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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 mighty roar! His bulls charged forward, 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, Ice Éotens 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.

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. 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 Fyrnsǣd 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.

An Update: Restatement of Purpose

As we have been gifted by the following of more people, for which we thank all of you, it has been brought to my attention that there was some misinformation in one of the articles posted. I screwed up by using terminology that I myself was wrong about, and I myself was misinformed concerning. I had wrote, where I had given short definitions of basic concepts related to Heathenry, incorrectly, on the definition of Wyrd, for one, and also orlæg. The fault is mine (Ceadda) and mine alone. I also used a word (scyld) incorrectly, as the use of the word changed from Old to Middle English to mean different things. That was also solely my fault. I have corrected all of this in the article in question, and hope those corrections are satisfactory.

Now, with that out of the way, allow me to explain that Þunresfolc Heorþ is not intended to be an academic site. It is not another version of other sites with an academic focus, because the focus is not on academics. However, that does not give me an excuse to put out misinformation. Unintentional or not. I make no claims that I always employ Reconstructionist methodology, because I do not always do so. Often, yes, but not always. However, worldview terminologies must, or at least really should be accurately used when discussed. I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.

Furthermore, if and when I get something like that wrong, by all means, call me out on it. I am not perfect, infalliable, or anything of the kind. Sometimes I misread something. Sometimes I forget something I had read in the past, as was the case with the past article I wrote. Sometimes I fail to update myself on more current understandings of things in a timely manner. Sometimes I use the wrong Old English word for something. Sometimes I quote something I remember nearly verbatim accidentally. (I have no interest in stealing anyone’s work, so if I do that, again, please correct me.) You get the idea. I am no expert on the Old English language. I learn in bits and pieces as it comes to me, like many others.

The purpose of this site is to open dialogue, and share our experiences as we grow in our understanding of the world around us with respect to our hearth cult. So, though I am not an academic authority by any means, I welcome corrections, and opinions. I am happy to clear up confusions and misunderstandings. I hope to inspire, but I also hope to be inspired. I like to share knowledge, but in a different way. If one prefers to hear things in a strictly academic format, like reading out of a textbook, and sometimes I do myself, then you will not get much use of reading anything I write. I like to share what I know. I also like to learn from others. So, again, if you have any questions, critiques, suggestions on improvements, or wish for clarification, or simply to share ideas… Feel free to comment in the “Comments” section, or visit our Facebook page. Also, we can be reached directly at our email address.

I want to thank all of you for engaging with us. I hope to engage more now, and in the future. Thanks again!

Þunor

Lo, and behold the skies in wonder
Crashing lightning, rumbling thunder
In that which came first, still remain
Within the touch of life giving rain
Standing high, upon the hill
He who drives back winter chill

Upon the flash and strike no finer
From the sky, the flame and fire
On the winds, the gale is roaming
Taming ill wights with thunder rolling
Warden he is, indisputable worth
Watching over our middle earth

With the hammer in his hand
The thundering force it rings
In the power of the lightning strike
For life to the land it brings
So life in its cycle continues on
Awakened now that winter’s gone

Thurse and Eoten, tremble they may
Through emerging power of Osmeign
No fear to be felt from dragon fire
Now flames emerge for deathly pyre
Dragon eyes in flame to rend
Downed in force from mankind’s friend

With the very same hammer, though
This it must be known and sure
The same hammer striking death
On the other hand makes all pure.
One side to live another to die
Thunor, the one to sanctify

The Thunderer in all his glory
In meign might stands above all
For lightning flash or gentle rain
He appears and thurses fall
Great power, discerning restraint is he
Thus Thunor prevails in victory

High And Low: A Þunresfolc Heorþ Perspective On Practice (Part Two)

In Part One, I explained some basics of our hearth practice here at Þunresfolc Heorþ. Covering some key worldview points, and talking a bit about weofods. Both of which are the “bread and butter” of not only our own practice, but many others as well. I honestly cannot stress enough how important worldview is. Without it, there is simply no Fyrnsidu. It would just be a Heathen gloss to an otherwise Christian worldview that we in the West are imbued with, regardless of our custom or religion. This can be seen in more New Age varieties of practices that simply take things from Heathenry and others, but don’t learn about why those things are important. We also see this in it’s racist opposite, or so they claim to be.

Though, I do not think that the Christian worldview is “bad” or “lesser” than our own, it doesn’t resonate with me. I would assume, most of our readers being Heathen or Pagan in some way, it probably doesn’t resonate too well with most of you, either. That is okay, of course. There is no reason they cannot be who they are, nor we who we are.

That being said, being a very small group of customs compared to the wider world, and the ideology of globalization, sometimes we have to “play ball” their way. As in our lives in communication with the utangeard, no different from any of you, I’m sure. That is what happens when you are few to billions, of course. I see no point in any great animosity about it. We cannot change them, nor they us. So, as long as no one is harming me or mine, or being generally harmful, I say live and let live. After all, if we tell others how to live, who is to stop them from trying to dictate us?

Philosophical ramblings aside, now that some basics are covered, I’d like to move forward. In Part Two, I’d like to go over some more intermediate things. As this unfolds, you will find things being a little more open ended, and thus, subject to interpretation. It goes from more practical to more vague. From literal thoughts and actions, to things that are more up to interpretation. Styled to abstract. After all, the basics are where we find the most agreement, with respect to other Fyrnsidu based traditions. Things come down to interpretation after that. You will see a bit of the closed ended and a bit of the open ended here. Please be aware this is the perspective of one hearth. By no means am I representing the whole of neither Fyrnsidu in particular, or Anglo-Saxon Heathenry altogether. As this goes on, I speak for myself alone. Possibly Þunresfolc Heorþ as an entity.

Mid-Level

One of the first things I’d like to talk about are some of the beings that Þunresfolc Heorþ acknowledges. These beings can be broken down into three very loose categories: Ancestors, Wights, and Gods. I will start with Ancestors, since that is one, the most common beings a Fyrnsidere are likely to commune with, after all, we directly (usually)  come from them.

Ancestors

The importance of ancestral reverence cannot be overstated. You come from them, you are a part of them. You are the product of thousands, if not millions of years of people through countless generations. Each of those many people have led the way for you to be where you are today. So, at Þunresfolc Heorþ, our ancestors are honored with rituals. Of course, ancestral reverence isn’t always about love. If we knew all of our ancestors, there are likely some we would not like. Also, remember that frithbreakers do not count. Those who did things too horrible to mention, and were thus cut off from the family. Ancestral reverence is about realizing the fact that without the many people that led to your birth, you would not exist. That, if for no other reason, is why rituals are done for them.

Otherwise, an ancestor, at least in my eyes, may not always be blood. Adopted, and influential, in the direct sense, figures in one’s life could also count as ancestors. Generally, the strictest definition is blood. Regardless, it is that your life is possible because they existed, is why they are honored.

Wights

Wights come in so many varieties that it could take a full encyclopedia to list them off and describe them appropriately. The are wights in many locations. Particularly outside of cities, but they exist there, as well. Elves, for example, and dwarves could count as wights. There are land wights for any landscape, any bioregion, you name it. Some would consider mythological creatures to be wights (i.e. dragons, nicor, eotens, thyrses, and as mentioned, elves, and dwarves, etc.). There may even be one near you! Possibly taking up residence in a tree in your yard, or at a local park. Some are friendly, others not, and most are neither.

If you live near a place you believe a wight may be, it isn’t a bad idea to form a gifting cycle with it. Unless you believe it to be harmful in some way, that is. The beliefs regarding wights vary from person to person. For us, they are present in many places. Offering is given to nearby ones. Offerings that are basically a placation are given in places where we may need to be on a wight’s good side, just in case. Again, beliefs will vary quite a bit about them, in regards to who, if any receive offering, and why.

Furthermore, there are the Cofgodas, or house wights. These are, of course, wights that inhabit the home. They doubtlessly receive offering. Though, just as to who they are is subject to interpretation by each practicioner.

Gods

This part is a little more tricky. I say this because this is where we may differ from other traditions. Beings who are Gods, or Ésa, are also, I believe particular to a hearth or group. There are Gods who we know were known by Anglo-Saxon tribes. There are likely Gods that we don’t know they honored, as well. Many believe the Gods were a family of sorts, and may make offerings to many of them. Personally, I don’t believe that was the case with Germanic peoples, or a few others. I think there were probably a few Gods, and even then, the lines between ancestor, wight, and deity are very blurred. This sentiment has gained traction in recent years, and of course, I am far from the first to think of it.

I am no scholar, after all. Regardless, I reject the pantheon notion, at least in its normal sense of the word. This rejection is shared by some scholars as well. One, Terry Gunnel, wrote about this in regards to the Scandinavians. Of course, what applies to them doesn’t always apply to us, and vice versa, but his article may provide food for thought. I find it to be more believable than the pantheon structure. However, plenty may disagree. This doesn’t normally get brought up in dialogue with online groups, and many who know me may not know that this is my opinion, nor need it matter. However, I take responsibility for my words, and the consequences.

As far as deities that various Anglo-Saxons honored, who honored how many of these deities is anyone’s guess. Here is a short list, by no means exhaustive:

Woden, Frige, Tiw, Thunor, Ingui, Eastre, Hrethe, Wada, Erce (Eorthe, or maybe Neorthe, if this being is derived from Nerthus on the Continent), Seaxneat (possibly Ingui), Freo (assumed by some, but not proven)

Some who may have divine origin, may be either Gods, or very important wights, legendary figures or ancestors, or animistic deities: Weyland, Hengest and Horsa, Beowa, Beole, Sunne, Mona, Dæg, Niht, the Wyrdæ (not proven to my knowledge, but not unreasonable), the Idesa (the many ancestral mothers).

There are some who could likely add more. This is a short list. Þunresfolc Heorþ doesn’t offer to many of these beings.We acknowledge that some may be “closer to home” than other deities and beings, for example those from cultures that are not Anglo-Saxon. I am not one to believe that honoring more Gods necessarily brings more luck. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion on the matter.

Here, we mainly honor Þunor, with only ancestors receiving more offerings, the house wight is close as well. Other deities, and prominent beings play parts as well, of course, but at Þunresfolc Heorþ, it shouldn’t take much guesswork as to who is regarded as most prominent on the list.

Ritual

At the end of Part One, we discussed offerings a bit. I would like to get into of to whom offerings are made. I also plan to explain when, and why. Ritual and making offerings is a huge part of many traditions, no less Fyrnsidu. So, a basic outline of a Þunresfolc Heorþ ritual will be explained.

When

Rituals here are done usually at moon phases, on Thursdays, and upon Tides. The moon phase idea came from a friend who has taught me much about Heathenry for almost as long as I have been Heathen. I don’t recall exactly where he got the idea (White Marsh Theod, perhaps?), I took his information, and fit it to a way that works for this hearth. One of the great things about networking with others is that you can learn things to bolster your own practices if you lack a group. This site, and page is our attempt to reach out and help others as well.

Of course, we also have rituals on the Tides. We have four tides:

Eastretīd, upon the Spring Equinox.

Midsumor, upon the Summer Solstice.

Hærfestham, upon the Autumnal Equinox.

Géola, which starts with Módranīht, upon the Winter Solstice.

In the future, there could be smaller ones as well. Such as for local harvests, and other special days. That is the basic four, however.

Who and Why

Ancestor Rituals, in which we give thanks to our ancestors, attempt to commune with them, ask for help, and give offering, are, when we correctly remember, done upon the Full, new, and quarter phases of the moon. So, generally four times a month.

House Wights (Cofgodas) generally receive offering in thanks for their protection, or at least non harm, of our home. As the wight of our home, it definitely merits offering. As it is my favorite place in the world. Those offerings are given on the full and new moons.

Þunor Rituals, we do on… Well… Þunresdæg. He is the tutelary deity of Þunresfolc Heorþ, and as you might guess by the name, Þunor cult is very strong here. So, he receives our thanks for being our tutelary deity, for the protection and blessings bestowed upon us, just as our ancestors receive. Along with his role as hallower, bringer of rain, which allows the food we eat to grow, amongst other things.

Outside of the home, we make offerings to land wights. Either to the tree outside of our home, or on one of our many hikes. The latter are basically our way of showing that we mean no harm, in hopes that we have a safe hike, as an example.

Basic Ritual Format

Though, I regret to say, I don’t always follow this to the letter, as I sometimes make mistakes, and thus have to improvise at times, rituals here follow a relatively simple formula. They are likely more “stripped down” than most. Keeping things simple helps me to not make as many mistakes, and allows for a smooth transition from one step to the next. Here, I think you’ll find that basically most other practicioners follow a similar, if not identical formula. Some may add more to it, but the core should be recognizable to most. The steps are as follows:

Cleansing- We have a soap set aside specifically for the purpose of ritual cleansing. Generally, at the least, we wash our hands with it. I am a firm believer that one should physically be clean when entering sacred space. To mentally cleanse, I take a few deep breaths and attempt to focus my mind upon the ritual at hand.

Opening- In the opening, I like to state that the Heorþ has gathered for said ritual. I then state the purpose of it. A giving of thanks, to ask for help, or a desire to express our bond with the entit(y/ies) in question.

Invocation (Calling)- At this point, we call upon the being(s) with whom we wish to engage with in the ritual. The reason we have asked for their presence is again stated.

Boast- This is where we tell of deeds of the being, or describe them in a positive way.

Communing- This is where we dialogue with the being in question, and explain in greater detail why we are here. (Describing what we are thankful for, explaining with what we need help, or engaging in some other dialogue.)

Offering- When we give our offering.

Closing- This is when we thank the being(s) for attending.

Afterward- When candles are blown out, and the offering is placed elsewhere.

Rituals are of the utmost importance. After all, we cannot be if we do not do. What we do, and the way we live make us who we are. Finding Fyrnsidu, and later Þunresfolc Heorþ has taught, and reinforced that concept quite roundly. I believe any worthwhile practice will do just that. What these rituals do, amongst many other things, is to really bring to the fore our identities. Ritual not only connects us to the sacred, and allows us to repeat symbolically mythic actions, but it reminds us of our customs, and that those customs are firmly intertwined with who we are in this world with innumerable groups of people and identities. For me, Þunresfolc Heorþ is interwoven into who I am. I am a part of it, and it is a part of me. It is my home. I hope that whatever your custom may be, that you find your sense of home as well.

(Thank you for your readership! Part Three will be coming soon!)

High And Low: A Þunresfolc Heorþ Perspective On Practice (Part One)

When one looks at hearth practice, it is something that isn’t mentioned as much amongst the wider Polytheist, Pagan, or Heathen communities. This, of course, can be accredited to the stress placed on finding a group with whom to practice, and that is completely understandable. As I have touched upon in previous articles however, that is not always possible. Even when it is, there is also the idea of selling short your own knowledge and understanding to be a part of a group who may not share your values or understanding. Examples such as joining a group who may be Folkish, when you do not agree with that line of thought. Or Norse based when your understanding is Anglo-Saxon based, or any number of other variables that may ensue.

However, there is now emerging, in a larger sense, those who share this sentiment, and have been working on ways to convey the workings of hearth based practice to a wider audience. Sites like Lārhūs Fyrnsida for example, often teach important points of Anglo-Saxon Heathen knowledge with the hearth practitioner in mind. Of course this site serves to show the inner workings and thoughts of two people already involved in hearth practice. Showing how one such practice is built and maintained. What purpose I would wish this article to serve is a very basic outline of some of the things we at Þunresfolc Heorþ do, along with things I had learned from when I was practicing alone. This is, and emphatically so, not an exhaustive list. I share this in the hopes that others, perhaps even you, the reader, may share and help folks with their practices, as well.

I have decided to break this down from “Low” to “High”, this is not based in importance, but based in simpler, to more complex, easier or more widespread and obvious, to more difficult or touchy in subject. What I describe goes beyond what is done in the home. My reasoning for this is that custom does not come with an “on and off switch” (at least, it probably shouldn’t). Whatever your custom may be based in, or what have you: Fyrnsidu, to Heathenry, to Paganism, and so on, is grounded in a given worldview. That worldview shapes your perception of the world around you (hence the term worldview) in a way that affects basically every aspect of one’s life.

Low

A Heathen isn’t just so in front of the weofod. Isn’t only so on the tides, or during ritual. They are so every moment of the day. It isn’t just what they do, or what they believe, but who they are. This is so, whether you are one with your hearth, or many in a group. I do not, for example, throughout the day, go about my life talking with everyone I meet about being a Fyrnsidere, or how they should do the same. However, the worldview it has instilled in me affects every facet of my life. From my interactions with others, to the priority I place upon them. This includes how I look at the world around me, a world of wights and gods. I do not reject science, and whatnot, but, of course, I believe in these things residing right along with the “rational”. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, one can have both.

This can be seen in one’s perception of myths. A quote that comes to mind is this:

“A myth is something that never happened, but is always true.” -Sallustius

It is a quote that I take very deeply to heart. It can apply to many things I believe. For example, I have had friends, most of my friends are Atheist or irreligious, they ask me if I believe that things like gods, wights, and spirits or real. What I always tell them is that that is not the point. I believe. So long as I am not affecting public policy, or forcing others to do the same, or trying to supplant things such as the Big Bang, or evolution with it (both of which I see as correct), what does it matter to anyone else? Just as it doesn’t need to concern outsiders of my hearth that I set aside things for offerings. Non Pagans need not understand it, but are welcome to if they so desire.

As I had stated in my last posting, belief does inform practice. Orthopraxy being the actions, belief being why they are done. Both matter, and now I would like to explain some of those beliefs and practices with you, the reader.

Worldview Basics

The most basic thing, is of course, the study of worldview, and the decision of whether or not it resonates with you. Do you understand key points? Such as:

Frith- The sense of belonging, security, and peace amongst those of your innangeard, from the people within it, to the ritual sense of the beings with whom you may interact.

Grith- Truce and easiness between two groups of people. Usually temporary, and for a set purpose.

Hospitality- Being a good host, as well as a good guest.

Reciprocity- Exchange in a fair manner. Along with an understanding of expectation on both the giver and recipient. Understanding both are necessary. In material goods, as well as deeds. Not that giving to charity is wrong, for example, but it would be important to understand that you may not see a return. So, as long as that is understood, all is well. I for one enjoy giving to charities when I have a little extra income. The rerturn needn’t be literal, but understand that a cycle occurs.

Reputation- Understanding that what you do matters, and can affect how you are treated by others, for good or ill. As well as that this is directly tied into honor. Are you a person who is seen as one having good character by those around you? Fame ties into this as well. This is what happens when one’s reputation is widespread, beyond the innangeard. For good or ill, as well. In stories like Beowulf, that fame brought glory. Which was likely often a goal of those in the warrior classes back then.

Luck- Understanding that luck is not random, but is based on many things. That with which you have inherited, and how your actions strengthen or weaken it. That because of this, you can affect your luck, and bring about good or ill for yourself, and your innangeard. Reputation and reciprocity tie into this, and because of that, your luck mixes with those around you. Do you keep good company?

Orlæg- That which encompasses what you have inherited from your ancestors. The luck with which you were born.

Wyrd- The ever flowing process of actions and events that determine one’s path in life. Not immutable, like fate, but changeable depending on actions, though limited by circumstance.

Along with these items is the understanding that they are all connected. There are more, to be sure, but these are the basics.

Once those concepts are understood, and you decide that they resonate with you, what is next? Understanding wholeness, and “unwholeness”. One who is whole, for example, is one that puts the aforementioned concepts together, and lives a life based on right actions and the understanding of those key worldview points, and executes them appropriately. Wholeness is completeness, and obviously, unwholeness is its opposite. I will not say that there is, in particular a goal associated with Heathenry. However, if there was one, I suspect wholeness would be it. Others may say glory, and that’s a nice thing, but not everyone needs it. Wholeness, Heathen, or otherwise, one who lives by their worldview, whatever it may be, and feels complete by it, is probably a good thing for anyone.

After that, there is the understanding of the sacred versus that of the profane. The sacred is that which is of the divine. Of the gods, or a god. Of one’s ancestors. Not of a mundane quality. This is why we have weofods, altars, and the like. As well as things like sacred groves, sacred wells, and so on. These are places where the communication with sacred beings occur. That which is sacred, is that which belongs to these beings, or where they are met.

The profane, of course, is everything else, that which exists outside of the sacred. This does not, by any means imply that that which lies outside of the sacred is unimportant. Nothing could be further from the truth. It simply means that their importance is of a different kind. Many things, of course that lie outside of the sacred are important. I’m not one to say everything is sacred, and so that may be a point of contention to some, but, just as any opposite goes, you cannot know what one is without the existence of the other.

So, when one has knowledge of these things. They may likely set aside a place in their own homes to commune with the sacred. Be this their ancestors, their house wight, or though controversial to some, even their gods. Whether one of, or any of these beings participates in your rituals, or accepts your offerings can only be guessed by yourself or your group. It isn’t as though I, or anyone outside of those with you can know, prove, or disprove. Though, if you choose to share that information with those outside of that setting, expect others to speculate. If you fear that judgement, and/or are unwilling to put your reputation on the line to face that judgement, that is fine. Then it is best kept to yourself. Just as has been explained, all of one’s actions have an effect. Always choose carefully and wisely.

A Bit About The Weofod And Offerings

In setting up a weofod, it is generally recommended to set it up at the corner of a given room. This may not always be possible, but it is best to do so if you can. Ours is currently against a wall for space reasons. There are different ideas on how to demarcate a space like that as sacred. I like to circle the area (though I must do so diagonally) with a candle and make a chant.  Make no mistake, your weofod(s) are sacred space. This means they must be treated as such. All items on it belong to the sacred, and are to be treated with that respect. Mundane items should not be placed upon them. At least, that is how I perceive it. I cannot tell you how to practice, however, at least in my opinion, I could not recognize one who doesn’t respect sacred space as Fyrnsidere/Fyrnsidestre, Heathen, or even Pagan, as this is not only a Heathen thing. Others are free to disagree.

What the items on a weofod may be are going to vary from person to person. Generally there is going to be some kind of idol. Representing a being or beings with whom you wish to communicate. Some people have more than one weofod for this reason. Candles are almost always included. I don’t, and most Heathens don’t believe the color of them matters. They can be as simple or as fancy as you may like. We have white pillar candles on ours. For us, they are simply for light.

An offering bowl is almost, if not universal. Preferably a wooden or perhaps stone bowl. Plastic kind of cheapens the ambiance, does it not? We use an oak bowl, ourselves. Cups are often placed for liquid offerings, after ritual, dumped into the bowl, and left outside or such. It is best not to throw them in the garbage, but some may live in a place with stricter rules and have little choice. I see it as last resort only. Without these basic items, I wouldn’t think of it as a weofod, personally.

As far as what to offer: bread, mead, ale, wine, or cider are good all around bets. Juice if you are under the legal purchasing age in your area. If you are offering to a specific ancestor, for example, try to find something that they enjoyed in life, if you know of it.

(If you like what you have read so far, share it! Please stay tuned for Part Two!)

In Equal Measure: Orthopraxy And Orthodoxy

An idea that may seem strange, since we are often told that Heathen/Pagan customs are overwhelmingly, if not entirely orthopraxic. However, that applies on a level in which we recognize each other’s practice. Not in the sense that orthopraxy matters less, it does not. I am simply implying that practice is informed by belief. In other words, people in the past had practices for a reason.

There would be no reason to commune with something one need did not think existed. Nor with something they thought unimportant, or that couldn’t impact the tribe or household, in a positive way. Therefore, the origin of any practice comes from a need or reason based on the belief in a particular being or practice. That the being is real, or the practice works. That the ritual has at least some chance of success.

The difference between orthopraxy and orthodoxy is in the public sphere. What ties people together under an umbrella term, such as Fyrnsidu, or larger one like Heathenry, or Paganism, is the relative commonality in practice. A certain way rituals are done. It isn’t so much that to the practitioner, one matters more than the other, but that outside of that, since beliefs amongst such people are so varied, practice is the only way, outside of one’s hearth or tribe, theod, kindred, can recognize others like them.

Since, of course, unless one is deliberately mimicking another hearth, or group, no two will be exactly alike. However, the similarity will lie in the elements of practice. Our rituals generally follow the same formula. The wording is different, the items may vary to certain degrees, but the basic format is similar. In other words, if a Fyrnsidu practitioner is invited to a ritual at another’s hearth or group, they should be able to make out the general flow of the ritual. If they cannot, it likely isn’t Fyrnsidu (or they themselves don’t know what they are talking about).

Is that a bad thing? Of course not! It just means that they practice something else. The basic purification, invocation, offering, and closing is something that can be delineated from all kinds of groups. The usage of Anglo-Saxon terms and identity is how one knows, of course that it is an Anglo-Saxon Heathen ritual.

Of course, I am specifically talking about the action of ritual in this case. The other obvious marker is the understanding and application of worldview. In spite of all of this, belief matters, as there is little to no point in doing all of this if one doesn’t. After all, outside of my hearth, I know no Fyrnsidu practitioners in person. However, I have a good relationship with my family and friends, and I don’t do rituals with them. So, I doubt that is a necessity to be friends with someone. If it is, then they probably aren’t very good friends to begin with.

Outside of the public sphere, one has to find their reasons for why they do as they do. Why they practice. What are the beings, cultural aspects, and stories that motivate you to take time out of your day to take a portion of your team and material wealth to make an offering? What do these beings do that is worthy of engaging in a gifting cycle and bond with them? What is it about them?

These are questions most of us have an answer to, but the answer can differ between people. It is said that we are who we are because we do. There is truth to that. Just as important is why. Orthopraxy is the doing, orthodoxy is the why. Both matter in equal measure. The former has prominence because it translates much smoother, it is basically a gauge in order to make the judgement of who is what, but without a reason why, there is no point to do it. So, yes, do, but have a reason to do it.