Trothmoot 2014 was a time of magic, some figurative, some probably literal, but the one that is most special to me is family. My daughter Caitlyn is my Prime Signed daughter, raised and oathed Heathen; she is also Christian, bringing the same sorts of things to teenage inner and outer conflicts as most, and with a mix of worldview that resembles the classic Prime Signed (Heathens who have been baptised as well) heathens of the syncretic period.
While self-identifying as Christian, when she thinks about it, she also practices Heathen and covets coming to events for what it brings to her, even if she does not have the words to really express what that is, but perhaps it is part of a father’s job to find them for both of us.
Like many teenagers she has her struggles, but Wyrd has woven a few extra tangles in her weave, as she has been given some medical conditions that affect her hormones with serious impacts to her body and worsening the usual teenage emotional storm to levels that are sometimes damaging. The coping mechanisms she found were more damaging yet. She and her parents do everything the system offers in terms of the “right things” with various, sometimes limited, success.
Now we come to Trothmoot. Moots are magical things, once Dennis Ford put the Tyr’s glove on the spear to sanctify and open the moot, the fellowship that began blurred the lines between sacred and commonplace, between hospitality and ritual, between mirth and magic, and in the strange alchemy of moot, wove healing into the fabric of the community that was forged.
Community: it means different things to different peoples, but to those who hunger for a place to be, for a place to be accepted, for a place to be whole, community is more precious than gold, more nourishing than meat, more intoxicating than mead. Community is also a powerful agent of change, a powerful force of healing. Old magic is strongest, and the magic of community is not given the first third of the Havamal because the All-Wise did not know the worth of the magic of hospitality.
Dozens of people contributed to the magic, for that is the way of community, the ultimate expression of vegetarian food in Midgard (Tanya Peterson’s vegetarian lasagne) certainly made a vegetarian girl feel valued in a community that seems to consist on meat and mead alone at festival. Well maybe that was just me. Caitlyn spent her time working hard in the kitchen, cleaning up in the halls, helping out at ritual, and attending workshops. I did not send her to do these things, these things she was drawn to do by the magic of the community, by the getting, judging the giving. A gift for a gift.
Toward the end of Trothmoot she made a breakthrough. Around the fire, passing libations and sharing companionship with the community that was so much more restorative than sleep, that most of us rationed or cut out the practice entirely, Caitlyn found a way to make peace with the wounds of her past, and the conflicts of her present. Locked for years in a stasis of self destruction, she broke free to more forward towards health, not because she was lead, not because she was forced, but because she was freed to do so by the community that embraced her.
One of the ancient wights, one of the named powers of our lore has been the patron that has been with her in her darkest times, the only voice of heathen lore that whispers solutions to her when she needs them, one of the gods reached out to her and showed her how to use the power of the communities gifts to address her healing. A gift for a gift is our way, I have raised her so. To do what is right, to embrace truths, even ones that are hard and ugly, is what we have taught her. To stand for what you believe in, but do so respectfully, is what we have tried hard to teach her. In having received a gift from a Heathen community, from a Heathen god, she listened to the instruction for the round that she should raise the horn to a god of her choice, so she did, and broke the law.
It is our law (as Troth), and the will of the community, and thus a holy thing, in a holy place. What she did was thus an offense against the Frith of the community, and our noble hosts. Steven Abell did as he must to keep the Frith as a chieftain must who is worthy to hold the oaths of his folk, and I did a father’s duty and claimed her deed for what it was, the failure of a father’s instruction, and not in any way a failure of my daughter’s honour. For this I offered scyld that will serve both the needs of our community, and the honour of my house. It was accepted, and sworn so before the folk at Grand Sumbel. Steven asked if we were good, if it was finished between us, and with a man’s understanding, I agreed between men, that it was done. Buy we are only men, and men are not the only guests at moot, nor the highest, nor the wisest, for it was not done.
In the Heathen community that she is oathed, her hail would have been correct, and indeed answered by as many as a hail to Idunna or Tyr would at our Troth halls. As a teenager, she tries to hold to principles, and has no patience with politics, and local differences, and had been taken strongly by the Troth’s wisdom and spirit, especially during the Diversity and Community building panels at Trothmoot. We have all learned that politics may be stupid, but they are real, as are laws, and they are necessary, if we are able to bring communities together to build something larger than two people in a single room. None who stood in the circle of the Rede to address this matter saw or spoke of anything more than a well meaning child having made a mistake, but as good and worthy men and women who hold their oaths as something real and potent, knew they still must do as they had oathed the would do to keep the frith. In both action and consequence, there is no party that cannot say with pride they did as they best understood right and frithful action lay.
What is the action of a proud warrior daughter to what she perceives as injustice and slight? Does she sulk in her tent like Achilles while his people burn? No, she was back in the kitchen working hard along side those few who kept the Trothmoot fed, to clean the dishes of a hungry and well fed hall. I spoke with her about how acceptance of consequence can also be a way of building worth, and she made a father as proud as proud could be, as full of anger and pride, she continued to give to her community the gifts of her labour, the little attentions to those who went without, even to the point of making sure those who had to miss the Idunna blot as they laboured in the kitchen received her blessing from her apples. Such deeds do not go unnoticed in our community, not by wights seen or unseen.
There are those under our Troth banner whose halls hold other custom where Selipnir’s mother is concerned, and those in our halls whom I trust and seek for the counsel of my daughter because of the esteem their deeds and proven worth have found in my eyes. Thus it was that Gari Farmer, noble Redeswoman and Steward, sat with Caitlyn in private devotion to the wight whose name may not be praised in sumble, but whose place in the devotional practice of many worthy members is well established. In the course of this practice, Gari shared with the courage you expect of a soldier and woman of her name and reputation. In the magic of moot, she drew from my daughter more without asking a single question than years of medication, therapy, analysis, counseling had done, and my daughter opened her mouth, her wounds, her heart, and shattered Isa, broke the self-destructive cycle that had held her with a casual ease. In the magic of moot was healing wrought, and brightly was it woven.
There are gods famed for healing, and I hail and honour them, but we are all men and women of strong and independent natures, and do not follow the paths laid out by our fellows, so much as the paths laid out by our natures, by necessity, and by the strong moral compass of our gods and ancestors teachings. For Gari and for Caitlyn, their pole star is not Tyr, their healer is not Eir, but Laufey's son; and before his Vé did they share offering, share pain, share healing.
What is the role of Clergy in our community? Well apparently it isn’t just given out with a box of cracker jacks, for our own far-famed head of clergy showed the wisdom equal to her name, as Diana Paxson and Lorrie Wood both sought out Caitlyn at the outside Vé, gathering a circle of strong women to a space not made sacral on purpose (because Hel-father’s Vé was one of those that Wyrd chose to interfere with the journey of). No, this road side, excamural Vé was made sacred by the purpose of they who gathered to pool the skill of the communities women in healing a young woman of the community. Healing takes many forms, and in the perverse nature of a wight described even by his friends as at least perverse, it was the joint bitching about community politics that bound the wounds now bled free of old and bitter poison, and began healing.
There are going to be those who will look upon this and seek to grumble on one side or another of the old quarrel, but that would be foolish. A scyld was offered for a breach of the peace, and all sides conducted themselves honourably. Against the matter of her name and her breach, I have received such praise for her hard work and passion from those at this Trothmoot that I have no fear of her name and worth in the community being anything but another source of pride. Against the matter of scyld, I hold the honour of my house to be be a dear thing, and worth twenty times the price, but that is almost forgotten, so small is it. I have a daughters healing forged from the magic of the moot, a daughters healing that in some respects is tied to the catalyst of the breach and consequence. Odin gave an eye for what he must know, Tyr a hand for the worth of his word, will ask what a father will pay for his daughter’s healing? I would change nothing, and count myself and my family blessed brightly by the magic of this moot.
John T Mainer