Year of Frith

The Asatru Community has declared that 2020 is The Year of Frith. As a representative of TAC, I have decided to embrace this and delve into what frith truly means. Suffice to say there are almost as many opinions as to what frith means as there are people trying to explain it. There is not an easy way to describe the full concept – there is not a single word that conveys the message of frith. It seems that frith is some combination of peace, love, security, joy, delight, gentleness, loyalty, trust, affection, reciprocity, and mutual selflessness. None of those words fully express the meaning…they have to come together to be frith. Some may see this and say…nope that’s completely wrong and some will agree. Such is modern Heathenry.

One word that I think comes closest to defining frith in one word is interdependence. Interdependence recognizes that I cannot do the things alone, that you cannot do the things alone, but together we can do the things. It is not I, and it is not YOU, it is WE. Frith is synergy; the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Frith is an active aspect of life. It must be maintained and nurtured; we have to be intentional in keeping the frith. This means that it is not unconditional love, frith can be broken, and isn’t given freely. We have to work on our frithships not take them for granted. You are not owed frith, you earn frith. You earn it by giving it. This doesn’t mean everyone should be given frith. It begins by coming together and finding the commonalities that unite you with the others. Frith isn’t given to those who harm those you have frith with.

In the ancient times we are told that frith was something that was found only among closely connected people, by blood and marriage typically (insert obligatory inner/outer yard discussion). That may have been true way back in the way back, but today frith has evolved. I don’t mean just the word has come to mean something different, I mean that how we see the connections has evolved. We no longer have to rely on our family for survival. We can, and should, exit any toxic relationship. The idea that we have to defend our family no matter what they have done – to us or in general – is no longer valid. Society today has more resources and family is no longer the sole provider of safety. This isn’t a dig on the family unit. I truly believe that we must do what can be done to repair and support the family connection; family should be a strong and healthy foundation in life.

However, we are not trapped in a relationship that is not fixable. In those ancient times frith was inviolable, to break frith was among the very worst crimes one could commit. We can look to the sagas – Gudrun’s brothers killed her husband. She truly loved that man, but she could not avenge him because the frith bond of family would not allow her harm her brothers. We are not in those times. Frith means something different now.

While researching I came across a blogsite that I think has come up with a great summation of what frith looks like in our modern times. The Longship defines frith: “A mutual agreement to avoid causing each other physical, emotional, and mental harm; and to avoid negatively affecting each other’s honor, worth, and luck.”

Faith Informed Lifestyle

The latest offering from the amazing duo over at Frithcast challenged their listeners to consider how our lifestyle informs our faith and how faith informs our lifestyle. If you have not heard of this podcast you have missed quite a lot. Suzanne Martin and Kate Coldwind are a pair of intelligent and articulate ladies who share their virtual campfire every fortnight with any who wish to join. Suzanne is a Heathen Gythia (in jeans) and Kate is a coffee powered Romanesque Druidry thing. They discuss things of a Heathen nature influenced by the Norse Pagan Myth-cycle.

In episode 73 they discuss lifestyle of a modern Heathen using the common (and popular) social media meme that shows an isolated cabin in the woods asking if you would give up something that seems be important to modern society (internet for example), or for a huge sum of money, to live in this cabin. The comparison comes in the form that most modern-day Heathens live a spiritually solitary life – like the cabin – isolated and dependent on their own resources. Which is also why a Heathen is likely to quite adamantly and emphatically like, share, retweet…whatever social media term you find yourself using for spreading memes. We are likely to desire the lifestyle portrayed by this scene…for reasons. Anyway, listen to the Frithcast. Bring your own marshmallows and cold knees, the ladies will provide warmth for your knees and great company and stories!

To consider how my lifestyle informs my faith, and/or how my faith informs my lifestyle, I believe I would have to define my faith. Something I have been trying to do for the better part of a decade. I don’t know that I truly have a faith. I see the gods and goddesses as more of a description of an idea; some concept that either was hard to explain or just was beyond human understanding. Some would call me a soft polytheist. I do believe that the gods and goddesses are real – all gods and goddesses not just the ones who are most familiar to me. I don’t believe that Odin is a physical being, but I do believe that the “spirit” of Odin can manifest in a physical way. So, I cannot say that I have a faith.

Yet I do believe that there is some type of metaphysical memory, or something like that, that exists in all of us. This could be the soul that many think of. I believe this is a form of energy. Energy, as far as we can understand physics at this point, can neither be created or destroyed, only transferred. What is has always been and always will be. Since energy can not be created there must exist a finite amount, therefore new life (new to this realm of existence) must be brought by some of that energy. This would give us our ancestral memory, or instincts; that which we know to be true but have no way to prove or justify. This is called hamingja and is part of ørlög and wyrd. I am not getting any further into these in this post – that is not the aim of this post.

Instead of a faith what I have is a strong curiosity for the culture, the society, of the ancient Nordic people. This I learn through many forms. The Sagas, the Eddas – Voluspa and Havamal primarily. I don’t see these as religious texts. Yes, they are stories about or by the gods and goddesses. The Havamal is the known as “Words from the High One” (this would be Odin). I do not believe that Odin wrote the words in the Havamal. I do believe that the concept of Odin inspired the words, but most likely no one person wrote the Havamal, but rather it is a collection of “You know what Odin would say” type of folk tales.

The concept that resonated the most with me from my studies of the ancient Nordic people is that of community. Family, clan, tribe…in that order…were important to these ancestors because their lives quite literally depended on being a member of their communities. Winter is harsh in the northern lands, and it is long (compared to what I know from Kansas and Arkansas). Having the support of a community was about survival during the hardest of times. Family was the first in order of importance. Kin – blood family and those who were accepted as blood family – came first. You were protected by and you protected your family. The clan came after. By clan I mean your family outside of the immediate kin. This might be your wife’s siblings or your brother’s in laws. Those connected to your family but not quite kin. Then the tribe. The tribe is all the kinships and clans who lived together – this would be the whole village perhaps.

The concept of Gebō – reciprocity – is part of this community. The belief that you have obligations to your community because your community has given to you. At the basic level you have obligations to your family for the life you have. The literal blood and being but also the material side – your Fehu (wealth). The community you live in offers many things that would be difficult, if not impossible, for you do on your own. The dangers of the wilds were a true threat in those ancient times. You were expected to become individually skilled so that you could best contribute to the community.

Honing a trade skill wasn’t meant to be for personal profit. It was meant to used to help your community grow, to be stronger and wealthier. The better you could make your family, the better your hamingja became to pass on. This is the concept that informs my lifestyle the most. I do what I do for my family. I go to work and have increased my personal worth to my employer to provide the best life for my family. This, in turn, helps to improve my community. The concept of reciprocity is being lost. We have many individuals who are improving their own lot but are not doing it for their community.

My next step is to become a teacher. Yes, as in public school teacher. I plan to apply for a Master of Science in Education (MSE) with a focus on guidance counseling in the fall. I feel this is a good next step in giving back to my community…whatever or wherever community that is.

I am Back….am I Back?

I’m back

Wow! Over a year since my last post…slacker!

Since I don’t believe in making excuses, because you don’t care, and because it is simply boring, I will not go into why I have taken a year off. I also will not be making any promises, implied or explicit, as to how often I will be writing these posts.

So maybe a little updating is in order. I have gotten more involved with The Asatru Community (TAC). I became the Arkansas State Ambassador in January. In April I accepted the Lead Ambassador assignment for the South-Central Region. This includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Right now, we are restructuring a bit. We have three ambassadors (2 of them are in the same state). So, we are working on getting new ones trained and operational.

I have set a goal to focus on/explore one of the 9NV each month. To spend the entire month with a daily reflection on that virtue. I post a quote in our regional FB group and journal about that quote. Some of that journaling may end up in these posts – again there will be no promises made.

To tie in with Pride Month I am focusing on courage this month. Courage is the foundation of a Principle Centered Life and is what those in LGBT+ community need to be who they were born to be. I was privileged to be born a straight male and blessed with finding my soul mate and best friend. I do not have the perspective to truly understand what being born with the sexual genitals that do not match my gender, nor do I understand what it is be attracted to someone of my same sex. I have no basis to understand what it is like to live in a world that is unaccepting of me because of how I was born.

However, because I have been blessed with the privileges I enjoy, I choose to be a friend to the community. To use my (the little I have) influence to help people like me have a little more empathy and to seek to understand as best we can. My sphere of influence is relatively small, but I have a little audience (my readers – both of you) in my role as ambassador for TAC. Since my primary role is in the Asatru/Heathen community I have focused my work on this task in this area. My daily courage posts are dedicated to those in the LGBT+ community.

Another focus I have dedicated myself to is being grateful, showing and expressing gratitude. I am not good at this. Sure, I am good at telling someone “Thank you” like my mother taught me. I am good at being polite (when I choose to). What I suck at is being grateful for my life and the blessings I live with. The opportunities – earned and gifted – I have been given and the results of the choices I have made. I write three detailed and specific gratitude, blessing, humbling experiences or something I am proud of in my journal every day. This is my plan to switch my thinking and behavior to become more grateful in my life. I believe that lack of gratitude is the source of why I not allowing myself to choose the better path. I am choosing to be depressed and angry – to be an asshole.

That is where I am now. I am back – at least for this post.

P.S. If you are interested in TAC – http://www.theasatrucommunity.org

What is right with this world

There is so much wrong with the world. We see it every day. The past few days we have seen some the worst. Another school shooting. Kids killing kids. Does it get much worse than that? Our government…I don’t even know where to start or what to say about the politics today in our country. It seems that we are living in the end of days. Are we seeing the beginning of Fimbulwinter?

Then something right happens. I am reminded that there is still right in this world, I just must open my eyes and see it.

Tonight, it was just the second born and I for supper. The wife and oldest are at work, the daughter is at a sleep over/birthday party. The boy and I went to a little diner for supper. I had only been to this diner for breakfast and the boy had not eaten there before. They have good food – its comfort food for me. Not so much the food but the atmosphere. It reminds me of the diners I grew up knowing. The places where Grandma Max owned and worked, where my mom worked…where I worked. Not fancy, just simple food made well. A friendly waitress who knows the regulars and greets them by name and with a smile. The owner’s family having their evening meal together in the back corner where they are rolling silverware and filling salt shakers while eating. Regulars enjoying the company of other regulars. Friendly exchanges like “Wow those boys have grown so fast” “How is your mom?” “I saw your aunt/uncle/cousin yesterday” … All said with a genuine frith.

She came in with her two young boys. The older one with obvious signs of Downs Syndrome and the younger one barely of walking age. The older boy came in with a huge grin on his face. People greeting him by name. He makes eye contact with me. I smile. He smiles and waves. They take the booth behind the one my son and I are sitting in. She smiles, and the room is brighter. The two boys are well mannered but also quite active. She handles the two with a patience and smile. The love of her children was so easy to see that I almost cried. Truly Frigg was dining with us in that diner tonight. She caught me making faces with her youngest and her and I made eye contact. She smiled, and her eyes sparkled, and I knew that the world is ok, we are ok.

This is what is right in the world. We need to focus on the good. We can’t ignore the evil, but we must not dwell on the evil. Love, the love of a mother like Frigg has for Baldur, the love I saw in the young mother tonight, that is what we should dwell on. That is what we should, no must, seek out.

frigg

This is what is right in the world. We need to focus on the good. We can’t ignore the evil, but we must not dwell on the evil. Love, the love of a mother like Frigg has for Baldur, the love I saw in the young mother tonight, that is what we should dwell on. That is what we should, no must, seek out.