Thursday, April 20, 2006

One Mans Non Scholarly View

One Man's Non Scholarly View

Here's an essay I wrote in late 1999.  I have rewritten it a little to bring my thinking more in line with life as it is now.  I think it pertains to understanding our goal of striving to build Heathen community:What is a Tribe, a People, or a Folk?

I'll regale you herein with my understanding.A few things can be given as part of the truth: a common tongue, shared customs & traditions (the Thews, which bind the community), the retelling of tales & tall tales which speak of & reinforce one's Heritage, and even a shared sense of space & time.
The 1st is the easiest point to take.For much of my readership, American Standard English is the cradle language in which they were reared (within the various regional dialects, of course). This tongue has its roots in the word-hoard of the Anglo-Saxon tribesmen who immigrated into and invaded the island of Great Britain.  This Anglic, aka Old English or Anglo-Saxon, has absorbed a lot of verbiage over the centuries: Norse, Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Dutch, Hindu, Arabic, Swahili and so on.  It has also undergone modifications in pronunciation, spelling, declension and so forth.  But, the Tongue remains English (kind of like the US frigate "Old Ironsides" absorbing the pounding from British cannonballs and going on to win the battle).  If one tries hard, one CAN speak and write using only English/Germanic words.Most of our important ideas/words come from the Northern Elder Heritage: read, write, law, freedom, husband, wife, home, land, right (as in correct AND inalienable), wealth, work, beer, bread, meat and so forth.  The idea that Freemen come together to make the Law is deep within our Kinlore (the New England town meeting form of government being a holdover of this).   Freemen sitting as jurors in trial to decide upon violations of that Law, this also is ours.Tribe isn't one of our words.  It comes from the Latin: tribus, a group descending from a common ancestor.  The idea, though, is as much ours as the words mother, father, sister, brother, kin, kith, friend, in-law, foster and folk.  We, in a healthy society, hold to our own first, last and always, held together by the words of our common tongue.As children, our mothers, fathers, other kin and kith showed us by word & deed to say & do that, which is right.  We learnt about goodness, being that which helps our family and community.  We learnt early on that one's Word has Worth & Meaning, and should never be tainted by falsehood.  We learnt to share, to depend upon those we can trust (which we learnt by seeing who our Kin & Kith entrusted).  We learnt that one must work for Land and Wealth. We learnt to respect the right of others to that which they have earned.  We learnt to try and cause no harm.

All this we learnt before we became aware of the much broader world around us, and its codification of behavior: religious and secular.A Thew I'll expand on a little is self-reliance, being one's own man.  In Asatru, much is made of the “rugged individual,” a “stand-alone” character, falsely thought to need no one else.  A self-reliant man adds to the community strength, as he is no one’s burden and can help increase the commonweal.  A self-reliant man will also be unafraid of seeking new ideas or new ways (or even Old Ways).  This is especially noteworthy, seeing as modern Asatru would not be if we had not struck out from home, and the bonds of past thought.  The safe course is always to keep with that which is familiar, staying in the fold.  It is hard work to keep Frith with Blood Kin sometimes when one is out of the comfortable garth in which one was born and raised.  Keeping Trú, standing before the Gods and Men as your own man is hard and Worth the venture. Sometimes those who are closest by Blood will not accept this freedom of thought and deed.  You move on with life.
Is there anyone amongst us doesn't enjoy a good tale or tall-tale?

An ancestor's letter rails against some social injustice.  An uncle tells of service in wartime.  Your grandfather describes how his mother would go down to the river for water in the "Old Country”. Your dad speaks of the camping trips he enjoyed as a Boy Scout.  Your sister recounts the details of her perfect Prom date.  You tell about the game-winning homer you once hit in Little League.And then:

Thor fishes for the Midgard serpent.  Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox trek through the North Woods.  "Dime Novelists" exaggerate the doings of Western heroes and outlaws. Fishermen tell of the "Big One" that got away.  Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, swings through the trees.  Buck Rogers fights evil in the 25th century.  John Wayne wins World War II.All of these are worthy of our respect.  Knowing the deeds of our Forebears and Kin show us how to live.  They give us Kin-pride.  The Tall Tales can show us ideals and grand lessons, or entertain us.  They can strive to explain the inexplicable.  They can act as object lesson, or warning.
A common sense of time and space is also important to defining a People.  Night, day, week, month, year, winter, summer, fall and spring are all words of the Elder Tongue, as are then and now.  Future belongs to the Latinate-Levantine world.  We of the North think of that which has been, the Layers in the Well.  We think of that which is becoming, the new layers being added.  From the weight of this, there is that which may become, which is changeable due to then and now, and so, is undefined.  This sense gives us strength to face each day as it becomes, without the need to worry about the undefinable what may be.  We don't ignore that our deeds have results, for we are our deeds.  To remain worthy in our becoming, we strive to do that which is right, as we learned at our mother's knee.
And so we return to the start.  Our Folk are those with whom we share the foregoing.  In breaking from the fold of our Blood Kin, and in reforming Folk and Faith Ways, we find new Kin, new Kith, we find our Folk, Our Tribes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well stated, I enjoyed reading this. James

1/26/2008 2:18 PM  

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