guess of mine that whether or not someone rests in Heofon or Hell, could be based on how their body was treated after death. As Stephen Pollington puts it in ‘Elder Gods: The Otherworld of Early England’ (page 446, first couple of sentences in the section ‘Ancestors in the Earth’)

“The two places for the dead were the horizontal – the inhumed in their graves – and the vertical – the cremated who escape the material world through funeral fire. This corresponds to the two views of the afterlife: either a journey to another plane, or a sleep in the earth.”

Ésageard

Though I honestly perceive this to be more a matter of multiples than a single place, much as many different cities make up Middangeard, this is where the high gods live. From here, they may make their way down Eormensyl, and some wage war on Éotens, they may be out searching for knowledge, wandering, or who knows what! They’re gods, so they go and do as they choose, with whatever limitations they have. Here, the gods live in their respective dwellings amongst the company they choose, whom, or whatever they may be. Basically, the celestial gods dwell here.

Conclusion

The seven worlds: Hell, Wyrmsele, Éotengeard, Ælflands, Middangeard, Neorxnawang, Ésageard (Ésaburhs)

Seven worlds are spoken of in the ‘Nine Herbs Charm’, and this is what I believe those seven worlds to be. At the most base level, three realms are present. This also doesn’t quite touch on liminal spaces, such as the seas. These are, in my opinion, bridges, of a type between worlds, in the cosmological sense. Oceans lead to, and are likely part of the Underworld, themselves. Admittedly, I live in a landlocked area, and so those of you who live by the sea might have other and better answers. Lakes and rivers are easily seen as between Middangeard and Hell, at least to me. In this, I did my best to paint this out in a way that makes sense to me. It is the worlds as I understand them.

There’s no way for us to completely know these answers. However, customs and myths, at least partially exist to explain these things to us. So, I’ve taken a look at my past understanding of cosmology, and modified where appropriate. If any of it is of use to the reader, feel free to use it. This came from a combination of research and reflection, culminating in understanding. It is that, which is what I believe to be the way it should be. Thank you for reading.

 

Halfway Through Year One

Summer is coming to Þunresfolc  Heorþ. It’s always a great pleasure to see leaves on the trees again, and comfortable weather. As everything seems to be more lively, it would appear that things are more busy as well. I’ve spent much of the time trying to quit smoking, which has made it hard to focus on anything else. Regardless, here I am. We’re a bit over halfway through the year, and around seven or eight months in as a functioning hearth.

I started Þunresfolc  Heorþ with about a year and a half of Heathen experience, three and a half years of experience as a Polytheist, and about five years in Paganism altogether. Suffice to say that I have learned more in these seven months than I had in all of the time before. The way I learned is different however. At this point, I have been learning by doing. Not by reading, not by watching. I keep my books close by, of course. I try to remember everything I read in them, though I know that isn’t possible. However, once I learned the basics, things started making sense.

To be honest, I don’t know how everyone else expresses what they’ve learned. Nor do I know how they retain what seems like so much of what they read. However, I keep moving on, and that is all one can really do. Heathenry itself seems to be doing the same. The rise in prominence of the hearth cult being one of the biggest examples. I think it is high time that a way of doing is worked out for what seems to be a majority of Heathens who do not have a group that fits well with them to practice. That such people are not caving into pressure otherwise is respectable and shows signs of maturing in the many different faces of Heathenry.

Though, watching the directions of the Heathen world can be a little overwhelming at times from this little hearth, but onward we go. That being said, it’s the little things that have really challenged me. One example is keeping track of a lunar calendar. It’s one of those things you read about, but for me, it has been pretty difficult to do. To be honest, I used to not notice the Moon much, less so truly try to keep time by him. I’d like to tell you that I went from perfect forms of Paganism in the past to being a perfect Heathen, but I know better. Keeping up with a lunar calendar is a weakness of mine. However, I have progressed. We were making sheets month by month, and I’m just glad that we caught that there will be thirteen moons this year. So, we almost have the whole years’ made out.

In this first part of the year, we devised the tides we have chosen to observe, numbered at four (Géol, Ēastretīd, Midsumor, and Harfæst), but I believe we will end up with more than that as time goes by. What I also wonder is if I should tone down on the Old English usage a little. In the sense that it wouldn’t have killed me to type Yule, Eastertide, Midsummer, and Harvest instead, after all that is how I actually speak. This has been another challenge I have been working on. To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for whether or not to do so. Is it more genuine to just type Thunor’s Folk Hearth, or Thunresfolc Hearth? This has been a question I have wrestled with recently.

In spite of these challenges and quandaries, when Cyndre and I light those candles after our ritual cleansing, and that deep breath is taken before those first words are spoken, all of the little nagging questions seem to melt away. At that point, who I disagreed with online, or vice versa, or what this person or that person said, or what I think of this and that person’s practice, or they mine, suddenly doesn’t matter. The connection that comes from ritual, when I speak and hope my ancestors listen, it doesn’t matter which ones were from Berkshire or Kentucky, Heathen, Christian, or whatever. What matters is that I am recognizing, and paying tribute to the connection I share with them.

Recognition and understanding is what matters most at that point. Knowing your place in the great scheme of things. Realizing that thousands of people, and a near infinite amount of decisions big and small are the reason I can type this, and you are reading this. It is at that point that I realize that my actions, like theirs, may have far reaching consequences. That my decisions affect those close to me in more ways than I know. My Innangeard is affected by what I do.

When I make that offering to the House Wight, it doesn’t matter that some think that doesn’t apply to apartments, or whether or not people think a place such as a home has a spirit or not. What matters is that without my home, I am… well… homeless. Exposed to the elements. Lacking in the possibility of frith, which I need to be whole. Without shelter, that is extremely difficult to facilitate. I owe something to the spirit of the place that keeps me. Once again, it is about recognition.

The same goes for any other wight or god. They’re all intelligent, and they’ll accept or reject our offerings at their own accord. However, one cannot always know without doing. Some things we have lost the answers concerning. How lucky we are to be the ones who get to learn and find out. How lucky we are to be here, early in the development of Heathenry, early in its many different forms, and forms to come. The histories of hearths and groups is young, and many of us are getting to write the first pages. I’ve come to appreciate the gravity of the moment.

Worldview Wordhoard

Here at Þunresfolc Heorþ, we believe that one of the barest of essentials in practice is to have a firm grasp of Heathen worldview. I’m sure pretty much any other Heathen would say the same thing, of course. What I find, personally, is that over time, the worldview truly becomes a part of you, and you don’t have to spend as much time wondering if your deeds fall into place with said worldview. It goes without saying, that such an ability comes with time. Regardless, and a big part of the reason this site exists is that seeing what I believe before me helps me understand it better. I hope it helps you too.

As a part of a growing and continuous understanding of practice and worldview, I’d like to share a small wordhoard of worldview terms. Take heed that these may sound similar to that which I have written in previous articles, or maybe someone else’s, though I doubt it. Either way, feel free to let me know if the latter is the case. No attempt at plagiarism is being made.

One of my biggest sources when it comes to matters of worldview buzzwords is: We Are Our Deeds by Eric Wodening. A must read for any Heathen, for those of you that are newer. The definitions, however, are based in my own understanding of the words.

Frith– The sense of well-being, wholeness, security, and peace amongst one’s Innangeard, more directly, the household

Grith– A truce and state of ease between two groups of people, it is temporary, and usually meant to serve a particular purpose.

Innangeard– Normally considered to be those to whom you are closest. This would include one’s family, significant others/partners, close friends, at the most extending to one’s immediate community. Some would say this may apply to wights, particularly House Wights, and Land Wights in close proximity.

Utangeard– Anyone or anything not in one’s Innangeard. (Exception: “high gods” which are on their own level, they are neither Innangeard or Utangeard.) This is not an implication that all strangers are somehow bad, as it means as much that which dwells outside of society.

Wéoh– That which is sacred, or set apart. This applies in the sense of something, or some place, set aside for the purpose of either being used in ritual, or place in which contact with ancestors, wights, or gods occurs.

Hálig– Holy. To be whole or complete in the religious sense.

Unhalig– Unholy. That which is repudiated and reviled, outside of good and right.

Synn– Old English word for ”sin”. It carries connotations of both inaction and/or misdeed.

Théaw– Thew. That which is customary.

Heorth– Hearth! In a broader sense, the household.

Sibb– Family and close friends.

Mægen– The energy and force that is contained in all life. The right, good, and holy are said to possess it in abundance. This ties in with Spéd, which is luck.

Spéd– Luck. Not in the sense of coincidence as it is often said to be today. Better so, circumstances. Luck is affected by those with whom you associate. Thus your luck mixes with everyone that you associate with.

Orlæg– The luck that is inherited from birth.

Wyrd– The accumulation of your Orlæg, luck, and deeds. That which is the ever flowing, with regard to your choices, and events that occur in your life.  This is something that is not immutable like fate. It can change through right or wrong deeds, but it is to that we will all ultimately have to answer. Even the gods are not immune to Wyrd.

This is, of course, a short list. Primarily terms that have immediate translations. The Heathen worldview could simply never be contained to a small wordhoard. For those, There will be articles to themselves.

Thunor and the Helldraca

Cold was the chill that touched the nose of the Éoten Queller. From his long sleep from the Géol Feast, he stirred. His wife, panic struck, had tried to wake him. “Husband, you can sleep no longer! Impossible you are to wake! Our cows are gone! Taken in the dark of night. Not even Hama saw it happen!”

“Does Hama not see all, dear wife? It is like them to huddle together if they are cold. Perhaps you did not look long enough?”, Thunor spoke to calm his wife, but his assumption did not do this. Her face was turning to a hot red that could rival his own. “I believe you, my dear.”, he spoke quickly. “Let me speak to Hama, and see if he saw anything.” Hama did see all that passed through the gates. Had his cattle been lost, he should know.

Thunor stepped out to look over the fields. His wife was right, as always, it seemed. It was now his face that burned, and he marched his way to Hama, demanding answers. “I saw nothing, Thunor. Your hot heartedness is more trouble than it is worth, at times! We must sit, and think.”, Hama spoke. “Nay, Hama! We must act and do!”, Thunor retorted.

“Do what about which you know nothing? Red Bearded fool.”, with that, Thunor flashed his hammer, but he knew he would not hurt the All Watcher. “Aye. Watch your tongue, though, before I tear it from your mouth.”. A threat for a threat, but it did little to quell his temper and impatience. “I shall speak to the Folk Mothers.”, Thunor at last had such an idea. He parted from Hama, and went to see them.

“We saw your coming. There may be one who moves with shadows, that none may see. An old foe from the first days, banished by Woden to the depths.”, the Idesa spoke. “The Deep Dweller, Foul Hoarder, The Draca below the Worlds.”, Thunor remembered tales of his misdeeds. He was not a foe that Thunor, even, was eager to fight. He could change shape, and it was only guessed that the Draca was his true form. Though, none really knew. “What you must do is clear, Hammer Holder, our dear son.”, the Idesa had a voice that soothed him. Second only to Sibbe.

“I care not who he is! He comes to my home, takes from me. He takes from all to whom I give. He will die!”, Thunor bristled with resolve. There are two bulls in Thunor’s care that even the Helldraca dare not take. Those two are the bulls who pull his cart, Hléowa and Wolcena. Steadfast and loyal, they are. “Come forth, and let us go down Eormensyl, my friends! A well meant slap on their hindquarters, and they were on their way down.

They moved quick for such large bulls, and in due haste they were in Middangeard. What they saw was a most unfamiliar sight. The land was swarming with Ice Éotens, and Folde was hidden amongst them. He would look to find her, as all Men hid in their homes. She was uncomfortable, but dressed in a gown of white. “What has happened here, in this place that was once so green? Have Ice Éotens gained so much ground since my rest?”, Thunor asked Folde when he saw her. “Ice Éotens have sway over the land. To keep your cattle hidden, the Helldraca lets them reign free.”

“They shall reign free no longer!”, Thunor bellowed with a war cry! His bulls charged forward, wind swift, and with the might of Heofonfŷr, he smashed into Éoten hoards! They charged and charged him, but none were a match for him. They screamed and howled, cursing his name! Without fear, Thunor kept going. Stout Hearted onward, and Ice Éotens shrieking as they were caught in the horns of the bulls, and the blunt force of Thunor’s hammer.

The Ice Éotens pushed back. Their horde would not back down without a fight. They pushed Thunor back, and he pushed forward. Back and forth, Thunor and the Ice Éotens clashed. A woman watched the battle, and called Thunor’s name. She had for him a barrel. “Come, Thunor! Take this, and drink!”, she shouted. “The sweet scent of mead, I’d never reject it! But who are you, lady?”, Thunor asked her.

“I’m a friend of your wife’s. They call me Hrethe. I’ve come to give you this to help you fight. My sister will not return until these Eotens fall.” , and Thunor picked up the barrel, and drank the golden brew. Warmed and readied for war, he stepped forward again to meet his foes. He swung Heofonfŷr with all of his might, and the Ice Éotens fell all around him.

As he made his way, one Éoten, so large that even Thunor in mead joy had second thoughts about approaching him, stepped in his direction to meet him. “So, it is you who have slain my children? How dare you! Foul and ugly, stupid brute!”, Freóriga, the Ice Éoten King, shouted.

“Your home is in the mountains, and far in the North. You have no right to be here!”, Thunor shouted back. Freóriga picked up Thunor’s bulls, and hurled them a furlong away. This made Thunor more angry than before, Freóriga struck Thunor, and Thunor hit the ground. However, Thunor grabbed his massive, frost ridden arm, and twisted it, and then with Heofonfŷr, smashed his head! Freóriga was shattered! He scurried away with what he had left. He fled like a coward.

What he saw after this was what he knew was coming. From a cavern that went deep into the ground came the World Bane himself. The noises of Thunor’s cattle could be heard. They were in a frenzy, but voices soon calmed them. The sound of Thunor’s bulls, who made their way back. They were hurt, but still able to walk well. Their voices calmed the other cattle.

The Helldraca spoke. “You take a world away from me, Thunor. I try to rule this world, and you will not allow it.” “You have neither the right to rule, nor the good deeds to ever be a ruler, Lútian! You have no right to this land, nor right to my cattle! If you do not give them to me, you will die here!” Thunor bellowed, and had little interest in anything else the Helldraca had to say. For the Great Outlawed, Eormensyl gnawer, lord of Wyrmsele, spoke poison when hos mouth was open. He of foul deed.

The Helldraca was so large that it was said he could fly around the world in a few paces of his wings! His eyes were like looking into death, entrancing to his foes. Only he had the Mægen to match Thunor, ill Mægen it was. His skin was like a snake, but hard as stone, and his wings foreboding. His claws were sharper than swords, and his breath was fire. This, the only being that could truly be a match for the Hammer Holder. Thunor, though, had no room for doubt.

He struck Thunor with his tail, and Thunor struck it with his hammer. Then he tried to grab it away with his claws, and Thunor struck his hand! He lunged to bit off Thunor’s head, but Middangeard’s Warder grabbed his jaws! The Helldraca tried to close them, but Thunor held his mouth open. Then the Foul Wyrm closed them, but too late! Thunor backed away, and they looked each other in the eyes. Thunor spun and struck at the Helldraca!

Around and around he went, and just as he stopped for but a moment, the Helldraca tried to clamp his jaws again, but Thunor backed away, and struck the top of the Foul Wyrm’s head with all his might! Heofonfŷr struck true! The Helldraca was dead!

Thunor pulled his corpse away with all of his might, and his cattle ran to him! Thunor felt weary and tired, he went to his cart, and his bulls pulled him home. Behind him, the birds that once filled the land with their song were flying back! The Dawn Maiden, Eastre followed them, and even Sunne looked to be returning from her trip south.

With Eastre came the herbs that healed men, that Woden taught them long ago how to use, and many more. Thunor cleared the way, and they followed. He made his way home to a cheering hall. He feasted upon his bulls, and drank many barrels of mead. He then went into the arms of his wife, and together they went to their bed.

Words on Reputation

I try to put a lot of thought into what I put on this blog. I’ve been a little “out of order” the past few weeks or so. Sometimes, it just happens, and I don’t know why. Of course, I’m sure I’m not the only one. I had three half written articles, and one fully written one. However, the full one was covering the same points as the last article. Fyrnsǽd… I’m a little different from other Reconstructionists… Look how open minded I am… So on and so forth… No. I don’t think I need to point that out, or at least not write another article conveying that same point. What I realize now is that these stumbling blocks are normal, and there isn’t always a deep reason as to why they occur. There isn’t a deep reason, but there is a reason.

 

It’s one of those basic points of worldview: Reputation. Especially since I realize that I share this Hearth. I can’t soil my own reputation on this blog without the risk of soiling the reputation of the Hearth as a whole. This is what prevents me from writing things without much thought. Reputation is such a key point in Heathen worldview that it took nearly a three week block to figure out that my reservations, based on reputation, might be a good thing to talk about.

 

I assure you, if I didn’t share this hearth, there would be a lot of posts made with reckless abandon! More posts, but not ones that I could look back on later, and still find satisfactory. It reminds me that the company we keep is of utmost importance. I’ve learned it is wise to keep company with those who bring out the best in us and make us grow as people. Even when we don’t want to grow. Or at least, are so enamored with our comfort zones that we are no longer of service to those we care about. We cannot be of service to our loved ones without being worthwhile people ourselves. Many other traits that the Elder Heathens regarded as positive, such as being honorable, being willing to defend one’s loved ones, being clever in one’s dealings, and being brave are all traits that start within us.

 

The focus of the Heathen is certainly that of the tribe first. However, without being worthy people, no “tribe” will have us for long. It is certainly not that the focus of the Heathen is the individual. However, it factors in heavy, even among us, whether we would like to admit that or not. What makes a good individual is one that adds to the worth of the “tribe”. However, those outside of our blood, whom we count as one of our “tribe”, are those who have recognized our deeds as worthy, and us theirs, no matter how small they may be.

 

The tribe comes before the self, but an unworthy self is not worthy of tribe. In the past, it was certainly more evident that all that was good was that which benefitted the tribe. I think that such a point still holds water. However, we face new challenges, and a society that is pretty much all about the self. Such a society would see the Heathen worldview of that which puts the tribe first, as denigrating the value of its individual members. However, I think it does the opposite. In fact, I think each individual matters even more when the people have to rely on each other.

 

The reason is quite simple. In a tribe, no one can be degraded to a mere commodity, because everyone in it has a place. That place is not easily taken by another. When we are told that we must function with as little help and support as possible, as we are in the United States, at least, as it is ingrained into our history, we learn to treat others as commodities. They have a replaceable purpose. We have little room or reason to compromise, and we are in a society that actually devalues that. In turn, we have a society that treats its members as commodities, because we are taught to be “in it for ourselves”. It is weakness in such people’s eyes to admit that we can’t do it alone. Though some may say it’s possible, how happy are they, those who only live for themselves?

 

We’re always taught to put ourselves first, and we do so to our own peril. I’m honestly not trying to get into politics, but it is my opinion that there is generally a money trail and financial agenda behind most of the world’s problems. That someone out there is making money off of any given one, or at least most of them. It isn’t that I’m saying money is always bad, and it may be okay to lie and cheat the utangeard to benefit the innangeard, but if you do it too much, it will harm the innangeard, because they will have a bad reputation.

 

I’ll give you an example. Say I’m a blacksmith, I make decent weapons, but not great ones. I vastly overprice them to back up my claim. So, I’ve cheated the people whom I trade with in the next tribe over. However, my family has three new, strong bulls for meat, my wife is bedecked in rare, exotic jewels, and my children are in line to have a great inheritance. I lied my way to success. I did good for the clan, as they benefitted as well. Now, word gets around that my swords and axes are shit. That neighboring tribe was in a battle. The people who bought my weapons, but they broke on the battlefield. Luckily, the other guys in their tribe had better stuff.

 

Word gets out that my weapons were garbage. No one buys my weapons anymore. I go broke. My clan suffers. That’s if my luck is good. If it’s bad, people die because of my bad weapons, and it is discovered that I made them, and the neighboring tribe decides to come after me, and there is a battle. How happy will my tribe be, if they find out that my shit weapons were the cause of it? Even if they win, I could be outlawed.

 

Even in the less severe scenario, it gets out that my weapons are bad, and I gain that reputation in both my own tribe, and the other one for being a cheat and a liar. This means others will not have dealings with me. Chances are, they will suspect that my family knew, and will disassociate from them as well. This means, even in dealing with the utangeard, great care must be taken. We must think carefully how our actions may affect those around us. We must also be careful in how we treat our innangeard, so that they do not feel like they are commodities. When we treat others like they are replaceable, we may one day find ourselves replaced. When we deal with others, it is not only our reputation, but that of our loved ones on the line.

 

It is because I wanted to think through what I said, that I waited so long to post a new article. However, having a Heathen worldview in a world that doesn’t poses all kinds of new challenges and tests. I’m sure I’ll have more for you all soon.

A Reflection on Frith

 

(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.

 

 

 

Fyrnsǽd – and our Current State of Practice

The naming of traditions since the revival of Pagan customs is a process that is still ongoing. Sometimes this is due to intentional fracturing, other times it is the realization that your custom is just different. Not better, not worse, but just different. I spend a lot of time between articles I write, and sources I read, trying to process what, if anything, I have learned. I often look at others doing great works and getting their traditions out there. I admire those who do. Though, I don’t admire everything some of these people do. Great can mean a really bad thing as much as it can a really good one. However, if there is one thing about that I have learned, it is that you can’t spend too much time going after those “doing it wrong”. If you do, you’ll come to see that you’re spending more time correcting people than actually doing the right things yourself.

I’ve had my phases in the past of doing just that. I realized that I hadn’t updated my own understanding. I was falling behind. So, I’ve went back to old and new sources — books and articles, along with listening to the experiences of others. I’ve heard that when people are dying, their whole life flashes before their eyes. I don’t want those images of mine to be me sitting around on social media telling people how much they suck at this or that. It isn’t that I don’t think there are some who have never picked up a book in their natural born lives, but think they are a repository of spiritual knowledge, are utterly annoying. Nor that I don’t think some are more interested in reading books about Heathenry, or any other Paganism, than actually doing it.

It has made me wonder, which I find necessary to often do in my periodic reflections, is to remember why I do what I do. It’s something I do often.  I find that little has changed in purpose. I watch as I learn more and progress, and thanks to the works of many great people, I am inspired to do these things. The greatest joy of our practice here at Þunresfolc Heorþ, or at least one of them is the process of practice that meshes the old and the new. What that has done has taught me not just a lot about the Heorþ as a unit, but of myself. It’s taught me that it’s okay that we don’t know everything about the practices of the Heathen Anglo-Saxons. They have left behind plenty of their worldview, and we do get hints of other elements of practice here and there. In fact, I could only imagine how badly it would serve us if we did know everything about them. What would we do, just copy it? It wouldn’t help us much in this day and age if we did.

It’s actually that we don’t know, and that so many people have put in so much effort into various avenues of reconstruction that make me respect them even more, not less. This is not to say that we all shouldn’t keep learning. I hope that goes without saying, but much of that can be “lost in translation” at times. However, I think that new knowledge should help us buttress what we already have, instead of completely replacing things that have become integral parts of our practices. Traditions are defined by what is continuous. New information, to me, at least, supplements more than outright replaces traditions we already have unless those traditions no longer make sense to us as a process of the growth of the hearth or group. To recognize effectively the legitimacy of the traditions of our ancestors, we must also recognize the validity of the traditions we build.

After all, there was a point where our own ancestors developed new traditions as tribes split off from each other. What at one point would have been what we think of as “Proto Indo European” peoples, became the Germanic, Celtic, Slavic, Baltic, Greek, Roman, Iranian, Indic, and more! This spans a vast amount of the world, and the great many languages and cultures that came with them. This is also, of course, the case for many non Indo European peoples as well. A whole myriad of peoples, who are very different from one another, can be traced back to small points. What has been done in the revival of these traditions, in the places where they haven’t held sway in some time, is allowed us to contribute our piece to that.

I say this because one day, it will be us who are the ancestors. It will be new generations of people who will be making offerings to us, telling our stories, and remembering our names. I’m more worried about that, than I am policing the traditions of others. However, I’m tribal minded, not nationalist or globalist. This puts me in odd positions on many things in the world, and on many issues. Not that I plan to go into details on that part here, but I don’t feel the need for big national or international organizations to represent me, personally. My innangeard are my best representatives for my interests, and likely care the most about my well-being. My hearth is the voice of my practices. No one else. Even if I agree with someone 99% of the time, that 1% I don’t means as much to me as the times I do.

What I mean to say is that I’ve learned not to let others dictate my practices. It doesn’t mean that others don’t have excellent advice, or don’t know more than me, many do. I may know more than someone about one thing, and they on something else. Learning from someone, even your ancestors, and blindly emulating are two different things. We all have different ways of incorporating Elder Heathen worldview into our lives, and we learn it at different paces, there is definitely a curve. Just as we know some elements of it, but really, few, just don’t apply to us anymore. Much of it still does, and my life has been vastly enriched by my understanding of it. Though some of it is best left in the Iron Age and Early Medieval period (such as the idea that slavery is okay), much of it still “holds water”. The ideas of frith, grith, wyrd, innangeard/utangeard, sacred/profane, luck, worth, honor, hospitality, etc. – are still applicable in today’s world.

There may be some changes to how some of those things are perceived, however, at their base, these are still profound ideas, and the philosophy behind them, I believe, is far deeper than one might be led to believe. It may not have libraries of tomes dedicated to them, with well-known philosophers like other types of societies. However, when one ponders these ideas and applies them to every aspect of their lives, as one who would normally be identified as Heathen would do, it becomes quite a mental exercise! It is every bit as worthy as the works of any Classical, Renaissance, or Enlightenment Era philosopher, or any other for that matter. Now, to point…

Most Heathens, Pagans, and so forth have many titles for their practices. Often these are done in layers, and some have more than others. The importance to people may vary to some degree, though I am a firm believer that it starts inward and goes outward, or “bottom up” as opposed to “top down”. Using myself as an example, the flow would go something like this. Starting with the closest, and to me the most important: Þunresfolc Heorþ >>> Fyrnsidu >>> Anglo-Saxon Heathen >>> Heathen >>> Germanic Pagan >>> Pagan >>> Polytheist

That’s quite a bit, and many of you could probably trace yours in a similar fashion. I know that seems like quite a lot when you look at it. So, I hope you all will forgive me, but there is one more I would like to add. That is Fyrnsǽd. This borrows from the Old English words “Fyrn”, meaning “Ancient”, and “Sǽd”, meaning “Seed”. There you go – Ancient Seed. One may ask why, and to explain, I’d like to use a tree as an example. Trees live a long time, but of course, like anything else, none live forever. The seed of an old tree, which will eventually die, sprouts and grows becoming a new tree. It is descended from the old tree, but as no two trees look exactly alike, the new tree will not look exactly like the old one. The seed comes from that which is old, but becomes something new. It has characteristics of the old tree, but many of its own as well. This term is about the best, other than that of my hearth to describe what I do. It is not a “rebellion” against other terms, like Fyrnsidu, I identify with that term quite often. I just feel like Fyrnsǽd fits the description just a little bit better.

Fyrnsǽd describes what I have felt about my practice for some time. That it comes from something older, in many ways. However, it is still new, and its own thing. If you look any description I give of Þunresfolc Heorþ, I say it is Fyrnsidu based. Fyrnsidu is the foundation of the practices here. However, it is not the totality of them. The Elder Heathen practices of the Anglo-Saxons, and in some ways the Germanic Heathens of the past provide the “seed” from which the tradition of my hearth grows. It is the seed, but not the tree. The tree of the past has already grown, and been cut down. The stump of that old tree is still there, as are the wooden products made from it, but that original tree in its entirety, is long gone. However, before it was cut down, it left seeds for new trees to grow. With great care, and knowledge of the old tree, we can grow new ones that are as strong, beautiful, and great as the old tree. However, I respect and enjoy the fact that the new tree I grow is something new, and has taken on a life of its own.

I may need to do some pruning at times, and clean up the twigs and branches of it that will inevitably fall off here and there, but I have resolved to make it a strong and beautiful oak. Even if right now, it is merely a sapling. It is my hope, that along with all of you, and your own trees, that again in this world, we will see a new and beautiful forest. Just so happens that it is nearly spring.

forest image_0

Þunor and the Woods Wanderer

Thunor sought home, after a faring. He fought Thyrses in the East, he now wished for warmth of his hall. He came across woods, but did not know his way through. He did not look forward to trying to find his way alone. Though, to great luck, or so he may have thought at the time, he saw an old man sitting upon a stone, near a grove of ash trees.

“Eala! Old Man! I seek a way through these woods. I long for the frith of home, dear friend. May I ask your name? May you guide me?”

The Old Man says, “Call me Grim. I know these woods, Red Bearded. Though I know not whether to help you, or leave you be. What have you done of worth, Thunor? Who are you to be worth my help?”

“I am the Rain Bringer! It is I who brings water to earth from the sky! Who are you to ask me this?”

“Just a wanderer. One who has sired many lines of kings in the Old Lands. You’re the one who the common folk speak of? What is so great to say of such?”, spoke the Old Man.

“If it were not for me, the Stone Thyrses would have stolen the cattle and water from great and small man alike! If it were not for the common folk, who would prop up the lines of kings you have put forth? A king without a people is no king at all.”, Thunor boasted with pride.

The Wanderer went on, “There are good men and great. I inspire and lead great men to do great things. They seek me for glory! That I may give it to them, that is. The ceorls and theows give to you for rain! There may be great men who honor you as well, and good men who seek me. Though we all have our place, do we not?”

“My place is among mine, and my might to show to those who would harm them, would fall before me. Old Man, I tire of this. Might you show me the way through these woods?”, and Thunor truly did tire of it.

“Follow me, and I will take you where I wish. For these woods are mine, and I go where I choose. I may lead you out, but you will do so on my terms.”

This brought anger to Thunor, but he was wise enough to know when he had no other choice. He went with the Woods Wanderer. Though trust he did not this cloaked fellow, or his outlandish boasts. He saw great sights in these woods, and loved the woods so, but Thunor always has trouble finding his way through them. In anger he would swing his hammer, bringing a whole forest down, but he chose not to do this.

The two came across a meadow, where they saw a wolf alone on one side, and what looked like his pack on the other. Yet, the lone wolf could not get to them. The Wanderer spoke, “I have been to many places, and have learned many things. World Wandering, World Weary, I have paid great prices for great knowings. From the First Days on, I have wandered. Great knowledge and runes have shown themselves to me. I know first, and last, life, and death. Yet, I do not know if you know these things as well.”

Thunor said, “I know the first, for I was born. I know not last, but have held dying men in my arms. I know life, for I live. I know death for what I have done has brought much of it. I have brought death to save life. Life to stop death. I have not died, nor do I wish it. Gift from the Mothers is life, I do try to make the most of it.”

World Wanderer spoke, “I have been alive, I have been dead. I know its works. Can you see the pack of wolves on the other side of the meadow?”

“Yes. Though I see not why this one here cannot reach them.”, Thunor gave back words.

The Wanderer took up the wolf, by its throat, and placed spear in its chest. He then heaved it, and threw it across the meadow. It rose to life and met its pack! Thunor stared in wonder at this feat. “I have been there before. We are no mere Men, Thunor.”, The Wanderer said.

“No. We are great, but we are not known if Men do not know our greatness. The Éotens will not marvel upon us, for they only wish to take from us. As you say, we all have our place.” Thunor brandished his hammer, to show he understood, “My place is home, now. Would you tell me the way if you wish not to take me?”

“Take the path to the right, there will be a great hill to climb that way, and between the oaks at the top, is the way out, and your way home.  For I must go left. Through the meadow and back out, the ash marks my way home. For someone so mighty, a climb up the hill should be easy. Is that how you would have it? Farewell.”, said Grim.

Thunor headed up the path to the right, but turned back. The strange fellow crossed the meadow. But with his cloak gone, he saw a great being. Tall and fair, with a wolf pelt over his shoulder, and a glowing spear in hand. His mægen could be felt even at the distance Thunor was, but only a quick sight could he catch, and then the figure was gone. Thunor wondered upon the sight, but more eager so he was, for the comforts of his home.