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The Way of the Heathen A Handbook of Greater Theodism






THEOD Watertown, New York

Introduction 1 Section L' The Fruits of Wisdom . Foreword: 7 Chapter 1: What it Means To Be Theodish 9 Chapter 2: The Sacral Kingship 13 Chapter 3: Good and Evil 21 Chapter 4: Bl6t 23 Chapter 5: Symbel 27 Section II: The Leode, Its Organization and Structure Foreword: 39 Chapter 6: Solitary Work 41 Chapter 7: Group Work 43 Chapter 8: Theodish Leadership 49 Chapter 9: The Heirarchy of a Leode 53 Chapter 10: Women As Dryhtens 61 Section III: The Way of the Heathen . Foreword: 65 Chapter 11: Activism 67 Chapter 12: Poetry, Law and Custom 69 Chapter 13: The Theodish Learning Dynamic 73 Chapter 14: The Place of Modem Religion 77 Section W: The Group Dynamic In the Modern World Foreword: 83 Chapter 15: Anomie 87 Chapter 16: When Things Go Wrong 91

Chapter 17: Agenda Mongers Chapter 18: The Thew of Leadership Chapter 19: Adversarial vs. Thewful Leadership Chapter 20: Choices

95 99 103 109

For all that it has my name on it, this book is truly the work of many hands, over many years. It is also a book that has been needed, often wistfully asked for, for almost as many years; to all those who had to settle for "someday," then, I hope that you will rejoice with me to see that "someday" finally dawned ..Whatever is good and useful about it, meanwhile, is probably for the most part your own unheralded workmanship, while blame for whatever may remain as its unremedied deficiencies must rest quite certainly with myself. Meanwhile, we could not proceed without a particular thanks to those whose immediate work and collaboration have done so much to lighten that load of blame as much as possible, by virtue of their special efforts in editing, proofreading, revising~ suggesting, and all the many other perfections I might not have succeeded in working into the final mix without their help; especially to Gert lEscbeam P'Ysen McQueen, to lElfric pesn, who pitched in with not only brainwork but many a selfless hour of unstinting drudgery, and to Eric W 6dening Lord Wednesbury, whose luminously systematizing genius has shed so much light into what would have been dark corners of the lore contained herein, and which has been such an unfailing beacon to us all.- GL

Foreword: Chapter 21: B16ts and Fainings Chapter 22: Faining; An Outline

v.. Blots



Foreword: Chapter 23: The Decorum of a Leode Chapter 24: The Philosophical Implications of Theodism Chapter 25: The Great Good Place Chapter 26: The Sociological Implications of Theodism Afterword: Appendix I: The Gods Appendix II: Wordhoard (Glossary) Appendix Ill' The Wheel of the Year Appendix IV: Bookhoard (Suggested Bibliography) Index

Section VI: When Things Go Right

141 143

157 163 181 185 201



today's world, after a thousand years and more of n Christianity, there has been an ever greater yearning amongstpeople everywhere to somehow find their way back to the "old religion," the religion of the folk in the old days, before Conversion Times. But, after a thousand years, the question has been how to do that? Many popular new religions today have claimed to be revivals of the authentic ancient folk religions, but not always successfully. Often, it seems to seekers that, after so many centuries, the real old ways must by now surely be completely lost and forgotten. Fortunately, however, that is not the true picture. It is still possible, through research, to reconstruct much of the authentic ancient ways of the old pre-Christian folk religions, and some of the new religions that have sprung up in the decades leading up to the millennium have indeed succeeded in recovering some of the most important features of the historically authentic elder ways. One of these ancient but ever new reconstructions is the elder Anglo- Teutonic form known as Theodish Belief. "Theodish Belief' is Anglo-Saxon for ''the belief of the tribe." In elder times, folk religions were not churches and did not have names, like Catholicism or Methodism or Baha'i. They were just the time-honored ways of worship of the folk themselves, and, accordingly, when priests of foreign religions asked the elder heathen what religion he practiced, he simply answered "Min peodisc seleafa," or "My theod's (tribe's) belief." And therefore, that is what Theodish Belief is still called today. Today, you can still practice Theodish Belief, alone or with others, by means of this book that you hold in your hands. Between these covers, you will find many strange and sacred things; so strange, in some cases, that some modem

people fmd Theodish Belief a bit unnerving. However, the strangeness 'is something only to be expected. As a wise man once said, "the past is another country." In authentically recovering a religion that has been considered extinct for a thousand years, from the point of view of the minds and hearts and god-knowledge and consciences of the people of that age, we must expectto meet with a lot ofideas which will seem quite unfamiliar to us now ... at least at first glance. The information in this book is based on the work of many Theodish witegan, t or wizards, a continuing research project which has now been going on since 1976. The form of'Theodism that began in 1976 is called "High Theodism," and is only practiced by the most dedicated people who may happen to feel that religious calling. However, such dedication may not work or be appropriate in everyone's life-style, and of course it is also possible to validly practice much of Theodism without having to be "High Theodish" to do it. This other kind of'Theodism, which can be practiced by anyone, is called "Greater Theodism," and is less strenuous and rigorous, yet just as authentic, and offers its votaries much of the same power and weal! of the gods. In High Theodism, there are many ranks and offices, filled by the best and most serious people, who are wise in the ways of'Theodism and understand what gods and King and folk may expect of them, and don't mind devoting a major portion of their lives to such holy purposes, This is possible because of the ordeals they underwent, sometimes at great personal sacrifices in their own lives, often lasting years, just to get into High Theodism in the first place, a calling reserved only for people who are just as religiously serious as those who have felt a calling to the religious life in any other.major religion. To many "alternative religions" of today, the Theodish approach, with its quest for epistemological authenticity, seems just too strenuous. It is always much easier to just change the god names, re-map the outward thewsl of the past onto the ideas and thinking of today, and just stick to mindsets that are much more familiar to us. With this phi-

losophy, TheodishBeliefhas no quarrel; however, it would not be right for Theodish Belief, which would of course no longer be the true "Theodish Belief' of old if we did that. Often of course, those who prefer the modernized forms will c~ntend that many of the old ideas are obsolete or n? longer socially accepta~le, .the world h~ chan~ed, and religion ought to change WIth It. In Theod~sh Belief however, we simply disagree. One of the frrstthm~s areal, n<?n-Romanticized, understanding of the past will teach us ISthat, in the ways that really matter, the world.has no~ ch~ged anywhere near as much as people may naively think It has. This is not, then, a recipe book of ways to change your ways, nor would it be appropriate for it to try to be s~ch in any case. In practice, what the Theodsman discovers ISthat living the ideas in this book, while going about his normal life in his normal way, is apt to give him a lot of newer, shrewder and often surprisingly refreshing perspectives on so many of the ways in which he lives his normal life that he may always have simply taken.for grante~ butnow~ about with a deeper understandmg. Theodism, as you Will discover, is a wisdom tradition. Live true to it, and you will be sure to profit by it.

Note: In some cases, unfamiliar words in this book have been marked with t. A Wordhoard (glossary) of such words
can be found in Appendix II






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ust as you don't necessarily have to become a Kung Fu monk to benefit from the wisdom of Confucian philosophy, you don't have to become High Theodish to benefit from Theodish philosophy and wisdom. The thews t of the Greater Theodism as presented in this book are all drawn directly from High Theodism as faithfully as practical, and for any man of good troth t to the elder gods, mother wit can always fill in the rest. Occasionally in this book, explanatory references to High Theodism and its thews will be made as we go along, for clarification purposes, but what is important to remember is that this book is about Greater Theodism, not High Theodism, and such passing remarks are only to be viewed as commentary.

High Theodish witegan t themselves always practice the ancient faith as closely as possible to the way the elderen themselves practiced it, including talking and singing to the gods in the ancient languages used by their ancestors. Just as with seminarians t in any serious religion, it takes many years of dedicated study and practice to become a High Theodish witega, t and, based on the knowledge that has been gained by such men and women, this book is intended to be a simplified yet still authentic version, as useful as possible to people who do not want to disrupt their modem lives and life-styles any more than necessary, yet who still love the old gods and want to worship them in an historically authentic manner. That is what this book, plus the abiding love of the gods for their folk, makes genuinely possible.

The rites as given in this book do require some study and practice to perform correctly; nothing good in life ever comes for free. However, the object is not to be difficult or elitist, but only to try to give the gods a gift of your service which is as pleasing and authentic as possible. Although

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the mighty Irminsul treet of the old religion was chopped down in medieval times, this type of approach by Theodish Beliefhas proved that the ancient roots are indeed still alive, and a new tree can still be nurtured up again from those same old roots. When Theodish witegan reconstruct replicas of the elder ways in their worship forms, the idea is not to tum back the clock, but rather to reconnect with the real ancient gods and resume the ancient practices in such way as if we had never left. Theodish Belief seeks to do this by worshipping them in exactly the same ways as they would have been used to in elder times ... ways which do not really "tum back the clock" at all but, actually, stand somewhere outside historical time, as we shall see in chapters in this book wherein we discuss "significant" or "poetic" time and space.






High Theodish witegan, then, not only perform theirworship in the elder tongues, but also most usually dress in period costume for ritual, and try to hold their rites in settings that would have been pleasing to the gods in the old days; either outdoors in unspoiled nature, or in rooms that are arranged and decorated in the styles of the old heathen period, or both. In your own life, this may not be practical for you; however, you will find that if you can manage it at all, occasionally doing so to whatever degree you are able produces an effect that not only gives pleasure to the gods, but increases your own enjoyment as well, and makes you feel more at one with and akin to the elder wizards before you in pre-Conversion times.

rver since Theodism first made itself known in the world, people have tended to reac~ ~ith mixed feel~ings about it. On the one ~~d, ~t IS won?erful to think that the true ancient folk religion IS not entirely lost and gone from the world after all; on the other, what does the average person do with that fact in his daily life? Isn't it a difficult and demanding religious form, compared to most American religions today? D?e~ it !flean I have t~ g~ and join some doctrinaire sect? Wlll.lt dIsrupt. my f~d~ hfe to . become Theodish, or interfere WIthmy career? Wt11ltmake the neighbors or my workmates think I'm weird? Until recently such natural questions and many others like them didn't'have many easy answers. To b7 TheC!dish was very much a pioneering quest for anyone, mvolvmg a lot of untested theories and a lot of work by many hands, and there really weren't very many guidelines. Even today, the whole map of the world of Theodish Belief still conta~s a lot of ontologicall unknown territory. Today, however, It also delineates a lot of well-settled territory, what we call the "existential" or "greater" Theodism, with clearly marked out meets and bounds and a way of life that works for people which can be enormously personally rewarding. So today, for anyone who asks "can I actually live my life this "fay," the general answer is, in most cases, yes, you canl It IS the purpose of this book, then, to be a guidebook to all the necessary particulars of how. Today, anyone who feels s_tronglyattr~cted to Theodi~m can practice this ancient religious form, either alone or WIth

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others. However, it is important in all cases to remember that Theodism is different from many other new/old religious forms in that it is much more social and communal in spirit. other forms usually put most of their emphasis on the connection between the individual and his god or gods, either directly or indirectly through a priesthood. Theodism, however, connects spiritually in a somewhat different -yva:r. Where individual connection might be thought of as individual threads or strands, Theodism makes a much stronger kind of "group" connection, in the form of a "web" of threads or strands, running in all directions throughout the Theodish community, called the "web ofthew." Individual Theodsmen may have individual connections with a god or gods, but the real main connection is between the gods and the unique spirit of Theodism itself, of which al~true votaries of the religion partake as a special community. Knowingly or unknowingly, you, as ~ indivi?ual practicing Theodism, are connected by this web WIth many other Theodsmen everywhere, even though you may not personally know any of them or even their names. In that sense, Knowingly or unknowingly, every Theodsman, solitary or otherwise, is part of a "group." Even if you may not know any other Theodsman personally, this doesn't matter, because the gods know them, and the gods know you. This was the way the gods preferred to connect with humans in ancient times, and it is how they still prefer to connect today, when possible. As a community, Theodism has people on all different varying levels of skill and knowledge of how to do the best and most meetly and seemly thew of the gods, and how to be of service to other Theodsmen in so doing. However, the spiritual connection with the gods is not through the Theodish priesthood per se, but rather through the collective spiritual body, or thew", of the whole Theodish folk itself, and the High Theodish priesthood, with their special knowledge, are merely expert caretakers and maintainers of that collective thew. It is a sense in which Theodish priests and priestesses are like physicians. A doctor may prescribe medicine,

but he does not actually heal you; only nature and your own body can do that. Rather, the doctor uses his special knowledge to help you heal yourself. And meanwhile, ~e main interest of the gods is in interac~g -yv~thhe Theodi~h t community. They may relate to you mdIYldually; ~ere IS certainly nothing stopping them from domg so. But if you are Theodish, they also think of you as a ~ember of a.certain human community, namely the Theodish commumty, a fact which means something to them. WHAT IT MEANS To BE THEoDisH: . To become part of that community requires nothing more than a sincere conscientious participation in that spiri~lity and its principles and thew. To call yourself Theodish, then, there is one oath which you must solemnly swear, individually or as a group, at the weofod:and bef?re.the gods; that is the oath ofloyaltyto the mystic holy p~clple of Sacral Kingship, explained in the next chapter. This oath should be witnessed, if at all possible, by honorable persons, but of course the main thing is your intent. The oath runs as follows: .
"1 (name) l1~\ni 6WU,.that. wl1t1~l1tv~. 1sl1aU 'f1~er ,.ais~ voic¢. 'ha'f1b 01"w~al'OH a5ah1st t'h~ Sacral Ki'f15s'hipofThiobis'h B~lid.cxcqti'f15 it be i'f1s~lf bdms~, 'f101" aib 01" ever abd' a'P1\iotl1er w'ho bo~s so. A'f1bmoreover that 1l1~1nt bmb mlf lff~ to ri5l1tfi.flb~@s with a Ri5'ht Goob WiU. i'f1Wisbom. Gmerosit\j a'f1b1'usO'f1al HOHor."



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rom its inception in 1976, the whole purpose of Beliefwas the quest to recover the real elderpre-Christian troth t of our ancestors as completely and accurately as possible. At that time, little did anyone know that what we were really undertaking was a "Grail quest." However, the fact is, the central mystery of the elder tribal troth t was, from tiine immemorial, the Sacral Kingship, and the pioneers of modem Theodish Belief soon came to realize that, whatever we might learn and recover of outward ritual and liturgicall forms, such recovery would be relatively meaningless until we could fmd some way to really understand the ancient institution of Sacral Kingship and authentically recover it into modem times. As it turned out, such recovery took years to fmally accomplish. In the end, however, success in this quest was one of the gains that fmally made possible such things as this book which you are reading today. Sacral Kingship was the ancient principle, lost yet never entirely forgettable nor forgotten, whence such mythologies as the "Arthurian Cycle" have sprung up in legend and popular fancy. Not everyone understands what such mythology as the "Holy Grail" really means, and, for good reason. Of all the timeless mysteries of the real eldertrowl, Sacral Kingship was the one that was most taboo, as in fact it still is even to this day, and posed the greatest difficulties for early European Christianity' s centuries' -long efforts to destroy the old folk religion, such that in the end Christianity was never really able to stamp it out. Accordingly, the Medieval European Bishops merely obliterated.it from folk memory as best they could by overwriting it with a revised Christian version, connecting it instead with the central Christian mystery of the Resurrection of Christ. This over-

I Theodish


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writing was never completely successful, for reasons which are worth a brief digression here. Medieeval missionaries knew they often had to be satisfied with half measures in their conversion efforts amongst the folk, who, once they had a foothold, could always be "re-catechized" later as Christianity took firmer hold in their hearts. The point is, the "Holy Grail" motif is not merely "Medieval," as many suppose, but actually pre-Christian, as old as time, and, to the heathen world view, central to the real destiny of mankind. It is the folk-religious principle whereby men are understood to be directly connected to the gods, from whom they are believed to be descended, through the appointment of a sacral king who is considered High Priest of his tribe. All Theodism springs from this ancient "Holy Grail" principle, embodied in a Sacral Kingship, which is thought of not as a person but as an institution, just as it was in elder times. Accordingly, across the broad . reach of the elder pagan world, from farthest Troy to the Emerald Isle, and all down through time from the Ice Age to the Medieval Christian holy wars, the most crucial token of kingship in the man chosen to be crowned was that he have gods as ancestors in his family tree. The mystery of such Sacral Kingship was that it was thus, through his "royal blood," that the grace and favor of the gods themselves could be surely and reliably transmitted to the folk life and prosperity of his kingdom. Ancient tales of how some line of mortal men is taken to be descended from gods live on today, from the legendry of the Irish to the Volsung saga of the Norsellcelandic Eddas to the mythology of the ancient Greeks. Ancient exploits thought to betoken such supernatural lineage are still re. membered in tales of the boy who drew the sword from the stone or the hero who drew the spear from the rooftree. Ancient wizards had less wonderful ways as well for choosing which baim t amongst them must be raised on the shield as King. Such choice had to be pleasing to the gods, since if the wrong man was chosen, the deal was off the gods would tum their backs, and grave misfortune would ensue. To our

modem gaze, the forms of the eldritch t mysterie~ t with which such tales are pregnant are only outwardly discernible, but they are enough to tell us that the traditi?ns observed in such choices comprised in themselves a high and holy wizardly art. . Such matters might be worth better understandmg, after all. Today, we know at the least, as they must have known in elder times, that we are all so crossbred tha~ all of us must be descended from the same gods as any kmg. Inthe ancient tribal communities, from which we ~ all de~c~ded, there is no way, after hundreds of generations of'living together, that anyone man's family tree could really have been very different from his nei~bo( s. :mat we do know, however, is how important the ~stitutlon w~, ~or w~atever reason. Even after Conversion, when ChriStl~ kings were no longer tribal or sacral, but ~led by dynastic ~eritance and "Divine Right," it was still necessary for ancient god names to be listed in their family tree for them .to be accepted as true kings amongst the folk. For Medlrev~l Christianity, trying to somehow D?-eaningfully~hoehorn their alien gods into the European picture, the dilemma could not have been more awkward, with kings set to rule by "Divine Right" by a Pope, the spiritual Emperor of the Western world which Christian kings would nonetheless never be accepted by the folk unless their wizards could prove that they were descended from gods that the Pope was saying were devils! . One way Medieval Christianity found to finesse Its 'Y"ar around this requirement was to include the names of'Biblical Hebrew patriarchs in amongst the .heathen god n:unes as well, and simply count on folk f811";hnd credulity. to a fudge over the difference. Further blendmg ofne~ doctrine with the old traditions that couldn't be gotten rid of was accomplished by the spinnin!? out of new legendry.through church patronage ofwandermg troubadours, meant to revise the old stories and thus obliterate them from folk consciousness and memory. This too was to some degree successful, though never completely so. For a material example,



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one n~cessary t?ken o~kingship was the transfer of kingly r~gaba, holy tribal objects, to the possession of the new king; crown or helm, goblets, weapons and other such items specially fashioned for the purpose in ancient times and w~th a lon~ trib~ history behind them. Such paraphernalia might typically mclude the holy spear of "Lon ginus " used to impale Jesus on the cross, for instance, and the h~ly cup used to catch the blood and water that sprang from the wound. At a coronation, the folk had to see these tokens transferred, and from time to time hear retellings of the traditional stories behind them. . This was ?f course w~ere the troubadours t and royal Jesters c:une m. That particular story is drawn from a brief remark m the Gospel of John, which notes that a Roman ~oldier at the crucifixion (no name given; the word longinus IS merely the name of the type of spear that would have been in use on the occasion) speared the corpse of Jesus in order to certify that he was really dead, so that his body could be released to Joseph of Arimathea. The writer notes that blood and water flowed, as evidence that Jesus was really d~a?; the "wate( was c:rrdiac fluid, meaning that the soldier s thrust had indeed pierced the heart muscle. No mention is made in the Bible of anyone catching this blood and water in a ~up, a maneeuvre that would surely have been aw~ard m any case and presumably didn't really hap~en or It would have been mentioned, but such an invention became necess~ to the mediaeval storytellers, who needed such a cup for thea story, and who sometimes even included the detail that the cup was the very same goblet that Jesus had drunk and shared his Passover wine from at his Seder Supper the night before. This cup could then of course be the goblet passed down with the royal regalia from tru.e king to true king, ensuring that any true king was, by ItSownership and use, partaking in this surrogate manner ofth~ true blood of Christ and the holy grace thereof. Suc~ ~ones were of course a pretty broad heathenization of Christian Gospel, and never did find their way into any part of the accepted Christian canon, but that didn't matter

to the Bishops, because heathenization, technically known in missiology as "inculturation," was their whole object, in order to make Christian doctrine more intelligible and acceptable to a population who were still inwardly very heathenish in their hearts, and would remain so for centuries to come. And conceivably the sly pious ploy might have worked, over time, were it not for an even slier ploy borne of troubadour" cleverness that the Bishops seem to have overlooked or, perhaps in many cases, winked at. The fact was, the Christianization of Europe was everywhere accomplished by force, its true historical purposes being not so much religious as socioeconomic, borne of the imperial ambitions of Me direval Papal Rome. That inevitably meant that European conversion to Christianity was everywhere painful, and in few places very sincere; in fact the trauma of that age is in many often unsuspected ways still very much with us in the Western world today, only unnoticed because by now we have become so used to it. But a man convinced against his will is a man who's unpersuaded still, and of course the craft of the troubadour, directly descended from the ancient sacral bardic and druidic glee-craft oflore-singing in the halls of ancient heathen kings, forced by the new religion to pervert and confme their once noble but now-suspect craft to mere singing of the praises of Jesus, was one of the hardest hit, worst disrupted, most resentful and least sincerely converted gildcrafts of all. This was the creft that a man might spend years mastering in the caves of ancient hermits, the lore of which might strike a man dead or drive him mad; the creeft of men who might be forbidden battle; who might, in fact, be able to stroll through pitched battle unscathed, just because every warrior knew that whoever else might die, that man's lore and creeft and songs of their own glory must be allowed at all costs to live on. It was in fact a craft committed by conscience to the need for the true ancient lore, the "once and future king," to somehow survive Christian fire and sword and live on to be reborn, as well as the craft which uniquely possessed the tools to make sure that hap-



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pened. The method used was the one used everywhere from time immemorial amongst gilds and secret brotherhoods who need to make their holy lore portable when it comes under threat; they encrypted the elder tradition, into the very songs th~y sung publicly and the stories they told. Encrypted in this manner, the elder truths were perfectly plain between the lines to anyone who knew the code, but perfectly opaque. !o powerful Bishops and 0!her non-initiates who might smilmgly hear them over their cups, enabling the troubadour storytellers to keep their livelihoods and their hides. By the schemes of such encryption, then, the necessary "cup" in such a story serves as a metaphor for the thing it holds; the Holy Blood (of Christ, a god or demigod, after all, ~d as suc~ a c.onvenie~t metaphorical device himself), the tip-off bemg Its function as a vessel Gust as a sacral king is an earthly ''vessel'' containing the blood of the ancient gods), and its name, the San ("sainted") Greal ("grail," . or Vulgar Latin gradalis, or measuring cup). The actual code is the name, San Greal, "Holy Grail," as a pun on Sang Real "Blood Royal." Once such a framework of encryption is properly set up, the old stories can be retold in fairly full and complete detail, since while talkingabout one subject that may be unacceptable they appear to be talking about something else that is quite acceptable but of course altogether different; the confabulatory technique known amongst African Americans as "jive." This is why such tales as those of the Arthurian cycle are studded with ~oril1l;chevent and cir~umstance that may seem mysterious m their context, but still manage to mystify us in ways that we fmd fanciful and entertaining ..It is the means whereby ~e bard~ of old managed to safely entrust the holy sword (i.e.; hentage) of the treacherously slain (i.e., forcibly converted) "Once and Future King" (the old sacral lore) into' the hands of the "Lady of the Lake" (the folk "collective subcon-sciousness'') to sluniber on unsuspected until his day came to be reborn again. And today, of course, that day has come. Theodism, especially "High Theodism," does have sacral Kings, chosen

in a particular traditional way; however, the Greater Theodsman owes such kings no service himself, and may not even know or care who any of them are, unless he may have some specific troth with some specific sacral King which has been properly sworn to and duly heard and accepted in the traditional way. The Greater Theodsman might well not even know a Sacral King, who may well not look outwardly any different from you or me, after all, ifhe met one. What the Greater Theodsmaa does haye is a holy obligation of conscience to the institution of Sacral Kingship itself and its "Holy Grail," an obligation he solemnly swears to, before invoked gods and preferably before witnesses, as previously noted. It is by this oath, heard and witnessed by the gods, that the Greater Theodsman connects his wyrdl to the web of Theodish thewl, made necessary by the fact that the company of a holy troth solemnly dedicated to the institution and truth of the "Holy Grail" cannot tolerate any person who lacks personal honor. It is not for nothing that the troubadour tales insist so strenuously that only the true "parfit gentil knight" is worthy of the Holy Grail. Each Theodsman helps maintain that web offhew", then, by cleaving to high standards in his life and in the practice of the religion, and thus keeping the love and respect of the gods, as well as by his own love and respect for other Theodsmen and members of his community, just as other Theodsmen do by him .. In ancient times, a standard blessing was ''May the gods see you." This meant that if the gods take a favorable notice of your life and activities, you will prosper. It also refers to the fact that if the gods look at you and are disgusted with what they see, they will tum their backs on you, and your fortunes will fail. In Theodism, individual and collective right conduct is always a crucially important matter, and Theodism maintains its web ofthewf with the gods by maintaining a values system that will keep us from thus losing their respect. Helping to maintain that values system is today, just as it was in ancient times, every Theodsman' s holy responsibility,



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~e Theodish ethical and values system is very different from the Abrahamic Judreo-Christian system that most people are accustomed to, which is essentially an Oriental system. In the Abrahamic system, all virtue is based upon following the Laws of God, and if you break one of these Laws, for any reason, you are a sinner and face damnation. In heathenry, our gods make no laws, and there are no Thou Shalt Nots. Instead, there is community, and the fact of living in harmony with the natural wyrded forces of the multiverse,t which are a weave or web ofaction. Theodism is a lawless society, which is based upon thew, upon action, and upon shildl and ordealt, all of which sums up into the Theodish Wisdom Tradition, which is both handed down by wizards and elders and learned by experience. InAbrahamism, there is a typically dualistic system, of Good, which is keeping the Laws of God, and Evil, which is breaking them. The heathen system, on the other hand, is much more holistic than that, and not dualistic at all. Instead, there are shades of rightness and wrongness about any action, which is what makes Wisdom so important. In general, Theodish values could be called "Activistt" (rather than Quietist") values, and run on a spectrum of "right action" (which is good), "wrong action" (which is bad) and "inaction" (which, since it produces no ordeal", produces no outcome, and is worst of all). Therefore, injudging what is right action, the Theodish community goes by three great ''wynns'' (joys) or ''thews t" (duties): Wisdom, Generosity and Personal Honor. There are more particular ways to break these down, of course, and later on we shall get into some of the things that Theodish Witegan t have written about them. Meanwhile, one more important thing to bear in mind is that Abrahamism regards man as a sinful creature fallen


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from the grace of his Creator, and, most generally, in need of God's Law, in the case of Jews and Muslims, or salvation, in the case of Christianity. Heathenry has no such doctrines as that, but instead a deep-rooted tradition of selfreliance, and it is always the ethical and epistemolcgicall assumption that although gods, friends and kin may help you, no one, god or human, nor any law of gods or humans, can "save you" for you, and you have to do that for yourself. The way this is done is just the opposite of the Pauline dictum, namely, not by faith but by works, and for a Theodsman the real purpose of religion is to function as an ena~ler and guide to help us know how to always be worthy m our works. Religions which believe that man needs saving from some sort of inherited sin or fall from grace are called soteriologicall religions. We shall have another look at soteriological" religions, why they are the way they are, and how they differ from folk religions, in more detail . later. For now, let it suffice to say that, for the heathen, Wisdom, Generosity and Personal Honor are the life guides for right action in all things, in the sight of gods and all good men, and that, as one is a member of a certain holy community, these ideals should always be pursued in a certain way: namely, with what Theodism calls "a right good will." "With a right good will," in Theodism, means sincerely, with never any hypocrisy, double-talk, double-dealing, politics, head-games or hidden agendas. Theodism can be practiced either as a solitary or as a member of a group, a topic we shall discuss in Section II. As can be seen, however, the main differences between solitary and group worship are practical and circumstantial. Just as with other forms of heathenry, there are two main worship forms in Theodism: Blatt and Symbel, and while a group may designate different people for the different tasks ofBl6tt and Symbel, the solitary merely tries to do as many of those offices as he can by himself.




ancient times the main form of communal worship n was a commun~l feast held on a holy day and dedicated to the gods. The meat for the feast was ritually slaughtered on the grounds, and the ancient word "bI6tt" derives from the idea of the shedding of "blood." Another related word is "blessing" (Anglo-Saxon bletsung), w~ch mean~ a "sprinkling of blood," referring to the practice of .sp~kling the people and grounds with blood from the slam animal with a bI6t-tine, or aspergillus, t traditionally a bundle of twigs kept on the weofodt ("altar") for the purp?se. ~gh Theodish groups, needless to say, still keep up this ~clent practice, if they have the necessary people and s~llls and resources to do it right, which is very important, s~ce doing it the least bit wrong will cause the gods ~o reject the bl6t, and will bring much bad luck up0!l the tribe. Greater Theodism does not require blood sacnfice, and these remarks are merely included for reference. THE BLOT RITUAL Traditionally, for such a bl6tt, the be~t? be slain, usually a swine, is led round amongst the ~artiClpants, who lay their hands on it and swear oaths, which may be oaths of any kind, but often as not are declarations of th:ir good intentions or public promises others, somewhat 1i1~e ew N Year's resolutions, or sometimes personal declarations or prayers to the gods. This animal usually has been carefully fattened beforehand, and is always PllI!lpered and treated with great reverence and respect, as a gift to the gods from the folk. The method of slaying must also be quick and clean, with minimal suffering to the animal. If the slaying is bungled and the animal suffers, the gods may not accept the sacrifice; therefore it can only be performed by expenenced dedicated people who know exactly what they are doing. Another thing which can taint such a sacrifice is to



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have any false-hearted person involved in it; therefore such bloting is always done in a secret place, without publicity and sensationalism, with only those men and women present who are tried and true. When the animal is slain, blood from it is caught in a bowl, preferably by a particular mature woman, called an Ides (pronounced "ee-DESS", in Old Norse a dis, meaning something like ''female of special supernatural power"), who then carries it around to bless the grounds and folk. In Theodism an Ides, in this sense, means something like "finished woman," i.e., a woman of accomplishment, usually mature, who has "evolved into every best thing that a woman should be," as opposed to, say, a mere airhead girl with nothing but boys on her mind. In practice, of course, such chores can be done as needs be by any female with enough dignity and bearing to do it in a manner in keeping with the . occasion. The Ides has to be quick and surehanded in her work, since the blood will immediately start to clot. Another woman, called a Weofod-Maiden, cleans up the blotthanes with a wash cloth and offers them a hom of drink. The Weofodthane who struck the killing blow, called the "BI6tere" (blood-shedder), must then cut off the head of the slain animal and mount it on a pole stuck in the ground, with its mouth propped open, facing north. This head is thought of as speaking or testifying to the gods, and it is quite important that its testimony be that the killing was quick and clean, with the hand of no false-hearted person involved in it. It is also through that open mouth that the beast's soul goes out to the god or gods for whom the gift was intended, and sometimes the Blotere will prop it open with a runestave upon which the god's name is risted in some of the blood, just to make sure. The carcass is then immediately flayed, butchered and cooked on the grounds. Traditionally, all the meat was boiled together in a large iron pot, called a "pig," but today other means, such as roasting, have also been used successfully. As soon as all the cooking is done, a great feast is laid for the folk, and it is important that a large enough beast will have been cho-

sen to allow everyone to eat his fill and still have plenty left over, plus there should be an empty place setting with food at table to allow the invisible wights to partake of the feast as well. Equally important, no "doggie bags" are ever allowed, and no one may carry any of the food away from the holy stead. Instead, all uneaten portions of the beast, in. eluding the offal from the butchery, must be immediately sacrificed to the gods, and it is important to collect every scrap. This sacrifice used to be done in various ways, including occasionally diunping dowri a holy well. In modem times, however, when this may not be practical, it is more usual to immolate everything left over on the balefire, t together with the pouring into the fire of a hom ofblotl drink, and it is an especially good sign of acceptance if the smoke is clean and rises straight upward. At some point, even the head will be removed from the pole and placed on the balefire, and a wood ward is appointed to keep the fire stoked until every last scrap is reduced to ashes. Ordinary food and drink brought to the site can then be used to continue to feed the folk as necessary while they are on the grounds.

Blood sacrifice, however, is only one form ofblott; anything of value or usefulness may be sacrificed, and often was. If it is something non-edible, the usual method was to ritually destroy it for worldly use, such as by breaking it, and then bum or bury it on a holy spot. In particular, however, there were always blots" of food and drink, big and small, and all are accepted when offered appropriately and in a spirit of love and good will. Farmers, for instance, always left a shock of grain standing in the field at harvest, for "Woden's horse," and those who share drink will normally tip some of it onto the ground or into the bl6torc t at the weofodt with a few words of offering. Choice portions from the feast table are sometimes cast into the balefire with words of offering, as gifts to the invisible wights t, and often there will be a dedicated pile of produce from the harvest, the community's sacrificial portion, and a ritual procession in which the folk take items from the pile to 25


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carry over and offer onto the balefire one by one. It is also usual to begin and end each holiday observance with a blessing of the grounds, involving a processional led by a harp thane or galdorthane,in which an Ides sprinkles the perimeter of the stead and all its important spots with mead or ale. The purpose of this sacrifice is a welcome and a gift to the local land wights, whose friendliness and participation is vital to a successful fainingf (i.e., "celebration"). BLOT As GIFT In all of these considerations, the point is that there are two things the gods particularly like in periodically interacting with their human community of votaries. One is gifting, especially with good food and drink, by way of thanks for the bounty they give us, and sharing of the sacral feast with us. In such a sacral feast, it is not the community but the gods who are thought of as the hosts on the grounds, which is why all the feast food is thought of as being theirs, and none should be carried away from the grounds. To do so would be the equivalent of stealing holy food which was consecrated to the gods, and which they merely share with us at the feast table for the occasion. The only thing that need be remembered here, other than that gifting should be done not grudgingly but with a right good will, is that the heathen should give "much, but not overmuch," The sacrifice should be merely whatever is appropriate to the occasion; too rich a gift to the gods may sometimes have the appearance of bribery, and the gods are rich enough already, so that the gift that is "overmuch" may look like an unworthy attempt to buy their favor, and may not please but rather offend them.



Vymbel may be held at the same tableas feast was held after the feast has been cleared away and the tabl~ space reconsecrated by an Ides or the Landl~d>, of the hall, but no food is ever present ret sY!fibe~.~us It IS that symbel is normally held after a feast, smce It mvolves ritual rounds of drinking and toasting over a shared hom, which may not go as well as it should on an e.mpty st0I?lach. What is particularly important, however, ISthat while feasting may take place in the open air, symbel must always be held in an enclosed space of some kind, such as a .hall. . .



The other thing that the gods like is shared song, storytelling, boasting and merriment around the meadbench, just as in days of old. They will always come and take their places there on holy days when bidden by men of good will. This is why bl6tt and feast on a holy day are always followed by symbel.

In his Germania; Tacitus t remarks on a strange custom he observed amongst the Germanics, whereby they would meet round the dryhten' st table for boasting and drinking sessions which might run on all day and. all night, sometimes even for days, with each man in ~ standin~ up and speaking his heart to the assembly, sometimes saymg very frank things and laying his soul bare in ways that no Roman would ever dare do in public. In a warrior society~ it is always possible that ill-considered speech might sometimes lead to blows; however, this was not common amongst Tacitus' Germanics because of the setting in which such boasting was taking place. Unbeknownst to Tacitus, what he was observing was symbel, a holy ritual, and in symbel no one will dare to break the frith t of the stead by anger or violence. This was a very useful and important traditional institution amongst the Germanics, as it still is amongst Theodsmen today. The fact is, in any human community, there will sometimes come a need for a man to be able to speak his mind on some matter, and on such occasions he has to have some guarantee of being able to be heard out,


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and speak out truly and safely. In recognition of this natural need, the heathen Germanics have always kept up the custom of symbel, which means, literally, something like "a coming-together of ale or 'spirits. '~' We can observe more of the symbel thew at work in Beowulf, where many of the defining circumstances of the plot are laid out in the form of symbel-boasting, by Beowulf and others, around Hropgar's meadbench. Amongst the elderen, symbel was often segregated, with only the men speaking out in this manner, and the women holding their own symbel elsewhere, so as to be able to speak more freely amongst themselves and deal more particularly in womens' concerns without risk of indelicacy or public embarrassment. Women, however, typically very much enjoyed male symbel too, more than the men did the women's, and enjoyed hearing the men speak their hearts, and often vied amongst themselves for what slim opportunities there were to be present in that hall. The lady of the hall was always present, of course, as an Ides, and would normally need the help of handmaidens in handling the hall drink, ajob for which there was never any shortage of volunteers. In the Theodism of today, however, it has not been usual to hold symbel segregated, and normally men and womenjoin in boasting and symbel around the meadbench together. Theodish symbel is always conducted in a certain way, based upon the traditional method, lore and purposes of symbel.

Normally, there must be someone who presides at the head of the meadbench, usually a Landlord or Dryhtenl, and someone who conducts the opening and closing blessings of symbel, usually a W eofodthane t or other wizard, who mayor may not be the same person as the Dryhten. Near him are a galdorthane and an officer of the symbel called a Thyle (pronounced "THEW-Ieh"), who may also sometimes be one and the same person, and may serve as the Weofodthane as well, if needed and ifhe is able. That party, or those parties together, are responsible for the luck of the hall and its lord. The supply of drink is normally

tended by an ale ward or the Landlady of the hall, and it is the Lady who actually handles the drinking hom itself. She is apt to be assisted by other women, variously called Idesan, handmaids, ale wenches, or, amongst some heathen groups, "Valkyries." In taking the drink round, such women often enjoy the chance to ~ butthey must nonetheless be women of quality who are conscious of the holiness of symbel and will maintain dignity, and never be too flaunting or distracting about it. There may be many occasions of symbel boasting that are quite sensitive and serious and may require the boaster to have. his wits about him and be thinking straight, something that may notalways be possible immediatelyafter, say, a face-full of cleavage. It is the Lady of the hall who determines seating arrangements, usually according to rank or dignity amongst the guests, and it is important that the highest ranking female present handle the first hom and be the one to greet newcomers with a topping hom they come into hall or dooryard. It is in fact important that any holy drink at least pass through female hands before being drunk if at all possible, since there is thought to be a healing or nourishing "main"! that women peculiarly possess, and what Tacitus . noted as an uncanny "special providence" associated with or attributed to women, often thought ableto neutralize any evil influences that might otherwise aftlict the men. Especially in handling the hom, the nobler the quality of the woman, the more powerfully efficacious that main or special providence was thought to be, which was why the noblest lady of a hall sought to show a guest the unmistakable quality of the hall's hospitality. by offering him greeting drink from her own hands. And whether they actually boasted over the hom or not, females in hall were not necessarily silent the whole time, and female advice was occasionally heard, and particularly esteemed, especially from the Lady of the hall, in certain kinds of issues where the special female insight and perspective might be helpful to penetrate and cover traditional male' perceptual blind-spots, or to round out the fuller general understanding of a given issue.




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Once the symbel hom is winded then, all wait respectfully behind the Door-thane, a kind ofMaster-At-Arms, while the lady and her maidens consecrate the hall, with ritual designed by them to create sacred space and banish evil influences from the steading. The lady and her maidens then greet and seat the guests, and the Weofodthane t and Thyle open symbel with an invocation to the gods, inviting their attendance. In such case, the Weofodpegn t may just as likely be a WeofodpY5en, t or female priestess (pronounced WAY-uh-vawd-1HEW-yen), or even the Lady of the hall, if she is able, since such invocation normally includes a ritual pouring of some first drink for the gods into the bl6torc t at the weofodt, which is also the special seating where the gods will sit. This ceremony is concluded by offering first speech to the Landlord or Dryhten t at the head of the board, usually in the form ofa braggafulll. For his braggafullf, the lord is handed the first hom, over which he boasts at least three gods or sometimes goddesses, usually poetically, drinking from the hom, then handing it to the Ides, who pours some of the drink into the bl6torc t. It should be noted here that usually Theodsmen are allowed to have their own horns at their place at table, to lift with the boaster andjoin him in offering his full.

After that unless there are some oaths to be sworn or other formal pu'blic business, symbel should be formally closed with a ritual, to seal the luck before proceeding. Most people plan what they are going to boast when they know there will be symbel, and the levels of eloquence which many achieve during symbel, especially as inspired by the boasts of others, may often be quite surprising. The two main types of boast are the beot! (pron. "BA"X"awt") and the 5ielp t (pronounced "yelp", and yes, that IS where such terms as the ''yelping'' of dogs comes from). Normally the 5ie1pt comes first, sin~e. it i~ traditio~al1y. a boast of one's accomplishments and distinctions, familytree, 5efrain t ("reputation") or someone else's; whatever is thought of as orlayl in the well, in other words, for yourself or someone else. Boasts in praise of gods and heroes, for instance, are typically f)ielpst of their reputations, deeds and accomplishments. A f)ielp t may then be follo",:ed by a beot, t a promise or new resolve or boast of ~,!methmg one intends to do. A typical example from tradition would be Beowulf, ret symbel in Hropgar's hall, wh~re. he offered both 5ielpt and Mott, though not necessarily m that particular order. He 5ielped that he was Beowulf son of Ecgpeow, his Mott being his solenm vow to not only fight and kill Grendel, but to do it bare-handed. Along the way, Beowulf tells the hall about some of his exploits at home, stating that he had now come to Hropgar's hall to win glory, since his own homeland was already full of renowned halepas ("heroes") and he felt his own chances to win fame might be better elsewhere. This was all very dangerous boasting, and of course it did not go unchallenged. What made it so powerful was that it was given not casually, but in symbel hall, most solemnly, bef<;>re gods and folk, an? once one's word is given on anythmg ret symbel, then It must be fulfilled; one must then back up such a brag or die trying. To fail to keep a symbel boast or promise is to risk outlawry," The reason is because symbel puts whatever is said "in the well," namely the Wyrd well of tribal orlay, t at

The lord or his thyle then announces what the first round of boasting is to be. Usually there will be three rounds of formal syinbel boast, followed by other informal boasting, though symbel must be formally concluded before it can be allowed to lapse into any mere partying. Once symbel is closed, drinkers may remain round the board, of course, and usually do, for "seel ond meel,"! During symbel, however, the dignity of the occasion should be maintained at all times. A typical three rounds of boasts might be a round in honor of gods and wights t, followed by a round in honor of heroes and ancestors; sometimes this last is separated into two rounds. A third might be a general or personal boast.



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the foot of the World Tree. The hall is thought of as the well, which is why symbel must be held indoors, andthe hom drink over which one swears is the water in the well. The tribal belief was that whatever is said in symbel is always shaping the luck, or weaving the speed-webs, of the whole tribe, which is why in symbel boasting, words must be chosen carefully, and must be true and from the heart. . Should anything go wrong with a symbel boast, or a boaster's word fail to be kept, the tribe's luck, upon which everyone's welfare depends, would be damaged and diminished, laying down a layer of bad luck in the well, and the gods would be offended and would tum their backs on the tribe and withhold their fruitfulness and bounty.

the head of the boaster, and the hall is in a position to say, in effect, "we never believed him in the first place, andwe gave him a chance to back out, but he didn't take it, so the consequences are all upon him, not us." Those who are new or who may never have done symbel in this ancient way may not realize just how religiously powerful a thing elder symbel was, and in fact the best way for anyone may be to simply try it and experience it, and its consequences, and then they will know. The gods really do love good symbel, and really do take an interest in what goes on there when invited to be in attendance. It should be noted that the Thyle is thus a tremendously important officer of a hall. He always has speech right, and can even interrupt the hall Lord or Lady, or anybody else, in their speech, and can never be punished by mortals for what he might say (though of course he can always be punished by the wights, if he speaks any foolishness; the gods hate a bad pyle). Here we see the original of the medieval "court jester" figure, and a Thyle may indeed bear some special token of office, which in Theodism is often a dunce-cap or mob-cap with bells, or a special rod with bells. He has other duties too, such as sometimes answering for the lord or King. Especially if it is a King, someone may put something to him that he may not answer, because of the luck and sacrality of his kingly office, or for which he might not know the answer or might be left looking foolish in hall, and such things are offensive to the luck of the hall and cannot be allowed to happen. The Thyle's job is to see that sort of thing coming and be quick-witted enough to protect the lord or King by speaking up and answering for him. A Thyle also has powers to intervene and speak up in cases of some evident injustice being done, with no jeopardy to himself for so doing; again, he is just doing his job. Another typical responsibility of the Thyle is to cover in case of any disturbance in hall; he might leap onto the table-and protect the hall's luck by playing and singing a song and doing a dance to distract the folk while the hall thanes take care of

Here we can see why Beowulf's boast was challenged, by Unferp the King's pyle. It was an extreme boast, from an untested stranger, and could easily fail. The exchange between Beowulf and Unferp at that point was a remarkable one, in which each gravely insulted the honor and worth of the other, in terms that, in an honor-bound society such as the heathen, could easily get a man called out and killed on the spot, and yet we see that here no blows were exchanged. This of course was because the words were said in symbel, and Hropgar's hall frith" and hospitality thew could not be broken by either man. And of course they both knew what such words meant in any case. Because of the extremity of Beowulf' s brag (which he did indeed back up later in the story), Unferp was duty bound to speak up and challenge such a boast, to ward the luck of his King and hall from connection with any offense of Beowulf s in the eyes of the gods should he fail. This is in fact what a Thyle does, so Unferp was here just doing his job. As boasts go round the meadbench, then, it is the Thyle' s job to give ear and judge whether any boast given might be dangerous to the luck of the hall or offensive to the gods in some way, and to challenge any seemingly false 5ielpt or unfullfillable beot" on the spot, in any way needful. That way, should a boast fail or be unlucky, all consequences are merely upon



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the situation. In the case of a sacral King, for instance, in a solemn processional, he might well go just ahead of the King in bells and motley, doingjuggleries and cutting capers, in order to distract the evil eye from the King and his luck. Thus it can be seen that a Symbel Thyle should be a very carefully chosen wizard.

Returning to the subject of Symbel, then: once the hom has made it round the table for a given boast, the Ides takes it to the weofodl and pours off the remaining drink into the blotorcl, which is the way the gods get to share the folk's symbel hom. She then ladles some drink from the blotorc! back into the hom, which is how the folk get to share drink with the gods, and tops the hom offfrom the hall's ale or mead for the next round of boasting. The results of this are often quite uncanny, because once some blotorc t drink has . found its way back into the symbel hom in this way, boasters can often feel a rush of the gods' inspiration coming into them as they take the next drink. In Theodism, this is often called "sharing spit (i.e., 'spirit')" with the gods. This is why boasting at a good symbel can often reach such high levels of eloquence, to a point that often feels to the participants like "divine madness."

good song appropriate to the occasion, and performed on any instrument available, such as a guitar, perhaps. Some halls also conclude symbel by setting up the symbel hom in a rack by the weofod", thus relieving the alewenches of any further duty other than to keep it topped off as necessary. When the hom sits there, it means that it is an open invita. tion for anybody who wishes to leave his place at table and go raise the hom in some boast at the weofod", ~en decant some into the blotorcl by way ofeamest of his words to seal his boast and return to his seat at the bench. By that time, of course, the inspiration level in the hall will ha,:e reached a peak, and a hom in the rack at the weofodl IS rarely idle for long.

Sometimes, depending upon the mood of the hall, there may be variations on the theme. Instead of merely 5ielping some god or hero, some men and women may, if they have that craft, get an alewench to hold the hom while they take up the harp and sing a galdor of praise instead, or in general boasting merely present some new song to the folk on this occasion. In High Theodism, this is normally done in an elder tongue according to traditional galdorform, especially since the elder tongues are more poetically powerful than Modem English, but of course that is not absolutely necessary, even ret symbel. The gods can understand Modem English perfectly well when they care to, and always appreciate a good song or poem no matter in what language it is sung. In Greater Theodism, the song can be any



00 ~




Section II: The Leode, Its Organization and Structure

eodism today, like most new/old religions, is a widely and thinly scattered community. No one, not even the recognized leaders, even knows how many people there are around the world who practice such religions. As a practitioner ofheathenry, and especially Theodism, you may, by choice or by chance, practice your religion alone, even secretly. The truth is, despite the waning of Christianity's grip upon society and the increasing liberalism of the times, it can still be dangerous in some places to practice new/old religions, and often such dangers may be hidden, often even behind a smiling. face. You may be shunned by society or by your family; you may be discriminated against in your work life. Such discrimination is of course highly illegal, and if you catch anybody doing it you can grieve or sue, therefore such discrimination often goes on in secret and is kept covered up by your workmates. Especially, if you are a member of a group, and if you happen to live in a small town, even if you yourself say nothing, your membership will be sure to eventually be found out and gossiped about. Ina big city, of course, this is rarely much of a problem. However, circumstances vary:from place to place, and such situations may sometimes make heathen prefer to worship alone or in secret, and even those who may not prefer it may simply not be able to find a group near enough to them for participation. What is more, even those groups which existmay often be volatile and highly unstable. An exception is Theodish groups, which, because of Theodism' s heavy emphasis on community, tribe and thew, tend to be very stable and permanent. It is of course a matter of individual conscience for anyone to decide whether they wish to work alone or with others, and even that decision may be subject to change without notice. Any of us might well wish to learn and work 39

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alone for a time, only to decide later that we might like to join a group somewhere, if we can find one to join. In this section, we learn about such things as the hierarchy of a Uodet, how one joins and becomes a probationary "Learning Wight t" This learning period is essential to Theodism, for reasons which will be discussed in detail in other chapters. What isn't discussed anywhere, and so should probably be mentioned here, is that a period of solitary practice does not entitle anyone to immediate full membership in a Leodel. The learning period still remains a time during which the Leode t gets used to the new member and vice versa. Being already a knowledgeable Theodsman due to some period of solitary study and practice, however, may well shorten that learning period up considerably.





t the time of this writing, Theodism is little-known in the world, its groups are few and widely scattered, and Theodsmen often have to travel far to get together with other Theodsmen on holiday gathering occasions. Moreover, at the time of this writing, all of these far travelers are High Theodish and none of them are solitary, since there is no such thing as solitary practice in High Theodism, and to be a member at all it is necessary to be accepted into sworn service to a Lord or King. With the publication of this book, of course, it now becomes possible to practice "Greater Theodism," provided that you have decided that Theodism is your calling. This book is in fact written in response to many queries that High Theodsmen have received from those who are attracted to Theodism but are unwilling, or, more usually, unable, for some practical reason, to sell into the Theodish Riee. Such people want to be able to practice a valid form of'Theodism on their own where they are, and this book answers the growing conviction amongst Theodish wizards that some such way really ought to be provided. A contact registry will be maintained of those who wish to be listed as Greater Theodish, to enable practitioners to get in touch with others in their area. If you would like to be listed in such a registry, you should take a moment right now to send in your own contact information to the publisher of this book. Meanwhile, for the solitary Theodsman, the important thing to remember is to always privately be as Theodish as possible in all things, even though you do it on your own, without being any more socially disruptive about your belief than absolutely necessary. If you do that scrupulously enough, you can still get the spiritual benefits of'Theodish Belief and of belonging to its community. The solitary, then,



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Section II: The Leode, Its Organization and Structure

can see in the foregoing descriptions of blott and symbel, how best to practice the religion on his own. It is always nice, of course, to have company in a feast, but it is the occasion notthe company, that makes such a meal a feast, and anyo'ne can set an empty place for food and drink for the wights t at his own feast table. Anyone can offer blots t of the kinds described in the ritual manner detailed herein, doing everything as much as possible himself, and ~ the spirit is pure and true the gods will accept such offermgs. It is also possible to hold symbel alone, especially because you are not really alone, but can "share spit with ~e gods." You have invited the gods, who will usually come if they can because they always greatly enjoy any sincere symbel. All you need is a bl6torc t on your weofod, t in order to swap a bit of the drink back and forth in the manner described. Having taken up your own symbel hom in your own home in this manner, and doing all the usual offices yourself, in some modified form as necessary, you can make your own boasts to the weofod, t where the gods will hear them. You may even find that taking back a bit of the blotorcl drink in the manner described will fill you with inspiration from the gods, transforming your small ceremony into a kind of greater "conversation," such that doing solemn symbel alone in this way can be for many a means of holy "meditation. "





omeTheodsmen, on the other hand, are able to come ~)together regularly in gr01!P~'and those who can do ~o ~invariably claim that this IS a tremendous factor m the success their group enjoys. This is often seen in larger population centers, amongst college students, and in other settings where religious discrimination and bigotry may not be as serious a problem. Here, of course, there IS always a need for more organization and good leadership. The Theodsman who wishes to start a group of his own must bear certain things in mind, of course, as appropriate to his task. For one thing, whoever is the leader of the group is normally expected to buy the food and beer and 0t!terwise provide, as necessary. ~e can, however, call upon ~IS me.mbership for whatever kinds of help he may need, including jobs of work and occasional collections of money for expenses, if that is really necessary. It is very ill-thought-of'in Theodism for the lord, as host, to be expected to do everything himself, with little or no help from his thanes, but well thought-of, on the other hand, when thanes show a good eagerness to help their lord in every way asked. Normally, a leader will come up with a name for the group, or will ask for suggestions, perh~ps even for a vote on the subject, usually in the type of voting meetmg called "Thing, t" if the group is coherent enough by then. However this is done, the name chosen should reflect a sense of locality or identity, and be cast into a heathen-sounding form, It may be named after the locality where the group lives, whenever that is possible, although if that place name is too exotic, such as, say, a ''Native American" name, where none of the members are ''Native Americans," or a name chosen from Classical Antiquity, such as Rome or Syracuse or Sparta, such name may be impossible to heathenize



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Section II: The Leode, Its Organization and Structure

and may not work, unless, of course, it can be translated. It may be some tribal or ethnic name of old, such as, for instance, if most or all members happen to identify with or be descended from a certainethnicity or tribe. It may be named after its founder, as was common 'in days of old, by adding "ing," or "son of," to the name. Many names of English towns, for instance, end in "ing," meaning that the first element of the name was the name of some Anglo-Saxon leader whose folk dwelt there and founded the town in eldritch times. Names that should generally not be chosen are names drawn from nature, such as some plant or animal species, unless the locality may happen to be famous for an abundance of that plant or the animal be some totem animal of overwhelming importance to the tribe's religious practices. Names based on some prominent local geographical feature, on the other hand, may well be quite in keeping. God names should also not be used unless the group functions mainly as a center of significant devotion or service to that particular god above all others. Neither should a name be based on a fantasy concept or an abstract metaphysical principle or process. Many neopagan groups, for instance, choose abstract names that include words like "earth" or "star" or "sky" or "fire." In Theodism, this tradition is considered an invitation to reification, t bad form and, sometimes, bad luck. Likewise, it should not be a hagiological name normally associated with something else; the name of a rune, for instance; that too can mean bad luck.

pate. This creates for most groups an ambience that the leadership must be aware of and able to deal with appropriately, if a leader wants to keep his group going in a healthy manner worthy of the favorable notice of our gods, who normally do not suffer fools and triflers very gladly. He must also, of course, always be earnest enough in his own love and service to the gods and folk to be willing to cope with a certain amount of human· frustration.

Most people today, even in heathenism, are not used to the idea of structured or heirarchized groups. We live in a time and place that tends to strongly emphasize such values as democratic ideals and individualism, which is not really the way that Theodism operates. We also live in a time and place where "alternative religions" may be somewhat faddish, even amounting to "religious flavor of the month," in which participants and newcomers may not be very serious-minded about the religion, and may be just trying to "make the right noises" in order to be allowed to partici-

Many founders of alternative religious groups try to incorporate schemes and themes into the group's fundamental structure that are Leftist or "utopian" or both, and there is a tendency for the group to go along with such designs, because of a general perception that that is just the "style" of alternative religion. This perception should not be surprising; the fact is, the idea of an alternative religion, running against the hidebound conventional established religious grain, is inherently a Leftist idea. The founder himself may infact have a Leftist world view, which he or she is only trying to implement by founding such a group in the first place; accordingly, there may be a structural emphasis on such matters as group egalitarianism, radical democracy, nondiscrimination, non-judgmental permissivism, indulgence of homosexuality, spiritual eclecticism, religious rationalism, therapeutic psychodrama, environmental or other activism, gender-role revision or reversal, matriarchy, or any number of other Leftist social-engineering-inspired notions. In fact, such designs are closely associated with the idea of alternative religion, usually intended as "utopian," and reflecting the idea of a population striking off the socially imposed shackles of bourgeois convention and establishment oppression; of being, in fact, "free." Often the freedom sought is perceived as refiectingthe lifestyle of a golden-age pure folkdom, close to nature and as yet unoppressed under the twin yokes of Christianity and material greed; thus it happens that a religion like Wicca, for which there is no discernible historical cultural antecedency, will like to represent itself nonetheless as the "old religion,"



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Section II: The Leode; Its Organization and Structure

and even sometimes manage to be perceived as such, on the principle that if this is not the way the ancient religion was, then at least it is the way it should have been, so to speak. Again, this is an open invitation to the reification t impulse and "playing religious make-believe." The problem with such an unexamined perception, of course, is that it is simply not true; it is based entirely on a romantically fantasized "golden age" concept of the past and what it was really like. Another problem with such contrived structures is that they also never work very well; the resulting group ambience is inevitably highly political, spiritually stressful and chaotic, or else very static, uncreative and stuck in its own kind of established bourgeois conventional group-think notions. Nonetheless, that is the usual relentlessly followed "conceit" of even some of the highergrade forms of alternative religious initiatives, to the point where the emergence of more genuine religious initiatives like Theodism may seem dangerously, even treacherously, out of keeping with the usual conventional alternative-religious understandings and conventions; it may even find itself and its membership coming under vicious attack from such established groups. Under those circumstances,then, the Theodsman has no choice but to try to be understanding of the thinking and motivations of such groups, and the kinds of irrational panic attacks that trigger their anxieties and antagonisms, though at the same time he must be careful never to compromise any of his own principles with their notions just in order to get along. The fact is, Theodism is not truly an "alternative" religion, unless you consider . retroheathenry, or a true return to the religion that preceded the "alternative religion" known as Christianity, to somehow be an "alternative" religion, and Theodism is simply the way it is, not because Theodsmen can't or won't compromise, but because if they really want to faithfully practice a retro-religion, they don't really have any choice. The fact is, "pure" folk in a state of nature, either before civilization in elder times or somehow liberated from civilization today, never naturally adopt any Leftist utopian social

engineering lifestyle notions or practice any Leftist-oriented religions; modem Leftism is an artifact of modem Romanticism. What they inevitably adopt for a lifestyle, because it works, is tribalism, and what they quickly evolve and practice for a religion is tribal religion, of some autochthonous t kind peculiar to themselves, or ''their theodish belief." Inevitably, of course, some will argue that even if eld~~ heathens did not practice Leftism in historical times, maybe they would have evolved into it by now if they were still around today, so wouldn't it be better to modernize the re'ligion just like the heathens themselves might have rather than try to dwell in the past? ' Unfortunately, that argument runs into the same fallacy, based on the idea that history and religion are "progressive," and Leftism is also "progressive," therefore the two would be bound. to coincide at some point. But the only reas~nthat Leftism is perceived as "progressive" is because that IS what Leftists are always saying that it is, out of necessity. Even in modem society, Leftist theories when put into actual p~actice, never really work out verY well, an~ ~ften ~omphcate the very so.cial problems they were ongmally mtended to solve, forcmg Leftists to constantly excuse practical failures by arguing that society just needs to be more enlightened, and that we are making "progress" but we just aren't there yet. ' The truth is, the idea of history and religion as "progressive," even though it is often taught in our schools, is straight out of .the ~ible and is pure superstitious fallacy; the hea!hen VI~W IS bound t? be very ~iff~nt, needless to say. Nor IS Leftism progressrve; Leftism, m one guise or another has actually been around since the days of Alexander th~ Great, and has not radically changed in the whole history of Western civilization. What people ought to understand, but most don't, is that Leftism, especially in America, is actually a "culture," like the "Academic culture" or the "Hollywood culture" or the ''Drug culture," or any number of other specialized subcultures with their own particular



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Section II' The Leode, Its Organization and Structure

world view, manners, mores and ways of thinking. As such, its basis is functional and sociological, not historical, with a tendency to take itself way too seriously, as well as to be often taken far more seriously than it should be by others. And of course it is not appropriate or necessary to anything like a ''tribe,'' which already has its own culture ... the ''Tribal culture." Tribal cultures are the most natural form ofhuman cultures and are of course found all over the world and down through history, in one time and place or another, and Theodism is just one example of a "Tribal culture;" there are many others, analogous but different If you are, say, Native American, or Black, or Japanese, or Jewish, for instance, you probably have known or experienced much the same thing, though of course your mileage may vary. In Theodism, everything is done in the elder way as much as possible, and of course the elderen were not frivolous or conceited in their approach to their religion or anything else. Tribesmen, living in a state of nature, can't afford to indulge conceits of any kind. They don't think ideologically or symbolically or democratically, and they wouldn't understand Leftism if you explained it to them all night. In fact, what they understand, and necessarily use, exclusively, is what works. The elderen were generally tribesmen, for whom their regular religious practices together were important to the welfare and survival of the tribe. All they really sought were good leaders, and whenever they were lucky enough to find them, they followed them very trothfullyf and faithfully, even to the death, if necessary. As a modem leader, of course, you will not normally have that luxury of "good followership." In some ways, that just means you may be forced to be an even wiser and better leader in your own time than the elder leaders were in theirs.




to Theodish leaders, they are rarely "elected," in any usual democratic way. Instead, they most usully come into leadership by a kind of religious Darwinism. If a man has the stones to organize a group and keep it successfully going without compromising any Theodish principles in so doing, then he is entitled to be called the "Dryhten,"t or ruler, of that group, known in Theodism as a Leode, tor followership or folk.

Being a good Theodish Dryhten is apt to be a bit of a balancing act. On the one hand, the Dryhten's rulership is somewhat sacral, by virtue of his holy oath, and can never be questioned except in certain particular ways, as determined by ''thew,'' or customary law. In serving their Dryhten, his followers owe him honesty, sincerity, love, and a right good will, with no "politicking" or private agendas. For his part, the Dryhten owes them love, honest impartial selfless leadership and guidance, and a willingness to further them in their own troths with the gods as earnestly as he would himself in his own. Moreover, he owes to them and himself a duty of conscience to never lead himself or his Leode into any action that would be in any wise wrongful or unseemly. In many ways, the relationship of a Dryhten to his thanes is somewhat of a "big brother" relationship, and to his lesser folk something of a wise and powerful "uncle." Other than . that, however, it is important to always remember that a Leode is not a "family," and should never fall into the trap of thinking ofitself as such, which is dangerous to it. Leodes are Leodes, and may contain whole families, which still remain families unto themselves, as parts of the Leode



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Section IL' The Leode, Its Organization and Structure

community. Meanwhile, a Leode cannot operate the way a family does, The Dryhten is never a "father figure," nor his wife or lady a "Great Mother," so to speak. The wise Dryhtenwill never allow the kind of dynamic in his L60de that seeks to infantilize its membership, or turns it into merely a large dysfunctional surrogate extended family, which is merely a magnet for the psychologically alienated personality which so commonly seeks parasitical membership in that type of group. Proper Thaneship and religious thew, to ever be worthy of the gods, is a grown-up, rather than an infantile or perpetually adolescent, life calling. Leodesmen normally bond together by means of oathed, rather than blood, relationships, and they must always be true to their oaths no matter what, through thick and thin. Family members, on the other hand, often routinely squabble, abuse, manipulate and betray each other, taking blood for granted, and they may often bring such bad habits into groups they may join, if it seems that they are basically just trading one "family" for another; this sort of dynamic can never be allowed amongst members of a Theodish Leode, Theodsmen interact and are bound together not by blood but by oath and thew. . The main principle of Dryhtenship, then, is that the Dryhten organizes and provides for a L60de of people sworn to be true to him and what he and his Leode stand for in their own troth and thew. This of course includes forsaking any other membership as may be necessary in another religious thew that would conflict with that thew owed to gods and folk in his Theodish Leode, and some Dryhtens may want to include a ritual for swom.men and women that, say, rejects Christianity or some other conflicting religion. Moreover, the wise. Dryhten will remember that he leads not just for the sake of personal power, but rather to advance his cause and his Leode, and that those who come into membership of his Leode owe faithful service to him and his Leode. He will never take in any members who have no services that they could render, just to pad out the Leode's numbers. The ultimate goal of any Leode is grow50

ing worthiness and constant improvement. Every member must be ready, willing and able to work to make the Leode a better place for all by his membership in it, and by offeringto it his own skilled or unskilled service as may be asked of him. One aspect of Theodism as practiced that has always been controversial is its tradition of zero tolerance on triflers and adventurers and new joiners who exhibit character flaws of kinds intolerable to the Leode or Theod, Traditionally, once one leaves or is expelled from a Theodish lett . under anything less than absolutely honorable conditions, it is impossible ever to rejoin, or, as High Theodsmen often put it, "F*** up once and you're gone for good." Every new member is told that from day one, of course, and the serious minded will usually take it to heart. The non-serious newcomer, however, who is generally so much smarter than you are, or at least thinks he is, may often think you are just kidding about that and a lot of other things you may try to tell him, and particularly in contemporary culture, he may be used to a tradition of permissiveness and a tendency for even reasonable policies requiring good behavior to be regarded as draconian and repressive. The expelled member, then, who tries to come back later, only to discover that you weren't kidding, may feel very much affronted and react in a hostile, even psychotic manner, with threats, psychological intimidation, harassment of members, stalking behavior, etc... all of which are of course highly illegal, and for which aggressive countermeasures should promptly be taken to bring that fact home to the wrongdoer. Solving such problems is never fun, of course, but persistence pays off in the end and the Leode will generally come out wiser and better for it. In High Theodism, such policies are absolutely necessary because of the seriousness of the calling. In Greater Theodism it will of course be up to the Leode and Dryhten to judge for themselves how strictly they may choose to follow or enforce such a tradition.


Section II: The Leode, Its Organization

and Structure




order to get to the point of worth t in the group, it is traditional for a new member to spend a certain indefiite length of time in probation within a Leode, During this time he has no rights and can swear no oath and must work and learn the lore and thews of the Leode by study and experience. InHigh Theodism this probationary condition is called "I>rreld6m,t" and can be very strenuous. The prrelt, if his petition to becomea member is accepted, is bought at auction by some freeman who then teaches and trains him in Theodism in exchange for his work, money or services, until such time as he is judged to be ready for a chance to "cheap this abraidness.l" or be set free to swear a hold oath to some lord who will have him. In Greater Theodism, the position of a new member is somewhat similar, and he or she is called aLeamer, or Learning- Wight t. Whenever distinction amongst ages and sexes is necessary, a Leamer may be termed a Learning-Man or Learning- Wife, or, if still of minority age, a Leaming Knave or Learning-Maiden accordingly. This designation constitutes recognition of official probationary membership in the Leode, Any Leode will of course also fmd itself surrounded by a certain circle offriendly or sympathetic people who may sometimes participate and help out in certain kinds of activities, but who do not actually join, at least at first; such people are known as "Goodfolk." It is often from amongst the ranks of Goodfolk that Learning Wights first come into the Leode, The probation period of a Learner is indefinite, but at some point it will be obvious to all that the Learner has


The Way a/the Heathen: A Handbook a/Greater Theodism

Section II: The Mode, Its Organization and Structure

made a certain amount of progress, and has come into a useful and serious understanding of what Theodism is all . about, and what his Leode is all about. At that point he may be eligible to swear a "hold oath" (an oath oflove and service in exchange for a "living" and a "wergild,"" or free membership and full rights within the Uode) and become a "Yeoman" or, in the case of a woman, a "Goodwife." This status is equivalent to that in elder times of a free farmer or householder or churl in akingdom. Such a man always owes regular loyal service in fee or in kind to his Leode, such as to always stand ready to answer the fierdl hom in its defense, to help the Leode bl6t on holy days, and always to uphold its Dryhten, never raising voice, hand or weapon against him except it be in self defense. THE&slp Above Yeoman is another rank, a "noble" or "thanely" rank, as opposed to the "folkish" rank of Yeoman, called a "Gesith," i.e., 5esij>, pronounced "yeh-SEETH," which means "companion" or "peer." This is the rank of those with special skills or abilities who take on specific responsibilities in the Leode on behalf of its Dryhten; these are the officers of the Leode. Thus it can be seen that a Leode is normally structured somewhat along the lines of traditional heathen cultures of the pre-Christian era and the elder tripartite Indo-European societies as described by Comparative Religionist Georges Dumezil, It has its class of the "unfree," namely Learning Wights, who are not yet full members of society, and are brought along by being taken under some full member's wing in a system of "each one teach one." It has its class of workers and "Providers," whose labors feed the society, called ''Yeomen,'' corresponding to the Dumezflian "Third Function." It has its class of people in service to the Leode, to protect it, provide skilled services and take on the responsibilities of the welfare of the Leode=the "thanely" or "professional" class called 5esij>pas, corresponding to the Dumezflian "Second Function." And finally, it has its "First Function" rulership class, in the person of the Dryhten, who provides the leadership 54

maintains the Leode' s sacral responsibilities. It is the Dryhten who sets policy for the Leode, organizes its work and training, guarantees the rights of'freefolk as necessary, sets the holidays and other religious occasions, and makes sure that they are properly observed by his Leode, It is the Dryhten who creates 5esij>pas, in a special ritual, somewhat like an accolade of "knighthood," to be his troop of helpers, hall thanes and shoulder-companions, and sets them to their appointed tasks in service to the Leode, Each oesij>, of course, will normally have his own troop of Yeomen sworn to him and in service to him, who normally help him in his appointed duties on behalf of the Leode. The Dryhten normally provides out of his own pocket for the immediate needs his oeslPpas may incur in his service. THEHOLD OATH To all of this structure, the key is the "Hold Oath." In High Theodism, for a prrelt to cheapl his abraidnessf requires the approval of the King or his deputy. He then needs to have his "man-shot," or manumission fee, to pay over to his owner, and a lord who will hear his oath and accept his loyalty and service. Once he has paid over his man-shot, the threel" becomes free by the act of swearing his hold oath and having it witnessed and accepted, which he does, normally in symbel hall, by approaching the gift stool whe~e his prospective lord is seated. He then kneels and places his head on his lord's knee, under the sword which his lord is holding. This is intended to signify that he is willing to bet his head that he will faithfully keep the oath he is about to swear. That lord hears his oath, gives a counter-oath and an accolade with the sword, then bids the man who knelt as a threlt to rise up free in his thaneship (service). The .Theodish Hold Oath is modelled after the ancient traditional comitatus, or war-band, oath described in Tacitus' Germania; as formally sworn between lord and thane, or "shoulder companion." In a Greater Theodish Leode, then, such Hold Oath runs as follows:


The Way of the Heathen: A Handbook of Greater Theodism

Section 11: '1 he ueoae, irs orgamzauon ana


"1 (name) bo ha4!b\j solaf1"l\i SW4!af' efore b sobs a"b mm to (name) tl1at 1 shallhmcaorih love what \jO....love a"b hat4! what ljO"U hate a"b follow ljO"U thf'O"USh thick a"b thi" i" what eva ljOUu~batak¢. be it i" "0 wise Wf'msfyl 01" .... "S4!af1l\i. wa~i"SljOuf' lif4!evm at risk of mlj OWH. Neva shall11ift voice. ha"b 01" W4!al'OH a,Sai"st ljO"U except it be i" self bdmse. a"b. shoulb \iOU fall iH the fra\i. 1 shall Hot leave that battldldb alive uHless 1hav4! avmseb ljou:' Before anyone is allowed to swear such a serious oath, of course, he should thoroughly understand what it means. The language is of course mostly very Anglo-Saxon, as are the meanings of words in it which may have different shades of meaning today. To "love," for instance, does not originally have the Romantic kinds of meanings it has today. What it really means is something like "to give leave to, trust, allow, tolerate." Likewise, to "hate" does not refer, in its root meanings, to things like power ties or broccoli or people of other races; it means something like "to view as a threat, oppose." What the oath refers to is all that which is considered "innangaros," or the place where the community dwells, as opposed to the "utangaros," or wild lands beyond the community pale, the habitat of "outlaws" and other kinds of predators. To love what one loves and hate what one hates, then, has nothing to do with things like, say, strawberry shortcake, the lord's wife, or who to vote for for President. What the hold oath means is that the swearer promises to help his lord hold and defend his innangaros against any threat from without, sticking by him to the death if necessary; the ancient warband oath. It also includes the concept that the thane helps in anything that benefits the lord's community, such as providing ready helps and service to it in his lord's name and on his behalf. Having heard the freeman's oath, then, the lord swears a counter oath, which in Greater Theodism runs as follows:

"1 (name) bo Ava that 1 hUT \jOUr'oath aHb am slab to huf' it. wherd'01"e 1 bo heNb\j solm1Hhf SWUf' before sobs a"b mm to (name) tl1at 1 shaU hmcdoril11ove a"b keep ljO"U. "b fu1"tl1a ljO"U a m ljOUr'calliHS as 4!amestht as 1woulb mljselfiH mlj OWH.K"owiHS as we bo that cattle bie aHb kiH bie. a"b ljO"U ljouyulf shall me balj bie. a'f1bmishtiest halls shall me balj fall to 51"¢ebljtlame. a"b "ob1est eaf'ls fall to @se hate. a"b folk to battle f'aiH. the harvest of speaTS: \fa OHethiH$ theN is that'f1eva bies. is the boom of a ma'f1 whm beab. a"b tl1e hOH01" of a" oatl1 tl1at was trul\i swom to a"b trul\i berne to. baw4!m mm while tl1eljliveb." The lord then dubs the man's shoulders with a sword accolade, and bids him: <7hO"U who k'f1eJtbOWH as (old rank or arung)! rise up 'f1OW (new rank or arung)." as It is usual for the two men to embrace at that time, and sometimes share a hom, some of which is blotedl' to the witnessing gods into the bl6torc t after they have both drunk from it. Again, the meaning of such an oath must be thoroughly understood b~ all concem~d. Th~ lo~d swears to "love" his man, meanmg to trust him at hIS SIde and keep his service while not leading him into any wrongful ways or interfering unnecessarily with his individual freedom. He swears moreover to "keep" him, which literally means to provide for his livin~, ~ut in this. context has the ~ore limited meaning of providing such thmgs as the food, drink, as well as hospitality and sometimes even money consumed in his service, gifts of other items and benefits that ~ay naturally accrue to it. If a lord is rich, of course, he mlg~t well provide that "living," ifhe can afford it, as long as It does not constitute a gift that is "overmuch," or out of proportion to the service rendered. And certainly the l?rd ~hould stand ready to help his thane in any way he can m his per-



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Section II: The Leode, Its Organization

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sonallife, such as helping him fmd ajob, for instance. Another important thing is furthering the man in his calling. Nonnally a Theodsman comes into the service of some lord byway of guaranteeing his wergild, t rights and status with~ the Leode, bu~ any man is apt to have some religious or other g,?al of his own beyond such social devices. He may be seekmg personal religious or spiritual evolution, excellence in some high craft that he is interested in pursuing, or som~.other goal that may command some personal portion of his own eff0ft::'i,or may even some day take him beyond the level of service that he swore to. Whenever this is the case; his lord has an obligation to help him along toward such goals, eyen find outside helps for him if possible, and never hold him back merely to keep him in his service or under his selfish dom~ation in any way that is not rightful. Instead, always helpmg every man better himself with a "Right Good Will" is a very important principle and thew of''Iheodish Belief. . Once s~orn,. this oa~ must be kept at all costs, the only way out of It bemg the mcompetence to keep it of one man or the other, or by a common agreement between them that it is no longer appropriate for some reason. In such case they should dissolve it before witnesses in symbel as solemnly as they swore it. That doesn't happen very often and there is no set form for it, other than that its intent should be clearly understood by all witnesses.' . : One sometimes. hears variations on the exact wording of the oath as sworn m symbel hall, and sometimes the form may wax highly rhetorical and eloquent, as when sworn between great lords on some high occasion for instance. However, it is important to remember that, ';0 matter what the words or language, a hold oath is always a hold oath and always has the same meaning and intention. Another thing to note is the way such language always refers to "men." I~is important for a Theodsman to always remember that m Anglo-Saxon the word "man" simply means "human being," and includes all ages and sexes. Whenever it is absolutely necessary to distinguish gender or age, one

merely says "werman/" "wifman,"! "child," "cnapa" ("knave") or "cniht" ("knight," or apprentice) for a boy and "maiden" ("mresden," a girl still living with her own "meeg," or biological family) for a girl. In practicality, it is most often men who are seen swearing hold oaths, since a hold oath bears the significance of a loyalty and a followership. Sometimes a woman will be seen to swear a hold oath, if she is a career woman or bent upon some particular calling for herself, the head of her household or dominant responsible party, or otherwise an independent female acting in her own behalf. Most often, however, in Theodism as seen today, most women are there as wives and family members of some trothed man, and already have oathed or blood relationships with him. Thus they come under his oath in any case unless they solemnly declare themselves unwilling. To swear some separate oath unnecessarily might risk some conflict or alienation with their preexisting loyalty to the male relative. Incases where family members are also members of the Leode and therefore may not have sworn oaths to gain membership, that kind of membership is called "blood-right" or "kin-right" membership. In Theodism, this type of membership, once rare, is becoming more and more common, as more and more family members discover for themselves what a good place Theodism is to be.



Section II: The Leode, Its Organization and Structure




is possible for women to occupy positions of leadt ership in Greater Theodism, and women are always understood to have the same natural rights as men have. In practice, however, it is not seen very often, either in eldritch times or now, that a group is led by a "lady" rather than a "lord", unless it is primarily a female activity, or unless the female leader is quite a remarkable woman; a heathen Margaret Thatcher, so to speak. A Dryhten's wife is not even considered a "co-ruler," so long as her husband remains competent, since no body can function properly with two heads and two brains; instead, her position is more apt to belike that of an American Presidential "First Lady." The main reason has to do with the nature and function of'human community itself. Normally.jnen differ in their politics from women, in that a man is always theoretically an arms-bearer, and inherent in manhood is the principle of the potential use offorce as an instrument of policy; what is known in the Dumezflian thesis as "Second Function." This means that any ruler is necessarily in the position of ruling and directing arms-bearing Second Function men, as their warlord. Normally if a male is in charge of males, so long as he holds the respect of the men he leads, the politics involved may be relatively uncomplicated. Whenever a woman is in charge of men in the exercise of an inherently male function, however, the dynamic is changed in ways that can be ,difficult for any community to deal with. In particular, the woman must usually deal with a constant climate of suspicion that she is secretly engaging in sexual favoritism amongst the powerful men with whom she must deal, and such accusations are of the kind that never have to be true to be commonly believed. The fact is, any leader, male or female, will have foes, gainsayers, nay-sayers and envious




The Way a/the Heathen: A Handbook a/Greater


rivals; any male leader has to know this fact of leadership and must know how to deal most effectively with it to survive, and any female leader must too. Inthe case of a woman, however, such added window of vulnerability for compromising her reputation is always open to be exploited by any spiteful foe, especially from the spite of other women, and such a window is generally impossible to ever close completely. Thus it is that a woman in a position of power will tend to face much greater natural challenges than a man in the use of it, and even if she may be otherwise perfectly capable, only the most remarkable kind of woman will be able to successfully meet such leadership challenges. As so often happens, any female leader in a position of this kind of responsibility has to be twice as good as a man in the same job in order to gain equal credit in it and survive. Unlike a man, a woman in such a situation must manage to somehow become an Octavia, beyond reproach; not an easy thing to do outside of Shakespeare. For most women, then, the game is not worth the candle, and most women themselves will generally tend to prefer that it be a man, if possible, who is in such position of responsibility, for the sake of the community peace of mind.







ne rray

OJ me


e have said above that Theodism is normally alawless society, which operates instead by thew. This is true, and normally a Leode, though it may have a charter, has no bylaws or other kind of codified apparatus, and no rules that cannot be communicated mouth to ear or learned experientially. "''Thew'' is something between "customary law"-and ''tradition," and is mainly based on what is called the tribal "orlayf in the well." This concept comes from the earlier pre-Christian meaning of the word "law," expressed in the Old Norse word "log," or "layer," that which is "laid down" in the ever recycling ''well'' of tribal experience. This "law" is the memory of how things were before the memory of the tribe's eldest living member, as epitomized and preserved in the tribe's oral tradition, especially in its poetry. Unlike the Christian concept, the key to understanding heathen "law" is not cast in terms of "good " (i.e., according to God's Law) and "evil" (i.e., in transgression ofGod's-Law), because, at the least, the heathen knows that the gods don't really make any laws intended to arbitrarily regulate the affairs of men at their own capricious whim. What most interests the gods in a man is the question of his ''worth, t" and surely no man could be considered ''worthy'' ifhe must live from day to day under a need to be told what to do and not do. "Laws," in heathenry, are things that communities "lay down," by organic historical processes that are not always conscious, and the key to understanding them is not "good" and "evil?' at all, but the far deeper and more meaningful question of "significance" vs. "insignificance." This is another dimension within which the only way to properly understand the elder heathen is on his own terms, Properly understood, we can see the effect of the accretion of Mediterranean ways of thinking on our cultural substrate. The Mediterranean impulse always seems to be to level and


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Section III: The Way

0/ the Heathen

depersonalize everything, catalogue and categorize, linearize and codify-in other words, detachment or abstraction of phenomenon from contextual significance. We can see this tendency at work everywhere from the codified laws and civil service of ancient Rome to the "perfection" which Godhead achieves in the later portions of the Bible, wherein it is noted that He has numbered every blade of grass and every hair on a man's head, and that a sparrow cannot fall from the sky without His notice. God, we are told, is no respecter of men, and rates all men, rich and poor, significant and insignificant, alike .. God, in other words, as understood by the Bible, is a very "linear" thinker, almost a mere cosmic bookkeeper, as it would seem, and as such is very different from either heathen god or heathen man. To the heathen mindset, phenomenon without significant context or consequence, such as the fall of a sparrow or the number of hairs on a man's head, is itself without notable significance, and therefore must always yield pride of place to that which may be significant, or, as the poet says, that dew which may fall back into the well of orlay". Of course it is not always easy to judge significance, without the help of wisdom and tradition and some such faculty as the poet's ''vision.'' It thus becomes the poet's task to see and point out "significance" and. show or demonstrate that significance to his audience by means of his poet's craft. Whenever the poet seems to have done this successfully, such as by making us feel and see what he feels and sees, we judge instinctively that he has composed a "good" or perhaps a "great" poem. It is in this sense, then, that we say that the heathen and his gods tend to dwell not just in a "mundane" reality but even more importantly in the more holistic overarching dimension of the "poetic" reality, where significance dwells and where gods dwell, a vital heathen-epistemological concept not always easy for our modem Mediterraneanized culture to understand. We, and our gods, are indeed "respecters of men."



s opposed to soteriologi~alt,~astern Quie~is~t r~ligions, based on "suffermg, such as .Christtanlty, Theodism in particular and heathenry m general are "Activist"! religions based on the spiritual principle offorging worth in the fires of ordeal. In Theodism one doesn't talk about Good Deeds, such as helping little old la~ies across the street, vs. Bad Deeds, such as transgressmg against God's Law. Instead we simply say that "weare our deeds" and talk about the three categories of deeds: Right Actio~, Wrong Action and Inaction, ofw~ich ~e third is the worst, since if you are your deeds, then macnon means you're nothing. By contrast, the Theodish conviction that any man who can do something ought. to be ~oing something is why there is normally much going on in a Leode at any given time. By the same token, even though Theodsmen may not always like each other very mu~h, the ~eason why they stick together as well as they do WI~ so httle squabbling is simply that most Theodsmen are Just too busy, not to mention too needful of one another's helps, to bother fighting amongst themselves. . .. Leode projects give people who might otherwise be Sitting around on their duff something to do, whereby they can show what they can do, often gaining a gefrain, or reputation and some boasting rights, in the process, whenever they do something that works out really well and gets talked about. They also tend naturally, after awhile, to team up and work together on projects, so as to produce bigger and better things and enjoy the special social plea~ures humans soon discover in working together on somethmg. The result, of course, beyond encouraging togetherness in a folk, is that each project tends to be the work of many hands, each doing what they do best, thus greatly enhanc-



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Section III: The Way cf'th« Heathen

ing the quality of the project. Usually, finding out what people do best is a process of discovery, by getting volunteers for projects. Overall, the result is to provide a mechanism for the Theodish "meritocracy," making for greater social mobility and a more ideal kind of society. This is the mechanism by which people rise to high positions in Theodish Belief. Worthy works and who is responsible for them should be known. The symbel bench is so important in Theodish Beliefbecause Symbel is the place where any man can stand and tell tales, the tales of good deeds and bad, and boast his own deeds and accomplishments or, often more interestingly, those of others. A man may say about himself whatever he mayor will, but it is most apt to be whatever he may publicly say about the deeds of others that is regarded even more by his peers as "significant." It is "significance" that lays down the layers of orlay into the Wyrd-well of each hearer's heart, thence to play its part in shaping the destiny of the whole Leode in days to come, often as not for youths yet unborn. It is for this reason that the language of symbel is so often poetic in character, since the true mother tongue of "significance" is poetry.




oetryis made possible by certain inflective, synthetic and figurative characteristics of the Indo-European languages, and is a tradition that goes all the way back to the last Ice Age. Early Indo-European tribesmen were superstitious about the idea of writing anything down, for various metaphysical reasons, and instead made use of the language's poetic powers for lore preservation. The choice was because of poetry's great knack for compressing ideas and conveying meaning in powerful unmistakable ways, and because of its wonderful portability; poetry and song naturally live on in various holistic parts of the mind, where they are so much easier to understand, memorize and pass down through the generations than plain talk. We still hear hints of the ancient poetic oral tradition in many common law conventional phrases which still survive today in expressions like "to have and to hold," "scot and lot,'; "aid and abet," "kith and kin," "might and main," "nor let nor hindrance," "safe and sound" and all sorts of similar pairings, each meant to bracket the ends of a whole range of actions, intentions or conditions, conveying immediate meaning to our minds without us having to consciously think about them. In Indo European cultures, poetry works somewhat the same way as ''jive'' does amongst African peoples. Normally tribesmen are raised up in such law, and so always automatically know what choices to make in their personal lives, because everybody in the tribe knows what such laws are and what they mean. Such "laws" are also self-enforcing, for the same reasons, and abiding by them is a mere effortless matter of social behavior. By contrast, regular law codes are arbitrary abstract things, and must always operate on a principle of "one size fits all." How-



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ever, since nature makes us all different sizes, this tends to strike some individualistic streak in the natural human spirit as somehow degrading and insulting. Respect for codified law will vary according to the temperament of the individual affected, and whenever such law runs far enough at variance with nature to force a choice, human nature almost inevitably wins, a fact of life that will always tend to systematically "criminalize" any society which tries to live under codified law. Inparticular, codification is almost useless as a tool for regulating public morality as American Prohibitionists discovered so painfully in th~ 'twenties and modem PC bluestockings are still discovering today. Individual moral behavior is inevitably instinctual, customary and meta-historical, and dwells in places where codified law has no power to go nor proper warrant to intrude. An example might be codified law's need to set an arbitrary threshold age for sexual consent in adolescents. Such a natural matter of public concern in any community can only be successfully regulated by powerful pressures of social custom, if regulation is the right word for the ways family and community normally find for dealing case by case with such capricious natural balances in real-time. Codified law on the other hand, is inherently helpless in the face of natural lust; helpless to regulate such delicate matters by anything better than an arbitrary dictum that above a certain statutory age, a sex act may be consensual, but below that threshold age it is inevitably rape. This of course notwithstanding the enormous variability of nature's own law well known to all; namely, that some girls, 'on the one hand, may be en~rrely read!, to assume adult sexual responsibilities at age ~ee~, ,:"hde others m~y not be ready at age twenty-one. It IS. this inherently arbitrary and capricious tendency of codified. law to arrogate a contrived jurisdiction over the better Wisdoms of nature and.custom which too frequently creates and then punishes crime where no real crime had e:osted, making for la,:,,'s systematic tendency to progressively weaken the fabric of the very community it is meant to serve. Meanwhile, whenever a culture becomes too weak70

ened or socially stressed, breaking its codified laws often becomes a naughty social game, or sometimes even a national sport. No one, however, willingly breaks custom, because custom is the-culture; it is always taken personally, and breach of custom carries not just the penalty of punishment but the penalty ofloss of social status in the community, because your peers lose respect for you, as someone who just doesn't know how to act. Lack of codified law replaced in~tead by thew, is why tribal societies normally have no police forces, no lawyers and very little crime. Thus it is that, like any tribal society, a Leode will tend very strongly to be self-regulating, according to what Theodism calls "the web of oaths and the web of thew." Being self regulating, then, also eliminates the biggest problem.that any group will normally have: politics. In such a settmg, ,:"henever anyone tries to introduce politics into the group, his own or anybody else's, in hopes of gaining some personal ~dvantage, the ploy immediately becomes glaringly obVIOUS,and even the most naive member can see that that person is not acting with "a Right Good Will "and will not be taken in or conned by it. And whenever people cannot be conned, politics becomes impossible. This means that the role of leadership is rather different for a Dryhten than for leaders of other kinds of groups, and he must stick to a style ofleadership appropriate to that difference. Where we are most accustomed today to living in "adversarial" cultures, the tribal and Leodish culture is not adversarial but "social," as pre-Christian folk cultures were in eldritch times. The ruler's role in such a culture is also nonadversarial and primarily "social," or ''thewful.'' Ifwe wished to draw a modem moral of some sort from .this story, we could easily see an important respect in which modem society today goes wrong, and the root reason why America, the wor~d's.mostmaterial1y advantaged society, also has the world s highest per capita rate of incarceration and the world's most burgeoning prison industry. Such matters are determined by how well a given society understands the principles by which laws are made or not made, and


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how many other natural mechanisms for regulating behavior, other than lawmaking, are functionally intact within it. This is a respect in which the American culture, having lost its folk basis to Christianity and other historical forces, has truly lost its way. What the West has no longer understood, ever since Christianity first taught us to imagine that laws should be arbitrary commandments from on high, is the sociological purpose and function oflawmaking. A society does not make laws to regulate behavior, because regulation of behavior is something a law has little or no power to do. Instead, the whole purpose of lawmaking is the protection of the rights and safety of the innocent, or ''justice.'' Society does not allow the innocent to be harmed or murdered or raped or robbed or otherwise hindered in their enjoyment oflife, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that is what "society" means. Accordingly, a society like ours forbids certain kinds of predacious activities by some members upon other members by lawful dictate, and stipulates appropriate punishments for any instarices in which such activities may occur. That is all that law properly does or can do, and erection of a law code that manages to do that much can be a fairly simple business. Additionally however, there may be certain other behaviors to which, though they do not harm the innocent, some influential proportion of society nonetheless objects on moral grounds. Such behaviors are normally controlled by powerful social forces, the only mechanism capable of modifying personal behavior. A society like ours, however, within which no such forces have historically evolved, inevitably, and quite mistakenly, try to control such behaviors by the inappropriate mechanism oflawmak.ing. Such laws are not laws, however, but mere "Commandments." In the case of some party whose ''victimless'' activities may be thought to be harmful to himself, there is surely no "justice" in simply harming him still further by sending him to jail, and any society which blindly persists in "playing God" in this manner can only progressively criminalize itself in the process.




ormally, any religion that is new, even a very old "new"religion like Greater Theodism, comes into the world as a "fringe" alternative religion. As such, an "alternative religious" group will necessarily be made up of people from the mainstream religious world of the host community, and in the Western world this mainstream religion is normally nominal Christianity. The new joiner may not have been a very strongly believing Christian, but he will still be bound to bring in certain ideas and prejudices about what a religion is that are likely to be very different and inappropriate to what Theodism is, which is why Theodism has a lengthy learning period.






In America, because of our country's lack of a folk history and tradition, America keeps "reinventing itself' and trying to compensate with constant novelty as a way oflife. In some ways, this makes us more adaptable to ideas that are new and different; however, we do not usually adapt without at least some pain in the process. The fact is, human beings secretly do not really like change, and when change is thrust upon us, our usual American way of adapting to it is simply not to take it too seriously. However, there are many ideas in Greater Theodism that are very serious ideas indeed, more serious than most Americans are used to dealing with, and thus some pain is often part of the process ofleaming. Theodsmen often call this pain "culture shock," and it can strike the individual in unexpected ways. A technically more correct name for it would be "paradigm shift" or "paradigm clash," between the conventional paradigm that the newcomer may have been taking for



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Section III: The Way a/the Heathen

granted all his life, and the tellingly different Theodish paradigm, or way of looking at reality. This is especially true because of Theodism 's tradition of mouth-to-ear teaching and learning by doing. In Theodism, there is a saying that "Everything we are taught is false, everything that we learn is true." Thus it is that the Wisdom tradition in Theodism is not so much to teach the newcomer directly as to put him into situations from which he can learn.

Real learning, however, may often have a profound spiritual impact upon the individual. Learning rebuilds protein molecules and uses chemical transformations in the brain, which may often occur in chain reactions, because the learning of one new thing may often force reevaluation of many old things that you always thought you already knew. When this transformation is radical or massive enough, as it may be for some people, it can feel almost like a wound, and can use up a lot of brain chemistry, causing a sense of sudden deep depression in the individual. A frequent example, for instance, in High Theodism, will be when a person suddenly realizes for himself, perhaps from the chance remark of some wizard on some topic he never really thought about before, that the previous religion his family had believed in for generations and taught him all his life is really false, or when he might witness some piece of witchcraft by a wizard that really works, in defiance of all his previous rational education and assumptions about reality. At this point he may suddenly panic inwardly and need to flee from the group. In Theodism, for some long since-forgotten reason, this flight is traditionally called "going into the woods." When it happens, the wizards say nothing and simply ignore it, because they know it's a necessary part of the process, and any well-meant attempt by any third party to help the individual deal with it personally will generally do more harm than good. The man just has to work it out in his own way. Chances are, the newcomer will. not show up for the next scheduled event, or perhaps even the one after that; even so, the summonses are still sent out to him, without 74

comment, as if everything was normal and.nothing unusual was happening. The wizards know that the person "in the woods" just needs some time by himself to think his personal conventional reality over. After he is done thinking, he may be back; if he decides he can handle it, or he may not, if he personally realizes he just can't; everybody is different, after all. Ifhe does not come back, and he is just a threel or learner, it doesn't matter, because he had no obligations to the group anyway, and it just means that he couldn't handle something like Theodism, at least at this stage in his life, 'and it might be the wrong choice for him personally, sonothing need be said. Ifhe does come back, however, he be all smiles and enthusiasm and ready to resume participation, which tells the wizards that he dealt with the new knowledge successfully while "in the woods" and profited from it, touching an important developmental milestone as he did so; he is now ready, even eager, for the next step. MOTIVATION: LIFE'S Too MYSTERIOUS ••• As a society which takes both Christianity and novelty for granted, Americans are very apt to take certain human relations and reactions for granted, such as a certain level of built-in cynical hypocrisy about the way we all live our lives. This is what the Indians meant by noting that "White man speaks with forked tongue," and which today is why we strike Europeans and other old-world cultures as a very superficial, almost childish, people. Like a child, we are also not very comfortable with new ideas unless they are presented to us in a certain way, mainly because we are so constantly bombarded with novelty, usually cunningly spindoctored to slip past our natural defenses and common sense. Therefore, as i~ the words of a certain American Jazz-Age tune, "Life's too mysterious / don't take it serious," we Americans tend to roll with the punches of constant novelty by treating life as if it were a "game." On some level, we probably realize that life isn't really a game at all, or else if it is, it is a poker game in which the deck is stacked against us, but in the last analysis it doesn't matter, because we are



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Section IlL' The Way of the Heathen

just trying to survive in a world that no one gets out of alive anyway, and we use whatever works. Day to day, then, most of us proceed the same as we havebeen doing since adolescence, namely by putting on a face that we hope may make us look more sophisticated than we actually are, and simply taking things as they come. Such social defence mechanisms, meant to protect us from social vulnerability and pain, come, however, at a price, since, as they say, no pain no gain. The price of our customary cynical know-it-all posturing is to force ourselves and our spiritual consciousness into a mold of artifice, superficiality and sensation, wherein we need only deal with whatever is knowable, predictable and socially safe and acceptable. We customize our outward manner and, in the end, our inward prejudices and thinking, even our personal concept of what is or is not "possible," to the style of our immediate peer group and the blind dictates of that most purblind of all opinionators, conventional wisdom. Such a psychological process is inherently hypnotic, and it is by this social process that we all tend to become "sleepwalkers" throughout our lives. And if the cultural style of our peer group or the host society is inherently hypocritical, we become bigoted hypocritical sleepwalkers at that. Lurking somewhere within this outward superficial shell of what we think of as ourself, however, will inevitably be some normally silent inner soul which from time to time flashes in its own way upon the truth, and whose resulting secret pain will be felt by us as a helpless sense of personal powerlessness and a mysterious angst over the ultimate question of What It's Really All About. What It's Really All About is, as we have said, Significance, and by locking ourselves into the pattern of a superficial sleepwalking society we have effectively locked ourselves out from the possibility of any personal wide-awake Significance. That angst of personal insignificance felt by those who dwell in a superficial society wherein life's too mysterious to take serious is what the world's savants call anomie. t




enerallYas we get older and mortality begins to creep up on us, we go through various kinds of personal mid-life crises, and at some point begin taking at least some aspects of life seriously. The older people become, for instance, the more seriously they may begin to take the consolations of religion. And of course Theodish Belief is a religion. Interestingly, however, it is not usually older people who are drawn to Theodish Belief. In fact, demographically, the population of Theodish Belief tends to be unusually young; some five to ten years younger than the average for alternative religious groups. So far, no one knows why this is so. This can, however, sometimes cause problems, since Theodish Beliefhas always known that it is a religion, not a game, and that Middle-Earth t life is actually serious, for young and old alike. Sometimes (not always), the Theodish Leader will tend to be older, more experienced in life and a deeper thinker, who takes religion more seriously, because spiritual seriousness is generally what it takes to make a leader successful in Theodish Belief. However, leadership can be a frustrating, even painful, experience, because of the callow youth and non-seriousness of so many newcomers. In such case, the leader must remind himself that this is only natural, and he must exercise wisdom and patience. If he can do this, time will be on his side, since the longer a group or Leode lasts, the more stable its general level of seriousness will tend to become over time, while the general "youthfulness" of'Theodism still tends to make it more vigorous and innovative.



The Way of the Heathen: A Handbook of Greater Theodism MOTIVATIONSAND FALSEAsSUMPTIONS

Section IlL' The Way of the Heathen

This does, however, raise the question of people's motivations for wanting tojoin. If the motivation is not religion, why join a religious group? The answers to this are many, but in general, it should be remembered that in the Western world of today, religion is usually considered non-serious and naturally hypocritical;" something you do to get along socially, rather than for spiritual reasons. In other words, the fact that Theodism is truly a religion will tend to attract, rather than repel, the non-serious, because they will assume going in that it is just a game, like everything else in life, or it would never say that it is "religious" in the first place. In fact, it is often the sudden unexpected personal discovery that Theodism is something real and not a game after all that will drive a newcomer into the woods. In Theodism, this kind of personal discovery is known as "getting it;" a dynamic almost like a polar opposite of the popular 'seventies discipline called EST, where "getting it" signified arriving at the personal realization that EST was a "game." Generally speaking, at the root of most of the personal and political squabbles that cause division and strife in an alternative religious group will be the question of motivations, and why members become members in the first place. Especially in groups where many members may be quite young, the new joiner, who mainly concentrates at first on making whatever may seem to be "the right noises," not only does not tell you his real motivations for joining, but may not know or have good insight into what these motivations are himself. This is typical of what Socrates meant when he said that to know thyself is the hardest thing. In .Theodism, the new joiner will sooner or later gain better insight into his own motivations, because the empirical, experiential, "immersion" method ofTheodish learning and Wisdom tradition will inevitably bring him up against it; what Theodsmen call "meeting himself coming around a comer," and, like going into the woods, such an experience may make or break him as a Theodsman, depending on his

character. This however, may take a varying amount of time, and again: during that time, Theodish wi~ards generally tend to say nothing, let the learner find things out for himself and "be mainly there in the background to grve "rede, "t or supportive counseling, at such tim~s as it may be called for. This policy is in all due consideratl~)ll of~hat Socrates said the easiest thing was; namely, to give advice, In the meantime; it is helpful to consider s0!ll~ of the mo~vators that do bring a newcomer into a relIgIOUSgroup, If religion is not particularly apt to be one ofthem.









Section IV: The Group Dynamic in the Modern World

nlike Forrest Gump's mum, the wise Dryhtenl will discover over time that new joiners to his Leode t are not quite like a box of chocolates; he can indeed have some idea of what he's going to get, and what demands they may make.on his leadership ... especially ifhe has been heeding the time ..honored wisdoms to be found in this book. He knows that, in the main, he will be dealing with the products of a modern civilized anomie t society.within the greater context of which they will be more or less apt to be "misfits,"or·else they probably would not be seeking out an "alternative religion" in the first place. In fact, for "normal" members of contemporary society, who are getting the normal gratification everyone seeks out of their home, job, religious and personal lives, affiliation in something as radical as Theodism would be a pretty tough sell, just because it's "different;" no other reason. However; as the new millennium unfolds, we will all see that situation slowly begin to change. As society, in its quest for social efficiency, keeps narrowing down and making more contrived and artificial the parameters of the kinds of "normalcy" it is willing to acknowledge and reward with social status and the good life within it, at the same time as the culture's elitist powers-that-be keep redefming and down-defining "normalcy" in stranger and stranger ways, an ever-broader assortment of the kinds of people that any "normal" society would consider "normal" find themselves mysteriously disenfranchised from full participation inthe gratifications and rewards of this one, and less "plugged in" to it, often as not set adrift in it and more and more in quest of some more gratifying meaning to their existence; much more open to the notion, seemingly so revolutionary only a few decades ago, that there really must be a better way. Accordingly, what we are all seeing is that, even though Theodism is highly "social" and "communal," with the kinds of strongly normalizing social pressures built in that such a 83


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community inevitably features, the newcomers will generally be those who are for some reason not getting all the gratifications they seek from the lifestyle and opportunities of the host society, within which they may have become to some degree disaffected. That doesn't necessarily mean that they have horns growing out of their heads or look or act any different from anyone else, nor need it necessarily be regarded as cause for alarm. The reality is that much about contemporary society is structured in a way seemingly calculated to manufacture more and more disaffected "misfit" people. One commentator notes that a likely reason for Theodism's "youthfulness" is modem society's systematic narrowing of the spectrum of traditional opportunities for its youth, for whom options have tended to keep getting more and more limited. "Educational," which is often no more than code for "socializing," requirements for young people hoping for their shot at the good life and an evernarrowing array of brass rings, keep getting ever more restrictive, time-consuming, life-distorting and complex. The effect of our "socializing" system on young people is increasingly to actually "de-socialize" them and manufacture misfits, in the quest to reforge and remodel as many of them as possible into good little "career" wage-slaves and future hyper-consumers. A typical method whereby a society such as ours may systematically "manufacture misfits" out of normal people is in the attempt to cure social ills by means of social engineering. To explain this, it is necessary to come down to cases in ways that some people may find offensive, and for this we apologize in advance. Unfortunately, there simply isn't any other way to state the case. Traditionally, minority elements of any society will be seen by the majority element as misfits, whom they will "tenderloin," or "segregate," in the interests of a. perceptual general social harmony. An example is homosexuals, who may be driven by social forces to conceal their sexual orientation or into specialized callings, such as show business or the arts, where tolerance for social eccentricity may traditionally be more

"liberal." "Straight" society often indulges the internal eccentricities of a "creative" community within itself for the sake of the useful and entertaining goods that that creative community produces, but at the same time it keeps it marginalized, politically, socially and economically powerless, while in.the mainstream it is the traditional "wholesome" "straight" values and social forces that prevail. These "straight" values are of course instinctual with most people, and very strongly felt, to the point where any mainstream organization that attempts to liberalize its policies by admitting openly homosexual members will soon fmd itself completely "homosexualized," with most or all of its membership now homosexual, the "straight" members having "voted with their feet" by leaving the organization: . In the case of contemporary American society, what we see is a non-folkish, politicized, artificial society, wherein the natural social forces of tenderloining and overall cultural focus have always been weak, and today are generally no longer significantly present at all. Instead, cultural focus in our,society has become almost entirely the province of the newly technologized and today overwhelmingly influential mass media ... traditionally the dominion of the lively arts, and, accordingly, of the traditionally "tenderloined" homosexual community. The consequence of this evolution has in fact been a radical revision of"mainstream" society's values system, essentially a "tenderloinizing" of the mainstream, and replacement of its traditional values ~ith values that most "straight" people instinctively conSIder perverted. The result has been a "remanufacturing" of hordes of normal people as "misfits," instinctively disaffected with a newly homosexualized "mainstream" society, who tend to drop out of it by "voting with their feet". Our American way of life has always been flawed by its lack of any authentic historical folk evolution that all Americans today can personally relate to, and by the leveling effects of its democratic institutions, which naturally tend to encourage blind adversarial dog-eat-dog ambition at the expense of personal integrity and individual excellence. This .85


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creates a pervasive general cultural climate of crass materialism, incivility, vulgarianism and banality, today accelerated by such forces as the current consumerist fad in an increasingly complex world of "dumbing everything down." An example is personal computers, which, by the overwhelming influence of Microsoft and marketing notions of owner Bill Gates, have regressed from a powerful efficient tool in the hands of a relatively limited number of sophisticated "power users" to a topheavy overhead-smothered GUIdriven consumerist-commodity, much less useful, versatile or reliable for the more serious kinds of expert-work, but much more generally attractive as a new cyber-toy in the hands of bored no-brainer mouse-clickers the world over. Historical Theodism has itself always been somewhat "misfit," and was not always even a "community," but originally quite a specialized path. Itwas founded by an unusually bright "liberated" group of young people exploring a certain ill-understood elder shamanistic tradition, which interest only broadened as the cultural connection between that specialized path and the "greater community" began to be discovered. Even today, though any gathering of'Theodsmen may look like a group of normal ordinary working people from all walks of life, it has recently been discovered that the average High Theodsman is not "normal" at all. Recent tests show that an unusually large proportion of High Theodsmen turn outto have extremely highIQ' s, which enriches the cultural life of'Theodism with people who are marginalized "misfits" in a systematically "dumbed down" host society, a fact which doubtless played a role in motivating them to go out in search of "something more" in the first place, But of course there are good misfits and bad misfits, and in the section that follows, we must give some special consideration to the problems of the bad ones, since the good ones can presumably be counted upon to be bright enough to take care of themselves.




uch motivation is conditioned not so much by where one is trying to get to as by where one is coming from which in most cases today will be "today's society." Me'st people, after all, have nothing but fantasies to tell them where they might be going. Though not necessarily in quest of religion, most people today are in quest of something, and that something may often be somethin~ almost as spiritual, in its way. The most common feelmgs people have today that motivate them to try to do something with their lives are alienation and powerlessn:ss. yv e live in a society characterized by constant novelty, WIth little or no received historical tradition. Speaking in heathen terms, one would say that the "orlay"t of modem society, instead of being verticalized and coming up from the past, like it is supposed to, has been "horizontalized." Most of what we learn about life as individuals today does not come from tribal wizards and elders and our family, but from our peers, either directly or through the mass media; This is very socially disruptive, since obviously our peers, by definition, don't really know anything more than we ourselves do, and are mostly just winging it and hoping for the best themselves, the same as we are. We all just end up following whatever trend that some peer started which "catches on" amongst our peer group. This is obviously not a smart way to run a society. No one ever really planned it that way; it is just a mode that our host culture slipped into by historical accident and today doesn't know how to get out of, because most people today don't really know how we got into it in the first place, while some people are also nonetheless managing to make money off it. While society moves in general ways, like lemmings, the individuals in it experience the results individually, and



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the general uneasy feeling is called anomie, t a Greek word meaning namelessness or meaninglessness. They do not know where they are going, because they don't know where they have been, and are just following all the other lemmings, so they have no way of knowing where else they might go instead. They know how they feel, but they don't know any other alternative ways that they might feel instead, because all their orlayl is horizontalized; they know nothing true or useful about their past history, or how others of their kind before them might have felt differently. What they generally feel is lost and powerless, because just being in a crowd of lemmings going somewhere is no guarantee that you won't still feel mindlessly alone. So rather than be alone, they seek out some group with a social structure, and in order to gain meaningfulness, they seek some sort of power or significance in that group and social structure, which tends to determine what sort of group they will join, based on their own proclivities. Once one sincerely and knowledgeably gets into Theodism, he finds out that there is all the power, significance and meaning in it that anyone could want or handle. However, it takes time to discover that, and in the meantime people are most apt to seek to make their own place in the group by various time tested strategies which all too often may not be appropriate in Theodism, but which are normal in most other kinds of groups. It is these strategies that the Dryhten must be aware of, and must manage in such a way as to protect the spiritual integrity of his Leode, One example is the "fantasy" or "role-playing" strategy, which, whenever combined with an ego-need to "control," can be extremely disruptive in a group. Many people today are into all sorts of role playing games, which extend out into their social lives, because they have discovered that they can create for themselves a fantasy life in which they are "somebody" to replace the normal life they were born into, since in today's anomici society they are nobody. They learn the skills oftuming the social situations around them into role playing games that can coincide with

theirs, and when they discover Theodish Belief they naturally try the same strategy that has worked everywhere else. One can learn to spot such people by the highly patterned, often manipulative character of their social behavior. They will normally suck up to leaders but deal somewhat abusively with those they consider peers. Typically, in dealing with you' as apeer, they will seem to be "redefming" you, into some cliched defmition that fits their fantasy, but which is, alas, not-really you. In Theodism this is traditionally called "scripting you a speaking role in their movie." Such fantasists are very difficult, and normally you will not be able to do much with them. For them, to become really Theodish would mean re-scripting and reinventing themselves and their whole life along more reality-oriented lines, with unpredictable and sometimes painful evolutionary results. For such people, it is usually easier to just move on to some other group that might be more in keeping with such a strategy, and the best thing one can say about such people is that at least they normally won't be hanging around for very long. To give them their due, such people are often not consciously aware of their own deeper motivations, and are simply acting day to day and situation to situation without personal insight; what Theodish wizards call "sleepwalking." They do not really understand why others may resist being redefmed or manipulated within the dream landscape which to them seems real. To them, their landscape has rules, and by not going along, it is you, not they, who are "breaking the rules," which may often leave them feeling personally betrayed arid resentful toward you. However, there is usually not much that you can do about that. It is always risky totry to awaken a sleepwalker .. Another example is the "surrogate family" strategy. In today's society, where family has broken down and an actual majority of young people in his community may have been single-working-parent reared, the candidate will often be seeking a substitute for a family life that he never had. In this case he will attempt to use manipulation to recast



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the Leode into a "family," of which he becomes a dependent, by relating to the leadership as if they were parent figures and to the other membership as if they were siblings. He may infantilize himself, or manifest as a perpetual adolescent, going through an endless series of emotional crises and manipulating the group into situations in which he constantly needs to be "spanked," after which of course he promises to mend his ways, but never really does He can't really afford to; that would end the parent-child dependency relationship and force him to grow up, which he really doesn't want to do. This is essentially a con game, and the leadership must decide for themselves how to deal with it, which is likely to be fairly easy once it is recognized for what it is.



nother con game is that of the dilettante or trifler; for whom your Leode.may simply be the "alternative religious flavor of the month." Such a person will normally sound very sincere and positive upon first encounter, which he can do quite easily because, having been around, he "knows the rap." But of course he is just trifling, and secretly laughing up his sleeve at the latest parcel of silliness he has managed to worm his way into. He is not necessarily much of a problem, because in another month or so he will normally have gone somewhere else; however, during that time he may have wasted some fair amount of the Leode's time and patience with his antics. For any Leode, it is never wise to take any newcomer too seriously, no matter how enthusiastic or attractive, until he has really been around for awhile and begun to prove himself; especially, until he has been into the woods at least once and has come back again! A Dryhten should reserve his real serious efforts and energy for his proven thanes, who may in fact sometimes come to be unfairly taken for granted just because of their steadfastness, in favor of time and attention wasted on attractive triflers; big mistake! There is another kind of trifler, of course, different from the dilettante, who may come in and stay awhile, but only to disrupt, rather than for positive purposes. Sometimes this will be for mere attention getting, other times it may be a power play. Sometimes the trifler will suddenly underhandedly instigate strife between people or factions within the group, either because what he is coming to see as their silly pretentious conceits have secretly begun to offend him, or because he has simply become bored and wants to watch 91


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some fun. In some cases, trifling may go beyond "fun" into psychological vandalism. A trifler's thinking is essentially based on his cynical notion that the precepts and purposes of any group are bound to be mere credulous hokum, in which he participates, for fun, but to which he is secretly smugly superior, being more sophisticated. If, however, a group is indeed serious, and what they are doing is not obviously bunk after all, the trifler's inability to poke easy holes in the group's or leader's thesis may begin to seem to him a challenge and a threat, against which he develops a secret resentment and hostility, prompting him to disrupt and destroy the group in order to preserve his own original conceited assumptions. It is in this respect that the"very quality and seriousness of Theodism as a religious vocation may sometimes serve to work against it and become a lightning rod for various kinds of trouble. The point, of course, is that, for whatever reason, the trifler is not sincere, and is only secretly serving his own ego, rather than the welfare and integrity of the L60de. Such a trifler is sometimes referred to as an "adventurer," ifhis plans include trying to take over the group or splitting off some dissident portion of it under himself. Typically, the trifler will merely go along with the policies and principles of the group, as camouflage, while secretly assuming it is all really bunk. He may accept some relatively meaningless rank or arung" for show, while turning down positions which might require him to actually work or assume responsibility on behalf of the L60de. The usual reason for this is that he secretly plans to bring the leadership down, and therefore must not become entangled in its mechanisms himself. Typically a trifler secretly resents the power and prestige of the leadership, and may be motivated by antiauthoritarian impulses. There are certain patterns and strategies by which a trifling adventurer can fairly easily come to power in any group, and this dynamic is the most common cause of the destruction of alternative religious groups. Interestingly, the adventurer's ascendancy to power is never lasting; he ascends to power in triumph, but

then the group or the portion of it that he has taken over mysteriously falls apart afterwards. InTheodism, it is generally said that such a group has "lost its luck" with the gods, who really don't like triflers. Since such a takeover is actually illegitimate and a usurpation, having lost its luck, the group implodes and collapses. However that may be, the group-is still destroyed, and will typically leave behind a lot of highly disillusioned, often sadder but no wiser, people. The adventurer, of course,just moves on, perhaps to target and destroy another group. He will blame the group's failure not on himself but upon others, who betrayed his supposed new vision, and will say that the whole business was just BS to begin with, so it doesn't matter; in his heart, of course, he is apt to be quite cynical about all groups and power structures in general. He too is largely motivated by anomie; but his object is always to be able to blame others, not himself, for his internal misgivings and personal shortcomings. In thus killing the goose that laid the golden eggs, the payoffhe gets is not intended to be the healing of actually belonging somewhere, but the thrill of the power trip he had while it lasted, and the satisfaction of having made others who once belonged somewhere as miserable as he is, now that where they belonged is destroyed. To him, so much misery must have some meaning, even if it may be an entirely negative meaning. The trifling adventurer, who takes no responsible positions in the group himself, knows that the real power in any group is not in the leadership, who are doing the group's real work, and often as not catching all its grief, but from the floor, where he is able to express criticism and dissent with the group's policies, usually calculated to inspire the same feelings.in others, who tend to identify with him as one of their own. He knows that the leadership will make concessions to him in order to keep the peace and let the group get on with its business, but of course every concession that he wins from the leadership is more power for him, in the eyes of his peers on the floor, and his need for concessions of one kind or another will tend to escalate, to 93


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the point where he can come to seem a kind of populist spokesman for the common folk. His usual modus operandi is what is called "passive aggression," a systematic refusal to either lead, follow or get out of the way; he simply refu~~s to go along with the leadership on points of policy, raismg what al~ays seem to be conscientious objections, yet never offering any really workable alternative, often claiming that that is the leadership's job, and he is not a leader, or something to that effect. Once he has sown enough doubt in the leadership amongst members and secured enough power amongst his peers, who never see through this kind of demagogic tactic, he will normally stage a crisis of some kind, so as to create a reaction on the part of the leadership that he can positively object to as a showdown move. He will antagonize the leadership to the point where they must take some action against him, thus martyrizing h~self in the eyes ?fhis peers as a victim of an oppressive regime; thus he brings about an opportunity for a revolt ag~stthe leadership whereby he can be vaulted into power. He either takes over or else walks out and takes some sizeabl~ ~action of the group with him, depending on his oppor- . tunities of the moment. Such an adventurer may sometimes be more than a trifler; he may actually be playing King on the Mountain. A Dryhten has a lot of personal power in a Leode; power that he may have spent years and a lot of work building, in building a quality Leode, Especially ifhe is charismatic, a good leader and loved by his folk, he may easily become an object of instant envy ~o a trifling adventuring newcomer, who assumes that he IS actually the better man, and who may take a perverse thrill in conspiring to bring the Dryhten down and perhaps even gamer the spoils for himself. Any Dryhten who is around for awhile must accept the necessity of dealing with a whole sorry succession of King on the Mountain players in the course of his career, especially in his early days, as just part of his job description.



f all triflers, however, perhaps none is so disruptive as the one who introduces an "agenda" into a group. Many people suffering from anomie t will identify with some trendy pop cause, which becomes a kind of surrogate life meaning for them, but perhaps without actively joining some group dedicated to that cause. Or, even more commonly, they may join such a group, only to find difficulty in gaining power in it, because the group is too large and its power structure too well-entrenched, due to the trendiness of the cause. In such case, they may find themselves alienated from that group, whose level of action and consciousness is out of their league or just too intense for them to handle. The result is that they rationalize to themselves that the group itself is all political BS, but they still believe in what cause that group stood for. Their real need, then, is to find some smaller pond in which they can become a bigger. frog by promoting that same agenda to which they are still ideologically wed. Thus they find their way into some other smaller group involvement which may have something superficially in common with what they really believe in. They come in as camouflaged triflers, going along at first with the policies and goals of that group, but over time begin to experiment with deflecting those policies and goals more along the lines of the trendy cause that they really believe in. They win souls amongst their peers on the floor as pundits of a larger new popinjay cause that people have heard of.New sympathizers can then act as a bloc to pressure the leadership to change the group's policies and orientation to conform to those of the agenda. It is in this manner that gays were able to take over Wicca in the mid seventies. They introduced a gay rights agenda into Wiccan groups, based upon Wicca's traditional policies of laissezfaire sexual permissiveness and spiritual eclectic tolerance



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for different paths of personal spiritual expression. Wicca had never anticipated this dynamic, and had no defense against it when it intruded into their midst. All of such interloping techniques are only to be expected, hu.man nature being what it is, whenever anyone tries to bnng a group together for some purpose, especially an alternative religious purpose. Theodism has certainly seen it all during its brief history, and has survived because of its sophistication, as a wisdom tradition. Thanks to its wisdom tradition, Theodism to this day still remains Theodism, exactly as first inspired by W6den himself, god of wisdom, and never anything else. And for the most part, the ways in which this is done are remarkably simple. The rule that Theodism is never a game, for instance, means that anything that is a game in the Leode social dynamic will show up with glaring obviousness. The doctrine of "Right Good Will" makes any underhanded political ploy similarly obvious to all concerned. The doctrine of "Freedom of Conscience" prevents any demagogue from the floor posing as a freedom fighter rallying against oppression, since there is so manifestly never any real oppression there for him to be fighting against, which, again, makes the phoniness of any manufactured kind immediately and glaringly obvious. Such things have always preserved the integrity of the Theodish cause of troth with the gods,but their real power is their place in Theodish thew, the real regulator of everything. Theodism has long had traditional thewful ways built in for dealing with such inevitable distractions as those described above, which are actually new kinds of distractions. The elder more sincere form of the religion rarely had to deal with them. Perhaps the main such Theodish thew is not a new one at all, but merely the old one which was so powerful and important that it is still able to deal just as effectively with all the new challenges of today as it ever was the old ones of elder times. In all of the above cases, the real attack upon the integrity of the Leode is upon its social dynamic and its leadership, based upon what actions some individuals may take and upon their motivations for

taking them. The Theodish answer in all such cases is the Thyle's place in thew. The Thyle has traditional powers. which extend well beyond the symbel hall. It is the Thyle who openly questions and examines any boaster's motives, and in a Leode that can happen not just in symbel hall but at any kind of gathering. It is the Thyle, who has the Dryhten's protection, who can always offer counsel to any member, ifhe is behaving too childishly for whatever reason, and whose counsel is wisdom-based and must always be respected by everyone. Likewise, it is always the purpose of the trifler or adventurer as described above, to deflect the policies of the group toward his own purposes, and ultimately to discredit the leadership and make it vulnerable to overthrow. But of course in Theodism this is impossible, because the policies of the leadership are set not by the leadership itself but by thew, which is a kind of traditional common weal understood by all, to which even leadership itself is subject. Thus no policy can succeed with anyone unless it is thewful, which in this case means one that is devoted primarily to the proper agreed-upon troth between men and gods, the whole purpose, after all, of'Theodish Belief. Accordingly, then, when an adventurer seeks by passive aggression and finally by outright defiance to obstruct the policies of the leadership, it is not the leadership itself which responds to such defiances, therefore making itself into the appearance of a heavy-handed oppressor, but a third party who speaks up. A duly appointed Thyle should always be present at all Theodish occasions in case his wisdom is . needed. It is the Thyle' s natural business to take leadership off the spot by questioning every new proposition, examining motivationsand consequences in detail, and forcing everyone to think twice, while the leadership 'itself remains silent and stays out of the controversy. If the proposition involved is not both wise and thewful, it can never stand up against such light being shed upon it, and such scrutiny of wisdom and lore. A good Thyle will always spot the flaw. And if in fact the proposition can stand up against such



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scrutiny, then perhaps it is a good idea after all, and should . be undertaken IHowever, such thewful dynamic is the key to all things, as dictated by Theodish wisdom. Good thew and good leadership which hopes to prevail on the basis of all that is naturally good in man will not last long unless it also knows how to prevail despite all that is naturally evil inman. One more common problem area deserves mention for our discussion to be complete, though it often forms a gray area between agenda-mongering and king-on-the-mountain trifling. Occasionally the Dryhten or Thyle will see things going mysteriously wrong, for no apparent reason, often as not just after some.great success, when everything might seem that it oughtto be going very smoothly. Troths which always seemed good may begin to go sour; someone who always had a good reputation will now begin to mysteriously develop a bad one; long-established matters of good thew may suddenly start being irrationally challenged from the floor. It is the puzzling character of such disruptions which is most disconcerting, and once you discover the reason, which often can only be done by witchcraft, it is apt to surprise you, but it is generally always the same. In such cases, as they say in the French SUrete, Cherchez lafemme, i.e., "Find the woman." In virtually all cases where the cause of disruption is mysterious, jt will be found to be a woman or women sabotaging from behind the scenes, usually for emotional reasons involving secret jealousy or spite or misplaced affection, which can only be sorted out by calling in another woman for consultation. The methods are usually backbiting, gossip-mongering and private manipulations of the opinions of certain of the men, and because of the secretiveness involved, usually the only real check, if any, will be in the form of some Ides able to operate amongst the women in more or less the role of a Thyle. Such activities are certainly destructive, and may seem dishonorable, but it must be borne in mind that society traditionally holds different standards of "honor" for women than for men.




ust as things may go wrong in followership, as detailed above, things may go wrong in leadership. However, in leadership the whole proposition is simpler, because leadership is inherently simpler than followership ... a leader has either got what it takes, or he ain't... a decision made not by himself, but instinctively, by the folk which he leads, and of which he is also himself a part. Ideally, a leader should never seek power, but instead be nudged into power by some folk who want to follow him, which they can't very well do until they have succeeded in conning or seducing him into leading. All a leader generally knows is that he 'seems to naturally have some certain effect on the people around him, most often without even knowing why himself. This is a respect in which followers, meaning most of the human race, are natural talent scouts. Leadership is a talent, and people know how to spot it in their midst, as a matter of natural selection and survival. There are of course good leaders and bad leaders, depending upon matters of personal character, but what all leaders share, good or bad, is the talent. Moreover, followers are generally not wise in distinguishing between good leaders and bad leaders; they are only good at spotting human talent, not h1l111an character. Once people have the leader they want, they Willfollow him indifferently into either good or evil. Followers tend to be poor judges of such things as character, which is why they seek a leader in the first place. It is their leader whom they want to decide such things for them. And wherever he leads them, they do not require that it be good; the only thing they require of the leader, and



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which they require quite strenuously, is that he be able to make it "sound good." The folk will much sooner follow a . Satan who makes Hell sound good than a saint who is deficient in his eloquence about the charms and advantages of Heaven. They are likewise quite fickle, and will desert a good leader at any time to go over to another leader who is not "better," but more "talented," or at Ieast a better propagandist. This may, of course, sound like some sort of cynicism. It's not; Theodism is a wisdom tradition, not a cynicism. It's just human reality, and as such is the main business any Dryhten must understand, whether anyone else around him understands it or not. And, in general, no one else around him will; it's lonely at the top. Leaders are somewhat rare, and good ones rarer still. To be successful for long, a good leader must have not only the ''talent,'' but either an extremely high analytical intelligence or else that uncanny knack that some not necessarily intelligent people seem to have for accurately evaluating and responding appropriately to novel situations in a purposeful way. For historical examples, one might select, say, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee or Nathan Bedford Forrest, of the American Civil War era, all of whom had extremely high intelligence which they were able to use effectively as tools ofleadership. On the other hand, Generals U. S. Grant and Stonewall Jackson, or, for a modern example, hockey player Wayne Gretsky, are examples ofless intelligent men who nonetheless possessed that uncanny eye and instinct for the main chance in a situation. Of course some really great leaders, such as Macedonia's Alexander the Great or England's Alfred the Great, have seemed to possess both qualities, which may be the secret of how one comes to get "the Great" appended to one's name. The next quality that any really great leader must possess is character. The Dryhten must be harder and more demanding upon himself than he would ever be upon any follower. Once he has accepted leadership, he is never really entirely his own man again; he now always belongs in some portion to others. He must be ready to make the kinds

of personal sacrifices so often involved by always being the place where the buck stops; this instinct must be quite natural to him. One thing that may sometimes surprise him is how ready the folk may be to forgive and rationalize his personal flaws, and for a very good reason; they want to be able to keep on believing in him. What he must never do, however, is allow such tendency to tempt him into any selfindulgence, or into becoming too forgiving upon himself. The minute aDryhten does that.he loses his edge, and his days are numbered. . The fmal quality that a Dryhten must possess is the eternal Woden-like thirst for wisdom. He must always be newly outfitting that toolbox of his trade. There is actually some wisdom in everything, from the noblest strophes of Beowulf to the daintiest unfolding of a flower petal, and the true Dryhten's business is to look and look at each thing in the world until he sees the special wisdom in it, and where that wisdom fits best into everything else he knows. The Dryhten cannot always rely uniformly upon his wizards, who always have an uncanny tendency to be least wise just when you need their wisdom the most. Need for wise novel choices tends to come in bunches, and without that carefully built up toolbox to reach into, the demands of circumstance upon any Dryhten who thinks to live by his wits alone will occasionally so pile up as to quickly pummel him into exhaustion of his natural faculties, much to the distress of all concerned. In the end, it is always carefully built up wisdom which at some point will become the key to everything. What is most wrong in any Dryhten is any personal lust for power. If aman finds he actually enjoys the exercise of p~rsonal power, then a day will inevitably come when he ~lll be shown pp .1lS the last person.who shouldbe wielding It, and most usually by some rival who cares somewhat less about personal power than he does. The personal power which is lusted for is just the kind that inevitably corrupts, as anything which is lusted for will tend to do. The only man who can reliably make the wisest choices is he who has the least personally at stake; put personal lust at stake



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and itwill some day soon or late lead you into wrong choices. It will be a Vulnerability of yours that every foe, great or small, will instinctively spot and take maximum advantage of. Great leadership is never about personal power; it is always about transpersonal vision, and nothing else; anything else but transpersonal vision is inevitably fatally corruptive.




America we are accustomed to leaders to whom pern sonal power is personally important, because of the adversarial quality of American life. America tends to mistrust the idea of a natural "leadership talent" as antiegalitarian and inherently invidious. It may preach such ideas as that everyone can be or should be a leader, and tends to think of itself as merely conferring leadership and power upon the most ambitious, America believes generally in the principle offree market competition, on a law of the jungle principle, as having some special providence to bring out the best in everything and award success upon the fittest to compete, and often tries to extend that principle into every sphere of life and human affairs, by "American paradigm creep." And of course America inherently mistrusts the idea of authority in general, fears its potential for abuse, and tends to build weaknesses into its authority structures and ways of picking its leaders. The result of such structuring will generally be somewhat schizophrenic democratized and politicized power structures. In such structures, policy and action are formulated by adversarial processes within a system of checks and balances. These protect the common weal by necessitating constant compromise that will tend to mean out extremes and drive everything toward the middle road, in order to get anything done. Meanwhile, real political .power is kept out of the hands of the formal leadership,



The Way of the Heathen: A Handbook of Greater Theodism

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who are mainly in office for the sake of form and as executors of the common weal, and instead tacitly given to those who are cunning enough to use it from the floor. In such structures, as many decisions as possible are arrived at by vote, which tends to stabilize a power structure by constantly pressuring policies toward that course perceived as safest, while relieving anyone person of responsibility for decisions that may later prove to have been bad ones. Whatever the advantages of such systems, the main disadvantagesare their instinctive mistrust of individual excellence and their leveling tendencies toward vulgarianism and mediocrity in policy making. Such systems are cumbersome inefficient, patently uncreative, and tend to foster a c1imat~ of general institutional corruption. Meanwhile, the function of "leadership" is depersonalized and transmuted into a political abstraction, by transferring its mechanisms from a person to a process, such that real "leadership" talent is rarely to be found in high places. Instead it is the "people" who "lead," by voting; thus the effect of this process is to transfer real political power from high officers to the floor ~d keep it there. High officers thus become merely admin~ istrators, not leaders at all but "public servants" and may even fmd themselves reduced, if the politics of the floor becomes corrupt enough, to public catspaws, stooges and pawns of an unelected "invisible government" pulling strings and operating through chicanery behind the scenes, while ~e most real decision-making power is systematically put mto the hands of those least competentto wield it.. However that may be, the other complicating factor is o~ American "paradigm creep" tendency to apply the principles of democracy to every collective undertaking whether appropriate or not, sometimes including our establishments of religi?n, where the democratic principle is inherently inappropriate. Whereas the point of religious activity should theoretically be for the congregational structure to be an expres~i?n of the gods' will, d~mocratizing it necessarily make~ It ~to yet another expression of the will of the people, resultmg m an American religious sensibility that is char-

~cteristically thin and shallow, vulgarian and crypto-agnostic. Accordingly, wherever this leveling tendency may have been overc?me by 1;hepersonal c~sma of some powerful leader, ~hlch ch~Is~a may be hIS only qualification for leadership and wielding power, the result inevitably tends toward corruption, cultishness and abuse of such power. There is .moreove~ a general tende~cy for people to understand this dynamic on some conSCIOUS unconscious or level, with a c~nc::omitant ~empta~ion to exploit it in personal ways. This ISthe mam reason why alternative-religious .seeker~ will te!1dto be not religiously 'serious, and to be. ';lsmg their putative quest for religious truth in hypocntl~al :yvays, as mer~ m~ks for some other underlying motivation. Such motivations are mainly social, for better ?r worse, and tendto tum religious congregation in America mto merely a modem form of tribal dance. The leadership, regarded as mere dance-masters and stars of the show is apt to be impelled by somewhat dubious motivations ~d generally expected to find their own adequate reward in the personal glory of the limelight. As such the newcomer to a religious group wil! ten? to regard ~c~vity as basically a gam~, to which his pnce of admission IS to come in and play his role, generally kissing up to leaders whom he se~retl~ regards as com:t jesters indulged. by ~e group, the real p~ople, for their necessary function in keeping the game gomg for everyone else. It is a reality of leadership that a D!yhten must assume at ~st that any newcomer he d~als WIth, no matter how seemmgly deferent and serious Will come in secretly imagining himself to be playing th~ Dryhten for a fool by catering to his conceits. The wise Dryhten knows too that at some point the real truth will unexpectedly.dawn upon the newcomer. When it does it will normally drive him into the woods, with imponderable co~sequences all around, such that any amount of attention paid to the newcomer at the expense of other more experienced followers, no matter how kindly and well meant always runs the risk of being lost as wasted effort. This i; the heavy burden of frustration and conscience that the Dryhten




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Section IV: The Group Dynamic in the Modern World

must simply accept, as an aspect of his office that inevitably comes with the territory. With it will also come occasional bouts of personal misunderstanding, generally centering around motives and expectations. Since the average American newcomer will come in with the assumption that the real power in any group comes from the floor, his concomitant assumption, by the logical process known in Theodism as "outsmarting oneself," is that the real motivation for anyone who would undertake such a thankless job as leadership must simply be a personal lust for the limelight. In fact, in perhaps a majorio/ of American alternative religious groups, that assumption would by and large apply. Thus the newcomer will tend to assume that by giving the leader the limelight, but no sincere loyalty, he is giving him all the thanks he deserves for his "leadership." By eking out the leader's group with his own membership and participation and catering to the leader's personal conceits, the newcomer supposes that he is actually doing that leader a favor. Over time as participation raises the newcomer's consciousness to' a better perception of the Dryhten's transpersonal vision, with which it is actually the newcomer who is being favored by the leadership, the newcomer's natural impulse to resist revision of his, own assumptions may lead to bouts of'misunderstanding and testing. Once the necessity of personal reassessment becomes irresistible, it leads to the collapse of the newcomer's personal paradigm and hisretreat into the woods. The wise Dryhten will always bear it in mind that these processes are natural, given what he has to work with, and it is vital that any Dryhten be a sincere wisdom seeker himself and a man of patiently even-tempered disposition. Meanwhile, there are many misunderstandings and problems of such a human social dynamic that Theodism avoids ?y simply not being democratic in the first place, reverting mstead to the pre-democratic pre-Christian elder folk structure. Any society below a certain size that sets policy by wisdom tradition and thew instead of codified law and democratic principles will tend very strongly to be self-regular-

ing and non-adversarial, Thus the folk rarely have any vote to exercise, because they rarely have any issues to vote on, other than, perhaps, acceptance or rejection of prospective new members. Since there are no political processes to be exploited to anyone's personal advantage, politics, the bane of most organizations, is impossible in a Leode. There is no temptation for anyone to break laws, since there are no laws for anyone to break. With no adversarialism, there is no advantage to be gained for one man over another by rivalry or competitiveness, and the only way left to gain personal prestige and distinction is through personal excellence and accomplishment or excellence of one's service to the group. All behavior, and misbehavior, tends necessarily to become "socialized," and thus to operate in a realm where it is best regulated not by any impersonal mechanisms of enforcement but by the personal mechanisms of normal social peer pressure, which always tend most naturally to seek opportunities to pressure one's neighbor to be a little better behaved than oneself. In such a socialized context, then, a Dryhten's day to day leadership role tends to be reduced to the far less strenuous role of a caretaker, and a wise Dryhten should be content to be that most ofthe time. It leaves him the leisure to express his transpersonal vision along lines of gently inspiring the group to be more creative, offsetting the natural tendency toward stagnation, as opposed to the day to day stresses of just trying to cope. In fact, just as that government is best which governs least, the less dayto-day leadership the Dryhten asserts upon his Leode, the more stored up reserve of leadership he will have to call upon during times of sudden crisis. In such times, the folk will generally want the leadership to take a stronger hand, even when it might call for taking the folk themselves off the spot by handing down offairly drastic policies and decisions by fiat. Therefore the wise Dryhten does well to fmd ways to avoid making as many day to day decisions as possible, by delegating authority in the management of routine business to qualified thanes and specialized reeves t, and often by the mechanism known in Theodism as "decid-



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Section IV: The Group Dynamic in the Modern World

ing not to decide" ... a vital mechanism which shall be explored further in our next chapter.



has always been Theodism' s dirty little secret that there t .. is actually a lot more democracy in it than most Theodsmen care to admit. When a new joiner comes along, for instance, it is not usually the Dryhten who decides whether or not to accept him; instead, the wise Dryhten will call folkmoot, and leave itto the folk to decide by vote. The reason is because the newcomer's initial personal power as a member of the group will necessarily be based on the means by which he gained membership in the group. Ifhe was let in by personal preference of the Dryhten, then he will tend to favor the Dryhten with his own personal friendship and followership, and be slower to exchange that role for one of blending in with other members of the group. If he then doesn't work out as a member and things go wrong, it will tend to be held against the Dryhten himself for having been the one who let him in, thus inspiring resentments and loss of confidence amongst the folk. The Dryhten will then be expected to get rid of him. In fact, personal friendship with the Dryhten or other leaders should never be a sole credential for admitting any new member, since such memberships tend naturally to be unlucky. Instead, it is the will of the folk which should always be consulted, and they who should decide whether to admit the newcomer into membership amongst their number. If his membership is thus owing to their weal, rather than that of the Dryhten, the folk are thus given the necessary power to immediately begin socializing him into conformity with their thew and orlay in the well. Moreover, if the new member doesn't work out, the folk will know that they have no one but themselves to blame, and will be far less hesitant to take necessary corrective measures, either by correcting the member's behav108 109

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Section IV: The Group Dynamic in the Modern World

ior or voting to expel him from their midst. It is in this latter case that the Dryhten can then step in, and be seen as a hero instead of a goat, by himself outlawing and ejecting the member, thus executing the folk's weall for them, solving their problem and taking them off the spot. But of course none of this would be possible if it had been the Dryhten, rather than the folk, who had admitted the new member in the first place. .In fact, the wise Dryhten will always look at every issue twice before he takes any action, and judge whether it might be a matter more involving the folk's interests and wellbeing than his own. In such a case, the decision is better ~ade by the folk than himself, as will prove true surprisingly.often, Once the Dryhten sees that aspect of an issue he can "decide not to decide," wind the moot hom and call folk thing on the matter. He assembles the folk, has his wizards explain the matter at hand to everyone's best understanding, and puts it to a vote. The more often a Dryhten can find ways to do that, the more he will build up the folk's resp~ct for him as a wise and just leader. Perhaps even more importantly, the more knowledgeable and involved the folk will thus become, the readier they will become to take on more responsibilities on behalf of their Leode and its leadership themselves, which will tend to build popular morale and enthusiasm. . . Finall~, the Dryhten needs a keen eye for spotting those Issues which should not be put to folk moot, and which he should decide by fiat. In general, these will be issues where wisdom and vision are called for, and issues involving subtlety or complexity of judgment or special expertise. The Dryhten always has special expertise at his fingertips, in ~e form of the wizards and Witan t whose job it is to advise him. The folk have no such resources at their disposal when call~ u~on by !he le~ership to personally decide what they want In Issues In WhIChthey may have little interest or understanding, or which can't be successfully judged and evaluated by instinctual sentiment. As individuals, the may be very bright, but as a collective, they are apt to be- ' ..

come very dim and even timid, in collectively evaluating matters beyond their usual personal concerns or normal ken. Normally the larger the number of any crowd involved in making an~ decision, the lower its collective IQ. This is why committees tend to make so many uncreative decisions and ~,oor~hoices, and why "the mob mentality" and "mob rule, WhICh~emocracy so often descends to, is usually ~uch a .bad thing, What the mob will normally do in such Issues ISvote for what seems to them either the most selfserving or else the most timid least radical course which seems to their limited vision the safest, even though it may not actually prove to have been safest at all when all is said and done, and may prove to have contained hidden traps that the folk had too many eyes to be able to see. As a collective, any folk will tend to be daunted by issues too large ?r complex for them, and to make poor choices, wherein they are starting at shadows, imagining false dangers that aren't really there, missing some real ones that really are, and which process the wise Dryhten must be astute enough to realize is not always as dumb as it may look, and may actually be the folk's own subtle way of :'de~iding not to decide." Inevitably their real secret yearnmg IS that a'p~operly .focussed leadership would simply take s1!ch a declsIo~ entirely out of their hands and act sagaCI?usly on theIr. behalf and in everyone's best interest. A wise Dryh~en Will forbear from resenting such poltroonery amongst his folk,by simply reminding himself that that is why they are a folk and not leaders themselves and have chosen instead to follow him. Most people, after all, are perfectly capable of making smart enough decisions in their own affairs and matters of their own well-being, but will fr:eze an~ falter when called upon to make decisions that m~ght ra~Ically a~ect ~e welfare of others. The Dryhten will realize that WIth hIS larger experience and much freer hand to act, hi~ vision and understanding of the situation is bou~d to b.e s~~pler and clearer, less complicated by chimerical misgrvmgs and such considerations as worrying about what => peers will think, and it really should fall


1 fie way OJtne neatnen: A tianabook of Greater Theodism

Section IV: The Group Dynamic in the Modern World

to him to accept the responsibility of the decision and take his folk off the spot. In such case then, the role of wizards is not to explain the issues to the folk, but more properly, to explain the reasons for the decisions the leadership made, to as much satisfaction as may be possible. The folk will not entirel:y understand such explanations in a complex issue, nor will they expect to. What they always seek is the "handles;" certain parts of the issues and decisions that they can relate to and fasten onto sentimentally, which then reassures them concerning other aspects that they may not be able to understand, and this is normally all the reassurance, they really need or care about. The wise Dryhten will of course realize that he is only human himself, and will also occasionally make mistakes, and some of his own decisions in such cases will not always turn out to have been the best ones. Obviously, a catastrophically wrong choice might be enough to cost him his Dryhtenship, his folk and his reputation, and he may at times suffer misgivings of his own in taking on such decisions himself. However, in such dark hours, there are certain truths the leader must bear in mind. One is that any folk whi~h is ~ecretly grate~l f~r the leader's energy and courage m takmg the responsibility of an unwelcome decision off their hands will tend to be very publicly forgiving of him about most kinds of bad consequences from the decision he made; in times of such trouble, their morale and confidence in their leadership may actually rise. In their hearts they will tend to rationalize matters, fantasize excuses for the leader's missteps or failings, to protect their faith in his leadership, and fmd everything and everyone else but the leader's poor judgment to blame for whatever went wrong. A leader whom they believe to generally make good decisions will end up being just as amazed by the amount of hardship and suffering his folk will uncomplainingly absorb from the odd occasional bad call of his as he may have been by the weakness and poltroonery they may have shown in not wanting to make the decision themselves that led to the trouble in the first place. However, the 112

reason why a folk are that way is not so far to seek. The greater the incidental suffering of the folk, the more strongly they will value the role of leadership, even when it may have been theleader who in some part caused that suffering. What the folk are often more cannily aware of themselves than their leadership may be is that nobody ever promised them a rose garden. To some extent, they expect to suffer, and are only the more grateful for those good times when they are not suffering, which they tend to impute to the wisdom of their leadership, not because he is really wise, but because that is the way they prefer to feel about him. They will tend to go to whatever lengths may be necessary, sometimes to amazing extremes, to preserve that illusion. The folk only really care about one thing, their community, of which they see their community's leadership to be a necessary vital organ. Their sense, which is true enough, is that they can spare any expendable number of their own peers and still hope to survive in some way as a community, but the one thing they can't spare is their leader, because the minute they lose him the community will fall apart. They sense, truly enough, that if the head is taken down the body must fall; a fact of life that the leader himself, who may never have really been in a true followership position himself, may not fully appreciate. The wise Dryhten, then, will realize that the best community is a more or less self-governing community, that that government is always best which governs least, and that he himself should always be seeking the right ways to govern as little as possible, functioning more as a caretaker and an inspirational focus; moreover, when times do come for him to act, he should spot such occasions, consider his own moves very thoroughly and carefully, and then make them, in a bold and forthright manner. Forget "democracy;" the folk do not actually want leadership calling upon them for decisions they instinctively feel that leadership itself should be making, or trying to please everybody, with constant fussbudget consulting and catering to the body politic's every least whim; that is, for the folk, a very draining and 113

The Way a/the Heathen: A Handbook a/Greater


enervating process. Being there to step in and take over in times of uncertainty or crisis, and having the nerve to be the place where the buck stops, is the Dryhten's real job, and if the folk were paying him, that is what they would be paying him to do. At this point, perhaps it can be seen what true leadership really is, and why it is not about things like personal power or the kind of oppression that anti-authoritarians and other passive-aggressors will always so instinctively dread. What it really is is a tribal dance, of which the leader leads the steps and calls the tune, not for personal motives of self-aggrandizement or love of the limelight at all, but for social purposes of the common wealt. In fact, what true leadership really is is a craft, even an art form, with the leader doubling as artist and impresario and the followership doubling as medium and patronage. This, then, is why absence of corruptive selfish motive and personal conceit is so vital; personal conceit can only produce bad art. Instead, the true leader will be himself a man of personal integrity well beyond the level he would expect of his followers; a level of integrity whereon he would feel no more temptation to abuse his office and powers of leadership than a great artist would feel to mar his masterpiece.






Section V: Blots and Fainings

7raditionally, Theodism is perhaps unique in having been around as long as it has without ever having developed a set liturgy or ritual practice. This is not due to any laziness, but rather to the fact that Theodism is "retroheathen" and the Theodish perception that the elder heathen didn't have any set ritual or Book of Common Prayer either. The elder heathenry was folk religion. It didn't have any doctrines or dogmas or Papal Bulls, or any uniformity from place to place. This is not to say, of course, that it was not strict or not religiously informed or sophisticated. In fact, there were certain principles that did not much vary, certain stories and songs and "magic formulre" that everybody knew, and certain elements to a valid ritual that everyone knew had to be present. Beyond that, however, all they were really much interested in was "what worked," a matter far more readily perceived and judged by the wise upon the scene than by some Pope in a faraway city. Religious lore was cultivated in various ways and passed along by various sacral gilds, which were rarely interested in seeking to foster uniformity amongst their canonical materials. That did not mean that they lacked sophistication; far from it. They too were only interested in "what works." Beyond that, they knew that the sole reason for codifying and depersonalizing religious practice can be the centralization of religious and priestly power and control. Apart from that, codifying religious practice contributes nothing to the improvement of religious practice, but rather, like the codification of law, is more likely to tend strongly toward degrading it. Similarly, modem Theodism, being retroheathen, has never codified any of its religious practices either. Instead it trains and credentials its priestcraft through a King-chartered gild system, wherein students learn what ritual elements must be present and why, and what the standard tra-


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Section V: Blots and Fainings

ditional formulas are, but beyond that are taught to be creative, and most usually to tailor and design the ritual to the occasion. Such training is apt to be one-on-one hands-on and sometimes strenuous, usually lengthy and mainly mouthto-ear. A good High- Theodish Weofodpe5n t is apt to be quite an accomplished man, who might well be able to have held his own amongst the heathen priests of elder times, including in their own languages. However, his chapbook is mainly carried around in his head, and when he passes his holy craft along to others, he generally teaches them in . the same way as he was taught himself. Obviously, however, none of that tradition is of much use to the average reader of this book. The modern Greater Theodsman is not a tribesman of a folk community possessed of religious thew passed down through the generations, nor can he read and learn from that which is nowhere written down. For the Greater Theodsman, there simply has to be some regular formal guide to go by, whether he chooses to use it canonically in his own Leode, or just as a springboard for some "modem" creativity of his own. The materials and principles presented in the section that follows are religiously valid, based on models widely used in the Theodish Rice for training and demonstration purposes. Any Leode that makes use of them may sometimes find it necessary to expand upon them in various ways to do everything the Leode may be interested in doing. Such endeavors usually end up becoming "voyages of discovery," not unlike the organic folk-processes that originally discovered and produced the ancient lore in elder times in the first place. Leodes who conscientiously follow such practices may over time be surprised to discover for themselves just how "creative" a heathen folk with a "Right Good Will" can collectively be!





~eodish Belief is "retroheathenry," which means that its real goal is always to connect as authentically as possible with the real elder gods of our ancestors. This is done by simply going right back and picking up on the historical medieval heathenry at approximately the point where Christianity so rudely interrupted us, and continuing it forward from there much as if the coming of the fire and sword of the Prince of Peace had just never happened. This seemed quite a daring idea at the time, in 1976, and still strikes many (though nowhere near as many as in 197?) as an impossibly radical idea today. It involves ree~aluatmg a lot of thinking that we today take for granted, in favor of ideas that no one has taken seriously or thought much about in a thousand years. Frankly, we ourselves weren't sure whether we could succeed, or if we might just make fools of ourselves trying. Didn't everyone say, after all, that the gods must be dead or sleeping? No doubt this was where a certain characteristic Theodish mistrust of what "they" say, of conventional wisdom and common opinion, really began. Imagine our pioneer protoTheodish group's surprise, once we began trying as best we could to study, understand and actually relive the real elder trow, to discover that the gods were not only wide awake, but were eager to be with us in our quest, and help us along tremendously every step of the way! But then, why should they not? After all,in Conversion Times, who was it, really, who broke troth with whom? It wasn't the gods who were the warlocks and oath-breakers, who treacherously turned their backs on man, it was m~ who tu~e~ his back on his gods. In the thousand years smce, then, ISIt really the gods who have been sleeping, or is it mankind? Another benefit Theodism gained was to lose all fear of another conventional wisdom bogeyman-under-the-bed, 119


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Section V: Blots and Fainings

namely, that of "turning back the clock." People who fret about such things sometimes sound as if they think anyone who would practice retroheathenry is risking living in the past and forgetting how to be a modern human being in the modem world. Certainly it is true that "immersion" in the practice of real heathenism can be somewhat addictive, and may cause you to lose a certain amount of interest in some modern toys and modern notions that may suddenly come to seem less important to you, but none of that necessarily makes it harder to live and function in the modem world. In fact, since you now have the wisdom of both worlds at your fingertips, it often tends to actually make life easier. No, you don't "forget" the modem world that easily; in fact the modem world is very intrusive into a modern person's life, and will rarely allow you to forget it for any length of time. Retroheathenry may, however, make the modern world a bit more difficult to really plug into or take as seriously as you once did, once you have seen the richness of other possible ways ofliving and thinking, and of old ways that still work as well as they ever did today and sometimes better than the-new! Of course most Theodsmen do have modem lives, no Theodsman has ever quit his day job to go live in the ninth century, and most are only completely Theodish on holy days. In Theodism, these days of ritual bloting! and sharing with the gods have long been called "fainings,"" meaning celebrations or enjoyments. As to the rituals involved, in Theodism they aren't actually very regular. The reason is because they weren't all that regular in elder times, and Theodism is a retro-religion that, in all things, simply does heathenry the old fashioned way ... like the heathen did.In fact, there are relatively few scraps of heathen liturgy and ritual that ever escaped the Christian fire and sword, leaving us with somewhat less to actually go on than we might like. However, to the serious scholar, deep-structural analysis of these few scraps is able to tell us a lot more than one might think, and also to make a lot more pretty good guesses about the parts that didn't survive than anyone might ex120

pect. In the process of piecing together and using the few remaining scraps, Theodsmen have been able to "rediscover" enough about the ancient thews to actually use them very creatively and convincingly in modem worship forms. For the purposes of this present book, the Greater Theodsman may find that he too can, in time, begin to experience this type of "rediscovery" process. First, however, he mainly needs some sort of place to begin. One good starting place might be with an adaptation of a teaching essay written years ago by a High Theodish WeofodpYsen, but still found useful and widely circulated in the Theodish Rice today: (Some. irrelevant text has been left in because it may be found by some to have additional instructional value):

Note from the author: By no means does this essay represent any form of Theodish orthopraxy/orthodoxy of ritual and is only meant to give a very general sense of ideasfor others to learn from and to improve upon. In fact, much of this article was groomedfrom my own early days of learning "how to do", and my own skills, in ritual work, have only improved over time. It should always be remembered that rituals always take on a unique form of their own, each time, and no two rituals are ever the same.-GM .

owdo the ancestral Where do Hfmd theyou addresscall the Gods toGods?home? Howyoua to your do you make friends with the Gods? Why can't you ever fmd

heathen priest when you really need one? I can tell you how Iwould address the Gods, in my tradition at least, if! were you. Heathenry has, and tolerates, tribal differences. My tribal difference is Anglo-Saxon Theodish Belief. This means that we say faining, (rejoicing) where the Norse says rite. Both the Norse and Anglo-Saxon traditions do blots and sumbles,

it adapted from the unpublished MS "Calling upon the . Gods; a Ritual" by Gert (JEscbeam PY5en) McQueen. ca. 1991


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Section V: Blots and F 'ainings

which in Angelseax are called symbels. This means that my tradition says W 6den where the Norse says 65inn. Many of the words may be different but the general idea is the same. The purpose of this article is to share some idea of the ways Theodish Belief goes about faining the Gods. Ritual, an enacted meditation, makes a framework that triggers certain responses in our souls that help us be at one with the Gods. For the individual it may be simple or elaborate depending on personal style and means. For group ritual the same holds true but involves choreography. Here are some whys and hows, but don't forget to let imagination and creativity have full play. Who should take on the responsibility of conducting a faining? In my tradition, we make a distinction, religiously, amongst three kinds of people; laymen, weofod thanes (priests) and b16teres (high priests). A layman is any Theodsman not actually accomplished in any religious vocation. A weofod thane is one who has such a vocation and is credentialed to a certain level of accomplishment. He is qualified to perform routine religious offices on the behalf of others. A blotere ("blood-shedder") is somebody who is fit to perform blood sacrifice; who has attained religious mastery and is regarded as a kind of wizard or shaman, able to take karmic (wyrd) responsibility for all aspects of private and public spiritual life. Which of these can conduct a faining? All of them, for in my tradition it is said that nobody has a patent on the Gods. The difference here is that while any individual may fain on his own behalf and in his own way, nobody should ask another to take the re-: sponsibility unless he be properly creditialed, in a way recognized as valid in our tradition. And who determines what is valid? The general body of lore speakers and b16teres who regularly train, examine and credential weofod thanes do, by Thinging", as a Witant empowered to credential by the Theoden (Lord of the Theod), to settle questions and resolve religious issues. So if you can't find a heathen priest, or wish to fain for yourself here 's how you do it. Thought must be given to any religious activity you do.

There should be a centering on the purpose of the ritual until body, mind and soul are brought together as one, focusing yourself as you would focus a camera lens. Heathenry as a religion is different, in that it is not separate from life; rather the heathen's life is a tapestry that has the bright threads of his religion woven all through it. Even so, he must renew his relationship with the Gods and Goddesses periodically so that these threads do not come unwoven. This renewal takes the form offaining and bidding (to ask or pray) alone or in a group. This renewal takes place at certain chosen times; the new moon for Thinging, the full moon for witchcraft, and the eight. seasonal tides for the true "religious" observances that have since time immemorial bound heaven and earth together. From Bede's De Temporum Ratione, (OJ Times and Seasons), supplemented by Grimm and other sources, we have a working description of the Anglo-Saxon calendar. The eight seasonal holidays (holy days) are Yuletide (the winter solstice), Ewomeoluc (Feb 2, "when the ewe comes into milk"), Eostre Em-niht (the Spring Equinox), Weelburgesniht (May Eve), Midsummer or LilJa (the Summer Solstice), Lammastide (August Eve), HeerfsestEm-niht (the Fall Equinox), and Hallowe' en, or November Eve. The actual hour offaining during the given holiday season can ~e ~djusted to fit the life-styles of the participants. The participants should prepare themselves physically (shower), mentally (put away all worldly cares), and spiritually (clear and remove all negatives from their personal sphere). This may seem elementary, but it's critically important, and it's surprising how many new people don't seem to know it. Equally important is the ritual space itself. It should be cleaned and secured. If you are outdoors, remember that secure means private; very private. Proceed quickly to get everything set up and then leave some time for "clearing." Give yourself time to get used to the occasion, and for the occasion to get used to you. Depending on your personal style, your holy things for faining, which should he stored in a special place, may vary. Firstly, you need an altar,



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Section V: Blots and Fainings

(weofod) placed in the north, for that is where the Gods are. The weofod could be portable if you are unable to maintain a permanent weofodstall (faining ground). The weofod should be set up on a power spot. If you are a witch, or can get a witch to help you, you can witch a spot out; if not you should do just the best you can and go ahead anyway and have faith that the Gods will hear your biddings. There are some who make weofod cloths with their craft of stitchery. My own is of white, with the Futhark embroidered in red, (the traditional color for runes), and having a blue (the color ofW6den's cloak) border and in the center my peod's runic name (;Sering) in green (the color of growth). Centrally would be a need-fire. This is the first flame, produced by rubbing, and from this pure flame all other flames are lit. An anointed candle can be used for lighting other candles from the need-fire. In these modem times, it is not always practical to produce a flame by rubbing two sticks together. I have known many Anglo-Saxons who rub a match on an abrasive instead. They justify this by pointing out that they are always careful to use "authentic AngloSaxon period matches." Seriously though, fun's fun, but it is always best if you can manage to create a new needflame right out of nature. Three candles, or, if you are lucky enough, weohhas (AS "idols"), on the weofod which provide a focal point for the God and Goddess and their following. Other candles may be added to provide light if necessary. Incense (recels, pron. "RA Y-chells"), which is.sacrificed (offered) to the Gods when lit, is a fumigation agent and a medium for the Gods to join us. It should not be allowed to die out during faining. Mead, with drinking.utensils (preferably a hom), recels (incense), personal wands, and weapons (called seax or knife, not "athame"!), a brazier for sacrifices and recels, a weofod knife for rune carving, the holies (runes or other divining items), and the idols or witnesses of the Gods and Goddesses are the essentials needed on the weofod, Many heathen make their own galdor book which contains prayers

and charms, but a well-said galdor from memory is the best. There are heathens who speak to the Gods in the ancient languages; all Anglo-Saxon [High-] Theodish heathens do. Most people with a bit of study and practice can master a simple galdor or invocation. There is occasionally the use of consecrated oil, salt and holy water. The water is used for purifying, the salt to prevent the breakdown of laid energy and oil for anointing. During seasonal fainings, appropriate evergreens and other decorative pieces are common. The attire is also of special nature. Many have special clothing used only during fainings, which are, after all, special occasions. Others work naked, for faring forth, individuallyor in groups. "Baring" all this in mind, we are now ready to fain. Having composed his thoughts, one should now proceed to announce his intent to the Gods, usually by blowing a hom that signals that something is about to happen and also mellows out the mains (vibrations) in the weofodstall, banishing evil spirits and such. This can be done with recels and galdor (songs or chants). In the spirit of the wonderful argument put forth by Brian Branston in his The Lost Gods oj England, my tradition uses for this purpose the galdor known as Cadman 's Hymn [known in High Theodism as Cadman's HeriungleojJl. The faining given here, for the reader to experiment with ifhe likes, is a generic faining in common modem English. In my tradition, Anglo-Saxon Theodism, the whole faining is normally done in AngloSaxon and other elder tongues. However, we know that when the gods are enjoying themselves at your faining, they can understand Modem English perfectly well if they want to.
Credmon's Hymn (translation by Garman Lord) "Now sl1aUwe l1al'~ to l1eavet1-kit1sbom's wa1'ber. MeaslWa' s misl1t al1b the moob of l1is thO\fSl1ts; Wilbe1fatha's W01'k. as l1e of eac:l1WOl1be1'. {va tl1e masta. mstal1eb tl1e oris'"al. He astwl1iles sl1al'eb. f01' tl1e baims of ea1'tl1. Heavet1 f01' a reef, bib that Hol\t Shape1'.



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v.. Blots

and Fainings

Them Mtbble :£arth ma't11d't1b' wa1'ba. II £va the mMta. afta taddeb. for a folb for ma't11d't1b.that fTee-Ml't1beb A1m15l1t\i.

Now that you have cleared the way, you will want to fortify your boast. Offer recels to the Gods with a simple statement: "This recels to Woden and Frige, I offer." (Frige, pronounced "FREE-yeh," being the Anglo-Saxon name for the Norse Goddess Frigg). Then take recels in one hand and in the other your wand or weapon and, always moving in a sunwise direction, proceed to walk the bounds of the wickstead. This purifies the physical area and makes ready for mentally building the sacred beerhall into which you will invite the Gods. We call it a beerhall because we think of ourselves as playing host to the Gods in feasting and merriment. !he sacre~ beerhall will be constructed out of spiritual mams (el_1ergles) yourself will bring into being. This is you accomplished by chant and visualization as you pace the bounds of the wickstead. You should imagine the entire work as taking place within a protective sphere of blue-white energy called "worth-main." This sphere should be thought of as enclosing an inner ball of white or yellowish "frithmain," like an eggshell. If one is so inclined, salt and water can be sprinkled as a frith (peace) galdor is chanted, or the use of a broom to "sweep away" what you don't want in your beerhall. In elder times, they didn't normally have to do such things, since they had weoh-holy steads that would only be in use for religious purposes. Today, the laying down of two interlocking spheres of worth and frith "mains" create a balanced beerhall that is neither in this world nor in the other world; it is in the sacred time-space and so are you. Now you are ready for company. It is time to invite the Gods. Sacrifice, or offer, more recels, and think of its rising s~oke as a medium for the Gods to move along. An appropnate galdor could be; "Now I bid the mighty one, maker 126

of heaven and earth, Elderfather Woden and his lovely wife Frige, Heaven kingdom's warders and all their holy troop, in love and in friendship, we bid you welcome in your faring." This can be said while weapon is presented to heaven, which then is directed to the idols, or some ale from the blotbowl is sprinkled on the idols. The idols act as a kind of guest chairs for the Gods. My own take the form of a garnet for the God and an amethyst for the Goddess. A piece of paper with any appropriate rune or symbol will equally work, though it would then need to be sacrificed by flame after the faining. A libation is then poured for the God and Goddess as a welcome. Ifindoors, this drink will need to be taken outside and poured upon the earth to return to heaven after the faining. Outdoors the libation would be poured directly on the earth. The Gods are now formally in our presence and we will want to state why we have called them. If it be for practice, this should be stated. If it be a holy day, the season should be acknowledged. Perhaps your intent is to present a gift to the Gods or to make a request of them or to have the Gods witness a special event, like a swearing-in or a wedding. All such things should be stated. We should be mindful that the gods are generous but we would not want to presume upon that. Galdors (poetic songs), are a form of entertainment pleasing to the Gods. They serve as biddings, as a celebration, and as charms. A galdor that accomplishes all these things and is useful besides (like a charm) is quite effective. The galdor given here is a variation on one that my tradition uses in many ways. It is redacted from an ancient AngloSaxon charm found bound together with a book, in the British Museum, known as "The iEcer Bot," or "Land Benefit." Many heathens adapt the text to reflect "increases" of the modern world that would be useful to them. In my tradition, after the Gods have been welcomed, the following would be said:


The Way ofthe Heathen: A Handbook of Greater Theodism

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'NOJ1l1waTb1 stM1b; for al"'mba11c~ 1pra\i. 'Pra\f 1to tl-temarvdous siver, 'Pra\f 1to tl-temi_5ht\f leaber, 'Pra\i 1to tl1~koht kuvmki11$1)om's keeper, :rTom ~arth J pra\i a11b to kiSl1 k~avm, A11bkeavm' s miskt. a11bkiskest kalls. That 1misht tl-tis salbor 1nt Gob's speech-sift tell tl1rouSk m\i teetl1 tkTouSk trim11ess gf tl1ouskt. . to awakm tl-tekarvest to our worlb1'i use; to tllllf1' tl-tefolb witl-t fast-bdiMt1S; to prat1k forth tl-teplai11-twf. as \fOUef each wmber hav~ bealt out justht, 1nt keavm1'i will. £n:e. £n:e. £n:e, motl-ter uf earth Wax u11ber wdki11 wOJ1l1\ii11tl-touskts. AU WMber STa11tus, ever tk~ 1orb, The Waxi11S gf our workplace. a11btl-t~STem crop m our wallet. Brisht mm~ to lnni ef tl-tis worlb's bOUt1l\i. Gra11tus. ever lorb. A11b\iOUf'keroes i11keavm wko aTe, That OUT kome be forfmbeb asait1st ¢Ver'\ifoe; That burseb it skall be asai11st ¢Ver'\iba11e That SOl'Cm~ss~~ketl1 to sow tl1rousk tl1~la11b 'Now 1bib tl1e Widber', Him who shapeb tl-teworlb, Thattl-tere be t10tie so cut1t1it1Sbis-moutl-t wife, 'Nor 11m~ so crafni cl¢Ver'ma11, As mali wmb astra\i tk~s~ worbs tl1us spokm. Hal W2(!,S pu, folb. mat1kit1b's motl-ter. Be tl-tou f"fitful 111 Gob's fatl-tom, Witl1 fobber' flll~b to tl1~ us~ gf tl1~folk. :rull acres gf fobba to feeb ma11ki11b. Brishtht bloomit1S. tl-tus blesseb become.

.lEeer Bot (Translation by Garman Lord)

111 11ame who huvm has shapeb • his A11balso tl1is earth. wkere lives we eke. Ma\i tl1e Gob wko Wf'ouskt tl1ese srou11bs STa11t us STowi11SSift. That each kit1b ef com shall come to abut1bat1ce. Other galdors andlor poems, plays and skits can be incorporated during the faining. The sharing of the mead of inspiration or the "intoxicating" brew is one of the main reasons for inviting the Gods to fain with you. This is not an alcoholic intoxication but a spiritual one, It is a way of receiving the "essence" of the Gods and polarizes the "mains." During the course of a faining, whenever one has the hom and is about to give a boast they should remember to pour a bit of mead from the horn into the bl6tbowl and one may also, using a wooden spoon, pour a bit of mead from the bl6tbowl into their hom, thereby "sharing spit" with the Gods. The meetheling or "mouthing off' is when the folk, at the faining, can do individual boasts or presentations of poems and galdors. While the Gods are boasted and toasted they may come through with inspiration, insights and visions. It is not uncommon for one to be "carried away with the spirit." Many spontaneous things occur as well as planned workings. There are times when the Gods "speak" through others. It is well to have questions ready to ask the Gods, for this is the time to gain wisdoms. "Showing the holies" takes such forms as rune castings, reading omens in recels smoke or candle flames, and is done at this time. Witchcraft techniques may be developed and strengthened, as can any form of supernatural work, along with discussions of lore. The generation of mains, such as with dance, may also be part of the meetheling, These energies are then utilized to "send" a spell, charm or other working on its way. Sacrifices, oathtaking, presentations, plays, songs, all are part of what may happen. When all work and business has been completed it is necessary then to formally and spiritually "tear down" the



1 ne /'Yay OJ tne rieatnen:



uJ «rreuusr

ne ousom

Section V: Blots and Fainings

beerhall. The direction should be in a counterclockwise or widdershins way, drawing all energy within and around and fmally sending it off into the realm of the Gods. As you are "tearing down" you will also want to thank the Gods for being with you and wish them a speedy journey back to their realm, or you may leave the beerhall as is, allowing the Gods to stay as long as they are comfortable. It is important to continue to show reverence to and for items while putting them away. They have been charged with the presence. of the Gods and there might be a lingering afterglow. In any case it is advisable to remain in a state of awareness with the Gods as you slowly return to your world knowing you have been gifted and renewed by the Gods. And that, my friends, is a way in which you may begin to call upon the Gods. May the Gods see you! Wassail!



e fact that Theodism is traditionally as broad-minded s it is, and as non-doctrinaire as it is, tends to make It very gratifying to practice but sometimes a bit difficult to describe, in the kinds of narrow terms most people are used to in matters of religion. The reason is, again, that Theodism is retroheathen; we know from the old stories that the gods themselves were somewhat experimentallyminded and typically knew all kinds of exotic "magics," and that the folk themselves were often similarly tolerant of occasional exotica. Historically, modem Theodism itself originated as an apostate form ofWicca. On the one hand, Theodism is broadly tolerant of just about any spiritual practice that people are interested in, never tells anyone what to think or believe, and is never threatened by any non-invasive, non agenda-bound, non-ideological foreign ways or disciplines. It is not unusual for a Theodsman, even clergy, to have a side interest in, say, Yoga, or Astrology, or Tai Chi; such interests normally come under the rubric of the doctrine of'Theodish "Freedom of Conscience," and are never considered sacrilegious or heretical. On the other hand, Theodism is not in the least bit eclectic; Theodism always remains, religiously, Theodism. The reason is because the actual defining principles of a lawless religion like Theodism are so simple. Theodism will no~ t?lerate any intrusion of the ideas or practices of any religion that doesn't tolerate Theodism (Christianity, for instance). Theodism will not allow the inclusion of foreign gods into its religious pantheon or regular worship. Theodism will not tolerate the ideas or practices of any religion that would set a Theodsman in conflict with his oath-sworn relationships and thewful obligations (Mormonism, for instance). Theodism will not allow any radical re-



The W~ a/the Heathen: A Handbook a/Greater Theodism

Section V: Blots and Fainings

visionism in its traditional elder theology (such as redefining the gods as mere "names of power" or some such viz ''Norse Wicca"). Theodism will not allow any compro~ise or defilement of its core concept of the institution of Sacral Kingship. Theodism will not allow its socioreligious dynamic to be subverted to the ends of any ideological agenda. In fact, all of these sanctions, and the reasons for them ,are pretty obvious. But outside of such obvious sanctions pretty much anything goes. ' Another notorious quirk of'Theodism is its tolerance of irrationality. Most religions of today show at least trace influences of our host culture's dominant rationalism positivism and scientific tendencies, and many nouveatl alternative religions of the kind that like to claim to be revivals of the old will tend to pick and choose amongst which asp~cts of the old they consider worth reviving. Typically they will keep such elder usages, such as fairy tales, folk dancing, use of wine, incense and candles, as may still seem inoffensive to modem sensibilities, while eschewing-the ct;I~e barbarities of the old, such as ritual drug use, superstItIOUS taboo or blood sacrifice, as if they were something that smelled I The presumption tends to be that yes, such things happened, amongst unsophisticated ignorant savages but today we're more enlightened and have learned better' and we just don't do that no more! ' ~uch ~otions ~e typical of what is known in Anthropological CIrcles as Temporal Arrogance," the idea that elder folks were generally less intelligent and sophisticated than we are today, but we today are more "enlightened;" 'We don't do ~at no more.' The notion is a popular fallacy, and an ontological trap that Theodism never falls into. Instead, we always take elder riotions just as we find them with the object merely of seeking to understand them o~ their own terms, and always untainted by any modem rational or scientific notions. One of Theodism's most brilliant founding and shaping minds, 1Elfwyne I>Y5en was a degreed Anthropologist, after all. ' In the meantime, before we leave off the subject of ritual 132

faining, let us consider another document on the subject which has enjoyed wide currency; an adaptation from a ritual outline sometimes used in the training of Theodish Weofodthanes, Much of it recapitulates and is redundant upon the description given in the previous chapter, but in its outline form it is useful for demonstrating the matter of the "formulaic elements" that should be present in a valid faining:

1) WIND THE HORN: Traditionally three blasts, to summon gods and folk together for faining and symbel. 2) CLEAR A SACRED SPACE: options may include conducting a processional around the grounds sunways while bearing incense and chanting our traditional ALU chant, kindling a needfire with or without matches, and either performing or conducting a Sip Gealdor (i.e., our abbreviated version of the A-S Journey Charm) in an elhaz posture, optionally while holding up a weapon. As you can see, the candidate is entitled to bring helpers and/or recruit volunteers from the groundlings for weofodceorls or other service at the time of his examination, and those so recruited are generally expected to go along and cheerfully do their parts as directed by the candidate in a supportive way.

[Editor'S note: The ALU chant goes back to early Theodism, and has many variations, but runs generally as follows: . ALU ALU bot and blot ALU ALU Thingemot Speed, speed, (name) Leode, ALUALUALU The chanter may supply any tune that is slow and stately. The chant does have a definite original tune known to most Theodsmen, which can be learned from galdor audiotapes available for sale from a free catalogue put 133

The Way a/the Heathen: A Handbook a/Greater Theodism

.• Sectton v: mots ana raimngs

out by the publisher of this book. The SfjJ Gealdor, a warding charm, is Medieval Anglo-Saxon, and the portion referred to here runs as follows (Translation by Garman Lord): Witl-tb1 tl-tis W~ waro olws~1v~s Attb itt tl-t¢l101bof tl-t¢50bs abib~ A5a;f1st tl-t~sore stitck A5a;f1st tl-t~SOJT\f sla\i'f15 A5a;f1st tl-t~5rim lif~-Sl'cka A5a;f1st tl-t~mi5kt\t ¢Vils tl-tat ar~ ev¢niwku~ 10atl-t~b A",b a5a;f1st all tl-tat;sloatl-tsom~ tkatma\i far~ tl-trou5k tk~ laf1b. Galbor of victor\i 15a1bor. Rob of victor\i Led.note: wand or weapon] 1 widb. Woro-victor\i. a",b works-victor\i. suc'h are m\i b¢~bsf Nor our frimb ever betra\i us. f10r att\i maf1

as an omen that the offering of drink was accepted. If it goes too flat too soon, it is a rejection, and means that something has annoyed or offended the gods. If needs be, you are entitled to rune then or later to find out what. 4) SANCTIFYING THE GATHERING WITH A RUNE CHARM OF


[Ed. note: Runelore is not given in this book, though of course it is widely available today in other sources, good, bad and indifferent. In Theodish tradition, rune lore is considered holy and is only wizard-taught or gild-taught, mouth to ear. The Galdorman here is free to.rely on his own knowledge, and is not bound to any specific tradition in what runology he may prefer to use.] 5) TOASTING OF SEVERAL ORALL OF THE GODSAND WIGHTS [Galdorman's original poetic composition, normally Modem English in Greater Theodish thew.] You or an alewench or ydes [Ides]first dip a bit of the blotorc drink into the horn with a spoon or ladle, thenfill it up with your own drink You then drink to the gods with poetic boasting and toasting, sharing such boasting and drinking in rounds with your partner at the weofod if you have one, after which you pour off whatever is left from the horn into the blotorc. 6) GEALDOR AT LEAST ONE GOOD GEALDOR TO AT LEAST


Norw~ ",evu;f1 ourfarif15. kf1owa"'\i aU5ktto fear!] [Ed. note: "Credmon's Song of Praise," referred to in the previous chapter as "Creelmon' s Hymn."] When the sacred space is all set up, we greet the gods and invit~ them to join our throng for the occasion, and Cadman s is the gealdor most often used as a welcoming salute to them. At this time, drinkfor the gods is also bloted into the blotorc [blot-bowl, normally wooden or ceramic] on the weofod, and occasionally a plate of food is placed there as well, later to be thrown into the bushes or on the balefire. When the drink is bloted to the gods, you watch how the harm [i.e., head on the beer]forms in the blotorc for omens, such as in the shapes and patterns it takes, being careful not to "overlook" it, or offend the gods by watching too intently. If the barm heads up well, it is taken 134



[Modem English, need not be sung, and any instrument or none in Greater Theodish thew.]




rlt; "uy

VJ "It:






Section V: Blots and Fainings

Note: she doesn't have to be "under your direction if she is some regular WeofodpY5en or weofodmasden who knows her business,' this is basically instructionsfor what you do for examination purposes. 8) GALDOR THE THtODISH VERSION OF THE AtCER BOT, [Given in preceding chapter] -with as much or as little of the incidental performance of ritual acts as you care to include and may think appropriate. This need not be to the harp. 9) STAND BY THE WtOFODANDADDRESS THE THRONG WITH SOME BIT OF INSPIRED SPEECH SUITABLE TO THE OCCASION.






In the thew of Greater Theodism, it is the Dryhten's duty and prerogative to set the character of religious observance and the idea of these chapters is to present enough usefui material drawn from traditional High Theodish materials

to preserve religious continuity of thew and provide a toolbox from which the Dryhten can work in designing the rituals of his Leode, He should of course also feel free to be creative in going beyond the materials offered here, and exploring other appropriate lore sources. A free catalogue of the wide variety of Theodish and other lore materials offered by the publisher of this book is available upon request. In Theodism, though anyone has the right to fain the gods in any way pleasing to them, the term Weofodthane refers specifically to a trained credentialed priest of the Theodish Rice, and should never be. used for anyone else who may conduct such fainings other than informally. To head off misunderstandings, a Dryhten should never formally confer such title himself. Instead, an official Greater Theodish weofodthane, as credentialled by his Dryhten, is called a Bede (Pronounced BAY -deh, one who officially does the Leode' s "weofod-biddings" to the gods on behalf ofDryhten and folk). The Dryhten may of course act as his Leode's Bede himself, ifhe so chooses, but he doesn't have to, and in fact will usually prefer not to, and to find some talented Gesip to do it instead, while the Dryhten keeps his own place as Theoden t at the head ofthe mead bench. The reason for this tradition is because it is more "participatory" that way, from the point of view of the folk, and the wise Dryhten will always find ways to make his Leode' s religious observances as "participatory" as possible. Unlike Christians and others who are mainly passive observers of their priestcraft, heathens generally enjoy being as involved in theirs as possible. Though the Dryhten always has the right to set religious observance for his Leode, the wise Dryhten will encourage the folk themselves to contribute something of their own creativity to the occasion, especially in the case of seasonal observances, which should add in special rituals and galdors appropriate to the season. The JEcer Bot charm used in these pages, for instance, was originally a plow-charming used by the elderen for Ewomeoluc, t and has since been adapted by Theodsmen to 137


The Way of the Heathen: A Handbook of Greater Theodism

other more general purposes. But in theory there is nothing to say that it need be that particular liturgy that is always used for other seasons besides Plow-Month. By encouraging the creativity of the folk themselves in composing other more diverse rituals and galdors for celebrating the gods and the turnings of the seasons, the wise Dryhten is actually helping to revive one of the most important aspects of the heretofore lost ancient religion. From this inspiration springs the spontaneous collective "folk art" and "folk poetry" and "folk expression" that made the elder trow such a rich living folk religion in the first place. Surely there is no richer finer gift that we in Middle Earth could give of ourselves to the gods than that!


Section VI: When Things Go Right ...


~e character offolk religion is ever such that no consideration of the merely ritualistic or liturgical or epistemological aspects alone could ever convey its greater significance to its votaries in elder times and now. Unlike Salvationist religions, folk religions are inherently and inevitablyvery social, in ways that play an important role in their meaning. Of course every religion will by defmition have its community and its congregation, but a religion like Christianity, which makes religion itself the point of society, within a dualistic concept of cosmos and human destiny, is nonetheless inherently antisocial. It regards all concerns of the flesh, even including family and community, as ultimately vanity, and subjugates everything else in the world as secondary to what it calls the sole and single object of human existence, namely the highly individualistic circumstance of personal salvation. Christianity has its own regular, highly disciplined and structured interactions amongst people, of course, its holy orders, agape love and such, but only to the extent that its community is able to reject the things of this world and reconstitute itself as a religious community. By contrast, Heathenry is theologically "multiversal," possesses no notion of dualism, regards society itself as being the point of religion in this life, rather than the reverse, and everywhere shows itselfto be something that was meant to be lived in by people, and in this world, not some other. There is no arbitrary disciplined rule of human relationships, nothing like agape love, because heathenry is social, and healthy societies come equipped with their own native interactive mechanisms already up and running. What one finds instead, in the "religious" community of'Theodism, is a certain religious decorum, always observed and maintained as a kind of house rules, as necessary to the smooth wholesome functioning of holy obser-


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vance amongst humans under the gaze of gods; not, in other words, entirely casual or informal. In dealing with gods, then, the trick is simply to remember at all times that we are dealing with a race of beings as far superior to ourselves as we are to the family dog, yet which love and often indulge us, much as we love and indulge the family dog. As opposed to other canines, Fido is of course "special;" he's "one of the family," and we feed and groom and pet him and buy him treats, and gleefully note those times when he acts "almost human." But of course we also punish him at those other times such as when he dumps on the rug, and if he persists in such bad manners we may even decide that he will have to be "put to sleep." Similarly, the gods are apt to consider their votaries, as opposed to other humans, as "part of the family," and like to see us happy and prosperous in exchange for our gifts of service and observance to them. Just like we expect the family dog to be watchful and "guard the house," the gods particularly expect their mortal votaries to "keep the holy days," and they notice it with considerable displeasure when we may fail to keep an appointed holiday observance. On the other hand, they know that we have considerable intelligence, albeit very much inferior to theirs, thatwe are bright enough to be able to make choices and should be wise enough to make the right ones, and it inevitably fills their hearts with glee to see a man who acts "almost godly." Likewise, they are offended when we make wrongful choices, and are capable of rejecting us from their community, denying us their prosperity and turning their backs on us as unworthy of them when we persist in making wrongful choices, in which case we may see that all which had previously gone so well with us may begin to go very ill indeed. We do not need to bow down and abase ourselves to our gods, like they do in the Orient; like Monte Python says, they hate it when we grovel. Our object, rather, is to seek to keep their love and respect in all things, by being worthy of them in the way we live our mortal lives, by properly loving and respecting them, and,just as importantly" one another.



THE DECORUM OF A Lto_learly, a Leode has its ranks, arungsf and distinctions amongst its members, modeled on traditional ~ social structures of elder times, even though put there today for primarily religious purposes, and the shared understanding of what these distinctions are and what they mean is crucial to that smooth cooperation in a communal effort toward a common goal-the goal in this case being the meetly communal practice of the elder folk religionproduced by everyone knowing and doing his job. All of these ranks are of course quite natural and utilitarian to their purposes, and none of them is contrived according to . any dictates of agape love or any other artificial purpose; nobody calls anyone "Father" or "Brother" or "Sister," for instance, unless they really are nuclear blood kin, nor "Pastor" nor "Reverend" unless their business happens to be herding flocks or they possess clergy credentials in some other religion. What you generally hear a lot of instead is such terms of respect as "milord" and "milady." Many Theodsmen adopt Theodish names, called hatas (pron. "HAH-tahs") as more "heathen-sounding" than the ones they were born and baptized into. They may also don period costume for religious occasions and such, known as "dressing weofod-sharp," not for any "role-playing" purposes at all, but rather to relieve and minimize the inevitable culture clashes and distractions of the too-modern conventions of this time and this place, and to fit more easily instead into the elder-celebratory spirit of the occasion that most properly stands somewhere outside of the banal ordi-



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nary here and now. Moreover, Theodish speech is commonly studded with references to rank and station within the Leode, and appropriate courtesies pertinent thereto. In hall speech, especially of the declamatory kind apt to be heard in symbel, Theodsmen commonly make reference to themselves and others by rank, such that one commonly hears reference to "Edward Learner," "lElfric Yeoman," "Theodelinda Goodwife," "Wulfhere Gesip," "Heregar Dryhten," "Leofric Bede," "Hildebrand Reeve" or whatever. This is because so much ofthe interaction between Theodsmen, who normally can't meet in a body day in and day out, is religiousfunctional anyway when they do come together; in that context, the constant reminders of functional and hierarchal structure very often contribute significant information in themselves to the business at hand. They also tend to double as common courtesies, suggesting as they do that the bearer possesses not only a name but a social significance of some kind, and a particular wergild and place where he belongs in the Theodish community. Similarly, a Dryhten or other person of quality is not most properly addressed as "Hey You," in such case, if one prefers that the attention he catches be favorable, it would inevitably be "milord Dryhten Heregar" instead. "Milord" and "milady" can also be used somewhat casually, if not overused, in somewhat the same way many modems still occasionally say "Sir" or "Miss." Especially in such settings as symbel, Theodish speech is also often "courtly," with considerable use of obsolete or mainly poetic syntax and grammar and the sorts of words and phrases most usually today only heard'in Shakespeare, if at all. The reason has little to do with any quest for atmospheric quaintness, but is more generally religious, Firstly, Theodism has a lot of technical terms for all sorts of things about the religion which have no modem names or terminology, for which the old words have necessarily been revived. Much of this terminology will naturally tend to bring its own syntax back into currency with it, as what the setting is to the gem, so to speak, and sometimes quite necessary. This is because old 144

words will sometimes sound quite out of place when merely crudely stuck here and there where necessary like raisins into the rice pudding of modem language and syntax. A second reason may be less obvious, and only apparent to observation and experience over time. Firstly, we should remember that American talk and manners as we know them were largely formed out of the era of the Levellers, and borne out of the spirit of a Revolution meant to throw off not only the colonial yoke of a "foreign power," but many of the old ways that were cultural tokens and reminders of it, in favor of starting off new and as "democratic" as possible. This often meant a national mistrust, even a scorn, for seemingly uneamed, merely inherited titles of the oppressor's rank and power. This has led to a brashly informal manner of address and speech amongst us that has seemed unwilling to extend any sort of respect to any man who could not prove that he duly and truly merited that respect, not by any favor of mere birth or appointment but by his quality and accomplishment as an individual. And of course, needless to say, once manifested, such customary notions quickly and inevitably take on lives of their own, such that today Americans still tend instinctively to find even certain ordinary courtesies of speech and address difficult and awkward. We even cherish a certain crudity of speech as perhaps somehow less pretentious and more "honest" than a more refined manner of speech might be. We Americans are so used to our contemporary speech that we don't normally realize how harsh and barbarous it has become in modem times. Just as cultivated foreigners may often be unpleasantly surprised at the boorish unworldly bumptious-presumptuousness of American manners, our language is apt to reflect an incivility similar to the incivility that is everywhere characteristic today in the tenor and temper of American life. The general degradation of American manners and the imploding quality of American social life has also conspired to cost American English a good deal of its expressive power, at least for certain more etherealized kinds of contexts. By Old World standards, Ameri145

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cans are bafflingly poor conversationalists. Often, in American English, wherever meanings may be subtle, one may need to resort to a slang term to say exactly what one means and be understood, since no regular phrase will do, but of course a slang word may not be quite dignified for most kinds of formal use. In particular, the object of much religious ritual is to call upon ~oble and mighty ancient gods, whose respect you would WIsh to earn and keep by the way you entertain their presences. However, such gods may be used to more dignified, cultivated and expressive manners of speech in their company than Modem American English is easily capable of sustaining, and might find the American style of address too irritating or offensive. "Many a fool in hall is undone by his own mouth." Older forms of English, however, often had much more expressive and elegant "courtly" ways of saying things than we have in our common parlance of today. One way around the difficulties of Modem English in a mead hall setting is to reach back into the history of the language for some of that earlier vocabulary, syntax, and cadences and rhythms of speech, whenever they may be useful. . The result may often seem downright odd at first, especially to strangers, and properly catching onto the flow of s~ch .talk will normally take a bit of getting used to; some will m fact always be better at it than others. Outsiders indeed, will tend either to be wonderfully charmed or pain~ fully annoyed with it, usually depending upon their own na~ive ~ord-wittiness and ability to fathom what is being said. It IS bound to look odd to see a bunch of obviously non-weird people, as Theodsmen patently tend to be, nonetheless dressing and speaking so casually in such a weird way outside of a stage play or a Ren Faire. Those whose ?WO langua~e skil.lsru.:eless acrobatic will sometimes imagme that the mtention IS merely to be annoying like the antics the early Quakers used to get up to, purpos~ly to annoy their neighbors and attract attention to themselves and their religion. To this day, many Quakers will persist in highly ungrammatical and inappropriate use of the word "thee" as 146

a kind of universal second person pronoun, probably without any real awareness of why they do it. But of course we can see here that with Theodism such is not the case or intention at all. A Theodsman might well use "thee" in some instance where the elder form were more appropriate than the newer, but only in a grammatically correct manner, of course. As to how a Theodsman thinks of the Theodish manner of speech when he is talking amongst Theodsmen, he tends to think of it mainly as a social custom, and to some degree a game or sport, almost a kind of "social hockey," perhaps, that is good mental exercise and fun to play with one's friends and try to get good at. And in fact, though much Theodish table talk may end up sounding like an exercise in bad Elizabethan poetry, it will also tend in its better moments fo hit heights of style, eloquence and expression that may not have been heard in common talk in the language since almost those times. It is by and large Theodish decorum that makes Theodish social life the special thing that it is, and that decorum reaches out in many ways across the web of'Theodish oath and thew, especially as a Leode may get bigger and involve more and more far-flung people who may not see each other very often outside the religious context or know or perhaps even like each other very well. In such contexts, Theodish decorum tends to do what mannerliness always does in a society; it smooths out social interactions, almost into a kind of busy impersonal "tribal dance," and provides a means for people to interactively spot-control the exact amount of "social distance" they may want to keep between them. It provides a handy facade of convention, from behind which you can let out as much or as little of your more natural self as you may care to, depending on how much or little you may like the company you find yourself in from moment to moment. Today, of course, Americans have so far lost the social skills of proper "distancing" that any religious practice that seeks to concentrate itself on the loftier side of human existence and aspirations will tend to come out seemingly con147

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trived, crude and phony in the courtesies and conventions it must use to help it do so. This is especially true of Sundaygo-to-meetin' type religions that are necessarily set apart from ordinary life, whose votaries only get to practice such manners for an hour or so, once a week or less. It is happily the case, then, for Theodism, to be a folk religion, whose values and uses are more naturally bound and woven throughout daily life instead, and whose common courtesies and expressions are apt to come to seem so much more natural and uncontrived through their common daily use.




some ways, having considered both the formal strucn ture and the religious practice of the Greater Theodism, anyone following the foregoing thesis closely enough might be suspecting by now that actually we have been looking at Theodism upside down. For one thing, it should be obvious by now that Theodism is "different." There are certainly other better known kinds of alternative religious "flavors" that are all basically somewhat alike, play by the same rules, and expound their theories in a published literature not very different in superficial appearance from this book that you now hold. Like this book, they explain the "what" of their belief system and sometimes a bit about the "why," though quite often in rather conventional language that may assume that you already knew quite a lot about the "why" before you even bought the book. As to Theodism, we have hinted a bit about the "why" here and there in order to explain the "what," but perhaps not in ways altogether useful to the reader's complete understanding. By now the careful reader may "know" a good deal about the "what" of'Theodism without feeling that he really "understands" the "why" any better than he did on page one. If we ended this book right here, then, the average



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reader might well be left merely with what Theodsmen traditionally refer to as a "Who was that masked man anyway?" type of experience. If instead, then, we go on now to talk. a bit about the "why," aren't we telling our story upside down? Wouldn't it be more usual to have started our story right offwith some explanation of the "why?" Perhaps, but in fact, Theodism itself only learned about its own "whys" upside down, historically, through years of experience with its "whats." Theodism has tended to evolve along lines that today encompass a much broader range of "whys" than the narrow focus of its original little group of young shamanism-enthusiasts could ever have anticipated. Many kinds of experiences, before they were lived, were not adequately foreseen or predictable from our usual experiences in the lifestyles of today. Particularly, in today's world, we take it for granted that religion is a thing apart from our usual day to day lives; primarily a "Sunday go to meetin'" thing, if in fact we regularly go to church at all. In Theodism we always knew intellectually that folk religions are never like that; that they inevitably function as the invisible yams and shaping patterns interwoven all throughout the fabric of visible life. As opposed to the otherworldly focus of salvationist-style religions on such non-ordinary concerns as prayer, piety, repentance, theological abstractions and the sweet by-andby, folk religiosity is inevitably highly utilitarian, and tends to center directly upon what works, things like the cycles and secret powers of nature, and upon the here and now. What we didn't know originally was just how powerful these yams and patterns were, or would become in our own personallives, once we undertook to learn more about the ancient religion by experimenting with reliving it. Culturally, there has been a strong tendency for Christianity to condition us all to a concept of religion as a more or less lofty but generally irrelevant human preoccupation. By contrast, it was often astonishing for us to discover just how relevant all those ancient yarns and patterns of the forgotten elder trow still are when traced out and rewoven

into the"fabric of our modern lifestyles today. In fact, for most heathens, each finding this out on his own as he finds his way back into his lost ancestral troth, the day to day discoveries are often rather wonderful, and will tend to draw one along, like an addiction, deeper into a quest to find out more and more. It is the natural tendency of this type of inquiry to broaden its range of interest into more and wider areas of ordinary life. The same is often said to be true of any "alternative religion," of course; it is undoubtedly just as true ofWicca. The scope of life-interest is never as narrow as, say, Christianity's, and, even when it begins fairly narrowly, never stays narrow for long. Any alternative religion will inevitably express some characteristic sociological component, most usually of some kind more compatible with the alternative religion than the world view of the host society. However, as previously noted, this characteristic expres-. sion will in most cases be Leftist, and sometimes very strongly Leftist, and this should be no surprise, since alternative religion is inherently a creature of the Left. The normal alternative religious motivation will be that of the bored or mildly malcontented, for whom conventional mainstream religion may seem little more than a fascist-oppressive tool of the bourgeoisie. This is not to say that all votaries of alternative religions are political Leftists. Politically, they may sometimes be of any stripe, or even no stripe at all. Rather, what is usually manifesting is a kind of sociological, sentimental or emotional "Leftism of human relations," an adventurous spiritual bolshevism which mayor may not additionally express itself in any kind of political activisms ?r enthusiasms. Leftism, even amongst Leftist politicians, IS, as we said before, never so much a political persuasion as a more or less wayward subculture. At the same time, such Leftism will usually seem quite radical to mainstream elements, who, if they are religious at all, are more apt to incline toward the more conservative kinds of Christianity. From that perspective, the mainstream will tend to regard alternative religions as mere Devil wor-



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ship, or little better. Certainly they will suffer grave .misgivings about the new directions in which the popularlo/ of alternative religions may seem to be taking modem society. However, the truth is that there is not much that is really "new" or even "radical" about Leftist alternative religions, because there is not all that much new or radical about modem Leftism itself, which has actually been with us, in one expression or another, since the first emergence of nationalism, at the close of the Middle Ages. Even Karl Marx was not so much inventing some new thesis as describing, systematizing and Romanticizing a long-suppressed trend of thought, a resentment amongst the laboring class of the new wealth of the rising burger class, or bourgeoisie, that had existed throughout the underclass underbelly of Westem societies since the beginnings of the Age of Towns. Today, the only real difference between nouveau L~ftism and that of Karl Marx is that modem Leftism has curiously switched sides, and. is today mainly the pet and preoccupation of the bourgeoisie and the nouveau riche; the very people it originally dispised and had set out to destroy I By contrast, there is much about Theodism that really is "new," "radical," even "revolutionary," at least to the modem age, because of the fact that Theodism was never the religious expression of a certain dissident social school of thought, but rather, the other way round. Theodis~ is.a radical trend of thought that has surfaced as the sociological expression of a certain nouveau religio~ tha~had reached back in quest of recovery of tl_Ie and ~lsto~lc~lly ~org?told ten. It is obviously not Leftist, yet neither IS It Rightist, since it has no ideology or politics at all. As to political persuasion, a Theodsman may be of any political persuasion that does not specifically conflict with the practice of his religion. In Theodish gatherings, the subject of politics rarely even comes up, unless in casual conversation round the meadbench or balefire, near an election day, where it is inevitably discovered that all political parties and persuasions are apt to be found represented in Theodish company. If Theodism is revolutionary, moreover, it is a revolution

without guns or bombs or ideologies, embraced by ordinary working people who vote, raise families, serve in the armed forces and generally do the same kinds of things as any other middle class or working class Americans do. Yet there is no question, in the Theodish experience, that conventional-minded people are sometimes made uneasy by Theodism's cheerful, casual, amiable and thoroughly socialized "radicalism," much more than they may be by the existence of other seemingly more outrageous, more dangerous kinds of alternative religions, and of course it is worth asking why. The real reason is because of'Theodism' s relentless penchant for going right to the radix, or root, of everything, especially of so many of ou~ easy assumptions. The philosophy of'Theodism seems to fly in the face of just about everything the average American may always have taken for granted. For example, Theodish philosophy isn't even called "philosophy" by Theodsmen, but "Shaft-cunning" (i.e., "Creation-cunning"), because it doesn't work in quite the same rational positivistic way as conventional Western philosophical disciplines always have since the days of the ancient Greeks, has its own somewhat different "ways of knowing," and accordingly needs its own kind of'terminology to avoid confusion. It has its own rules, based not on linearized abstract Mediterranean world views imported into our culture with the coming of Christianity, but rather on the very different native kind of world view and metaphysic, now lost, but which would seem to be implicit and recoverable in the surviving heathen lore corpus. Likewise, Theodism seems to reject just about every conventional American value, such as democracy, representative government, egalitarianism, the rule of law, rationalism and reason, progress, practically everything in fact except Mom and apple pie (things which Theodism in fact tends to value very highly). But what seems most unnerving to conventional notions is the easy seriousness that Theodism takes in so doing, marching so earnestly to its own drummer, in, but not of, the host cultural stream. As mentioned before,



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seriousness about life, or "significance," as Theodsmen tend to call it, is the one thing in life that average Americans tend to find most disturbing. In fact, in its heart of hearts, though naturally an "American" religion, Theodism really is not of the "American" state, because it is really not of any state, being retroheathen and, therefore, pre-national. Political Nationalism, or more properly "Statism" is, again, an artifact of the coming of Christianity, as was its by-product, the "internationalism" of the Left. Theodism' s circumstance in that respect is somewhat like that of Judeeism, with its strange built-in illogical contradictions. Judeeism is not logical because it was in fact formed, and then dogmatized and fossilized, culturally, in a prelogical era, the non-rational mindset of which Judreism's tenets and doctrines still reflect and preserve today. Likewise Theodism derives from an age when there were no states, but only tribes and sacral kings, living in traditional ways as they had lived since the Ice Age. It is not that Theodism is "Anti-American" or even "Un-American" at all, then, so much as "Pre-American," an entirely different thing, and an ontological context in which it is difficult for many of the ideas we consider most characteristically "American" to have much relevancy or meaning. To understand this even better, it may be useful to stop and think for a moment about just what "Americanism," an idea that today may not even carry much popular conviction, was and is all about. Americans are, after all, not a "folk," nor ever have been, historically, the way most modem European and other Old World cultures originally were. For its first few centuries, America was indeed able to operate merely as another "English" folk, even though geographically far from England, but of course that conception of America has long since been culturally superseded and is no longer seen as valid or meaningful for a huge proportion of modem Americans today. In fact, it is no longer possible for anyone to say, in a pluralized and now multiculturalized American culture, exactly what an "American" is, in anyone size fits all terms, nor is it even 154

generally possible today to say that something is ''un-American" without a condescending smirk, nor has it been since the age ofEisenhow~r. ~ere are no .longer any commonly unde~s~ood.rules for judging such things-s-a good working definition, m fact, of anomie.t For most Americans even l\;l0m and apple-pie are no longer "American" in any special way that would be meaningful to June and Beaver Cleaver. ~uch notions, pr~sumed to be viable within living m~~0tr, .m a culture WhIChhas changed unrecognizably within hvu~g memory, ha~ealready mainly retreated to the great American-mythological Dream Time oflate night TV. To even call anyone or anything "American" in a sense universally intelligible to all Americans necessarily calls for a shared collective cultural vision of modem America. If it ever r~ally had a shared cultural vision in the first place Amenca has. c~~inly sinc~ lost it in the burly-burly of merely materialistic greed-driven modem life and the neveracknowledged internal contradictions and facile hypocrisies that have always lurked at the heart of the original American Dream. In such. a context, it is easy to see in modem hindsight that Amenca has always been more or less of a collective fantasy o~ly existing while it was so widely believed in. Our definm~ ~erican ideologie~ are mainly derived from French Rationalism, now as quamtly obsolete in today's flood of new knowledge and sensibilities as humorous vapors, the Phlogisten Theory, the Donation of Constantine or ~eProtocols ofthe Elders of Zion, Strip away the ideo10gIc~1c~ntent of the American concept and what you are left WIth IS~ sheet of foolscap under glass, written by perfumed men m knee pants, periwigs and three cornered hats who wrote with s' s that looked like f' s and have mostly all been dead now for a couple of hundred years' that, and hope~lly, a catch in your throat when the flag g~es by. Th~ flag, .It should be noted, of a people who have difficulty ~rnvmg at a ~onsensus amongst themselves as to whether It should be Illegal to bum same as an expression of free speech. Foolish though such an issue might seem, however, 155

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it does reveal an underlying truth: namely, that it does indeed take more than a flag to make a folk What such microcommunities as alternative religions most often do is provide members with social and spiritual amenities that the host community no longer provides, but which people still need in their personal lives. As more specific needs arise, the more will the interests and focus of the microcommunity spread and diversify to accommodate them ... which is perhaps a good description of the history and dynamic of'Theodish Belief. Theodish Belief evolved historically, by means of a kind of informal participatory "culture-creep," from a kind of shamanistic quest into a way of resupplying modem cultural needs by means ofn;tining the forgotten culture of the elder heathenry. Ancient heathen culture was readily available in the natural course of our original inquiry, and readily able not just to patch together today' s failing modem social m:chR?i~ms, but to provide a complete replacement mechamsm In Itself. Nor was there any need to patch that mechanism together with any modem parts either, simply because up until the elder culture was forcibly overthrown by Christianity, it was intact and functional. There are hints in Theodism, here and there of ''French Rationalistic" notions and other modern ideas: such as Freedom of Conscience, as may be specially called for or specially pled by modem conditions never applicable to the past. But in general, mode!'fl or ':AIneri~an" notions, however much they may be cherished In our times today, are not found in the dynamic of Theodish Belief, not because Theodism is "anti-American" at all, but simply because, in that pure- Theodish context, such notions and conventions are not very useful and don't appear to be needed. The road to a better world is apt to be a long and toilsome one, after all, with its shoulders inevitably bound to be littered with all sorts of excess baggage that weary wayfarers have cast aside.




o Whot sorts of cultural needs might be ill-served a missing in American society as it has evolved, d therefore perhaps supplied by micro-communities instead, no thinking man needs to look very far to discover a few. One thing that today' s divorce rate tells us, for instance, is that the American lifestyle has had a horrifying impact on the most fundamental human institution of family. This has largely resulted from the disappearance of community, which is the contextual support-matrix that clusters of families need for a frame of reference and relevance, but which has been abolished from modem life by the automobile and the siren-priorities of greed. Other social forces, mostly greed-driven but complicated by other hist?rical trends as well, have tended to make the average American a less and less social, and therefore less socially well-adjusted; individual. Many of these kinds of human needs are at least partially supplied by the kinds of micro-communities Americans spontaneously form into, though not always in wholesome ways. Often alternative religions will tend to afford certain kinds of expanded social opportunities to those who cultivate them, though not generally of the most wholesome or fulfilling kind, mainly because of their characteristically Leftist dynamic. Leftism, in our culture basically another historical artifact of Christianity, tends away from, rather than toward, social coherency and cohesion, and in fact mainly tends to be popularly cultivated for the mere sake of its traditional increased sexual opportunities. To be truly coherent, any Leftist microcommunity normally will require a rigid, often crude, ideological operating motif of some 157


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kind; and as that motifbegins to wear thin with necessary repetition will only cohere for any length of time through a tendency toward the cliquish and cultish. By contrast, Theodism has a natural tendency to supply certain kinds of human social needs very effectively, thus becoming more andmore stable over time. Any full explanation of exactly how and why would require a much bigger book than this one; therefore let it suffice for now to explore one useful example of the dynamic. A sociological basis for such analysis might be found in a recent book written by a prominent Urban Planner and Sociologist, Ray Oldenburg, Ph.D., called The Great Good Place. The coinage is from noted New York Journalist Pete Hamill, who is quoted as having written" ...But aside from friends, there must also be a Place. I suppose that this is the Great Good Place that every man carries in his heart, .." What the book is about is the Great American Dilemma, or at least one of them, as viewed by the Urban Planning Profession-America's chronic lack of the universal human sense of "place." Typically, human populations normally have three Places: the place where they live, the place where they work, and the place where they hang out, all equally vital to human well-being. America, untypically, however, tends not to understand "place," in that or any other sense. We have great cities, Los Angeles, for instance, with no sense of "place," i.e. no intuitive sense of when you are actually "there" or "not there," because, in the case of LA sprawl, for instance, as Gertrude Stein might have put it, there is no "there" there. Planners express many theories as to just why that is; and what it is about us that seems so hostile to "place," but in general, it is because America originally sprang up historically in relatively recent times as a mere political arrangement, rather than a natural folk culture, and man in his heart does not really live by political arrangements at all, but rather by the natural ties that bind. Even Planners acknowledge that the only places where you ever find a sense of PIace in America are in the various ethnic communities. They say, for instance, that the ideally

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"planned" American community turns out to be the originally totally unplanned New England village, with its human scale architecture, mixed use neighborhoods, town clock, village green, etc. as naturally found in the Northeast from pioneer times right up to WWII. In getting us away from the great American "Main Street" in more recent times, the Planning profession today readily admits that it historically must bear much of the blame for modem "sprawl" and single-use modularization of community infrastructural functions. It has complicated many of the very problems it had originally set out to solve, in many unforeseeable ways. Meanwhile, Urban Planners lament that American life is degrading at an accelerating pace because of our systematic annihilation of Place in American life. Folk cultures, of course, which the author has studied, always do preserve the character of their "places;" the British Pub, the German Biergarten, the Italianpiazza, the French cafe, bistro and such. For them, it's Home, Work and Place, in that order; for us Americans, it is more and more Work, in which you are socially politicized and alienated, Home, in which you are cocooned and isolated, and Great Good Place no longer exists anywhere. We no longer routinely have the Place where people just hang out, with no other purpose than to socialize, which is turning us into a dangerously asocial society. We now have no practical way to create Great Good Places, because we have already gotten to the point where it's just too dangerous; traditional "Places" in America, such as streets and parks, are no longer "safe," for a variety of reasons that have mainly been created by America's penchant for and indulgence of various kinds of agenda-driven social-engineering experimentation and "reform" movements. What is significant about a GGP is its social dynamic; the fact that people hang out there just to hang out, and learn to always observe a certain house-rules decorum as the price of the privilege of doing so and of eventual acceptance amongst the "regulars." In America, many forces increasingly militate against this dynamic. These include the



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mushrooming of "planned" utilitarian, rather than naturally evolved, communities, the traditional mistrust, harking all the way back to Puritan times, of public "loitering," the polyglot character of public life that will tend to make chance random public encounters with strangers uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous, the degraded drug and crimeridden character of street and neighborhood life, the intru.sive distraction of commercialism and high tech, and many other bedevilling factors. With no tradition of GGP' s, such places where peer groups, like idle young people, might loiter, inevitably become disorderly due to uncontrolled intrusionand the lack of social and conversational skills amongst participants. They have to be broken up and abolished for the public good before they ever have a chance to evolve over time into true GGP's. Today, none of the typical places where Americans tom away from their TV or the Internet might go are able to function as GGP's. The shopping mall is too sprawly, noisy, crass and commercial. The fast food joint is just that; anxious only to get you in, take your money, feed you as efficiently as possible and get you out again. The typical American bar that draws any sort of crowd inevitably has constant loud music intended to make people drink more, but of course at the price of making normal conversation, the key to any true GGP, impossible. 'There are of course many key elements to the dynamic of a true GOP, the most important one being that it is a convenient place where people come and go casually at any time of day with no other purpose than to relax and socialize amongst an assortment of familiar faces that are nonetheless from all walks of life and not normally met in either the home or the workplace. Specifically, a GOP is where people relate recreationally, and in ways not related to either their home or workplace 'habits or status. In heathen times, it is easy to see how the Dryhten's - mead hall functioned for the community as a GGP. It was of course the site of formal symbel, as described earlier, but Tacitus' description applies as well to "informal symbel," or unstructured public social discourse in an easy

setting that occasionally will rise spontaneously to inspired heights that, though unplanned and .informal, may sometimes come close to the level of good symbel. In the case of modem Theodism, with its comfortable hierarchialized structures, lack of adversarial social dynamic and occasional customary immersion in the spirit of formal symbel, one sees the spirit oftrue GGP take hold almost automatically wherever Theodsmen may have occasion to come together without any necessary planned purpose or business in mind. Insenses such as that and many others, the Theodish dynamic tends to offer gratifications and delights not merely religious but social, in ways not often available today in most quarters of American life. There are practical difficulties to be overcome, of course. Ideally, a Theodish Leode would have some hall or grounds of its own that, when not in use for religious observances, could function day to day as a GGP for members. Better yet would be a Theodish community, where members actually lived in a neighborly context that would enable them to "live their religion together" day in and day out, rather like a tribal village, complete with common hall and village green. In practice, however, especially since it takes time and learning to build a sound Leode, the usual mead hall will be the Dryhten's or some other member's home, specially tricked out on meeting days for the purpose, and one thing no one ever wants or should want his home to become would be the regular hangout of any crowd of non family members, no matter how fond one may be of them all. Nonetheless, the potential for that kind of vital social dynamic is always specially present in Theodism, where and whenever it might have a time and a place to happen, and any more fortunate Leode which might be able to have and afford a special meeting place of its own for that to happen will soon see its effect spontaneously cropping up amongst members whenever they might come and go there casually, just to socialize and "hang out." Obviously, for the more worldly and affluent Dryhten or Leode, there are possibilities here that could go well be-



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yond the mere hippieish back-to-basics type community on some bare farm with its barn converted to a beerhall and its goat pasture doubling as a village green. The more narrowly urbanized type of Th~odsman who might love raw subsistence nature best at a distance and consider the countryside a~ merely the best habitat for billygoats and pickup trucks might nonetheless find some appeal in the notion of acquiring some urban loft to retrofit as a "clubhouse" with the Leode doubling as a "social club," for tax and other purpo.ses, and perhaps even some prospect of acquiring appropriate books, art, manuscripts, computerized and other resources, ror the pUJ)'ose of turning some portion of the clubhouse into a folkish cultural and educational research center. The fact that the elder heathenry was truncated in an historical era when most of it still lived pretty close to nature need not force us to live and think "time-bound" in a troth whose ultimately realities still dwell, as they have always dwelt, somewhere outside the flow of linear time.




ether or not Theodism s~cceeds in being a true pre-Christian revival, one will no doubt grant that at least it is a serious' attempt and a serious religion. One may also understand why its values are different, in certain telling ways, from those we have grown used to associating with the religious impulse over the centuries. Obviously; Theodism would not preach "the brotherhood of all mankind," since the elder heathenry was tribal, and evidently didn't believe that all men were necessarily brothers. Nor would it be likely to preach "world peace," since the elder heathenry never saw fit to do so. In fact, the elder heathenry would have been puzzled by the idea that "world peace" would have anything to do with religion, which, then and now, is undoubtably the wrong tool for such a task. Religious "world peace" obviously must imply ''world religion," which can be nothing more than code for "world domination," and the inevitable by-product ofworld-dominating universalist religions is holy wars. In fact, such ideals as "world peace" and "the brotherhood of man" are utopian, and anyone who believes in such things doesn't need heathenry or any other religion, since utopianism is already a religion in itself. But even so, there are some ideals that might seem irresistibly lofty-minded and "universally" appealing. One might wonder why such wouldn't be features of'Theodish Belief. What about "humanitarianism," or "compassion," for in-



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stance? Surely human compassion is no mere fluff-brained schoolgirl utopianism, but a true spiritual and religious value; yet nowhere before this page is the word "compassion" even to be found in this book. In fact, the word is nowhere to be found in the elder lore. "Compassion" is not a native word; which is why we had to import it as a foreign term of art, with the coming of Christianity. Is this to say, then, that the elder heathen were so barbaric and savage as not to understand compassion? Would they have merely sneered at, say, the New Testament parable of the "Good Samaritan?" Actually, the elder heathen would not have sneered at the parable of the "Good Samaritan" at all, though they must have been a bit puzzled by it on first hearing. The elder lore is routinely studded with instances of kindness to strangers, even enemies, especially those in distress. What in the Biblical story is upheld as a remarkable example of special virtue would have been, in heathen society, a matter merely taken for granted, and even important things that a tribal culture takes for granted don't always get special names for them in their language. After all, the elder heathen never had a name for their religion, either. Few concepts are ever quite as difficult for us soft moderns to grasp, after so many centuries of "civilization," as the fact of nature that, in human experience, it is normally crass civilization that is cruel, and innocent savagery that is kindly. What is normally not understood or appreciated in retrospect are the enormous differences between the civilized Levantine culture, which routinely countenanced, even to a degree uphefd, an ambience of sociopolitical cruelty and ruthlessness, and the "barbaric" tribal heathen culture, made up.by and large of the kind of people that we today would call "nice," despite the primitive brutalized conditions of most peoples' lifestyles in the hard northern lands they inhabited. We can, however, get some appreciation of ittoday by a comparison of, say, the traveler's tales told us by Tacitus in his Germania with what the Hebrews and others had to say about themselves in the Old Testa-

ment, a book full of "historical" stories and anecdotes so crudely revolting to even our own degraded sensibilities of today that most pious Christians find it too painful to read unapologetically. Such undeniable savage cultural "superiority" of the barbarian to that of Yahweh' s Chosen does not necessarily mean that the elder Germanics were themselves a necessarily superior breed of human being to Jews or other Levantines or Mediterraneans, and in fact, what it does mean is worth a moment's digression to consider, What it does signify is the too-often under-appreciated significance of circumstantial historical impact upon any culture. Considering the histories of the two races and the conditions under which their respective ethico-religious notions were formed, we can see from the Bible itself how the whole story of the Jews is one millennia-long titanic struggle to establish and preserve their own unique sovereign ethnic and religious identity in the face of cruel adversity on every hand. This was the whole reason, in fact, why the Bible was compiled and published in the first place; The reasons for this are, in general, circumstantial. The locus of this long nasty struggle was the Mediterranean littoral, at the time the richest and most heavily trafficked and populous region of the known world and the one that four of history ,s mightiest empires wanted, nay, needed, to monopolize and control at any cost. In particular, one corner of that littoral, the Levant, was the international trading crossroads of three continents and the ultimate source of the region's vast wealth. This is how that same Levant came to be regarded as the "Promised Land" by one little nomadic tribe of gypsy traders whose whole tribal economy was based on foreign trade and commerce; the word "Hebrew," we are told, stems originally from the ancient Egyptian word for "donkey-huckster." And here we need to bear in mind the folkloric fact of life that the gypsy trader, like any other kind of gypsy, is always an outcast amongst the local cultures. Needless to say, one such small, wealthy but powerless tribe caught in the middle of mighty warring empires all needing to claim the very stretch of turf








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that they needed to call their own would be bound to feel, historically, like a bone thrown down in the midst of snarling dogs. There is no question that throughout their long perilous history the Jews have paid the price of their mighty pretensions. However, nobody knows better than the Jews that the world they inhabited, which was of course the whole world to them, was one in which he who hesitates is lost, the faint of heart can only perish and nice guys finish last, and to this day the Jews refer to the "nice" (but dumb) denizens of the cultures of the European hinterlands as goyim (i. e., "cattle"). Such a densely populated internationalized polyglot cultural environment is not one much calculated to foster compassion, and is one in which the personal and public interest is apt to be much better served by another human trait, chutzpah, for which our heathen tongues, again, have no native word In short, it is just the West's hard luck that the culture which gave us Christianity and the Bible was what modem anthropologists might call a chronically "stressed" society, to which stresses it must obviously adapt historically to survive. Obviously, in such an environment, those in quest of virtue would wish to emphasize "compassion," any act of which would be bound to shine "like a good deed in a naughty world." By contrast, the religion of the Germanic tribal dwellers "back ofbeyond"* sprouted out of the very different environment of the hard wild lands to the north and east. In those lands, tribesmen routinely fought, over turf, cattle and women, needless to say, but the real foe was not man himself but nature. Especially amongst the poor, who must survive by brutally liard labor, manners were crude, living conditions were near bestial, populations were thin and widely scattered, and survival was not by marketplace clevtains where the sons of"Japheth" (i.e., the Greek Titan Iapetos) betook themselves after Noah's Ark had landed there; the Biblical Flood story was originally adapted by the Jahwist from
pan-Levantine mythology. ..."Back of Beyond" is a literal translation of "Ararat," the moun-

Section VI:' When Things Go Right ...

emess but by individual toughness, resourcefulness and vigor, but also an abundant flow of the milk of human kindness. We can immediately see how the two different environments would force two very different sets of values systems, expressed through their tribal religions, on the two different populations that respectively inhabited them. For one, survival was only guaranteed by ruthless adversarial cunning; for the other, only by mutual kindness and the spirit of cooperation. In the great market cities of the Mediterranean littoral, the main social concern was the safe regulation of competitive, adversarial, yet civilized trade and commerce. To that end, the appropriate ethical spirit to be inculcated as a popular virtue was one of "forgiveness" and charity. Meanwhile, as they say, an armed society is a polite society, and in the wild lands, where everyone necessarily went around armed, with weapons that he well knew how to use, the main social concern was the trustworthy regulation of an ever-present potential for violence, a very different needful social ethic. To that end, the most useful values to be popularly inculcated were those of characteristic fairness, honesty and plainness of purpose, together with a certain chivalrous decorum able to stipulate and enforce rules of engagement for dealing with inherently hostile situations. We can see how profoundly the two contrasting values systems were impacted by historical circumstance in the different kinds of stories they tell. As a long theologized litany of rivalry, internecine strife, bitter treachery, sexual perversion and mutilation, "ethnic cleansing" and genocide, all under a despotic,jealous, often demoniacal patron god, the Old Testament revolts our western sensibilities with what an English critic called its total absence of a "sense of personal honor." To the People of the Book, however, knowing as they do the historical conditions under which its story was lived and written, the Patriarchs were not evil degraded men, they were just survivors, and a tribe with a Germanic values system would not have survived for a week in such an environment, much less prospered, as it was the Hebrew 167


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tribe's historical duty to itself and its patron god to do. As gypsy traders, moreover, surviving in a world full of hard bargainers like themselves, the J7ws knew ~at, on ~e on.e hand a certain level of sharp busmess practices was mevitable' and that, on the other, there must in the end always be someone you could trust, and this is just what is reflected in every aspect of the Abrahamic values system. "Love thy neighbor as thyself," thy neighbor being of course any other Jew, a brother gypsy outcast, to whom you a~ways extend special courtesy, trust and favor. Be charitable; give to the poor. After all, when you prosper, as you are bound to do if you are not slothful in business, some of that wealth that you accumulate is inevitably bound to be ill-gotten gains; you have to assuage your conscience and make up for that by constantly giving back some portion to society and humanity from whom you took it, and the less fortunate or smart than you, in whatever best way you can. . Gelt is necessary, but it's just gelt, the vanity and corruption of this evil world; don't fight wars over it or draw lines in the sand. Nations, in particular, mean nothing to a universally outcast gypsy race which must survive by dealing indifferently amongst all nations; don't bow the knee to any Cesar; only God alone deserves such resp~ct. The only ~e religion is the religion ofthe guilty conscience, All flesh IS equally fallen from Para~ise .and sinfully m?rtal and co~rupt; all men cheat on their wives and on their taxes; don t be a hero, or vainly make any mortal man your hero, or discriminate amongst kinds of men; .all men are equally brothers under the fatherhood of God, and God is no respecter of men. Do not try to cheat your fate, for god, who knows all, has numbered the very hairs on your head, and he alone decides. Forgive, for all men are sinners; judge not lest ye be judged; vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. In other words, don't hold grudges, feud or waste your substance by seeking revenge; feuding is inherently bad for business. If you beat me in a deal today, never mind, and more power to you, because I will probably beat you in a deal tomorrow, and more fool you! Obviously there is much 168

wisdom in such principles; under the circu~stance~ eyen a certain bracing kind of social and mercantile Darwinism, Far to the north and west, however, we find a far different kind of social Darwinism at work, in a wild thinly populated world of man against the elements, where seasons change, nothing is ever "static" in the grip of nature, whose winter frosts even sunder the mightiest rocks, and the regular bean-counting "clockwork universe" of the Mediterranean world becomes a Daliesque melted watch. Here nothing is taken for granted; the "future," f~ from bein~ preordained is so uncertain as to not be considered to eXISt,and you ndt only can "cheat your. fate", but shoul~ always be fearlessly trying to. Here nothmg can .stand agams~ the elements but the "innangaros," community, cooperation, trust and troth. "Gelf' is nothing because it doesn't exist, n<?rdo beggars to charitably give it away. to, in a land where I~leness is sinful and each must do his part for all to survive . Here most trade is by barter, and the only wealth is land and cattle, personal vigor and trustworthy char~c~er. Here it is not man but nature which is cruel and capricious, and justice is never so much a legal matter as a poetic one. In the heathen world, the sharing of wealth was not by dealing but by gift-giving, and any man's wealth was not to be measured in terms of his material possessions, but rather in terms of his luck, main or hamingja. Not just individuals but families and communities possessed, and carefully warded their "luck," which could be passed on through gift-giv'ing, handed down through gener~tions, and cO,,!ld also be damaged by harm done to a family or community by such wrongdoings as theft or murder. Such damage called for revenge, as the only way to restor~ dama~ed luck, considered a civic duty of wronged parties, which of course was what the "feud" was all about. In fact, the only survival and prosperity possible in such a world.was through social order guaranteed not by laws but by time-honored respected c~stom, or thew. The only guarantee of social order was a man's reliability, again guaranteed not by laws but by any man's personal honor, good will and plain deal169

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When Things



ing. As such, every man was accountable not just to other individuals or his peers and betters, but to his family and community, on pain of expulsion into the wilderness ifhe could not be trusted to maintain that family's and community's standards. In such communities, needless to say, the man most valued, even praised in song and story, was he who not only met but exceeded community standards-he whose deeds were not just for his own benefit but were for the good of all: the hero. By naive conventional expectation, most people would suppose that the culture evolving out of such a cruel environment would itself be not noble and heroic at all, but cruel, brutal and mean. Instead, we see man not caving in to circumstance, but rather, adapting and coping, using ordeal itself as a forge to fashion something finer out of himself, as man will generally do whenever he lives in an "unstressed" community, as opposed to a "stressed" one ... meaning not environmentally stressed, but rather socially and psychologically stressed. The fact is, it is not luxury, ease and wealth that man needs to thrive and express that which is noblest in him, but family and community, and a place in the scheme of things that affords him a social context for his personal self-esteem. Despite life's hardships, heathen families and communities were tightly woven and supportive. Class distinctions did not divide men of different conditions but rather brought them together in their different functions in common endeavor, and if no one was very rich, no one was very poor either. No one ever needed to live in want and loneliness for lack of something to do with himself or of a place in life. Everyone who could contribute anything to his community was valuable to it, and did his own part in personally looking after and caring for those community members who had fallen to misfortune, which is the only form of "charity" that any such organic community ever needs. Here we can see what kinds of historical circumstances separated the ethical characters and destinies of two cultures which were wed together as such strange bedfellows

when their worlds collided in Christianity, as well as the melding of the values of a "stressed" and an "unstressed" population. One might well ask not only how, but why, the social values of a stressed population could have come to be adopted by an unstressed one, and the answer is that initially they were not. The greatest difficulty that Christianity had in converting the Germanic tribes was the inappropriateness of Christianity's values system to the tribal lifestyle and world view, which was why the conversion took six hundred bloody years of holy wars to accomplish, by contrast with the relatively easy going Christianity had in the sub-Roman Empire. , The reason why Christianity had the appeal it did as a "pernicious superstition" and "gutter religion" amongst the Roman lower classes was that Roman slaves, displaced provincials and disenfranchised common folk were such a heavily stressed anomie population, for whom the old Roman values system could no longer be meaningful, but to whose new life conditions the "new" Christian values system was ideally suited. This is much the same social dynamic, in fact, as what has been developing in our world, in the latter half of the American twentieth century today, during which time pentecostal and evangelical forms of Christianity have been ascending from popular obscurity to new heights of popular relevance and power. As ancient Rome fell apart, then, the Christianity of that time ascended to political and economic power by picking up the pieces and creating out of them the Medieval Catholic Church. Such power made it possible to support and sustain an overwhelming level of missionary activity amongst the Germanic tribes, which in the end succeeded by systematically undermining and destroying the old family and tribal structures, replacing them with nationalism, imperialism, a moneyed economy and civilization, and ultimately leaving Germanic folk society as "stressed" as any other. Even under social and psychological stress, however, the two values systems have never fit together very well. A thousand years later, most modem Western people, when not actually living their daily



Section Vi: When 1hings uo RIght ...

lives by "folkish" values or remaining more or less heathen in their hearts, will tend to express a fairly schizophrenic blend offolkish and Christian personal values that are often self-contradictory and even self-destructive, hypocritical and insincere. By contrast, the Theodish social ethic, being pre-Christian and pre-American, is reflective of an "unstressed" social values system. To return to the original question, then, Theodism does not formulate such lofty social values as "humanitarianism" or "compassion" because it knows it doesn't need to. Unstressed societies never need "isms," and are inevitably humanitarian and compassionate quite naturally, in ways that can be safely taken for granted. , What is not normally found in tribal society is the kind of extreme compassionismlhumanitarianism that so often has been a feature of Christianized societies. Tribes don't normally produce many Mother Teresas. The reason is be'cause Mother Teresas are not "normal," and tribes tend to produce a lot of human normalcy. Extreme altruism/ compassionism/humanitarianism is an overcompensation and, again, a symptom of anomiei=e positive, rathert;han antisocial or negative, rejection of the no longer meanmgful self in favor of others, sometimes even the world at large. Ever since Marshall MacLuhan, we have tended to believe that we live in a Global Village, as we imagine that "the world is getting smaller." But such a conventional view is, again, naive; the world is actually getting exponentially bigger while what is really shrinking is our perception of it. Within living memory, a man's "world," as he perceived it, was limited to his back yard or perhaps his end of town. To his world, an event such as the shooting up of a school in Colorado which he might not even hear about until a day or more l~ter, might seem shocking, but at the same time, since he doesn't live in Colorado, it would also seem impossibly remote and far away, an~ .no imme~iate concern of his own. Today, thanks to television, we might well find ourselves witnessing such an event as it happened, as if it were going on next door, such that we can only with some

difficulty escape the sense that it somehow involves us personally. In fact, we are all routinely subjected to a constant flow of such shocks, of other people' s business being made to seem as if it was our own in this way, in a manner which is not psychologically very healthy and which tends to aggravate our chronic anomie. t Inevitably, such/aux traumas tend to be exploited by powers, public demagogues and private commercial exploitationists, which ha~e a vested interest in keeping us unhappy and psychologically unhealthy. In fact the world is no more a Global Village today than it ever was, nor is it psychologically healthy for us to think of it as such or act or react to it as if it were. The perception, or ~isperception, that the world .i~ a Global Village is an illusion, caused by the habitoftelevision-watehing with its constant false alarms. Today we are constantly ov~rwhelmed by a flood of more "information" than ever, that is mostly the wrong kind of information, remote-controlled by others, and which we do not select for ourselves or gain and react to interactively, but can only sit and absorb, or suffer passively. We process this "new" kind of information with neurological and intellectual equipment that hasn't changed or been upgraded in forty thous~d years. The effect is to subtly undermine our psychological sense of self, de-socializing and alienating us, aggravating the sense of popular anomie. The effect of routinely having TV and the Internet as our primary source of what we know about the ongoing world is to end up living our lives isolated in the hole of an "informational doughnut," wherein we are apt to routinely end up knowing more about a sChoc:'l bus crash in Guatemala than we do about some recent decision of the localSchool Board in our home town which will have much more impact upon our personal lives. It may sound, of course, like we are making more of the problem of popular anomie than we should, until we reflect upon just how much impact anomie t can have upon our personal lives. Popular anomie t not only causes personal unhappiness, but has been the main cause of the fall of all the civilizations we know about, and is now bidding fair to





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cau~e"the demise of our own, and very likely at a rate historically accelerated beyond anything yet seen. Alas that, .unfortunately, it can only sound tendentious to say so in a flat statement like that in a book that is about heathenry, after all, not anomie. t However, such assertions do indeed have some bearing on the thesis of this book. Indeed, talk about such things we must, for present purposes, therefore let us etiologize as best we may without offering any proofs here, in hopes that a word to the wise may be, if not sufficient, then at least better than nothing: We live in a society today which is schizophrenically divided between being, on the one hand, the best fed, most advantaged and materially richest society the world has ever known, but on the other, a starving spiritual Somalia and cultural wasteland. It is also something of a cultural M'"A *S*H unit, when one considers the degree to which professional "human services" of one kind or another has replaced "making things" as the main way in which we all make our daily bread, not to mention the normal amateur personal humanitarianism of each of us regularly "doing our part" to help one another in life. As family and community systematically fall apart, we replace more and more different kinds of personal homegrown human resources, from cooking our food right down to taking care of our old folks and diapering our kids, with impersonal professional and public resources, and more and more exotic and exquisite kinds of such resources. Today, as individual social skills erode and we become less and less civil amongst ourselves, when some "nice" but deranged kids get busy and shoot up and blow up their high school, we can have teams of trauma, grief and crisis counsellors on the campus handling the survivors before the smoke blows away. Interestingly, what we can't seem to have on the scene,. th~n or .ever, is any team of experts who can reallyconvincingly explain to the rest of us why such kids would have done such a thing in the first place, or what is really different now from fifty years ago, when similarly deranged kids would nonetheless have never dreamed of doing such a thing. 174

Again life's too mysterious, don't take it serious; we have already gotten to the point where ~e no l<?ngerask why. Inevitably, when naive conventional WIsdom does come up with answers, they are not only the wrong answers, but tend to be the kind that, if acted upon, would most often aggravate the very problems they se~k to solv~. We hear that accessibility'of guns to youth,. for instance, ISthe p~obtern, which is complete self-serving nonsense. American youth have always had easy acces~ to guns; I know they certainly did back when I was a kid, I. had my first gun when I was eight years old. The only difference between then and now is in the way I was raised. I would never ~ave dreamed of shooting even my worst enemy-of WhICh.I had plenty-with my gun, other than perhaps a burglar m the middle of the night. .. despite the fact that I !p'ew ~p rough and "different," spent much of my youth m da!ly bloody-knuckle schoolyard fights, and was not neces~anly the sort of kid that any pundit would have automatically called "well-adjusted" without a fev.:impo~t cave~ts... Likewise conventional wisdom likes to point at VIolent video games: and the constant diet of mindless graphic movie and TV violence. While it is certainly true enough, as noted above, that TV is perhaps today's biggest social pr<;>blem, such people are poiriting at a s~ptom, no~ the disease. Movies TV and video games are VIolent precisely becau~e they ar~ inherently mindless childish pursuit~, an~ such IS bound to be their nature. Overwhelming SOCIological ~d commercial forces want and need for them to be that, m response to forces that no one will ever.be able t~ manage or control without turning our culture mto a police state. Conventional wisdom does complain that kids spend too much time in such unwholesome pursuits, and here conventional wisdom does indeed have a point. The reason why kids spend too much time in such pursuits, ~owever, is societal; too many kids are forced by our SOCIalstructure! or say rather lack of one, to languish away years <?fa childhood in which they really truly don't have anything better, which is to say more social and more "interesting," to do. 175

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was already beginning to develop in our culture; and I already didn't have as many "interesting" things to do as my parents had grown up with, but there were still enough "interesting" things to do to keep 'me sane through those difficult years ... meaning, that I still was able to have more meaningful personal interactions with other human beings than too many kids are apt to have available to them today. Today's kids, alas, though richer and fatter and far better dressed and fed, were just born too .late and aren't so lucky. I know from personal recollection that had ultra-violent movies, TV and video games been around at that time, their impact on the psychology of a healthy kid from a healthy family would have been minimal. In fact; I know that, in my own childhood peer group, any kid who was very interested in such things, or wanted to watch or play them for any length oftime, other than as an occasional naughty aberration when the 'rents (i.e., parents) weren't looking, would have been considered demented There were just too many other more worthwhile and more interesting things for kids to do. The average child of yesterday, in other words, would consider the average child of today "demented," and he would be right. However, it is not kids which have changed, but society. It is in fact notable that we as a culture, though we cannot satisfactorily explain such human aberrations as schoolhouse shootings, are already beginning, as these words are being written; to simply accept such things as new social norms. People are showing less and less shock when they happen and as they escalate to new levels of monstrosity. Human beings, it is said, can adjust to anything. Already, 'society's pundits are thinking up more and more phony contrived bandaid fixes for such problems, and yet the idea of actually trying to change society itself, to treat the disease . instead of the symptoms, is still just as unthinkable as it always is, which is of course the main reason why societies fall. !his despite the fact that th~ ~i~e~e i~self is read.ily Identifiable and as old as Western civilization Itself: anomies.

.Wheii i was a child, this problem

And yet anomie t is the last thing our leaders could ever dare think or talk about, without peering too deeply for comfort into the dark heart of everything we believe in as a culture. Although psychiatry still has too much entrenched old fashioned Freudianism, Behaviorism and Determinism hanging around .in it to have quite adjusted to reality yet, it is nonetheless beginning to be better recognized and understood that most of the insanity which plagues our society today comes down to matters of mood, and mood is mainly a matter of hormonal balances. Hormonal balances, though to some degree inherent in the individual, are far more susceptible to environmentally conditioned subjective influences than has been generally appreciated, and the most important of these influences is one's sense of personal well-being, personal relevance and self-esteem. That self-esteem is not, moreover, easily manipulated on the conscious level, such as by teachers trying to assure a failing kid that the fact that his creative spelling is different from the versions found in the dictionary does not necessarily mean that he is a bad human being. In fact, such phony ego props are apt to produce just the opposite effect, since self esteem operates mainly not on the ego level at all, but on the soul level, which only too readily sees through such double-talk and is only further insulted by it. It operates, in other words, in regions which only the greatest of teachers ever knows how to really reach a kid on. And the fact that self esteem operates on the soul level, where all the real magic happens in mortals, is what makes any dysfunction in it so hormonally devastating. Meanwhile, what that self-esteem does build on is not lies that teachers tell it, but the cues that it picks up on from the world it sees around it, and in so doing,just as the best friend of self esteem is a meaningful personal social context, its worst enemy is anomie t. It is not the sense of anomie t that does the harm in itself . It would be more accurate to classify anomiet as a kind of psychological or spiritual AIDS. In other words, it is not the AIDS virus itself that kills you, but the other inherent



The W(l)I of the Heathen: A Handbook of Greater Theodism

Section Vi: When Things Go Right ...

afflictions that you once resisted but to which you now fall prey because of the way the AIDS virus has weakened your immune system. Likewise the person who might have mildly schizophrenic tendencies, which may in fact be a lot of us, becomes acutely and dysfunctionally schizophrenic once his sense of personal societal context is removed and he falls prey to anomie t. Similarly, the person whose mild Bipolar tendencies may have heretofore been controlled by normal ambient social-pressures now falls prey to severe Bipolar dysfunctionality once such pressures have been removed by the collapse of his normal human social context. Likewise, the person who may suffer some natural deficiency in, say, his natural T-Cell Receptor count, causing him to suffer the occasional blu~ fur:ucin a nox:mal.s~cial context, now fmds himself plungmg mto chronic Clini- . cal Depression when the society .around him degr~des to . the point where the normal meaningfulcontextuality of a life like his is taken away. The oversensitive insecure soul who happens to also be allergic to alcohol, who tends to need constant reassurances of his personal worth from friends similarly discovers now that the only friends he can find and keep are the spirits in a bottle ..Likewise the naturally alienated introvert person who has difficulty making friends in the best of cases, finds now that he has no context in which to form any real friendships at all, and comes to hate all the very people whom he might normally love and admire socially, and to dream darkly of blowing up or putting bullets in them, and society in general and, in the end, himself. Similarly the person oflow or weak character who might ordinarily be inclined to steal or kill or betray to better himself might instead see a way ~p in so~iety and some socially acceptable way to better himself instead once forces for good in the community have gotten to him and led him into better lights. Remove society and its influences, however, the contextual defining forces offamily and community, reducing everybody around him to mere autonomous individuals like himself, and he will no longer see any compelling reason not to simply take by force or

stealth whatever others may have that he may want. The thrill killer who feels dead inside himself seeks ultimate power over the lives of others; the spiritually numb and powerless seek the thrill of crime to feel powerful and alive. The highway driver or straphanger or coworker who would have laughed off some routine frustration before is now driven into a violent irrational rage by it. In fact, the litany goes on and on and on, to cover every social illthat normal society no longer effectively manages, and which plague it so sadly today. This is because society has lost community, family, its shared cultural vision, its social bearings and, in general, its reasons for validly calling itself a society in .anything but the most speciously propinquitous sense ... in other words, its "significance." Such lack of social significance is what is experienced by the individual as anomie t, which will manifest itself in any of a hundred different ways, all being many and various symptoms of the syndrome called anomiet. Granted, there are always hard-core incurable sociopaths in any society, but we also know that there will always be a certain controlled "monster of the id" madness lurking somewhere under the seeming "normalcy" of the best of us. Once kick out the normal social jams of community and family, and that genii in the bottle is what is uncorked, pushing millions of marginally ''weak'' people who would nonetheless have been functional over some heretofore invisible threshold. However, if you take your troubles to a doctor, he cannot cure you by giving you society back. All he can do is write you a prescription, for your particular set of symptoms, often as not for some sort of"maintenance" drug to hopefully get you through the rest of your life with little enough personal satisfaction but nonetheless minimal hazard to yourself or those around you. Or, failing . all that, you can simply misbehave socially in some extreme way, such as prescribing yourself your own drug of choice unofficially, from the long pharmacopeia of "controlled: substances," and be taken in hand as a client of our cuiture's booming prison industry and be sent to jail. The result, of course, is that America has today become statisti179



rr uy




. .t1 11UflUUUUA



1. neuaism

cally the most overmedicated, over-incarcerated nation in the world. Well, then, what's wrong with this picture, and is there any way fix it? For the American culture at large itself, unfortunately, there isn't. While our civilization does have certain corrective mechanisms built in, it doesn't have any provisions for radical revision of any of its basic social assumptions, under which we have simply played out our historical string, as any civilization eventually will, meeting the same fate that every empire meets, and for much the same reasons. A wise man once said that every civilization bears within itself the seeds of its own destruction. However, another wise man, Confucius, said that "empires topple, but the small get by." Thus it is, as the millennium turns, that more and more people begin to form certain kinds of micro-communities that are functioning for them as lifeboats launched from the great American Titanic. There is a profound degree to which Theodism is theoretically equipped to function as just such a microcommunity; the profound degree to which Theodism understands and expresses more accurately and usefully than others the most fundamental and durable natural human social unit: tribe. From long experience, High Theodism already knows that it could all come together in one spot and function as a ready-made tribe if it ever had to; all the necessary working parts are already there. Whether or not any High or Greater Theodish rettt ever actually does that is of course another question, the question of what is known as "Existential," rather than "Epistemological," Theodism, Epistemological Theodism is, after all, just a theory and a theology. The practical interface between Theodism and the real world, formed by how votaries may choose to practice Theodism amongst themselves, however, is a most wonderful and fl~xible fabric, equally able to cover as casual and superficial or as deep and intense a form of Theodism as its votaries may freely elect for themselves. As we say in High Theodism, we never set out to change the world, but we sure could if we wanted to.


times to come, we believe that a c~nsiderable literan ture will begin to appear on the subject of the Greater Theodism, some of it undoubtably superior to the rough preliminary outline presented here. This book is merely the first book on the subject, and is necessarily short; some, of course, might say too short, considering such ~ vast subject, upon which many fat volumes could be ~vI'ltten. . Some readers for instance, might have Wished for a bit less windy disco~rse and a bit more technical and practical detail. Certainly most how-to books .on ~e subJe.ct of a nouveau religion offer a lot more doctrmal info~a~on and much considerable detail on how exactly to practice It properly in every season of the year, information without which any group might be fairly helpless until the gods or mother wit intervened with more liturgical information. However, the present work is admittedly somewhat preliminary, written mainly in answer to mounting r~ques~ for so~e sort of beginning materials for those seeking this path, With some of the inevitable deficiencies of haste between pen and publication. However, there are also other, and perhaps even more important, reasons for the way this book was written. Firstly, one should consider our title; The Way of the Heathen. In fact, that is just what the present work seeks to trace. In that sense, Greater Theodism, if it truly is that, is not really a-nouveau religion at all, but a very old one, and any book about such a.r~ligion should not .seek to be generically a nouveau rehglon. how-to book, ~ik~all the rest, but rather seek to stay as faithful to the principles of that religion as practical. In the case of the heathen, then, we should bear in mind that his tribal religion was not at all regular or systematic or doctrinaire, in anything like the way modem religions have since gotten us ~sed to. In~ad, it was a wisdom tradition, and how exactly It was practiced was as much an art and craft as a uniform regular canon



The Way a/the Heathen: A Handbook a/Greater Theodism


that any priest might go to school and memorize. That is the second consideration; the wisdoms of this book, and the lengthy topical discussions about how all sorts of things work and why, are much more in keeping with the real spirit of the ancient heathenry, whereas much more ceremonial apparatus and other systematic extrinsic detail could only have played this real spirit of the religion false and deformed it. The school of wisdom involved is of course the aforementioned "Shaftcunning," or Theodish "philosophy." We did not say much about that wisdom or exactly how it works before, and do not propose to do so now, since this is a book about religious practice, not Shaficunning, which might better have at least one whole other book to itself. Suffice it to say for now that Shaftcunning is a distillation from the kinds of thought processes a thoughtful person can see lurking behind and between the lines of the surviving native lore. Like the heathen religion itself, however, it is obvious that most of it was quite portable, taught mouth to ear, and not very much was ever likely systematically written down, other than in the mythologically codified forms that one finds in works like the Norsellcelandic Elder and Younger Eddas. As such, one might be tempted to suppose that such lore must have been lost entirely; however, it is hoped that enough is already visible in this book to give such gloomy notions the lie. For all the Medieval churchly energy spent trying to destroy it, such wisdom is ultimately indestructible, and-can be rediscovered by you in the same place as we rediscovered it; the bottom of the Well ofWyrd. Inother words, faithful practice of the Greater Theodism in an abiding love of the good old gods will in itself teach you, over time, a lot more of the ancient Shaficunning than you might believe possible. Not only that, but if you or someone in your Leode be possessed of any scholarly bent, be assured that a very considerable corpus of matter of interest to heathenry, albeit not all of it written by heathens, does exist, and the bibliography given in the back of this book includes many titles

which will repay study. Not all of the books listed are currently in print or easily available, of course, but one place where a considerable assortment oflore literature is always available is THEOD, the publisher of this book. A free brochure of titles carried by THEOD, many of them written by High Theodsmen, is always available on request, and the address is worth repeating: THEOD POBox 8062 Watertown, NY 13601 Theodism itself was the result of years of intense deepstructural group study and practice of the surviving lore, and is still ongoing. This is another cautionary reason why a book like this one does not attempt to be too systematic too soon about what it is still possible to learn about the e.lder heathen ways. What is presented. is mainly that portion of the reconstructed lore that is most time-tested and known to be valid, as opposed to many other promising theories which have at one time or another been studied and experimented with only to be necessarily cast aside. Serious study of the elder lore can in fact be a frustrating exercise; in addition to what Theodism already does, there are also many parts and fragments of good things known to be valid, like a great jigsaw puzzle spread out allover the floor, except that we haven't quite figured out where all the pieces fit yet. But indeed, many a day still dawns where some new knowledge reveals a missing part, where one of the long cherished other pieces turns out to fit and drop right into place. There is no question that the destruction that Christianity did to the elder lore was indeed very great. However, it is sometimes also surprising to discover how much they missed, especially today in an age when the recovery and piecingtogether oflost knowledge possesses tools and techniques undreamed of by the fire and sword-wielding Bis~ops of old. This work is far from done as yet, and may not In fact be completely done within any of our lifetimes.



The Way of the Heathen: A Handbook of Greater Theodism

But gerierally, there is so much gratification to be found in the practice of just the things we have learned so far, the study and practice of all the ancient lore with which these pages are studded, that a conscientious practitioner of Greater Theodism already has a religion in close enough touch with the real ways of old for most practical purposes. Sadly, and very foolishly, the elder Inninsul World Tree t of the noble old folk thew was viciously chopped down and forgotten a thousand years and more agone. Happily, however, and heretofore all unsuspected, the deathless roots survived, and are already putting up their first green new shoots. By now, it is becoming obvious that the new trunk, once it is nourished up in branch and leaf and flower and fruit, will reach its fingers up to touch the sky, and be just as good and solid and strong and lifegiving and glorious as the old one ever was. And as for us, who even now begin again to dance around that ancient blasted stump, with the little green sprout growing out of it? Suffice it merely to say that we won't be fooled again.


Based on the theology of Eric Wodening


llieodism is polytheistic, and worships the pre-Christian Anglo-Teutonic folk pantheon, best known today as such comic book superheroes as Odin, Thor and others. The real gods do have senses of humor; nonetheless readers of comic books should be careful not to get the .real gods mixed up with those creatures of the cartoonist's fancy. It is also important for the Greater Theodsman to bear in mind that operative word "polytheistic." After a thousand years and more of monotheism, it is not always easy to deal with the idea of "God" as inherently plural. There will always be a tendency for the newcomer to be strongly drawn to one particular god, and to pay worship to that god to the ignorance of the others. While some heathens and heathen retts t may have reason to specialize in or concentrate on one particular god or goddess, it is generally bad practice for any Dryhten or general-worship Leode to lapse into that type of practice, which can happen all too easily. Not only are the heathen gods not "jealous" gods, but they find this sort of casual exclusionism downright annoying. Some eettst do follow a practice of dedicating certain particular holidays to certain particular gods, making a given god the "guest of honor" on some given occasion, so to speak, which is perfectly acceptable. However, it should not be usual to follow even this practice to the exclusion of all other gods. For any god to be unnecessarily ignored during a faining is as annoying to him as it would be to you to find yourself being ignored at a cocktail party. As to exactly how many heathen gods and goddesses there are, no one today knows, due to the massive destruction of the heathen holy lore by Christianity. A tradition that there are twelve does exist, but may not deserve to be taken entirely seriously. More likely the precise theology varied from tribe to tribe, any number of previously known gods' may no longer be recorded, and 'it may be only the



The Way of the Heathen: A Handbook of Greater Theodism

Appendix L' The Gods

most famous gods whose names have still survived down to this time. Moreover, there are various "races" of gods, not to mention other kinds of powerful invisible wights, though the lore of exactly why, which may always have been esoteric, has today been lost. Likewise variable is the amount of lore that may have survived concerning any given god, however famous he may have been in pre-Christian times. What is presented here is only a very briefbeginner's roundup of surviving lore on some of the more famous or important gods and goddesses, intended merely as a starting point. A large and growing corpus of literature on the elder gods does exist today, and votaries of the good old gods can and should seek it out and explore it. Getting to know more and more about the elder gods should properly be a gradual process, with the initial difficulty being that of knowing where to start. Often one finds oneself attracted to a particular god, such as Woden, but this may be merely because he is so famous as Odin. Traditionally, many have started with Woden, yet this does not always work out for the best. Woden, god of aristocrats, warriors and magicians, is a complex, even dangerous god, very difficult to get to know properly, who doesn't suffer fools gladly, and other gods might actually afford better places to start. Thunor, or Thor, for instance, the working man's friend, is much more forgiving. He is straightforward and boisterous, hot-headed but kind-hearted. Ingui Frea, or Frey, god of fruitfulness and bounty, is wise and generous, peace-loving and good natured. A good way to start is by making small offerings to each god in tum, in hopes of thus being given inspiration and guidance. (pronounced (AY -seh)

est and most famous of the gods amorigst the Anglo-Saxons. The root element "wod" in the name connotes "divine" or "poetic" madness. Woden is god of inspiration, speechgiver, wordsmith, god of the martial arts battle cult known as the Berserkers, chooser of the slain, gallows god, psychopompos, god of awe, god of wisdom, primordial maker, with his brothers, of Middle Earth out of the corpse of the slain giant Ymir, Creator, with his brothers, of mankind, shape-changer, trickster, god of the Yuletide Wild Hunt on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir (i.e., "Slip-shod") (note "Santa" and his "eight reindeer"), taker of the Mead of Inspiration, god and giver of the runes, god of wizardry and magic, said to have been taught sei6R (i.e., "soul magic") by a lover, the goddess Freo, father of gods and goddesses, god of gamblers, warriors and kings. One of his by-names is Os (pronounced "OH-ss"), or "God," singular of Ese and the name of one of the Anglo-Saxon runes. Woden appears frequently in the elder lore, and the second poem of the Norsellcelandic Elder Edda, the "Havamal," or "Sayings of the High One," purports to be an epitome of his wisdoms.

Old Norse Pam, Old Saxon punar, Old High German Donar, said to be best-loved of gods, and considered the chief deity in some parts of Scandinavia and on the continent. Mightymuscled, red haired and red bearded, with blazing eyes. God of thunder and lightning and good crops, crusher of ettins and other woe-working wights, protector of gods and men, famous for his great strength and his hammer MjOllnir ("Crusher"), augmented by belt and gloves of power. Said in the Eddas to be eldest son ofW oden by Eor5e (Old Norse Jor5R, "Earth"), his wife is the golden-haired Sif. Effigies of Thunor' s hammer were used for hallowing purposes in ritual; forcible converts to Christianity who still loved the old gods often wore stylized crucifixes which could be turned upside down and were actually disguised Thorhammers. 187




Anglo-Saxon Woden, Old Saxon Wodan, Old Norse 65inn, Old High German Wuotan, sometimes called "Allfather" in the Norsellcelandic lore, and thoughtto have been great186

The Way of the Heathen: A Handbook a/Greater Theodism

Appendix I: The Gods


Pronounced "FREE-yeh," Old Norse Frigg, Old High German Frija, wife of W 6den. Called foremost of goddesses, said to be all-knowing, like W 6den, but to be normally silent, and to weep, because she knows all dooms and destinies. Said to be goddess of house holding and motherhood, the distaffwas her symbol. Fri5e was well beloved in elder times, and there are stories associated with her and many references to her scattered through the lore. In general, however, goddess lore has been the more difficult to come by in the revived heathenry, because Christianity, being patriarchal, was notoriously more anxious to stamp it out than was the case with god-lore.

Danish Gefjun meaning "giver," thought to be goddess of unwed mother; and offemale wiles. A fertility goddess who presides over the bounty of land and sea.

God known t~ the Eddas as Forseti, bu~ especially famo.us amongst the Frisians (Old Frisian Foslte)~ who ~ake him their patron god as "god of wealth, nobility, fairness and compromise." His name means "He who presides."

Glory-god, god of''justice,'' Old Norse TYr, Old High German Ziu. Sometimes thought to be one of the eldest of father-gods, for philological reasons, because his name is so old in the language. Evidently less important in Medieval times, Tiw is best remembered for sacrificing his swordhand to bind down the Fenris Wolf (of chaos?) with the Gleipnir-fetter (of thew?). Tfw seems a rather ascetic, unforgiving, outspoken, wise, stark and prudent warrior-god who presides over ordeal and the deemings of folk Thing, traditionally held on "Tuesday," in his honor, and over the Irminsul "World Tree," signified by the Maypole, which, without his wardership, would come crashing down, destroying the Nine Worlds of the multiverse. The Maypole dance is of course the courting dance oflife, within which context men's deeds of lust must be responsibly bound by good troth, and the traditional nailing of a right-hand glove to the Maypole is thought to signify the fact that Tfw presides over such proceedings as well. Today Tiw's importance is increasingly recognized, and he has a votive cult, but traditionally it is not usual to make large sacrifices to him, since as god of''justice'' (i.e., true thewful outcomes), his favor must never be bought and paid-for.


Goddess mentioned only amongst the Anglo-Saxons, b~t evidently known on the continent by the name of her holiday, Ostara (Easter), the first day of Spring. The name ~eans "shining" or "dawning." She signifies ~e fecundation. of new life and the commencement of the mating season, which is why her holiday is still k~pt to this day w!-theggs, bunnies blossoms and the struttmg of eye-catching Easter finery ~ade over winter. It was traditional to night-wake at the mead bench on Easter eve and watch in the new rays ?f Easter dawn. In elder times, the prettiest maiden ofthe.vtllage rode through town in noisy processional as the "g~lva" (gift of the gods), dight with garlands of fl?wers, which she would pluck off and toss to bystanders until she was naked; to catch such a blossom was considered to confer good luck for the whole coming year. At the end of the ride she would drive last year's godiva, now portraying "Annis the Hag of Winter," out of the village bounds in mock battle. The more eggs eaten in Easter, the greater the strength through the coming year, Easter egg hunts were stag.ed for such luck, and people ran about cracking the hardboiled eggs (and th~ occasional uncooked one!) that they found on one anothers skulls for eating out of hand, as well as whippin~.one another with birch branches for strength and fertlhty .. The solemnity of the Christian rite is distinctly out ofkeepmg!