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Tribal and Civil Law


“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marveled at him.”  Mark 12:17, (Authorized [King James] Version)


Is there any difference between secular or civil law, the law of the ütländer, and tribal, or the law of the Innandgardh?  If there is, which should take precedence?

If our Christian neighbors are any indication, there is, as evidenced by the rather famous quotation above.  In context, Jesus and his people were Hebrews living under the influence and might of a secular Roman state, with a pretender to the formerly priest-kingly throne imposed upon them. So, in essence, they were a tribal, religious community, where secular and spiritual were intertwined, with tribal law addressing governance as well as worship, living under a strictly secular, universalist state.

So, too, do we Germanic heathens today.

We are heirs of a people whose law dictated commerce, governance, as well as ritual observance, spread through and intertwined with the agricultural year.  We also live in a diverse, multicultural (to use an often ill-defined term) and stubbornly and strictly secular state.  Where, then, should tribal leave off and secular law begin?

One must first look to the origins of that secular state.  Germanic law and legal custom and style and history of governance are the basis of Western civil government, albeit with heavy Latinate influences.  Therefore, our law is the foundation of today’s societal mainstream 

With that in mind, the tribal apple does not need fall far from the tree. 

We would first, I would hope, seek to be good citizens of the Innangardh, observant of our household, clan and tribal laws as they arise and traditions as they evolve.  But, then, we must seek to be good neighbors, which means that we should strive to be good citizens. 

Furthermore, we are a people who don’t tend to withdraw into ourselves, as did the Hebrews and Imperial Chinese and others.  Separatism may extend to being selective of attendees in our ritual observance and jealous of our family privacy, but we must recognize that civil separatism cuts us off from a civil and societal tradition which is of, in effect, our own making.

We should therefore strive not to function as fully participatory citizens in the wider secular world by scrupulously observing civil, and, in fact, by participating in it’s formation and execution.  In a tightening political climate, and with identity politics being widely popular, participation in civil governance is essential to the preservation of our identity as a tribal people by ensuring that we have informed representation of our point of view involved in the governing process.

Moving in a mass to Idaho, building a “compound”, only forestalls the inevitable intrusion of foreigners into our lives, foreigners who probably won’t understand us.  In other words, Idaho will eventually figure out that we’re there.

The current generation of Germanic heathens in Vinland have a lot to offer their neighbors.  They are participants, after all, in the revival of a thousand-year-lost holy tradition, and so know what hard work and personal dedication is.  Many have the eloquence, common sense, and combativeness needed to get things done in the secular arena.  So, the civil society has as much to gain from our participation as we have from participating.  We gain jobs, and therefore wealth, contacts, and the assurance that we have a voice in the guiding of civil affairs.  The wider civil society gains talent, inspiration and plain strong backs to bear the burden.

Tribal law which is drafted counter to the aims and practices of civil law – for instance, tribal law which mandates or permits multiple marital partners or lowers the sexual age of consent – is doomed to failure by marginalizing and, in fact, criminalizing tribal people in the eyes of their civil neighbors.  This makes such tribal law impractical at best, however much one may insist that we be allowed to live according to our own lights; and destructive at worst, as it creates in the midst of civil society a class of scofflaws. 

Just as there must be room in tribal law to accommodate clan and household observance and evolving tradition, we must try to represent ourselves in civil society in such a way as to ensure that there is room for us to live according to our tribal laws.  This requires our presence in the governing process.  Furthermore, just as household law must not counter clan law, so tribal law must not seek to countermand or refute civil law.

In short, we must be the practical people our ancestors were, and live in the world that presents itself, not the world of our imaginings.

Through it all, we must remember that we need to be good neighbors.  This is the wisest course.