Hospitality and Frith
For the month of July, I posted daily on the topic of the Nine Noble Virtue of Hospitality in the TAC regional Facebook group dedicated to the South-Central Region. Some of you may know, but most of you probably do not, that I am the regional Lead Ambassador for the South-Central Region of The Asatru Community. TAC is a non-profit, international organization that supports a grass root movement to build Heathen communities all over the globe. We are dedicated to educating on and promoting the religion and lifestyle based on the belief system of the ancient Germanic people. That is really a whole other post.
While making these posts, and my subsequent studies on the subject, I had a slight paradigm shift. I had once believed that Frith and Hospitality were interchangeable. I discovered how wrong I was. Though they are interrelated, they are not interchangeable. We all know what hospitality means, or at least the concept of hospitality. In the ancient times there was a different understanding of hospitality. The host had a responsibility to provide shelter, food and protection. Hotels were not a thing and inns were very rare and far apart. Travelers relied on the generosity of the homesteads they came upon for respite from the weather. The host was obligated to offer hospitality to these travelers.
This is a small look at the concept of hospitality. The concept revolves around the idea of responsibility of reciprocation. No person exists in a vacuum, everyone needs something from someone else. Community was the center of the life. Kin, Kindred (extended family), and tribe – in that order – was very important. Community, in this use, refers to all three segments of life. An individual is part of the community of Kinship (family – blood and chosen), the Kinship is part of the community of Kindred, and the tribe was a community of Kindreds joined together for the purpose of survival. Individualism was also important because individuals who were encouraged to do their best in what they did were better for the community, they made the community stronger. Everyone did their part, the concepts we know today of right and wrong are based on that idea of community. Right, or good, meant to do what was best for the community. Wrong, or evil, was that which harmed the community. This is where reciprocity comes in. Everyone owed the community a debt to what was right; what was good.
Frith is the natural result of a community in which all the members understand their responsibility of reciprocity. Many believe that Frith is synonymous with peace but that is a very small part of what Frith is. True Frith is only possible between people who are connected, who have a strong connection. I believe this can be formed online if both people are honest, but typically it is only possible when the people are bonded. The concept of Frith revolves in the idea of Inner Yard (Innagarð) and Outer Yard (Utangarð).
Your Inner Yard are those closest to you. Eric Sjerven describes this in three segments. Think of a homestead. In the center is the house, those who live in that house with you are your closest, most intimate inner yard. These are the people that you would drop anything, get out of bed and drive across the country to help them when they call. This is your Kin. Just outside of the house, on the porch or deck – maybe in the mother-in-law house out back – is your Kindred. Those who will help in most cases, but not at the expense of your Kin. You wouldn’t skip work, but you would give up weekend plans to help them move. Outside of that, but still inside the fence, is your tribe. These people you probably would not even answer the phone if they called in the wee hours and if you did you would offer to send someone to help them but not get up and go yourself. They are still in your inner yard…but just barely.
The Outer Yard contains all other people. While this does include the evil, terrible monsters, it is also the everyday people you see but know their names. There are good and honest people outside of your yard, you just have no connection to them. These people won’t have your phone number to call you late at night, or any other time.
Along with Frith come Grith. Grith is a manufactured peace that is limited and specific. Grith is set up for people that would be in each other’s outer yard to guarantee the safety of the united group. A safe space if you will. This would have been set up to facilitate things like an Allthing or on sacred ground. In modern times we find a version in Facebook groups and other social media where there are rules of conduct. We also see this in certain public places – like a grocery store. Grith has established rules and known consequences.
For further information:
We are Our Deeds by Eric Wodening
Also check Eric “Word-Weaver” Sjerven’s YouTube channel