Wednesday, December 30, 2015

World Denial: Death of Delusion and PTSD

In the discussion on the Troth email list this past while I have been listening to my fellow veterans, as well as victims of rape and traumatic assault talking about the twin elements of PTSD, what happened to cause the PTSD, and what can be done to build coping mechanisms for it.  Our society is built on lies.  The communal delusions of the west in the twenty first century are in my estimation these:

We are a civilized folk.  Horse pucky.  You are not being robbed, raped, embezzled, by the Soviet Red Army.  We are most likely to be preyed upon by those in our community who have the ability to use violence to satisfy momentary urges and no real motivation not to use it.

War is about fighting for truth, justice, and the American/Canadian/British/Australian way.  Dog droppings.  We kill people over there,  in the hopes that we can keep the flames of war from crossing our own frontiers .   We fight foreign wars for reasons of internal politics, protection of our economic hegemony,  to preserve an imperfect balance of power that is assumed to be better than the maelstrom of escalation and violence that would follow its breaking down, and to remind people that attacking us is a good way of getting dead.

We heard much reference to the saga’s being so graphically violent, celebrating the horror of the battle and its aftermath.  Indeed, the romanticism of our ancestors differs from the romanticism of the Chivalric, Renaissance and later ages romanticism of battle in the fact that it is not concerned with making the battle seem clean,  or for noble purpose.   Battle was described as ugly, the humour was rough and sometimes cruel, and the purposes of the struggle were often politics, economics, avarice, ego.  This did not detract from the glory that comes from facing your challenges, whether in knowing success or failure in their strategic aims, what was celebrated was the courage in facing the challenge, and the strength, cunning, and spirit brought to bear.

To a survivor of rape or abuse, the delusion of safety that was the communal understanding of the society that they were raised in has been shattered.  Their mind is now conflicted between gnostic and epistemological knowledge.  They know from their entire cultural upbringing that we are more evolved than the rabid murdering, raping, lawless thieving ancients that gave us so much rich history of semi random carnage.  This is their epistemological knowledge, the shared learned beleifs of our society.  They know from bitter personal experience that we, as a species, are capable of the basest acts of cruelty, at any time, for the most transient and venal of reasons.  Where once the face of every stranger was a fellow citizen, now it must ever be a potential enemy.

From its first line the Hamaval teaches us to be wary always.  Enemies can be anywhere.  Bad things are always possible, and people who have reason to harm you, or who desire what is yours, are indeed out there.  This is not reason to cease living, or going out, or building relationships, but it must ALWAYS be near the top of our ancestors thoughts, when looking at the world.

A person who has had he delusion of safety, of the innate goodness of humanity, stripped away from them will have a hard time talking with those who are still comfortable in their innocence.  Like a seal swimming happily in a pod of orca; unaware that some of their playmates regard them as no more than a twinkie that they may or may not feel like consuming at the moment, but are definitely considering.

Society holds the delusion, a modern invention based on trappings of law enforcement, and the public face of justice.  The fact is one in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lives, 80% of their abusers were known and trusted by them.  When those you trust can turn out to be the ones you should have feared, how hard is it to trust again?

My father’s generation was raised on the myths of the Second World War, the battle of good versus evil, the coming home to parades.  My grandfather got back from the war too late to get the truth of it into his sons, so they went to war in Africa believing a myth that was turning most of the returning veterans of WWII into borderline alcoholics, and giving us the kind of marriages that made Valium nicknamed “mother’s little helper”.  My father and uncles got to watch African tribal warfare, see baby’s heads dashed on building walls by laughing men of other tribes, while European Mercenaries paid by funds from Canadian Churches did the brunt of the fighting against the UN forces.   Coming back from that, they did not receive their parades, but shouts of “baby killer”.   The veil was off their eyes, but no one who had not “been there and done that” could they talk to about it.

When I was in the service,  Canada preached the myth of the Peacekeeper.  We had some of the best killers on the planet, but we told the public that we were glorified crossing guards.  When the politician believed their lies, a lot of ours got left in some bad places with no support.  A generation of soldiers who grew up listening to the Jewish Holocaust stories and the UN declaration that such would never happen again got to be on the ground when the UN forced its troop commanders to stop using the word Genocide, and use Ethnic cleansing.  Never Again was happening in front of our troops, and rather than honouring the UN Charter that all the Superpowers and leading nations of the earth swore to, and stopping genocide from happening again, we switched what we were calling it, to allow us to not go to war, as long as all (insert name of ethnicity) everywhere weren’t being killed, its not genocide.  Wiping out all of them in one region or one country is not genocide.   Under current UN rules, Hitler would walk.  Soldiers that trained their whole lives to stop this from happening, were being handcuffed by their political leaders from stopping it, and gagged by their officers from talking about it.  PTSD rates among over used troops who can’t talk to anyone about what they have been through were brutal.

Those who followed me into service got away from Peacekeeping and back into war fighting in Afghanistan (and Iraq for US/UK).  While the need to watch passively was taken away, the level of violence and pressure was far higher than we needed.  The myth of the good clean war was being sold hard at home, and ladies and gentlemen, that myth has killed as many of my fellow soldiers as IED.  It isn’t.  It can’t be.  It will never be.  Selling that myth makes those who support the troops being impossible to talk to because they have no idea what happened, and those who don’t support the troops being impossible to talk to because they have no idea why its necessary or how often the “terrible tragedies” are the cost of bringing about almost unnoticeable Improvements, or stopping rapid escalation of bad.

Again, the problem that the returning soldiers have is that the myths of our society are commonly accepted and hold the force of holy writ.  Those who administer and populate the mental health systems do not share the reality of those people who have been down in the mud and the blood, the stress and the fear.  The people defining normal have an understanding of reality that is, honestly, flawed.

Our ancestors did have mental illness, and did have clear cases of PTSD.  They had a society that understood a version of reality that was close enough to their warriors, to the women and children who had been on the receiving end of brigandage or the sack.  Their poetry was as often created by professional warriors as poets, celebrating the reality they shared.  The customs of the bragaful, the use of mead and wine to break down the barriers, of establishing a sacred space in which men could speak freely and without shame of their struggles, their losses.  Egil Skallgrimson showed the depth of how a warrior, a mercenary and noted berserkyr could openly mourn his lost son without fear of losing his perceived status or manhood.  The reality of our ancestors accepted that terrible things happened to the ones we love, and it is bloody hard to cope.  Coping mechanisms are often best described as going just insane enough to not come apart completely.  Egil is a wonderful case in point.  His dealing with the death of his brother, and then later his son shows how acting out was accepted, as long as once you were done dealing with your losses you got your act together and took care of your duty.  There was no need to pretend everything was fine.  It was alright to come apart at the seams, to not be OK with what happened.  There was no shame in bleeding from wounds without or within.  There was healing to be done in sharing the pain, and loss.  Life goes on.  Hard, unforgiving, cruel, tiresome, seductive, amusing, inspiring, exciting, glorious life-goes on.

Our society accepts the delusion that fair exists, that we have a right for bad things to not happen.  It teaches that there is always a better way than violence.  It teaches that if something bad happened to you there must be a reason (you got raped, where were you, what were you wearing?).  If somebody dies in a war zone it is a crime and somebody must be punished.  Our society teaches that when something terrible happens to you, and you realize the myths are false, that now something is wrong with you.  If you are not OK with having a stillborn baby because your doctor says you “can just have another one”, then clearly you are the one with a problem.  If you got raped at a transit stop and are now afraid to take a class that will force you to take transit home after dark, you need to “get over it”.  If you are a soldier who did what you needed to do when you were over there, and now can’t go to bed alone, unless you have a bottle or pills to keep the things behind your eyes at bay when the  night comes,  then you need to “suck it up buttercup”.  We eat our wounded to cover the lies of our society.

Our own faith is a world accepting one.  We are taught to accept the world for what it is.  Our code of ethics is not a perfect world system, but a functional roadmap for dealing with people the way they are.  Violence, greed, malice are all parts of humanity.  Those with the power to abuse will often be as free to do so as they think they can get away with (observe the “good people” in mob situations and see how many people have been straining at the leash to indulge some pretty dark appetites).  There is the good with the bad, but we are taught to as much how to protect against the latter as we are to build upon the former.   A person not coping well with stuff that was too much to handle was accepted by the ancients.  Madness was holy, in its own way.  Coping strategies based around sharing your trauma in a way that was not victims talking about what broke them, but strong men and women boasting, sharing, ranting, and raving about what they survived. 

Why do so many of our gods bear wounds openly?  The Battle Glad gave his eye, while the lord of honour gave his hand.  Our gods bear their wounds with pride, their loss not hidden in shame but boasted.   There is always a price to be paid for life.  A terrible price, for the greatest possible prize.  To pretend that life should be free of price, is to cheapen its worth.  Bad things happen, mistakes happen, bad people are out there, and even some good people are going to be set against you.  Accept this.  You will encounter things that are beyond your power to deal with, unless the gods have blessed you greater than any I have yet met.  Wyrd weaves as it will, and it is enough that you muddle through and seek to do your duty regardless of the price paid.  Remember that, take pride in that.  Grow strong in the broken places and boast of your scars, both the outer ones and the dark secret ones that society tries hard to make you ashamed of.  Pain overcome is honour won.  Claim your victory, and pox on the shame society would use to protect its pathetic tissue of make-believe “normal”.

John T Mainer

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Story of Mistletoe

Inside the greatest stories are a hundred little stories that get forgotten. 
In the story of the first winter, the death of Baldur the bright, there is a story too of little Mistletoe. 
At Yuletide now we hang mistletoe, and whenever a boy and girl pass beneath it they must kiss, 
but so many have forgotten why. The tale of mistletoe is one of love and pride, foolishness and forgiveness.

First and best of the sons of Frigga and Odin was Baldur the bright. The shining one, his laughter and courage were beacons to the Aesir, and his gentleness the offer of peace when the battle din had faded. Where the world carved by Jottun and Odin from Ymir's bones was cruel and cold, would Baldur add a touch of gentleness and wonder. Where spear sharp mountain was cut by icy stream, would Baldur carve a hidden flowered glen, and softly whispering pool. Where Muspelheim's fire clawed at the ice and rock of earth 
would Baldur twist and twine them to forge a bubbling spring of warmth to bring the promise of life to the most forsaken fell. 

When the first war raged between Aesir and Vanir sweet Frigga feared for her son, for ever was he first in battle, and all too swift to offer mercy where death strokes were safer. In time the Aesir and Vanir swore to peace, and the Vanir too grew to love Baldur. For a time the nine worlds were near peace, the Aesir and Vanir united, the raiding with the Jottun more friendly sport than earnest war. 

At this time did Frigga vow to make her Baldur safe from harm from all. 

To the dwarvish deeps she went, and begged favour of the dwarves:
"Let not stone or steel, nor metal forged dare harm sweet Baldur's hide!" 
The dwarves looked deep into the secret earth, at the ropes and rivers of gold, the sparkling diamonds promising the wonders of the night sky, and the thousand secret riches that Baldur had woven into the iron deeps when the world was new forged and so they swore. To the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, the whales and fishes of the deep did she go and beg safety for bright Baldur, and as each would look to the beauty Baldur had woven into their world, they would promise his protection. 

From Yggdrasil and all lesser trees did Frigga then beg favour, and one by one they all swore Baldur's weal for the beauty he had given them. At last came Frigga to the youngest of plants, the newborn Mistletoe. She begged protection for her son, and Mistletoe said no.

Mistletoe lives on the oak, and never sees the sun. Far from the ground, it sees not beyond the mighty oak´s dark leaves. The oak itself did lend its voice to beg and plead with Mistletoe, but Mistletoe had never seen the gifts of Baldur's making. All Frigga's tears and oak´s stern words did not move Mistletoe to mercy, in ignorance and pride it swore no oath to the lady mother.

Alone of giant, man and god was Loki is his jealousy. Baldur's love meant nothing to him, and he ever sought to mock him. For all his jests did him no good, as Baldur never angered, but laughed instead with right good will when Loki's wit did best him. With envy and rage did Loki plot to do fair Baldur evil, at last he thought to ask of Frigg the protection she had won him. In the high feast hall with a gentle smile did Loki come to Frigga.

"How you must fear with such a bold son, that evil must befall him. 
Of all the gods your Baldur's courage in the vanguard ever finds him"

At Loki's words did Frigga smile, never suspecting evil. She shared with her kinsmen her sons defence, the secrets of his protection.

"The stones of earth, all metals forged, all beasts of water, wind and land have all sworn him protection", did Frigga smile.

Loki pressed for answers, "What of tree and leaf and nut? What of dandelion or rose?"

Frigga laughed at his silly words, and revealed the last of her secret:

"Trees and grasses, bush and vine have all sworn his protection. Only lowly mistletoe of all that lives still dares withhold protection."

Loki laughed and slid away, his mission now completed. Sweet Frigga did not suspect yet that Loki plotted treason. Down to midgard with a silver knife did Loki make his harvest. A slender wand of mistletoe 
that in the fire with spells he hardened. His arrow forged of mistletoe, and murder in his heart, 
Loki crossed the rainbow bridge and came to Odin's court.

"A game!" cried Loki shouting loud, "A sport to test our mettle!" 
Loki's challenge drew every eye and he worked his trick so vile.
"Let Baldur stand before the host, let every warrior try him." 
Loath were the gods to raise hand against him, but Baldur did beseech them.

"What harm in this? Lets have a game, let all my friends and brothers try their mightiest of strokes and let me judge the winner!"

Baldur's words stirred every heart with honest love for battle, and laughing 
did they all array to try their strokes against him. Odin's spear and Thor's dread hammer, 
swords of Frey and Heimdall, the bow of Uller all did fail amidst the warriors laughter. 
Blind Hod alone did not take part, until dread Loki urged him on and promised his assistance.

"Come now brother, what's the harm" smiled Loki in his treason. 
"I'll guide your hand upon the bow, let your warrior´s heart remember"

Hod then smiled and drew his bow, and Loki fit the arrow, 
dread mistletoe struck Baldur dead and the light of the world fell with him.

All remember what happened next, how sweet Sunna (the Sun) fled from a world without Baldur, 
how winter came to the world. All remember the punishment of Loki, a binding and torment 
that would last until the end of days. Each Yule we remember Baldur's arrival at Hel's own hall, 
how she bade him to sit beside her and join her in her hall until the end of days, when he
will return to lead the survivors. Who now remembers the fate of Mistletoe, the agent of Baldur's bane?

When Baldur fell, sweet Sunna turned her face away and fled. Without the light of the sun, 
the world grew cold and dark, the trees lost their leaves, and for the first time Mistletoe 
saw beyond the embracing arms of oak. Everywhere the dying light showed emptiness and loss, 
but here and there would beauty shine and mistletoe did weep. 
"Who has made this?", would Mistletoe ask at each thing of majesty and wonder, 
"Baldur" was the answer every time until the heart of mistletoe was shattered.

Mother Frigga in her rage demanded the death of her sons dread slayer. 
Of Odin and of Yggdrasil, of Frey and gentle Nerthus she begged the price 
of mother's vengeance, until every god condemned it. Alone of all the gods did Freya hear the weeping. 
Alone of all the Vanir did she stoop to hear the reason. To mistletoe she swiftly flew 
within her falcon cloak, upon the oak tree did she land beside the weeping plant. 
Love´s golden goddess softly asked, why mistletoe did weep?

"For Baldur slain, for beauty lost, for love gone out the world!"

Freya asked of Mistletoe, what wergild would it pay? How could it give back the beauty lost, 
the love that Baldur offered? When Mother Frigga in her rage came down the Bifrost bridge,
Freya stood with mistletoe to greet the grieving mother.

"Blessed Frigga, will you accept the wergild of the weeping flower? 
Or will you slaughter and stain the memory of the loving son you've lost?"

Frigga stared hard eyed and cold to hear the wergilds terms, Mistletoe in humble grief did make this solemn vow:

"Where Yuletide brings the pain of loss will Mistletoe bring love, beneath my humble leaves 
let love be now kindled. What fairer grave goods for the sun bright lord than the promise 
of love new kindled? When two now meet beneath my leaves, let loves kiss light between them. 
Let the light of love remember him that the world weeps for this season."

Now down the ages we remember beneath the mistletoe, a kiss the promise of new love, within this coldest season.

© John T Mainer         

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Yuletide Sock Drives!

Socks are one of the most requested items at homeless shelters, but they are also one of the least-donated items.

Various Heathen groups will be collecting socks for folks in need!

Stock up stacks of socks and stockings and help to bring warmth to the feet of those in need this Yuletide!


The Frithstead is collecting new, unworn wool or 50% mix socks between now and December 19, 2015. Contact for more information.


All sizes of new, unworn socks, from baby to adult male. Practical socks, fun socks, fuzzy socks, holiday socks, argyle socks are all needed! Collections in Pasco and Pinellas Counties through December 21, 2015. Contact Kate Cullifer for collection sites and more info.


All sizes, of new, unworn socks, from baby to adult male. Practical socks, fun socks, fuzzy socks, holiday socks, argyle socks are all needed!

Collections in Philadelphia, Bucks, and Berks Counties beginning at
Krampuslauf Philadelphia (December 12, 2015) and running through January 1, 2016. Contact Robert L. Schreiwer for collection sites and more info.

Collections in the Pittsburgh Metro Area through January 2, 2016. Contact Jo Spinks for collection sites and more info!


All sizes of new, unworn socks, from baby to adult male. Practical socks, fun socks, fuzzy socks, holiday socks, argyle socks are all needed! Collections in Sangamon County and the Springfield Metro Area December 14, 2015 through January 19, 2016. Contact Valerie Liesenfelt for collection sites and more info.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Troth Statement Regarding Virginia White Supremacist Arrests

For background:
Wild Hunt article:

"The Troth cannot prevent idiots and creeps from saying they are Heathens, but we can say that idiots and creeps are idiots and creeps. These persons are idiots and creeps, and they are not welcome in our community." - Steven T. Abell, Steersman, The Troth.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

In-Reach Heathen Prison Services Podcast

In-Reach Heathen Prison Services was featured today on the Bits of Heathenry Podcast. Along with the other topics that we addressed, we  discussed some of the varying viewpoints within Heathenry on the worthiness of Heathen prison work.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Videos from the Parliament of the World's Religions

The videos below are of the panel's presentation at the Parliament of the World's Religions on Pagan/Heathen traditions that have their indigenous roots in Europe.

Unfortunately, I was trying to record and to talk at the same time, so the video quality is a bit clumsy, plus the video stopped at least twice, and I lost one of the longer responses to a question. There is an audio recording that was taken, and, if that becomes available, I will post it.

Panel participants from left to right: Robert L. Schreiwer (Urglaawe / Heathenry), Erynn Rowan Laurie (Celtic), Diana Paxson (Asatru / Heathenry), Eli Sheva (Hebrew Polytheism), Kirk Thomas (ADF), Gwendolyn Reece (Hellenic).

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Urglaawe Altar in the Pagan Faith Space

Friday, October 16, 2015

Parliament of the World's Religions Update

The Parliament of the World's Religions has already exceeded my expectations. I have enjoyed seeing the diversity of the religious practices, and I have equally enjoyed seeing others express interest in Heathen practices.

An Urglaawe altar is set up in room 150 F (also accessible through 150 G), and booth with Troth representation is #878 in the exhibit section.

Diana Paxson's solo presentation, Staving off Ragnarok (I will fix the spelling when I get to a better computer!) is Saturday at 10:00 AM. 

I will be representing Urglaawe on the panel presentation titled Rebuilding the Altars: Reconstructing Indigenous Pagan Faiths for Today" on Sunday at 8:15. On this panel will also be Diana Paxson, Kirk Thomas, Erynn Rowan Laurie, Dr. Gwendolyn Reece, and Eli Sheva, each representing a different tradition.

        - Robert L. Schreiwer, Assistant Steer, The Troth

Monday, October 12, 2015

Press Release: Troth Leadership at Parliament of the World's Religions

BRISTOL, PA: In an historic moment for Heathens across the globe, the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, UT, will include two presentations by Heathen leaders. The Parliament runs from October 15 through October 19, 2015

Diana L. Paxson, Elder in the Troth and gythja (leader) of Hrafnar Kindred in California, will lead a panel discussion on "Rebuilding the Altars: Reconstructing Indigenous Pagan Faiths for Today." Accompanying Paxson will be Troth Assistant Steer and Ziewer (godsman) of Pennsylvania-based Distelfink Sippschaft, Robert L. Schreiwer.  Schreiwer says, “This is a significant opportunity for Heathen leaders to engage and to network with leaders of other religions. This event will increase the visibility of Heathenry in the public eye and set a precedent for inclusion in future endeavors.”

Fellow panelists include Erynn Laurie, Elisheva Nesher, Kirk Thomas, and Dr. Gwendolyn Reece. The panel will discuss the distinctions among their traditions and Wicca and the challenge of resurrecting interrupted pagan traditions from the past. 

Paxson will also speak on "Staving off Ragnarök: A Heathen Response to Climate Change." This presentation will focus on the Heathen tradition, offering mythology and values that conceptualize this struggle, work with the powers of nature that sustain us, and fight the forces that would destroy our world.

Lorrie Wood, Assistant Editor of The Troth's journal, "Idunna," will also be in the team's information booth to advance The Troth's presence and to answer questions about the organization and about Heathenry.

The Parliament is the oldest, the largest, and the most inclusive gathering of people of all faiths and traditions. This year’s Parliament will bring together 10,000 Global and religious leaders, grassroots activists, and practitioners from 50 traditions and more than 80 countries.  Its theme, “Reclaiming the Heart of our Humanity,” includes discussions and presentations on topics critical to our times: climate change and creation care; war, violence and hate speech; and economic inequality and wasteful living.  Parliament attendees can visit the Heathen information booth or Urglaawe altar in the Pagan Faiths space for more insight into these traditions. 

For more information on The Troth and Heathenry, please visit To support the Heathen contingency in their work at the Parliament, please visit

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Call for Donation Help: GoFundMe for Heathen Presence at the Parliament of the World's Religions

This year, for the first time, there will be a Heathen presence at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Salt Lake City, UT (October 15-19). This is a significant opportunity for Heathen leaders to engage and to network with leaders of other religions. This event will increase the visibility of Heathenry in the public eye and set a precedent for inclusion in future endeavors.

Three Troth leaders, Diana Paxson, Lorrie Wood, and Robert L. Schreiwer, will be participating in the Parliament, so this is also a tremendous opportunity for The Troth.

The Parliament will feature the following Heathen presentations:

"Staving off Ragnarök: A Heathen Response to Climate Change" (Diana Paxson) on Saturday, October 17 at 10:00 AM


"Rebuilding the Altars: Reconstructing Indigenous Pagan Faiths for Today" (Diana Paxson, Robert L. Schreiwer, Erynn Laurie, Elisheva Nesher, Kirk Thomas, and Gwendolyn Reese) on Sunday, October 18 at 8:15 AM.

Additionally, there will be a Heathen information booth (#878) with pamphlets and books for distribution and sale. An Urglaawe altar will be present in a shared Pagan Faiths space somewhere in rooms A-G in sections 150 or 151 (clarifying information will be provided as it becomes available).

All of this costs money, so a GoFundMe effort has been set up to help to defray the participants' costs. If you are unable to donate money, please help by passing along the link.

Thank you!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Heathenry Featured Prominently at Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day

The Third Annual Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day took place in Clark Park in the City of Brotherly of Love on Saturday, September 5, 2015. 

Among the Heathen vendors present at the event were The Troth, Distelfink Sippschaft, A Touch of Glass... and Then Some, A New Vibration, and The Hex Factory

The Troth's Assistant Steer and Pennsylvania Steward, Robert L. Schreiwer, led a discussion on Braucherei in the Urglaawe Context, which included information on the heirloom Pennsylvania German healing and magical practices of Braucherei and Hexerei and how they led to the rise of the Heathen denomination of Urglaawe. Many other workshops on various topics and traditions were also featured throughout the day.

The Delaware Steward (Shaun Shupe) and the New Jersey Steward (Annie Cúglas) for The Troth were also present, and. Cúglas took her oath of office at the event.

Also featured were performers and two great bands, Project Wendigo and Ashagal; the latter is led by Troth member John Harford.

Distelfink Sippschaft led the closing ceremony, which included honoring Dunner (Thor), Siwwa (Sif), and Idunn (Idunna). Future closing ceremonies will include the hailing of the Matronae goddesses.

As a harvest festival, Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day includes a food drive to benefit the Mazzoni Center Food Bank, a food and supply drive for Forgotten Cats, and a book donation drive to benefit In-Reach Heathen Prison Services for both The Troth and Distelfink Sippschaft. 

The event included some media coverage, such as a short article in Philly Weekly that mentioned The Troth and print and radio coverage for a day's news cycle on Philadelphia's KYW News Radio 1060

The estimated number of attendees was 1,500. The staff, vendors, performers, and patrons are already looking forward to next year!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day is Saturday, September 5, at Clark Park, S. 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue. In-Reach Heathen Prison Services is one of the beneficiaries of the event.

The drop-off spot is the altar in the center of the park's Gravel Circle. In the event of rain, please drop off the items at the Welcome Tent.

Most any book is appreciated, though some titles are needed more than others. We have had a recent request from a Wisconsin facility for books of a Heathen and Pagan nature.

Thanks to everyone for their support!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Troth Presence at Delmarva Pagan Pride Festival

The Troth's Delaware Steward, Shaun Shupe, has a combined Troth and Distelfink Sippschaft booth set up at Delmarva Pagan Pride Festival today. Virtually all Troth book publications are available at the booth, and Shaun has a few publications by other authors who are members of The Troth.

Delmarva Pagan Pride Festival
Legislative Mall
Dover, DE
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

GoFundMe for Heathen Presence at World Parliament of Religions

A GoFundMe has been set up to help with the expenses of the trip to Salt Lake City for the World Parliament of Religions. 

Your funds will go directly to support the following four attendees of the 2015 Parliament:

- Diana L. Paxson, Elder in the Troth and Gyðja of Hrafnar

- Robert Lusch-Schreiwer, Vice-Steersman of the Troth, Ziewer of Die Urglaawisch Sippschaft vum Distelfink (Distelfink Sippschaft).

- Lorrie Wood, Þyl of Hrafnar

- Angela Carlson, Þórsgyðja, Othala Hearth

Funds are being collected by The Fellowship of the Spiral Path, a pan-pagan umbrella group and 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Berkeley, California. Spiral will receive 5% of the proceeds and administer the funds to Hrafnar (a heathen kindred based in Berkeley and affiliated with Spiral) and Distelfink Sippschaft (a 501(c)(3) non-profit heathen group based in Bristol, Pennsylvania).

Excess funds raised, if any, will be distributed to Hrafnar and Distelfink for their general use.

The group will run an information booth (#878) at which pamphlets and books can be distributed and sold.

At least two heathen related presentations have been accepted for the program:

· “Rebuilding the Altars: Reconstructing Indigenous Pagan Faiths for Today” (Diana Paxson, Rob Schreiwer, Erynn Laurie, Elisheva Nesher, Kirk Thomas and Gwendolyn Reese) October 18, 8:15 a.m., 

· "Staving off Ragnarök: A Heathen Response to Climate Change”, (Diana Paxson) on October 17th at 10 a.m.

This is an invaluable opportunity for The Troth and for Heathenry to have representation among the worlds's religions. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Troth YouTube Channel

We are pleased to announce new YouTube channel for The Troth!

The new channel incorporates videos from our old YouTube archives, and we will add new videos on different topics.

Hail The Troth!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

First Friday Event (Bristol, PA)

The July "First Friday" night in Bristol, PA, is this weekend (Friday, July 3, 2015).

Vendors in the town will be staying open later and setting up tables on the sidewalk.

The Troth and Distelfink Sippschaft will have a presence at this event.

The Distelfink-The Troth book and product table in front of Spunky Candles and Crafts at 203 Mill Street will be well stocked, so, if you are in the area, come visit our little town and stock up on some good Heathen books. :)

 Make an evening of it and go out to eat at the historic King George II Inn!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Trothmoot 2015

Some of the attendees of Trothmoot this year (2015) at Camp Netimus. I asked everyone individually if they minded any of these photos being posted here, so let's hope that all will be fine with it. If anyone slipped in, such as in a group photo, and you would prefer that particular photo not be included here, please send me a message and I will remove it.

Watching the Weave: Trothmoot 2015

The Norns set the length of the threads when a man, woman, or god is born. Urd, Verthandi, and Skuld weave the wyrd that binds the men and gods alike. Frigg at her loom weaves the lives of men and women, using the foreknowledge that is hers from her sharing of the High Seat.
Lokesenna 29
“The fate of all | does Frigg know well,
Though herself she says it not."

The Norns and the gods are not alone in the weaving, for did not Odin lay down in the Havamal the way that we can weave our fates brighter? What is the Havamal if not a telling of how we can brighten each others lives by recognizing those who are important to us, and through the bonds of hospitality, of exchanged gifts and shared labours, bind each other tightly together that we share in each others strength, and add to each others luck. I have seen such weaving.
Camp Netimus, set in the hill country above Milford PA was host to Trothmoot 2015. The Distelfink kindred showed the spirit of their luck holder Ewicher Yeeger, the Eternal Hunter, whose wild hunt rode the night and storm to make sure his people would have meat to carry them through the times of starvation and have a chance to grow strong together. Indeed meat was plentiful, as were other fine foods and goodly drink, as mighty were the feasts that the folk knew. With half a loaf and half filled cup, full friend found is a truth we have heard for generations beyond number, and its truth is still strong today. Loud rang the feast halls as old friends and new friends shared the bench and shared much worthy conversation, as strangers became friends, and old friendships deepened into kinships.

Workshops there were in abundance. Rich traditions from the host kindred were shared with us by Rob, while a comparative religious examination of Heathenry and its attendant concepts was hosted by Ann. Erik and Erik’s beard co-hosted discussions on the Valknut origins and meaning, while Su and Laurel examined the issue of Sobriety and Heathenry. It is not enough to examine and identify issues in heathenry, for once we as a folk have determined that the holy rite of Sumbel is not welcoming or healthy for those with addiction or recovery issues as currently practiced, we, the Rede of the Troth acted swiftly and formally to make our rites forever two horned, one with alcohol and one without so that all might partake equally in rite and its attendant luck without fear of damage to one’s self, or one’s own oaths reguarding their personal struggles with substance issues.
Community building was everywhere, Stewards and KAP Kindreds met to discuss the ways of improving their networking and furthering the advancement of our work in the community, In-reach continued to gain breadth and scope, wielding more resources in more places to further the important work of replacing the hate literature and leadership that exists in the prison population, turning it from a recruiting ground for the tainted mockery of heathenry that racism hides behind, into a tool for sharing the traditions of our ancestors to allow prisoners to begin to work towards lasting reconciliation and full membership in the community. In the heart of Pennsylvania, I found myself at a table of Canadians working on building our local connections and increasing the visibility of our local groups to each other. We travel far from our own hearths to reach the magic of Trothmoot that makes such weavings simple and effortless. Everywhere you turn there are knots of heathens, six , a dozen, a score, all gathered and laughing or talking between events, sporting together at kube, drinking together around the fire, or sitting at the benches and sharing their lives and experiences. The lines of life and luck weave together, as we bind each to the other, and from such weavings bring forth a brighter thing called community.
Magic is not simply a metaphor at Trothmoot, for while hospitality is the heart of our gathering, there is too the matter of its spirit, and the gods and wights whom we assemble to honour. From our opening ritual, through the Idunna blot that is the heart and soul of Trothmoot, to our closing, the whole of moot was filled with sacred mysteries. Holy ve were raised, both in the cabin set aside, and elsewhere about the site. Moving it was to sit by Mimir’s well and in the forest silence listen to the whispering of the waters secrets. The deeper mysteries of Seidr were shared by those who dared to ask of the seeress and the dead for knowledge under Diana, Lorrie, and Laurel’s guidance. Ristandi explored brighter bindings with teachings that sprang from the bower not the barrow, for our folk was always one that embraced life and passion fiercely and without reservation. Deeper rites and mysteries were explored and deeper healings done as the work of our folk, the duty of our folk to care for one another, was made manifest as we who come together from every compass point are joined as one to care for our own as if to our closest kin.
Such skaldship did I hear at Trothmoot as would make Saga raise the horn, and Bragi himself give praise. Lynn and Will Rowan came to lend us their songs, but so too did we have the songs and poetry of our proud people. Our own Steer led the reading of the Sagas, while Laurel hosted our own Skaldic competition this year which I had the honour to win overall, but was but one of three individual event winners, as song, lore based were won by others whose works truly outshone my own, with only my non-lore based winning pride of place individually. For those who wonder at this boast, understand, I have only ever won this once our skaldic competition, such is the rich diversity and talent of our wonderous folk that at Trothmoot I find myself sitting at bench with nothing less than a hall full of my equals, and stand right proud this first year out of three, that I have at last won once.

We are not a people of word alone, for mighty are we indeed in craft and sport, and with weapons bright. Stitch and bitch sessions showed the craft of the folk, while weaving was both practically and poetically done by a community come together to literally stitch together. Tafl tournements were hotly contested, and kube was again a hard fought test of heathen might, endurance, and skill. Thanks to Mike for his generous assistance and equipment, we saw three generations of archers together draw bow and show the gods their people were yet strong and proud at arms, even as we showed we were frithful in the keeping of the peace. Young Aaron the young lad of but a hand of years who springs from our Shope’s own loins was shown to draw a bow, and rightly to smite his target true by Mike whose grizzled beard is a shadow of snow and iron, even as a young lad spear straight and new come to manhood draws bows against our Shope Ben whose beard begins to be touched by the first frost of fatherhood, and my own snowy fall of year tokens hearkens to daughter already grown, and others nearing womanhood. Mighty were the feats of arms, and mighty the mirth and fellowship, for of such things are generations bound together, and a folk forged.

Such stalwart sacrifice did we make, such noble duty did I know to sit with our fellows of the Rede to taste the best of brews, the magnificent meads brought by our far flung folk from all four points of the compass. Indeed it was an Odnic trial, for nine worlds of mysterious mead were ours to wander, to taste and test and ponder. Two it was that burned so bright and beautiful as to lead us into such a depth of discussion and debate, for Mike and Camille had proffered two meads that were the essence of two different perfections. One a taste of sunlight and summer, one of winters complex lustre. Such was the battle to chose between them that both bottles were felled ere we could choose the winner. Prizes were given to each, for though the Canadian maiden won the gold with the heart of summer, the warm maple promise of winter’s warmth was with worthy prize also for Uller’s mighty American archer.
What shall I tell you of the boasting? Grand Sumbel was a time that few outside the Troth could understand. The horn was raised, and right strong were the boasts given. Shall I speak to you of the strength of Paul? You who see his thews see not the strength I speak of. His boasts were strong, spoke of pain and loss, of learning and acceptance, hard work and daring to risk loss again by continuing to care. Shall I speak of the elders who raised the horn and spoke in the terms of simple men of the land of how they matched their love with their deeds, to give back a lifetime of love of the land with gifts to guarantee its preservation. Shall I speak of other elders who have put their time and love to preserving the old songs and poems that they may be played, sung and spoken again? Shall I speak of Tom whose boast had no words beyond raising up a bundle of new born love and joy, cooing and giggling as she was raised high and claimed before the folk to the hammer and roar of the approving folk. Young women boasting of their struggles to find themselves through terrible hardship and loss, and the joy and strength they draw from the community, ending such a worthy list of battles won with the simple plaintive cry that they didn’t know how to make that into a boast, only to be greeted by the warm laughter of a hall that knew a worthy boast when it was spoken strong and true. To stand in such a hall, in such a company, beneath the banners of so many worthy kindreds, is to know that you stand in the sight of the gods themselves, beneath the eyes of all of our ancestors, and receiving a gift beyond all price.
You can only know the strength of a weave when it is tested. Sunday dawned too soon, for with it dawned the last of our days together, and shadowed the end of Moot. I will right cheerfully vike the phrase I heard “time for the long sappy goodbyes”. Spoken with bright mirth, for we who pride ourselves so often at grim stoicism that would shame the whetstone or the sturdy fire struck forge gave our goodbyes with much manful gripping of hands and hugging, bright eyes attesting to unshed tears as each seeks the words to say how much the sharing with the other has meant. Men and women come together in a hundred versions of the long goodbye, because we understand the gift each has given us for their sharing. A gift for a gift is our way, and in most cases, each thinks the other has given them the greater gift, for such is the worth we see in each other when we join together in moot.
What was woven at this Trothmoot, like every Trothmoot does not end here. We draw those threads we wove between us back to the far-flung hearths from which we wended. Already new friendships are cemented as we reach our home and formalize the friendships found at moot. Now when we see words in type we will hear fair speech and see the eyes of him or her that speaks, for they are no longer faceless and formless to us, but a friend whose voice and worth we know well. This is the magic of Trothmoot, this is watching the weaving of one people, one Troth, that will indeed shine fair in the sight of our gods, wights and holy ancestors.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Perspectives on Racial Issues in the United States

At a recent meeting of The Troth's High Rede, one question was whether we would, as an organization, make a statement about recent events regarding race in the U.S. and how we deal with them. It was decided instead that, in an organization that defines itself by accepting diversity, Individual Rede members might make individual public statements to be released together. Here they are, beginning with my own.


We are known by the judgments we make, and the actions we take. Some judgments are made at leisure, while others must be made in the moment. Some are made deliberately, while others are made with no thought at all. Sometimes we don't know how we arrived at a judgment, or even that we have made one. Sometimes our judgments are made for us, absorbed from our surroundings, unrecognized as a choice, but seen as just the way things are, if they are seen at all.

Some people find the recent events of Ferguson, Missouri, and others easy to judge. Others find them more complicated. Some just don't want to think about them. The legal complications of some of these events are hard to brush aside. I won't ask you to brush them aside, as I certainly can't myself. I will ask you to look again at an issue that is at least related to these events.

It appears to me that most people like to think they are not racist. I like to think that myself, about myself. It might be more useful to think that most people are ready for racism to be over. But, whoever you are or whatever you think of these recent events, perhaps none of us know yet what it really means for racism to be over, or how to make that happen. Whatever our good intentions, and I don't doubt that they are good, maybe we have things left to learn, and judgments still to make, and actions yet to take, before we reach that goal.
- Steven T Abell
The Troth

January 2015


Call to Tyr for Justice

by Lisa Morgenstern

Hail to Tyr, One Hand, God of the Thing
I call you to bring justice to the oppressed
You put your hand in the mouth of the Wolf to bind him.
You guide the Thing and are the keeper of Justice.
Your truth can be harsh, but you protect.
Help us to find the way to fair treatment for all people.
Even the utgardh are deserving of fair treatment
Give them the rights afforded by law, apply moral codes of right and wrong.
Humans need not die before they are brought before a judge and jury.
Humans who kill must be held accountable for their actions, for we are our deeds.
It is time to call for an accounting. I call on you.
I call for the diverse peoples of the Earth to live together in peace.
I am calling for an end to racism of all kinds.
Keep people of all ethnicities and heritages in your sight.
Help them to find the justice they deserve,
And help those who do not understand, to learn
And be open to see the worlds through different eyes.
Whether they are our folk or not,
As a Heathen I strive to be Tru,
Honest, Industrious, Loyal, Courageous,
Self-Reliant, have discipline and to Persevere.
As a Heathen I feel that I must offer
Hospitality to my brothers and sisters
Who are hurt daily by racism and prejudice.
By speaking, I let them know they are welcome in my hall.
That I see their plight and stand with them as we fight this battle,
Because to remain silent is to imply I agree that
They deserve to shed their blood in needless manner.
I fight with them in this cause, call on you to help me in my battle,
To see past my privilege, and find Truth.
Hail Tyr!

#BlackLivesMatter, #BrownLivesMatter, #RedLivesMatter, #YellowLivesMatter

- Lisa Morgenstern,
December 11, 2014


Wyrd and Systemic Racism
by Gari Farmer

Some folks see Wyrd as a web or a weave. I'm not one of those people. I see it...well, HEAR it, music. Every one of us has a part to perform, even the Gods. If one note is out of tune, or a rhythm misplayed, the music changes. It can even be ruined.

Thanks to systemic racism, there have been a number of wrong notes played in our history. The music has been discordant for ages. Thing is, we've become used to the discordance. Lately some of us have noticed that the music is...wrong. The chords aren't sounding right, even though we've been told that this is the way the music has been played for centuries [so why change it?]. The wrong notes need to be taken out and replaced with the right ones. The chords need to be rearranged.

Now, I know some of y'all may be wondering what the hell all this has to do with [the general] you. After all, you're playing your part right. You haven't missed any notes.

Actually, y'all, you have. We all have.

You see, a wrong note or rhythm played by the tuba section way in the back of the ensemble can throw off even most perfect flautist all the way in the front. A misplayed rhythm can cause whole sections to be thrown off. A misplayed part throws off everyone in the ensemble.

So it is with the real world. The wrong one person does can ripple through a community. The wrong one community does can ripple throughout the whole world. Feel free to look at any war involving more than two countries as an example. Remaining silent didn't help things at all; in fact, being silent made things worse, in some cases.

[On a personal note, systemic racism hits home for me as well. I've been followed in department stores and seated in unofficial segregated areas in restaurants, and my son has had gas station doors locked right in front of him so he couldn't go inside - just because of how much melanin we have in our skin.]

Some hold the opinion that the United States doesn’t have a national orlog – that because people came here from all over the world, Americans aren’t connected like other nations. I don’t believe this is true. The U.S. Constitution is more than the supreme law of the land; it’s also a contract that outlines the responsibilities of all three branches of government. The men who were present at the Constitutional Convention joined their respective orlogs together when pen met paper for signatures. The individual states joined in when they ratified the document. Every state that has joined our country has been required to ratify the Constitution upon joining the nation. Every state constitution has the U.S. Constitution as its base. Every member of the military has held up his or her right hand and sworn to defend the U.S. Constitution, regardless of background, ethnicity, and place of origin. Every person living here is subject to the laws of our country, and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Constitution, then, is the strand – the main melody line, if you will – that brings the symphony known as our country together, and the oath made to it are still active, still binding, and comprise our national wyrd. Our nation’s wyrd, then, becomes orlog, and through alliances and treaties – oaths – our national orlog, our melody line, is joined with the orlogs – melody lines – of the other nations.

Our nations are playing separate lines of melody, sometimes in different beats, but when played right…it all works. It sounds beautiful.  One can listen to the 4th movement of Holst’s 2nd Suite in F - “Fantasia on the Dargason”- for a perfect example:

In this movement, half the band plays at ¾ time while the other half plays at 6/8 time in two spots, playing two different melodies at the same time as well. And it works beautifully. This is what wyrd should sound like – but the wrong notes must be corrected. The correct rhythms must be played. One false note can change the entire complexion of the grand music we play.

- Gari Farmer
December 2014


Diversity in Heathenry

by John T Mainer

I understand we do things a little differently here.  Heathenry is based on relationships.  A large number of groups fall somewhere along the family to community spectrum more towards the family end.  A typical word used to self describe would be kindred.  Similar in some ways to a coven, grove, or congregation from other faiths, it has the community of shared faith practice and world view common to those, but as we are often criticized by other communities for being light in ritual and prayer and heavy in the feasting, we are more bound by the bonds of hospitality and amity than by ritual or oath.

This gives me a bad case of Asa-Goggles.  I admit this.  Now Asa-Goggles are not like beer goggles, they don’t dull you into being more receptive to those you might otherwise find unappealing, they are more like FLIR.  Asa-Goggles are what we see our own through.  Unlike standard optics even starlight Night Vision Goggles or scopes which use the same light to generate the same image as our naked eye, the FLIR uses the Infra Red Spectrum to see heat.  It is amazing in its ability to see small differences in heat, easily detecting life from backgrounds that are visually completely camouflaged, even as it fails utterly to see those colour or pattern related identifiers that are visible in any visible light system.

Asa-Goggles, like FLIR look for the emissions of life; infra–red searches for heat from life, where Asa-Goggles search for worth.  Don’t get bent out of shape, worth is the way heathens judge everyone, including ourselves.  It is how we see, and a cornerstone of how we think.  Now people of all communities have worth, and we see that, and acknowledge that.  Some shine with a light that is our own, a worth that follows our own pattern of belief.  We see markings in their words and their deeds that mark them as “us”.  Other people can be worth of admiration ,  but they are not the ones you want to share those things that we call our heathen practice, those things that blend the social and the sacred, the building of a community of people who we care to share this very private part of our lives.

I was asked to write about our diversity as a community, and I had  problem with that.  I look at those people that are deepest inside the “us” category, the innergard, the ones you share your problems with or seek advice from in your other parts of life.  Through my goggles they look not identical, but close kin, close enough that from a mile off you can know them as your own, and feel the strength and warmth that knowing they approach will bring.  Through others eyes they are “diverse.”  Well if you want to pick gender, or skin tone, or sexual orientation, even nationality, income or educational background, they are diverse.  I have other goggles at well that pick up CADPAT, MARPAT, and Mulitcam by the signs it leaves in the emission of those who absorbed it bone deep through their service.  The combination of these optics mean that when outsiders look at me and Gari, they see their own definitions, black woman and a bearded redneck white boy.  American woman with some foreigner/Canadian boy with some foreigner (depending on which side of the 49th they are glaring from).

When I see us side by side, I see Freyr and Freya; I see the male and female expressions of the same needs, the same struggle, the same sense of responsibility.  Scars; oh yes, by their scars they will know each other, and we see those clearly enough.  When you ask me to speak about diversity in our community I do see it.  I see a diverse understanding about how our folkway is expressed.  I see Stephen in his tower of reason, built brick by brick by choices and experience, by study and life lessons accepted and applied.  His heathenry is a shining light that could easily be discussed by learned men in any schola of the past or university of the day.  I see Diana whose heathenry reeks of the mound, the tree, of dark places and ancient truths, whose eyes have seen and embraced the storm and through which things look back that most choose to avoid seeking, let alone learning from.  I see Lisa and Rob whose community building is to see the wounds they cannot pass by and accept the responsibility for those who would have no guide but them.  I see Luke and Ken who ply the ancient trade of arms as modern men, and carry with them their ancestral sense of duty and honour, with a modern man’s reverence for law.

Our community is rich and diverse in ways that fill me with wonder and move me to tears, but no one wants to hear about them.  They want us to point to a black, an Asian, a gay, a (insert word for someone we get a merit badge for pretending is our equal).  I don’t pretend.  Those who are in our community are my equals, are my peers, my community, and very much mine to defend.

Everyone is not welcome in our community.  Our own are welcome here, however other people would describe them.  There is not a colour that gets you in the door, nor one that bars you from it.  That does not make us better than other faiths. If nothing else, let us be honest about this.  Our ancestors were masters of community building; and they built those communities of the people they found of whatever tribe, race, or nation they met, who could share their sense of worth, their sense of community, their practices that bound together the disparate parts and peoples into one new shining thing.  There were lots of communities, and people moved freely to find the community in which they fit, in which their sense of worth matched the sense of worth of their fellows so that they could join their efforts communally and know their actions would be judged individually by standards to which they held, or aspired to, themselves.

Our community is diverse in ways that outsiders don’t see and perhaps do not value.  Our community contains what others consider diversity, in those that I just can’t see as diverse, as through my eyes they are not.  This is not a statement of virtue, this is a reality of optics.  FLIR doesn’t see colour, that doesn’t make it enlightened, it simply admits that it only sees a wavelength in which colour doesn’t exist.  We still judge us and them, because as human beings we are no better than other communities.  I think it does our nations good to have many communities inside them who define us and them along different axis, so that people have a chance to experience the reality that people from every group in our community may well find themselves on the same side of the us/them divide at least as often as they are the opposite, and those closest to us may likewise find themselves staring across that boundary at each other.

Yule is a time to come together, family and friends coworkers and neighbors.  We reach across a thousand divides with a handshake, a gift, a smile, a candy.  Those boundaries are real, but they are everywhere, and we reach across them a thousand times a day.  When something happens that polarizes our community, those barriers loom large in our vision, and become not simply walls between us, but battle lines.  We are more than any one of those us/them divides, we are more than any one label or external value you choose to apply.  Every human being is.  Heathens are supposed to be honest enough to both admit we judge, and own honestly both our treatment of others in response, and the fact others will do the same to us.

- John T Mainer
December 2014


by Hrafnskald

These words are mine, spoken only as myself, and not as a Redesman, nor on behalf of the Troth.

Recent events have caused a great deal of debate between our members, as to where the Troth stands, what its core values are, and how we will respond to the deaths and unrest in Ferguson, New York, and elsewhere.

I believe that, in the Troth, all who come in frith are welcome. This goes beyond merely allowing diverse people to join and serve, it says clearly that we respect and honor people, based on their deeds and words, not the color of their skin.

The Troth, and heathenism as a whole, does not compel its members to follow one political group or another, or to support one cause or another. Rather, our Gods call us to live lives that are worthy, and to follow the virtues and inspiration of those who come before us, and to inspire those who will come after. We are not our labels, we are our deeds, and each of us, as individuals, who decides how to make their life a worthy one.

I reject the notion that we must choose sides, praising one and attacking the other, because I know good and tru heathens on all sides. I believe with all my heart that the cause of building better and more frithful communities requires that all voices be welcomed, heard, and woven into the frith of the community.

While the main symbol of the Troth is the Apples of Idunna and the Ravens, for me another symbol describes best how I see the Troth and its role: Mannaz. The rune of humanity, of community woven together in frith. We bring together people of many paths, many histories, many worldviews, and, yes, many political views, and weave them into a frithful whole. And just like a woven garment is made better and stronger with each thread, and a chorus made better with each new voice, each member and each viewpoint adds to the Troth.

These bonds of frith and peace require that we respect each other, and that we allow the many diverse voices of the Troth to speak for themselves, so that they can speak their truths freely and honestly.

That is why I am glad the Rede has chosen *not* to make one statement that would bind the consciences of all members, but rather to allow our Rede members to make *their own* statements, and members to choose for themselves what *they* wish to support.

I believe with all my heart that the right of conscience, to decide where one stands, is, and always must remain, a personal one.

There is plenty of room for disagreement and different worldviews, as long as we have mutual respect. Gods willing, this will always be the case in the Troth.

May They watch over us, see our words and deeds, and judge them worthy.

January 2015