The following essay was originally published on AsatruBlog.com and is republished here with the permission of the original author. Originally Published on July 29, 2013 by Ale Glad.
Siblinghood terminology has been greatly devalued in our society. Kinship has meaning and abusing kinship terminology simply isn’t acceptable to me. If I don’t know a person, it doesn’t matter what common interests we share, I don’t know that person and they aren’t my friend, let alone my kin. It seems to me that the people who most strenuously object to being told to knock it off are also the same people who fall into a few groups. One group has no real valuation of family bonds. To them, words like brother and sister have little or no meaning. They might come from a background that stripped the meaning away or they simply just don’t care. Another group seems to have no understanding of innangarth and utengarth. A third simply doesn’t seem to understand the historical context of kinship, including benefits and responsibilities that are social, legal, and metaphysical. The first group I can’t do anything for. That’s something they will have to learn on their own. I wish them well as they form new familial bonds and come to know the joy of kinship. The second group I have found can often be helped by illustration through narrative of a house.
Imagine a house with a fence around it. Outside that fence is the utengarth and inside the fence is the innangarth. The house itself is the family. People who come by the house who you do not know aren’t permitted past the fence without invitation. People who you do know can walk through the gate and knock on the door. Family and close friends walk through the gate, up to the front door, and come right on in and find a seat at the kitchen table. When someone you do not know uses kinship terminology they have no right to, what they are doing is hopping over the fence, going up to a window of the house, and trying to sneak in and make off with something valuable, violating the sanctity of the innangarth and family home. They are effectively committing an act of theft. The reason for this pertains to the issues related to the third group.
To our ancestors, before siblinghood terminology was stripped of meaning and value, bonds of kinship (either biological, blood oath, fosterage, and so on) had social, legal, and metaphysical benefits and obligations. We recognize some of these today through the default system of inheritance (presuming no will and so on) where next of kin gets the worldly possessions of the deceased. We have largely moved beyond certain obligations, particularly that of revenge and the order by which a person was obligated to act. As Heathen folk, we should be keenly aware of the metaphysical but it seems like so often these terms are thrown around with little meaning or understanding as well. Kinship ties us together in an intimate way through wyrd, orlog, and luck. When a person tries to insert himself into the family structure where he doesn’t belong, he is effectively trying to tie himself to the luck and wyrd of that person and their family. It is an act of heinous spiritual theft.
Now, I realize that most people aren’t doing this on purpose. In fact, it is a forgivable act because they are acting out of ignorance and not malice. That doesn’t make it right or acceptable, however. Part of what we are doing today when trying to rebuild our way of life is to rebuild our way of thinking. We live in a world where we are told kinship really doesn’t mean much. This would be the single most appalling thing our ancestors could imagine. It is also why I wrote the original article. We need to do more than just ape the religious actions of the past. To reclaim our identity, our way of life, we need to adjust our thinking and behavior. This means we must restore kinship terminology, particularly that of siblinghood, to its proper place and treat it with the respect it deserves.