Your Wyrd

Wyrd is one of the more complex ideas from Heathenry. Some may define it simply as fate, but it’s much more than that.

Wyrd is the life-tapestry you weave. This begins with being born. There are three wise women who live at a well under the great ash tree Yggdrasil. They define the life of every person. Urth bestows the threads inherited from your ancestors: such as your socio-economic position, where you were born, race, etc. The other two, Verthandi and Skuld determine things such as you allotment of time and the experiences you will face as well as how you will die. This starting pattern is known as our orlog, or orlæg.

We each carry a thread with us throughout our lives. Our choices with how we deal with the experiences fated for us and our interactions with others are how we create our unique personal tapestry, our wyrd. Each pattern, once woven, cannot be changed. The wyrd we weave affects our luck, the luck of our children and our tribe. That’s why it’s important to be honorable, because our choices are far reaching. While there is certainly room for personal honor and glory, in heathenry there is also a core focus on community and family. Bringing honor to yourself is also bringing honor to your tribe and to your descendants, possibly for generations.

This behavioral motivation is one of the primary differences between heathenry and many other religious belief systems. For example: in Christianity, people are motivated to “do good” because God is watching and will judge you based on your actions. You do good out of fear of damnation, and are required to beg forgiveness for your transgressions. In heathenry, a significant factor governing your choices is the mark you make on your family and community.

Interpersonal relationships are a central focus throughout heathenry. It’s why personal virtues are so important: keeping your oaths, never breaking bonds, coming to the aid and defense of those in your tribe. You are held accountable for your choices. There is no asking forgiveness and having your actions forgotten. They are always a part of your tapestry.

But like a good saga, you overcome your mistakes with great deeds!

It’s Not a Matter of Faith

In the modern world, the concept of a religion is often understood to be a belief system. We are taught that the deities must be believed in without the need for evidence. This is referred to as “having faith” and it’s core to most major religions.

I’m not trying to persuade you that Heathens don’t have a religion (in fact, as of March 31st, 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense even began to recognize Shamans, Heathens and Pagans as faith groups). Ásatrú (pronounced OW-suh-true) is the revived religious belief in the Norse gods. But unlike other religions, faith is not a central component to heathenry.

Heathenry is a spirituality whose primary focus is community. There are no rules that tell you who to worship or that you must worship any gods at all. We strive to live by community based ethics such as: honor, honesty, compassion and sacrifice. These ethics are applied to our interactions with family, friend and neighbors and our greater community.

Heathens will often invoke the names of gods such as Odin, Thor or Freya. They will also invoke the names of their ancestors. Some do this with a belief in the existence of the gods in the same manner that Christians believe in the literal existence of their God. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, either.

The take away is this: faith in the existence of gods is not an essential trait of heathenry. Some of us have faith, some may not. What we all have is a bond with our brothers and sisters. This is not a bond of blood or race. It is a bond of community. It’s a personal conviction to the sanctity of our words and deeds first and foremost.

Gifts, Debt and Bond Building

In Heathenry, a primary method for building strong interpersonal and community bonds is the custom of the gift cycle. The idea is simple: you give a gift to your friend which creates a gift debt to you. Your friend will repay that gift with one that in turn creates a debt to them.

In most of the modern world, the idea of debt describes a negative situation: credit card debt, student loan debt, etc. Sometimes people see debt forgiveness, further implying that being in debt is a transgression. It’s something we want to avoid or work to pay off so we are no longer in debt. In Heathen tradition, debt between two people represents a positive relationship. A debt between two people is one way they establish frith.

The idea is for the debt to be perpetually passed back and forth between each other, becoming a perpetual cycle.

There are rules for this:

First, gifts are not judged by their monetary value. Their value is based on the personal significance to the receiver.

Second, the gift does not have to be an item. It can be any service: inviting them to a meal at your home, giving them a bed if they need a place to sleep for the night, helping them out when they are sick, and so on.

Third, the gift must be significant enough that the other one feels they are now in debt to you. Your goal is to maintain the cycle, not cancel it out. This isn’t like a modern day business transaction.

Finally, the gift must not be so great that the other one is unable to do something to exceed it. This is extremely important. It’s a damaging insult to give a gift that will create an insurmountable debt. The gift cycle is not a competition. It’s a tradition that encourages good friends to maintain their relationships.

If a Heathen gives you a gift, it’s because they respect you and want to build a strong bond of trust and friendship with you. The debt between the two of you is a physical representation of that bond and should be perpetually maintained.

The Frith Bond in the Modern World

In historical times, those who are frith-bound were sworn to cause no harm to each other, no matter what argument or disagreement there was between them. Typically this was between those related by blood and marriage, but often extended to close neighbors. It meant they are in your “inner yard” which is generally considered the closest two to four homes in your village.

This was a reciprocal agreement, and fostered peace within the community and provided a sense of security.

To violate the frith bond was a serious crime and would, at a minimum, bring exile to the frith-breaker.

Of course, today’s world is very different. Many of us now live in large metro areas and sprawling suburbs. The frith bond is something almost forgotten. In smaller towns, we may see a “neighborhood watch”, which is probably the closest thing to being “frith-like”. However, there’s no oath, no actual commitment or penalty for not looking out for your neighbor.

The frith bond isn’t something people in today’s world broadly value, or is even a concept of which they’re aware. That being said, there’s no reason it can’t be. You can commit this to your close family and friends and they can offer the same to you. It would simply be an agreement, a spoken bond. It might look something like this:

“We mutually agree to avoid causing each other physical, emotional, and mental harm; and to avoid negatively affecting each other’s honor, worth, and luck.”

In modern times, there’s no need for this to be restricted to only your close family and neighbors. It could be between any people, at any distance, as long as it’s not done lightly and it’s given with all honesty and intent to never break that bond.

What is a Poly Tribe?

Polyamory is a word formed by the Greek prefix poly meaning “many” or “multiple” and the Latin word amor which means “love”. Polyamory is “loving many”. There are many variations of polyamorous relationships: solo-poly, triads, quads, open with metamours, and any other number of configurations that fit every different dynamic.

Ours is a poly tribe. This means we live communally with other poly people and those who may be in committed relationships with poly tribe members.

What exactly does that mean? It means that not all members of the tribe are romantically involved with each other. One person could have three loves in the tribe, but one of those three might be exclusive with only that one partner. Just as it is our choice to love more than one, it is also our choice as to who we are romantically and/or sexually involved with. Some members are non-monogamous while others may choose to remain monogamous.

Every member of the tribe supports all other members. We are all friends. We all share a common bond of trust and companionship. The key takeaway here is that everyone is ethical, open, and non-judgmental about each other’s consensual, honest and healthy relationship choices.

What heathens Are We?

Very simply, we’re spiritual people who fall under the broad umbrella of pagans. We don’t follow any one specific religion, but rather pick and choose what gods we choose to venerate. We are not anti-Christian, or against any other religion as we believe everyone has the right to worships who they want and in the manner of their own choosing.

We do not try to convert anyone. We will openly share our beliefs, but do not need you to subscribe to them.

Our tribe is heavily influenced by the Germanic mythologies of the Norse and Celts. We are earth spiritual, and live by a specific set of principles and virtues.

Our goals are also simple:

  • Live a good, honest and honorable life
  • Enjoy the world and the pleasures we find here
  • Respect nature, and be thankful for its gifts
  • Love those who seek it
  • Defend ourselves from those who would cause us harm

We embrace all races, all sexualities, all genders. We have no hate for those who are different from us in any manner. We are in no way associated with any group that espouses elitism or hatred for any other people.

What is the Tribe?

Tribemates are not roommates. They aren’t like Friends on TV. The people who join our tribe share more than a mutual interest in communal living. Tribemates are bound to one another through physical initiation and through spiritual connection. The tribe is not just their home, it’s where they belong.

The tribe is an energy that runs through the core of each of us. It calls out to others. Not with words, but with a pull. It’s something you’ll feel in your chest. You may not understand why. You may not have even heard of the tribal lifestyle. It doesn’t matter. When it comes to you, you’ll feel it.

When you join the tribe, you are tengdur. You belong to the pack. It is your home. It is your identity. It is your way of life.

What does the Tribe do together?

Ours is a close-knit social structure. We’re polyamorous, meaning we are not possessive of each other’s love and sex lives. We are kinky, meaning we’re into many facets of the BDSM lifestyle. Aside from the sex and flogging, we spend a lot of time just being together. We eat together. We watch movies together. We sit around the fire and look at the stars together. We sing, laugh and share stories. We teach each other survival skills. We listen and support. We have each other’s backs. We create a space where everyone can be open and their true selves.

We take care of each other physically, emotionally and spiritually. We entertain one another. We play games around the table (Cards Against Humanity, Scrabble, Poker, etc.) We share and promote each other’s hobbies like archery, musical instruments, crafts, etc. We protect one another. We devote our time and resources to defend and provide for the tribe. In return we have a safe haven where we nurture and love one another openly, without shame and without secrets.

Our Spiritual practice

Spirituality is one of the Eight Virtues that guide our tribe. Our practice is heathen pagan. We focus on health, having our needs met, love and guidance. We maintain shrines to the Virtues, are thankful for our good fortunes and seek divination through rune-casting. While we do not outright reject modern medicine, we tend to choose more natural herbal cures rather than relying heavily upon over-the-counter drugs for common ailments. We also provide shamanic mending for our souls.

Remaining connected to nature and each other is vital in maintaining a strong tribal spirit. We honor and are grateful for all aspects of our life: from the food we eat to the friends we have. Ceremonies can range from quiet and contemplative to passionate and hedonistic. We celebrate life. We celebrate each other. Our spiritual practice is our energetic bond to our world, our home and our tribe.

Your Book of Truth

How to Better Live By The Virtues Through Keeping a Journal

Keeping a journal is a useful habit. It allows us to record the small things in our day to day lives that will be lost to time. Very few people are able to recall every detail from a specific day ten years ago, or even one year ago. The symbol for the Principle of Truth is a book. To give this symbol a more material connection to you, keep a special Virtue journal that will become your personal Book of Truth.

I know we’re in the digital age, and I’m usually the first person to say use the cloud to store documents. But for this, I suggest an actual, quality journal that you physically write in. Your choice of writing instrument or instruments is totally up to you. I use black ink and colored pencils.

This is not like a typical diary or journal where you just write about your day. The entries here should be specifically about one or more choices you made that day that were the result of following the Virtues or even poor choices that you want to learn from and improve for the future. Writing is a powerful too for both expression and self-reflection.

This doesn’t have to be a time consuming process. Entries can be a couple of sentences: I was faced with this situation. I considered this Virtue, and I made this choice. Of course, the more details you offer, the more benefit you will receive from both the introspection during the writing, as well as insight gained through later reflection.

You are not limited to words. Draw images if you like. Color them. Be creative. The only rule is to focus on your thoughts and actions as they relate to the Virtues. This book should be the centerpiece for your shrine to the three Principles.