Ask anyone what Frith means. You’ll get a different answer, because it has different meanings. Generally, the term Frith conjures up ideas of “Peace and Freedom”, “Friendship”, “An intangible power that connects people”, or even “pine wood forest”. Like any language translation, we often are losing the richest aspects of connotation. The etymology of the word is a spirited discussion in and of itself. Instead, I write to focus on how Frith relates to us, to our community, to our way of life and vision of things to come.
Many of you might already be acquainted with this word through exposure to the Asatru community- whether you subscribe, practice or dabble in the Faith. I’ll disclose here, I classify myself as Heathen. I’ve read through the Eddas, I live a shamanic tradition that blends Peruvian, Lakota, and Norse practices. My classification stems from the practice of cultivating a relationship with and honoring my ancestors, having an animistic view of the world, living under the guidance of my matron Goddess Freyja, the practice of gift-giving, and Frith. I’m letting you know these things not because it’s fantastic or cool, but so that you have an idea of where I’m coming from when I’m talking about these things. And please know, I’m not talking down nor do I consider myself to be tiptoeing on a soapbox. Imagine that I’m sitting by the fireplace in a rocker, and you’re sitting across from me in your rocker and we’re sharing a drink. Preferably wine, but beer would be okay too. (It’s your imagination, I can’t stop you from drinking whiskey.)
From Wednesbury Shire¹, this potent quote explains how Frith can work for us.
“As it is difficult to separate an individual’s deeds from the individual, the ancient Germanic peoples also found it hard to separate the tribe’s customs from the tribe; hence to some degree the law was seen as the tribe as well. Frith, as the state of peace and security which allows the community to surivive, is then also a state which allows the law–the tribe and its customs–to survive.”
In times like these, when the consequence of careless behavior is dire, we need to examine- or reexamine- our relationship to Frith. Do we need Frith? How can we use Frith in our everyday lives? And if you aren’t about that Frith-life, what other words do you harness for living an honorable life?
And again, I couldn’t have said it better than Wednesbury Shire’s POV², so I won’t.
“The lesson of frith is that in order for a community to survive, a sense of peace and security–literally frith–must be maintained. This is an epsecially important lesson for modern heathen to learn. The past several years have seen many disputes rise in heathendom, often over political or theological differences of little importance in the long run. These disputes would not be a threat to frith if they were conducted in a sane, rational manner. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. At different times individuals have brought rumour mongering and outright lies into play, and have sometimes even played one faction against the other. Such behaviour not only threatens to dirupt the frith of heathendom, but is also unworthy of a religion for which honour is supposedly a cardinal virtue. Not only does such behaviour disrupt frith, thus endangering the viability of heathendom, but it also demeans the religion itself so that outsiders are less inclined to join us, let alone be friendly towards us. Ultimately this could thwart any hope of heathendom once again becoming a healthy, flourishing religion.
Heathendom must then ensure that its frith remains whole. This can be done simply by always acting in an honourable fashion–even when one disagrees with another’s point of view. When someone insists upon acting with dishonour, it is up to we heathen to see to it that he is suitably punished–that is, “outlawed” or ostracized. Here I must stress that someone is NOT “acting with dishonour” simply because his political or theological views disagree with your own.”
Our King and Queen practice Frith in all action and deed. They live honorably, stand by their word, and lead with example. As Hrafnarfjallians we must do the same.
1, 2: http://www.englatheod.org The official website of Wednesbury Shire, of White Marsh Theod. A Heathen group based out of Columbia, Missouri. (Special Note: I understand that within the community this group does not have a stellar reputation. So why am I using their words here? Well, even if they don’t stand by what they are saying there is truth in it. And we can use that, and not them.)
By Chancellor Kendall Belopavlovich, Princess of Hrafnarfjall