Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Troth Election Results

The Troth election results were announced at Trothmoot 2016!

Elected or Re-Elected to Office:

Robert L. Schreiwer
Lagaria Farmer
Lisa Morgenstern
John T Mainer
Jo Spinks
Mikki Fraser

Robert L. Schreiwer is the new Steersman

The new High Rede of The Troth consists of the following folks:

Lagaria Farmer, named Associate Steer
Lisa Morgenstern 

Tanya Peterson
John T Mainer, named Communications Officer

Amanda T Leigh-Hawkins,  named Officer Liaison

Jo Mckee-Spinks

Brian K. Jenkins

Hrafn Skald

Mikki Fraser

Hail the Rede!

This post represents official Troth policy or is an official Troth statement.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Taking the Pulse of Hatred

In Orlando Florida, the Pulse nightclub was getting ready to celebrate Latin night, but it was not to be. Omar Mateen had other plans. An American born of refugee parents, he came to Pulse with the intention of killing as many gay men as possible, answering the call of ISIS to do so during Ramadan.
Omar killed fifty, wounded another fifty three before being killed. For those who advocate open carry as a cure all to stop mass shootings, he was engaged by armed off duty officers working security early in the battle, to no avail. With a legally purchased long gun and pistol he carried out his attack over an extended period, at times hunting, at times holding hostages, until the police were able to force entry and shoot him.
Before and during the attack he told 911 dispatchers he did this for ISIS and its leader. We have a pure act of Islamic Terrorism against the LGBT community simply for existing.
There are a few side issues that people may get distracted by, lets get them out of the way.
Gun Control hotspots:
He held a licence for the guns used in the attack.
He passed screening checks, even though files existed from multiple investigations for radicalization
There were armed officers present at the start of the attack and that was not enough to stop it
Both sides in the gun debate have points they will latch upon, and points they will gloss over, but the fact is this person had been investigated multiple times, worked in security, and passed all the checks to get his guns just days before the attacks. Legislation would not have prevented this, unless you took guns away from everybody, then it would have been done with fire or explosives instead.
He was born in the United States. He was not a radical foreigner, an enemy agent, and ungrateful refugee turning on their saviours, he was a citizen, born and raised into the country he acted against. He was radicalised, as so many terrorists over the years, by ideas and hatreds that sneak across borders as whispers, far beyond any border defences to stop. Listen closely and you will hear lots of hateful whispering going on even in our countries.

The LGBT community was targeted because conservative Islamics, like conservative Christians, find the existence of LGBT offensive. In the name of Ar-Rahim the exceedingly merciful, As-Salam, the source of peace and safety, and Al-Gaffar the repeatedly forgiving, Omar entered a club where people came together to celebrate joy and love, and hunted down and killed with cold fury, all the while calling out Allahu Akbar (God is Great). Calling out to a god whose bynames include the Merciful and the Lovingkind, he showed nothing but empty hatred, as sadly will much of the responses to the attack from our own nations.
The LGBT community is easy to target, as homophobia is not simply taught, it is preached by many conservative faiths in every corner of our nation. As much as we could point to ISIS and blame them for this, the same hatred is being preached in pulpits across the land, from churches, to temples, mosques, and I will admit what others in my own faith community will cringe at, in holy heathen sumbel as well.
Conservative elements in many faiths, my own among them, target the LGBT Community because they want to, and because we let them get away with it. They are the last group you can go after with impunity, standing on your freedom of religion to practice persecution and hatred, while pretending you are doing something sacred.

Our own Troth has a very firm policy on wilful promotion of hatred against any group, by race, by gender, by sexual orientation, whatever the cause. If you wish to hate a class of human being just for existing, we will come down on you like the Hammer of Thor, and bounce you right out of our halls. Not every group in our faith tradition feels the same.
There are moderate mosques whose teachings are not reflected in this shooting, but it is easier to pretend that this was done by all Muslims. There are moderate Christian churches whose parishioners would just as cheerfully stand in defense or solidarity with the LGBT community as the worthy Heathens of the Troth, but they must also own the existence of many powerful churches whose words are almost indistinguishable from those of ISIS towards the gay, bisexual, lesbian, transsexual communities.
It will be easy to get up tomorrow and scream to take all the guns away, to give everyone guns, to turn against the refugees, to turn against the Muslims. It will be whispered in darker corners that the LGBT community somehow brought this attack on themselves for the crime of not being ashamed to be honest about how and whom they love. The easy thing is seldom right, and the right thing is seldom easy.
Tomorrow I will embrace the diversity of my nation, and my neighbors. Tomorrow I will extend my hand in friendship to those who have been touched by the loss of loved ones, or those who are scarred from what they have witnessed. Tomorrow I will begin to raise my voice against extremism, and the heavy cost our peoples pay when we allow our enemies to turn us against ourselves.
Tonight I will pray to Freya:
We give thanks to the Lady of Life and Love who has shared with us the delight of dance, music and movement, the sweetness of honey, the fire of wine. We give thanks for your gifts of spirit and flesh:
When sunlight gilds the growing grain,
And scatters gold upon the sea,
When apple-blossom scents the air,
In these things, Freyja, I find Thee.

Tomorrow we will take up our banners and shields and begin the clash of will and words that marks this thing we call keeping of the peace, but tonight we call upon the lady of love, the lady of the dance, into whose arms come first pick of all the dead, we call upon her mercy to guide those lovers and dancers who fell this day, that they may find their way to the halls of their ancestors. Great Freya, I ask you let Brisengamen’s renewing light shine on all of those who have lost, that they may heal and again remember the fallen as they were in love and life.
John T Mainer
Communications officer of The Troth
Prayer courtesy of Diana Paxson, Head of the Troth Clergy Program

Friday, June 3, 2016

New Troth-Branded Shirts

In order to meet recent demand for more Troth-branded items, we have created a new Troth online store! There are quite a few t-shirt designs in place already, and more designs for various products are in the works for the future.

Hail The Troth!

This post represents official Troth policy or is an official Troth statement.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Troth Logo

The Banner of The Troth

The Banner of the Troth is a ring of four golden apples (at the cardinal points) and four raven-heads (at the cross-points) linked by a ring of twisted gold wire with three twists between each apple/raven pair. In the middle of the ring is a golden-white Hammer with the Troth bind-rune in red upon the haft. The background is deep blue.

The eight elements of the ring show the ætt of the winds; they also show the eight worlds ringed around the Middle-Garth (Miðgarðr) - four shining, four dark. In this reading, the Hammer shows the might of their holiness brought forth into the Middle-Garth.

The apples are the golden apples of Iðunn, which give new life to the god/esses. In a larger sense, they are that life-might embodied by all the goddesses (Iðunn, Freyja, Sif) whom the etins keep trying to steal from the Ases' Garth (Ásgarðr). They are also the apples placed in the howe (as with the Oseberg ship-burial) as a sign of rebirth.

The ravens are Wodan's birds, Huginn (Thoughtful) and Muninn (Mindful); they are the sign of the wisdom and memory which shape the Troth. They are also the sign of the faring between the worlds which brings lore, life, and might into the Middle-Garth from the hidden realms - the faring of the thul and the völva, and the folk-leader who sits on the mound to speak rede.

The Troth of our folk is grounded on this matching of brightness and darkness: we, the living, draw all that we are from our dead kin - from the hidden roots of the World-Tree - and in turn, strengthen them with our life, the blessings that we pour to them and the toasts that we drink to their memory. Among the Northern peoples, there is no sundering between those who still dwell alive in the Middle-Garth and their kin who have fared to the halls of the god/esses before them

Together, the apples and the ravens also refer to the key scene from Völsunga saga, chapter I, in which Óðinn's grandson Rerir and his wife, who have had no children, pray to become fruitful. "That is now said, that Frigg heard their prayer and told Óðinn what they asked for. He was not confounded, and took his wish-maid...and put an apple (or "fruit" - KHG) in her hand and bade her go to the king with it. She took the apple and drew her crow-hide (the birds "kráka" and "hrafn" are not distinguished in Icelandic - a big black corvid is a big black corvid - KHG) upon herself and flew until she came there where the king sat upon a howe. She let the apple fall onto the king's knee. He took that apple and it seemed to him that he knew what must be done. He now went home from the howe and to his men and found the queen, and they ate that apple together", whereupon the queen became pregnant with the son who became the hero Völsi, the father of Sigmundr and Signy, after whom the Völsung line was named. For the Troth, this stands as a sign that, though the ways of our folk seemed to be barren and our god/esses gone from the earth, they heeded us when we raised our call to them again, and the heroes and heroines of our folk shall be born again, mightier for the many years of hiding and the need that has called the souls of the North to life once more.

The ring of wound gold that binds the apples and the ravens is the holy oath-ring, which is also the sign of the ring of our fellowship - truly the Ring of Troth. Three windings show between each apple/raven pair; three are hidden behind each apple and raven, so that there are twenty-four shining coils and twenty-four mirky coils. These show forth the might of the runes, both bright and dark - of that wisdom which was brought up from Yggdrasill's roots in elder days. The pattern of the thrice-wound oath-ring also calls on those three great oath-gods, Wulþur (Ullr), Tiw (Týr), and Thunar (Þórr), or, as another reading may show it, the triad of "Freyr, Njörðr, and the almighty Ase". In either case, these holy ones keep the words and deeds of the Troth true to the ways of our forebears and our own honour.

The Hammer itself was the sign of the elder Troth among the Norsemen, when our folk strove to keep their own ways whole. It is the sigil of all who follow the god/esses of the North, marked for us by the Troth's bind-rune.

The bind-rune of the Troth is formed of eihwaz, the yew-tree which has kept the fire of our folk ever-green through the long winter; nauthiz, the need-rune which has kindled that fire forth again; wunjo, which binds us all as a single clan in joy and love; and raidho, the rune of right measure, by which we are held true and following which we keep the round of the seasons and the blessings of the Troth.

The deep blue background is both the night sky and the sea - the might both of the Ases and of the Wans, who stand matched in strength, in wisdom, and in the love we bear them.

Designed by
KveldúlfR Gundarsson
Drawn by:

Excerpted from Chapter LVII of the 1993 edition of Our Troth, KveldúlfR Gundarsson, Editor.

This post represents official Troth policy or is an official Troth statement.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Urglaawe: Hexenkopf Pilgrimage 2016

This information has been posted for educational purposes and may or may not represent the beliefs and practices of many members of The Troth.

Hexenkopf is a strange and sacred place located in Williams Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Long associated with activity on Walpurgisnacht or Wonnenacht, this is Holle's home on this continent. For generations, people have reported seeing a White Lady on the mountain pillar or along the road, especially on the night of April 30. From the Urglaawe perspective, this is where the Wild Hunt ends and the Bright Half of the year begins.

The awesome sign at the barn of the owners greets visitors. We always arrange our visits in advance. The site is on private property, and visitors should always plan to be off of the grounds by dusk.

Young Mugwort plants announce the correct entrance into the woods. After a few more weeks, the growth will be thick.

Magnetite had been mined here, and there are said to be odd magnetic patterns here at times. Other oddities are the common sight of uprooted, upside down trees in locations where they could not simply have fallen. Some are at the very top of the pillar, clearly not having anywhere higher to fall from.

Photo credit: Bob Headley
There are four ponds or pools at the site, some of which have a history of being considered curative. That being said, though, two of them I avoid as they have radon (a common gas in Pennsylvania), one is a former magnetite ore hole that has no radon, and the last is a natural pool that is said to provide water sacred to Holle. This holy water is used at Distelfink's rituals throughout the year. 

The site is challenging because of the huge boulders and the rough brush. Indeed, the name "Hexenkopf" means "Witch's Head" because the rock formation appears like the head of a stereotypical witch depiction in the conical hat. None of us got a good pic of the "hat," but there are several large boulder deposits throughout the site.

Photo credit: Bob Headley

There are all sorts of nooks and outcroppings, including one which is a natural sanctuary, where Distelfink holds its rituals.

Photo credit: Bob Headley

In the middle of the sanctuary is a natural altar.

Photo credit: Michelle Jones
Poison Ivy does abound at the site... Fortunately, so does one of our best plant allies: Jewelweed. It came in handy several times for folks who brushed up against the Poison Ivy. 

This is a wondrous site that ties into the Hexerei myth of the Wonnenacht (Night of Joy) and the Wonnedanz (Dance of Joy, also known as the Witches' Dance).

Photo credit: Michelle Jones
Could this be the rock that the soul of Gedreier Eckhart slept in per the instructions of Holle? Hexenkopf sets one's imagination ablaze.

Our crew:

Photo credit: Michelle Jones

Hail Distelfink!

- Robert L. Schreiwer

Saturday, April 9, 2016

About The Troth

The following verbiage was passed by the Rede as part of The Troth's publications and web presence. It replaces earlier verbiage and is official Troth policy.

"The Troth is open to all who seek to know and honor the Gods, ancestors, and values of the pre-Christian Germanic traditions, regardless of gender, race, nationality or sexual orientation. The Troth stands against any misuse of Germanic religion and culture to advance causes of racism, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy, or any other form of prejudice."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Rings and Troth

I have had the honour to perform a few marriages.  The question was recently asked about whether we had a policy about gay marriage.  I admit it struck me as a bit odd.  The Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia has always had a very simple policy when it comes towards it membership.  We are a universalist group.  If you are called to the worship of our gods, and you have been a good and frithful member of our community, we do not care where you can trace your line of descent, nor do we care who it is that you love.  We do care rather a lot about oaths though.

Freehold Oath Ring

We don’t like oaths to be sworn lightly upon our oath ring, for that touches upon the luck of us all, and a broken oath is a thing that has real and sacral consequences, this we accept.  We do not make our decisions about whether or not we will marry you based on anything except your commitment to each other.  To stand before the community, to make your offering for your loves hand, and to have them accept it, this is a worthy thing.  To stand before your community, your kin of blood and oath both, and swear your love and troth to each other, this is a worthy thing.  For me to call the blessing of the gods and administer the oaths you exchange is something I take a profound and reverent joy in.

Ken and Mary Joy Wedding

I have so far only married heterosexual couples, the reason is simple, I have only been asked to perform a small number of marriages for our community so far, and those who have asked have been heterosexual.  The next couple could be the same, or could be gay or lesbian, and again, the only questions that I will have are about the couples devotion to each other, and such specific questions about their spiritual practice so that the marriage rites performed will be anchored as firmly in their personal relationship with the gods and ancestors as in our own ritual framework.  A marriage has as much magic as you, the couple making it, put into it every day.  That is what the plighting of troth is, the promise that you will jointly labour to make this marriage a real thing, a true thing; in fact the one true thing you both can depend on in an ever-changing, and frequently hostile, world.  That being said, what you make together is made stronger by the ritual as it is by the presence of your community as witness.  The details of that are my job, the heavy lifting, and the rewards of the marriage itself, are yours.

Wedding of Aaron and Kate

We are a Troth KAP Kindred now, and the question will no doubt arise about whether the Troth stands with us in our commitment to marriage for all of our members.  In fact, the Troth Clergy program addressed this issue quite directly, making it clear that for Troth clergy, there is no question of gay marriage, or straight marriage, there is only marriage.

“The Troth’s position has always been to accept gay members, and furthermore to hallow bonds between same-sex couples, considering them no less valid than marital bonds between heterosexual couples. Troth – ordained godfolk are expected to be willing to conduct ceremonies for both same-sex and different – sex couples (with certain limitations discussed in the Clergy manual).”

p273-277 in Our Troth vol. 2

Troth Publications 2007

The Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia springs from a land in which gay marriage is legal, and from a thew that judges people by their words and their deeds, not by the labels that the outer-garth society might apply to them.  Our community judges you by what you show us.  It is an honour and a pleasure to stand in the sight of the community, to call the wights of the lands and waters, to call the sacred ancestors, and to call the holy gods themselves to witness the binding of two people who have chosen to pledge their love and their troth to each other.

I have known a number of Heathen Freehold godfolk and Troth godfolk, none of whom I could ever see refusing this sacred duty on grounds of the gender of the parties involved.  To serve your community as priest is not something that earns us any money, rather the cost of fulfilling the obligations in terms of both time and resources is quite expensive for us.  This is a calling that we find rewarding because of the honour of the service, the pure and unquestionable joy of joining two worthy folk in the sight of their gods and community.

It really shouldn't need to be said, that we are here for those who need us, reguardless of such petty concerns as gender or sexual orientation.  I shouldn't need to be said, but in a world with so much casual ugliness, in which so many times peoples trust has been betrayed by those who owed them better duty, perhaps it is time it be spoken anyway.

The Heathen Freehold respects, and holds most holy, the tradition of marriage that binds a couple in love and in troth, together in the sight of the gods and of their community.  The Heathen Freehold does not recognize straight marriage or gay marriage, it recognizes only marriage.

Love is rare and precious.  Troth is a commitment that gives back rather more than the sum of what both of you put in.  There is magic in the rings exchanged at the time of the wedding; exactly as much magic as the two so joined put into them every day of their lives.  This truth transcends gender, orientation, race, and yes, even religious creed.  There is only one marriage, and that is the one we perform.

John T Mainer,
Western Canada and Military Steward
Redesman of The Troth
Freyr of the Heathen Freehold Society of BC 
(Troth KAP Kindred)