In Culture of the Teutons, Groenbeck describes Frith as a deep, abounding love for kin. He points out that one of the most beautiful poems that has survived the pre-Christian era, the kennings in Egil’s Saga, is about the deep love of kin. It’s a beautiful example of what ideally Frith should be – a deep emotional bond in families. However, Frith is not the cultural norm anymore. Many of us come from broken families, and most of us are from families that are often blended as far as faith and worldview. This leads to confusion for both new and old Heathens as they struggle to navigate the overculture. How does Frith apply in the modern world when it’s not ingrained and often not reciprocal? What role does action play in this?

The first thing that must be addressed is that Heathenry is an orthopraxic religion. This means that as a culture, we are more concerned with right action than right belief. Unlike Christianity and Wicca, intent plays a much smaller role in morality than action. In Christianity, Christ spoke on this topic.

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Mark 5:28, Standard English Translation

Within Wicca, which drives the morality of most NeoPagan movements, intent is often the power behind healing and other religious working. In the Gardenarian Book of Shadows (Gerald Gardener and Doreen Valiente), the idea that intent is the key to healing is presented:

To this end it is not wrong to let people think that we of the cult have more power than we have. For the truth is that if they believe we have more power than we really possess, we do really possess these powers, insomuch we can do good to them. – To Heal the Sick, Verse 3

Even in the secular overculture, there is a very popular cliché “It’s the thought that counts.” In Heathenry, it’s just the opposite. In Heathenry, it’s the action that counts. If I give my kindred brother support, it doesn’t matter if I give it angry or happy. It doesn’t matter how I feel about it. It matters that I am there in that time of need and able to fulfil my obligations to him.

If you will allow me, I am going to dive into a bit of psychology as to why I feel action is the key to Heathenry. Within modern psychology, there is a method that is employed in several types of therapy, including Cognative Behavior Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy called TFAR. This stands for “Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, and Results.” Thoughts, feelings, and actions are all linked in what is called the cognative triangle. Each of these is linked. So by changing one of them, you change all of them.

 

 

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Actions are the easiest to change. I can’t often change my feelings or my thoughts, but I can control what I do. Right action is doing what is best for the tribe, even if I hate the idea. In practical terms, it’s doing the laundry even when I’d rather sit in front of the TV and knit because having clean clothes for work for my husband and myself benefits our tribe. In short, I fake being an adult.

This changes my emotions. I become proud I did the laundry, or whatever the task was, and am able to take care of my husband. I realize that doing laundry wasn’t that hard. I start feeling like an adult. This gives me a positive association with doing laundry.

Now put this into place with Heathenry. The more I act in accordance with my tribe’s worldview, the more and more this becomes not just action, but thought. Soon, it is second nature. This works the same for those of us who struggle with their feelings with dysfunctional family members. If we act as if the bond of frith is there, it grows by way of our actions. My relationships with family members, even those I would consider toxic, has grown significantly since I put this into action a little more than a year ago. I can spend time with these family members and not feel like either killing them or myself. That is how powerful actions are to changing ourselves.

Actions do indeed speak louder than words. What I do, not want I think or even what I intend, is going to be my legacy. I challenge you to go out and act even if you are struggling. It will change things in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. That is what is so powerful about Heathenry, and why so many are drawn to it – living right action does create a better, more meaningful life.

Tune in next time for more in Frith from up here in the Crow’s Nest.

Posted by Lauren

Lauren is one of the hosts of Heathen Talk and holds the title of SHMBO of Black Bear Kindred of Central Arkansas. She prides herself on being able to leverage Heathen Talk into getting hired at her dream job.

Website: http://www.accessibleheathenryproject.org

This article has 2 Complaints

  1. Lauren, your words resonate with me.
    A lifetime ago, a guy I took advice from, told me to “fake it till you make it”. He told me to “always do the ‘next right thing'”. Looking back, that man was a heathen and didn’t know it. Makes me smile today.

  2. Just found this site. I hate that i have to comment via the “how are we doing it wrong” box. Yall seem to be doing things darn well!

    For the article dealing with toxic relationships.
    My mother and sister. Two horribly toxic people (my sister due to my mother). There is a point that you do have to cut bait.

    I tried (at the behest of a beloved aunt) to try once more to see if there was anything to build back with these two. The blatant lies and abuse were unacceptable. Its been close to 15 years now and i’m much better off.

    When a person has no honor, they have no right to me or mine. As I am my own “Jarl”, i have severed Frith from them as such. I made an inroad, they refused. Done.

    The one thing that was unforgivable was filling my head with lies about my father. Thankfully, nigh 30 years later, the Gods gave me an opportunity to find the truth and reunite with him and my wonderful stepmother. I was able to have time with my grandparents before they passed. Many wonderful things. We spend as much time together as possible (LOTS of time together behind the trigger at the range lol!).
    Its amazing how much I am like him. Both stubborn, prideful (when legitimate), and loyal to the bone.

    I got lucky.

    once again, thanks for a great site and i’m glad to have found it. I’ll post your link to our Asatru page on FB.

How are we doing it wrong?