The July "First Friday" night in Bristol, PA, is this weekend (Friday, July 3, 2015).
Vendors in the town will be staying open later and setting up tables on the sidewalk.
The Troth and Distelfink Sippschaft will have a presence at this event.
The Distelfink-The Troth book and product table in front of Spunky Candles and Crafts at 203 Mill Street will be well stocked, so, if you are in the area, come visit our little town and stock up on some good Heathen books. :)
Some of the attendees of Trothmoot this year (2015) at Camp Netimus. I asked everyone individually if they minded any of these photos being posted here, so let's hope that all will be fine with it. If anyone slipped in, such as in a group photo, and you would prefer that particular photo not be included here, please send me a message and I will remove it.
The Norns set the length of the threads when a man, woman, or god is born. Urd, Verthandi, and Skuld weave the wyrd that binds the men and gods alike. Frigg at her loom weaves the lives of men and women, using the foreknowledge that is hers from her sharing of the High Seat.
Lokesenna 29 “The fate of all | does Frigg know well, Though herself she says it not."
The Norns and the gods are not alone in the weaving, for did not Odin lay down in the Havamal the way that we can weave our fates brighter? What is the Havamal if not a telling of how we can brighten each others lives by recognizing those who are important to us, and through the bonds of hospitality, of exchanged gifts and shared labours, bind each other tightly together that we share in each others strength, and add to each others luck. I have seen such weaving.
Camp Netimus, set in the hill country above Milford PA was host to Trothmoot 2015. The Distelfink kindred showed the spirit of their luck holder Ewicher Yeeger, the Eternal Hunter, whose wild hunt rode the night and storm to make sure his people would have meat to carry them through the times of starvation and have a chance to grow strong together. Indeed meat was plentiful, as were other fine foods and goodly drink, as mighty were the feasts that the folk knew. With half a loaf and half filled cup, full friend found is a truth we have heard for generations beyond number, and its truth is still strong today. Loud rang the feast halls as old friends and new friends shared the bench and shared much worthy conversation, as strangers became friends, and old friendships deepened into kinships.
Workshops there were in abundance. Rich traditions from the host kindred were shared with us by Rob, while a comparative religious examination of Heathenry and its attendant concepts was hosted by Ann. Erik and Erik’s beard co-hosted discussions on the Valknut origins and meaning, while Su and Laurel examined the issue of Sobriety and Heathenry. It is not enough to examine and identify issues in heathenry, for once we as a folk have determined that the holy rite of Sumbel is not welcoming or healthy for those with addiction or recovery issues as currently practiced, we, the Rede of the Troth acted swiftly and formally to make our rites forever two horned, one with alcohol and one without so that all might partake equally in rite and its attendant luck without fear of damage to one’s self, or one’s own oaths reguarding their personal struggles with substance issues.
Community building was everywhere, Stewards and KAP Kindreds met to discuss the ways of improving their networking and furthering the advancement of our work in the community, In-reach continued to gain breadth and scope, wielding more resources in more places to further the important work of replacing the hate literature and leadership that exists in the prison population, turning it from a recruiting ground for the tainted mockery of heathenry that racism hides behind, into a tool for sharing the traditions of our ancestors to allow prisoners to begin to work towards lasting reconciliation and full membership in the community. In the heart of Pennsylvania, I found myself at a table of Canadians working on building our local connections and increasing the visibility of our local groups to each other. We travel far from our own hearths to reach the magic of Trothmoot that makes such weavings simple and effortless. Everywhere you turn there are knots of heathens, six , a dozen, a score, all gathered and laughing or talking between events, sporting together at kube, drinking together around the fire, or sitting at the benches and sharing their lives and experiences. The lines of life and luck weave together, as we bind each to the other, and from such weavings bring forth a brighter thing called community.
Magic is not simply a metaphor at Trothmoot, for while hospitality is the heart of our gathering, there is too the matter of its spirit, and the gods and wights whom we assemble to honour. From our opening ritual, through the Idunna blot that is the heart and soul of Trothmoot, to our closing, the whole of moot was filled with sacred mysteries. Holy ve were raised, both in the cabin set aside, and elsewhere about the site. Moving it was to sit by Mimir’s well and in the forest silence listen to the whispering of the waters secrets. The deeper mysteries of Seidr were shared by those who dared to ask of the seeress and the dead for knowledge under Diana, Lorrie, and Laurel’s guidance. Ristandi explored brighter bindings with teachings that sprang from the bower not the barrow, for our folk was always one that embraced life and passion fiercely and without reservation. Deeper rites and mysteries were explored and deeper healings done as the work of our folk, the duty of our folk to care for one another, was made manifest as we who come together from every compass point are joined as one to care for our own as if to our closest kin.
Such skaldship did I hear at Trothmoot as would make Saga raise the horn, and Bragi himself give praise. Lynn and Will Rowan came to lend us their songs, but so too did we have the songs and poetry of our proud people. Our own Steer led the reading of the Sagas, while Laurel hosted our own Skaldic competition this year which I had the honour to win overall, but was but one of three individual event winners, as song, lore based were won by others whose works truly outshone my own, with only my non-lore based winning pride of place individually. For those who wonder at this boast, understand, I have only ever won this once our skaldic competition, such is the rich diversity and talent of our wonderous folk that at Trothmoot I find myself sitting at bench with nothing less than a hall full of my equals, and stand right proud this first year out of three, that I have at last won once.
We are not a people of word alone, for mighty are we indeed in craft and sport, and with weapons bright. Stitch and bitch sessions showed the craft of the folk, while weaving was both practically and poetically done by a community come together to literally stitch together. Tafl tournements were hotly contested, and kube was again a hard fought test of heathen might, endurance, and skill. Thanks to Mike for his generous assistance and equipment, we saw three generations of archers together draw bow and show the gods their people were yet strong and proud at arms, even as we showed we were frithful in the keeping of the peace. Young Aaron the young lad of but a hand of years who springs from our Shope’s own loins was shown to draw a bow, and rightly to smite his target true by Mike whose grizzled beard is a shadow of snow and iron, even as a young lad spear straight and new come to manhood draws bows against our Shope Ben whose beard begins to be touched by the first frost of fatherhood, and my own snowy fall of year tokens hearkens to daughter already grown, and others nearing womanhood. Mighty were the feats of arms, and mighty the mirth and fellowship, for of such things are generations bound together, and a folk forged.
Such stalwart sacrifice did we make, such noble duty did I know to sit with our fellows of the Rede to taste the best of brews, the magnificent meads brought by our far flung folk from all four points of the compass. Indeed it was an Odnic trial, for nine worlds of mysterious mead were ours to wander, to taste and test and ponder. Two it was that burned so bright and beautiful as to lead us into such a depth of discussion and debate, for Mike and Camille had proffered two meads that were the essence of two different perfections. One a taste of sunlight and summer, one of winters complex lustre. Such was the battle to chose between them that both bottles were felled ere we could choose the winner. Prizes were given to each, for though the Canadian maiden won the gold with the heart of summer, the warm maple promise of winter’s warmth was with worthy prize also for Uller’s mighty American archer.
What shall I tell you of the boasting? Grand Sumbel was a time that few outside the Troth could understand. The horn was raised, and right strong were the boasts given. Shall I speak to you of the strength of Paul? You who see his thews see not the strength I speak of. His boasts were strong, spoke of pain and loss, of learning and acceptance, hard work and daring to risk loss again by continuing to care. Shall I speak of the elders who raised the horn and spoke in the terms of simple men of the land of how they matched their love with their deeds, to give back a lifetime of love of the land with gifts to guarantee its preservation. Shall I speak of other elders who have put their time and love to preserving the old songs and poems that they may be played, sung and spoken again? Shall I speak of Tom whose boast had no words beyond raising up a bundle of new born love and joy, cooing and giggling as she was raised high and claimed before the folk to the hammer and roar of the approving folk. Young women boasting of their struggles to find themselves through terrible hardship and loss, and the joy and strength they draw from the community, ending such a worthy list of battles won with the simple plaintive cry that they didn’t know how to make that into a boast, only to be greeted by the warm laughter of a hall that knew a worthy boast when it was spoken strong and true. To stand in such a hall, in such a company, beneath the banners of so many worthy kindreds, is to know that you stand in the sight of the gods themselves, beneath the eyes of all of our ancestors, and receiving a gift beyond all price.
You can only know the strength of a weave when it is tested. Sunday dawned too soon, for with it dawned the last of our days together, and shadowed the end of Moot. I will right cheerfully vike the phrase I heard “time for the long sappy goodbyes”. Spoken with bright mirth, for we who pride ourselves so often at grim stoicism that would shame the whetstone or the sturdy fire struck forge gave our goodbyes with much manful gripping of hands and hugging, bright eyes attesting to unshed tears as each seeks the words to say how much the sharing with the other has meant. Men and women come together in a hundred versions of the long goodbye, because we understand the gift each has given us for their sharing. A gift for a gift is our way, and in most cases, each thinks the other has given them the greater gift, for such is the worth we see in each other when we join together in moot.
What was woven at this Trothmoot, like every Trothmoot does not end here. We draw those threads we wove between us back to the far-flung hearths from which we wended. Already new friendships are cemented as we reach our home and formalize the friendships found at moot. Now when we see words in type we will hear fair speech and see the eyes of him or her that speaks, for they are no longer faceless and formless to us, but a friend whose voice and worth we know well. This is the magic of Trothmoot, this is watching the weaving of one people, one Troth, that will indeed shine fair in the sight of our gods, wights and holy ancestors.
At a recent meeting of The Troth's High Rede, one question was whether we would, as an organization, make a statement about recent events regarding race in the U.S. and how we deal with them. It was decided instead that, in an organization that defines itself by accepting diversity, Individual Rede members might make individual public statements to be released together. Here they are, beginning with my own.
We are known by the judgments we make, and the actions we take. Some judgments are made at leisure, while others must be made in the moment. Some are made deliberately, while others are made with no thought at all. Sometimes we don't know how we arrived at a judgment, or even that we have made one. Sometimes our judgments are made for us, absorbed from our surroundings, unrecognized as a choice, but seen as just the way things are, if they are seen at all.
Some people find the recent events of Ferguson, Missouri, and others easy to judge. Others find them more complicated. Some just don't want to think about them. The legal complications of some of these events are hard to brush aside. I won't ask you to brush them aside, as I certainly can't myself. I will ask you to look again at an issue that is at least related to these events.
It appears to me that most people like to think they are not racist. I like to think that myself, about myself. It might be more useful to think that most people are ready for racism to be over. But, whoever you are or whatever you think of these recent events, perhaps none of us know yet what it really means for racism to be over, or how to make that happen. Whatever our good intentions, and I don't doubt that they are good, maybe we have things left to learn, and judgments still to make, and actions yet to take, before we reach that goal.
- Steven T Abell Steer The Troth January 2015
Call to Tyr for Justice
by Lisa Morgenstern
Hail to Tyr, One Hand, God of the Thing
I call you to bring justice to the oppressed
You put your hand in the mouth of the Wolf to bind him.
You guide the Thing and are the keeper of Justice.
Your truth can be harsh, but you protect.
Help us to find the way to fair treatment for all people.
Even the utgardh are deserving of fair treatment
Give them the rights afforded by law, apply moral codes of right and wrong.
Humans need not die before they are brought before a judge and jury.
Humans who kill must be held accountable for their actions, for we are our deeds.
It is time to call for an accounting. I call on you.
I call for the diverse peoples of the Earth to live together in peace.
I am calling for an end to racism of all kinds.
Keep people of all ethnicities and heritages in your sight.
Help them to find the justice they deserve,
And help those who do not understand, to learn
And be open to see the worlds through different eyes.
Whether they are our folk or not,
As a Heathen I strive to be Tru,
Honest, Industrious, Loyal, Courageous,
Self-Reliant, have discipline and to Persevere.
As a Heathen I feel that I must offer
Hospitality to my brothers and sisters
Who are hurt daily by racism and prejudice.
By speaking, I let them know they are welcome in my hall.
That I see their plight and stand with them as we fight this battle,
Because to remain silent is to imply I agree that
They deserve to shed their blood in needless manner.
I fight with them in this cause, call on you to help me in my battle,
To see past my privilege, and find Truth.
Some folks see Wyrd as a web or a weave. I'm not one of those people. I see it...well, HEAR it, anyway...as music. Every one of us has a part to perform, even the Gods. If one note is out of tune, or a rhythm misplayed, the music changes. It can even be ruined.
Thanks to systemic racism, there have been a number of wrong notes played in our history. The music has been discordant for ages. Thing is, we've become used to the discordance. Lately some of us have noticed that the music is...wrong. The chords aren't sounding right, even though we've been told that this is the way the music has been played for centuries [so why change it?]. The wrong notes need to be taken out and replaced with the right ones. The chords need to be rearranged.
Now, I know some of y'all may be wondering what the hell all this has to do with [the general] you. After all, you're playing your part right. You haven't missed any notes.
Actually, y'all, you have. We all have.
You see, a wrong note or rhythm played by the tuba section way in the back of the ensemble can throw off even most perfect flautist all the way in the front. A misplayed rhythm can cause whole sections to be thrown off. A misplayed part throws off everyone in the ensemble.
So it is with the real world. The wrong one person does can ripple through a community. The wrong one community does can ripple throughout the whole world. Feel free to look at any war involving more than two countries as an example. Remaining silent didn't help things at all; in fact, being silent made things worse, in some cases.
[On a personal note, systemic racism hits home for me as well. I've been followed in department stores and seated in unofficial segregated areas in restaurants, and my son has had gas station doors locked right in front of him so he couldn't go inside - just because of how much melanin we have in our skin.]
Some hold the opinion that the United States doesn’t have a national orlog – that because people came here from all over the world, Americans aren’t connected like other nations. I don’t believe this is true. The U.S. Constitution is more than the supreme law of the land; it’s also a contract that outlines the responsibilities of all three branches of government. The men who were present at the Constitutional Convention joined their respective orlogs together when pen met paper for signatures. The individual states joined in when they ratified the document. Every state that has joined our country has been required to ratify the Constitution upon joining the nation. Every state constitution has the U.S. Constitution as its base. Every member of the military has held up his or her right hand and sworn to defend the U.S. Constitution, regardless of background, ethnicity, and place of origin. Every person living here is subject to the laws of our country, and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Constitution, then, is the strand – the main melody line, if you will – that brings the symphony known as our country together, and the oath made to it are still active, still binding, and comprise our national wyrd. Our nation’s wyrd, then, becomes orlog, and through alliances and treaties – oaths – our national orlog, our melody line, is joined with the orlogs – melody lines – of the other nations.
Our nations are playing separate lines of melody, sometimes in different beats, but when played right…it all works. It sounds beautiful. One can listen to the 4th movement of Holst’s 2nd Suite in F - “Fantasia on the Dargason”- for a perfect example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c0y0-MhTKQ
In this movement, half the band plays at ¾ time while the other half plays at 6/8 time in two spots, playing two different melodies at the same time as well. And it works beautifully. This is what wyrd should sound like – but the wrong notes must be corrected. The correct rhythms must be played. One false note can change the entire complexion of the grand music we play.
- Gari Farmer
Diversity in Heathenry
by John T Mainer
I understand we do things a little differently here. Heathenry is based on relationships. A large number of groups fall somewhere along the family to community spectrum more towards the family end. A typical word used to self describe would be kindred. Similar in some ways to a coven, grove, or congregation from other faiths, it has the community of shared faith practice and world view common to those, but as we are often criticized by other communities for being light in ritual and prayer and heavy in the feasting, we are more bound by the bonds of hospitality and amity than by ritual or oath.
This gives me a bad case of Asa-Goggles. I admit this. Now Asa-Goggles are not like beer goggles, they don’t dull you into being more receptive to those you might otherwise find unappealing, they are more like FLIR. Asa-Goggles are what we see our own through. Unlike standard optics even starlight Night Vision Goggles or scopes which use the same light to generate the same image as our naked eye, the FLIR uses the Infra Red Spectrum to see heat. It is amazing in its ability to see small differences in heat, easily detecting life from backgrounds that are visually completely camouflaged, even as it fails utterly to see those colour or pattern related identifiers that are visible in any visible light system.
Asa-Goggles, like FLIR look for the emissions of life; infra–red searches for heat from life, where Asa-Goggles search for worth. Don’t get bent out of shape, worth is the way heathens judge everyone, including ourselves. It is how we see, and a cornerstone of how we think. Now people of all communities have worth, and we see that, and acknowledge that. Some shine with a light that is our own, a worth that follows our own pattern of belief. We see markings in their words and their deeds that mark them as “us”. Other people can be worth of admiration , but they are not the ones you want to share those things that we call our heathen practice, those things that blend the social and the sacred, the building of a community of people who we care to share this very private part of our lives.
I was asked to write about our diversity as a community, and I had problem with that. I look at those people that are deepest inside the “us” category, the innergard, the ones you share your problems with or seek advice from in your other parts of life. Through my goggles they look not identical, but close kin, close enough that from a mile off you can know them as your own, and feel the strength and warmth that knowing they approach will bring. Through others eyes they are “diverse.” Well if you want to pick gender, or skin tone, or sexual orientation, even nationality, income or educational background, they are diverse. I have other goggles at well that pick up CADPAT, MARPAT, and Mulitcam by the signs it leaves in the emission of those who absorbed it bone deep through their service. The combination of these optics mean that when outsiders look at me and Gari, they see their own definitions, black woman and a bearded redneck white boy. American woman with some foreigner/Canadian boy with some foreigner (depending on which side of the 49th they are glaring from).
When I see us side by side, I see Freyr and Freya; I see the male and female expressions of the same needs, the same struggle, the same sense of responsibility. Scars; oh yes, by their scars they will know each other, and we see those clearly enough. When you ask me to speak about diversity in our community I do see it. I see a diverse understanding about how our folkway is expressed. I see Stephen in his tower of reason, built brick by brick by choices and experience, by study and life lessons accepted and applied. His heathenry is a shining light that could easily be discussed by learned men in any schola of the past or university of the day. I see Diana whose heathenry reeks of the mound, the tree, of dark places and ancient truths, whose eyes have seen and embraced the storm and through which things look back that most choose to avoid seeking, let alone learning from. I see Lisa and Rob whose community building is to see the wounds they cannot pass by and accept the responsibility for those who would have no guide but them. I see Luke and Ken who ply the ancient trade of arms as modern men, and carry with them their ancestral sense of duty and honour, with a modern man’s reverence for law.
Our community is rich and diverse in ways that fill me with wonder and move me to tears, but no one wants to hear about them. They want us to point to a black, an Asian, a gay, a (insert word for someone we get a merit badge for pretending is our equal). I don’t pretend. Those who are in our community are my equals, are my peers, my community, and very much mine to defend.
Everyone is not welcome in our community. Our own are welcome here, however other people would describe them. There is not a colour that gets you in the door, nor one that bars you from it. That does not make us better than other faiths. If nothing else, let us be honest about this. Our ancestors were masters of community building; and they built those communities of the people they found of whatever tribe, race, or nation they met, who could share their sense of worth, their sense of community, their practices that bound together the disparate parts and peoples into one new shining thing. There were lots of communities, and people moved freely to find the community in which they fit, in which their sense of worth matched the sense of worth of their fellows so that they could join their efforts communally and know their actions would be judged individually by standards to which they held, or aspired to, themselves.
Our community is diverse in ways that outsiders don’t see and perhaps do not value. Our community contains what others consider diversity, in those that I just can’t see as diverse, as through my eyes they are not. This is not a statement of virtue, this is a reality of optics. FLIR doesn’t see colour, that doesn’t make it enlightened, it simply admits that it only sees a wavelength in which colour doesn’t exist. We still judge us and them, because as human beings we are no better than other communities. I think it does our nations good to have many communities inside them who define us and them along different axis, so that people have a chance to experience the reality that people from every group in our community may well find themselves on the same side of the us/them divide at least as often as they are the opposite, and those closest to us may likewise find themselves staring across that boundary at each other.
Yule is a time to come together, family and friends coworkers and neighbors. We reach across a thousand divides with a handshake, a gift, a smile, a candy. Those boundaries are real, but they are everywhere, and we reach across them a thousand times a day. When something happens that polarizes our community, those barriers loom large in our vision, and become not simply walls between us, but battle lines. We are more than any one of those us/them divides, we are more than any one label or external value you choose to apply. Every human being is. Heathens are supposed to be honest enough to both admit we judge, and own honestly both our treatment of others in response, and the fact others will do the same to us.
- John T Mainer
These words are mine, spoken only as myself, and not as a Redesman, nor on behalf of the Troth.
Recent events have caused a great deal of debate between our members, as to where the Troth stands, what its core values are, and how we will respond to the deaths and unrest in Ferguson, New York, and elsewhere.
I believe that, in the Troth, all who come in frith are welcome. This goes beyond merely allowing diverse people to join and serve, it says clearly that we respect and honor people, based on their deeds and words, not the color of their skin.
The Troth, and heathenism as a whole, does not compel its members to follow one political group or another, or to support one cause or another. Rather, our Gods call us to live lives that are worthy, and to follow the virtues and inspiration of those who come before us, and to inspire those who will come after. We are not our labels, we are our deeds, and each of us, as individuals, who decides how to make their life a worthy one.
I reject the notion that we must choose sides, praising one and attacking the other, because I know good and tru heathens on all sides. I believe with all my heart that the cause of building better and more frithful communities requires that all voices be welcomed, heard, and woven into the frith of the community.
While the main symbol of the Troth is the Apples of Idunna and the Ravens, for me another symbol describes best how I see the Troth and its role: Mannaz. The rune of humanity, of community woven together in frith. We bring together people of many paths, many histories, many worldviews, and, yes, many political views, and weave them into a frithful whole. And just like a woven garment is made better and stronger with each thread, and a chorus made better with each new voice, each member and each viewpoint adds to the Troth.
These bonds of frith and peace require that we respect each other, and that we allow the many diverse voices of the Troth to speak for themselves, so that they can speak their truths freely and honestly.
That is why I am glad the Rede has chosen *not* to make one statement that would bind the consciences of all members, but rather to allow our Rede members to make *their own* statements, and members to choose for themselves what *they* wish to support.
I believe with all my heart that the right of conscience, to decide where one stands, is, and always must remain, a personal one.
There is plenty of room for disagreement and different worldviews, as long as we have mutual respect. Gods willing, this will always be the case in the Troth.
May They watch over us, see our words and deeds, and judge them worthy.