I was 40 years old, on a quest to find out who God was, and had begun to start a new life, when I had moved to Watertown, New York on Dec 17, 1987, interestingly enough, just before the Ring of Troth was instituted on Mother Night 1987. I met Garman Lord in March of 1988, twelve years after he founded Theodish Belief, and it was from Garman that I first learned about Heathenry, the religion of the Elder Gods.
The orlay of 1988:
I wrote to Edred Thorsson, whom Garman knew, because I was impressed with Edred's books, requesting information about membership in the Rune Gild. Edred's first letter to me was dated August 6, 1988, in which he says, "thank you for your inquiry to the Rune Gild...it was buried in a stack of materials and the Steward just found it. If you would like to join us...we would welcome you into our Halls." He had also sent some introductory material for the Ring of Troth.
The orlay of 1989
I had been under the mentorship of Garman for about a year and a half, before I became involved with others in Watertown, who were thanes of Garman's. In April of '89, I joined their Theod, as a learning wight/thrall, and by fall had brought Garman, who was remodeling his house, out of retreat because he was needed to bring the Theod under Heathen thew. In the meantime, I had pondered the material from the Gild and introductory material for membership in the Troth and A Book of Troth and finally submitted for membership. A letter from Dianne Ross, Shope, dated August 25, 1989 states: "Welcome to the Ring of Troth!, we are so glad to have you as a member." The first issue of Idunna that I received was July 1989. It and the Oct. '89 issue contained announcements for the first Ostara to be held March 16-18, 1990. Jim Chisholm was the first editor of Idunna; Dianne had told me that before she joined, Idunna was just a little "cut and paste" item, (I have never seen those early Idunnas).
The orlay of 1990:
The next Idunna (Jan 90) I received again announced the first Ostara, I wanted to attend, but other commitments prevented that from occuring. The next Idunna, April 90, had a review of the Ostara event, in which it said, "Edred led a discussion concerning the future of the Ring of Troth and the elder training program. Three folks from out of town, including Prudence Priest of Yggdrasil fame, returned to their steads with authorization to found hearths in their local areas." I was greatly disappointed that I could not make that event.
In June of 1990 Garman and I had to go out west unexpectly, and on the return trip we stopped in Austin, staying with a Theodsman who lived in San Antonio, to search for Edred Thorsson. It was very difficult search; we had to go to local libraries looking in their community card catalogues; finally I found it, a phone number for the Rune Gild! I made a phone call, Edred answered, I was excited. He gave me Jim Chisholm's number and said that we could met the following day. I called Jim and immediately he gave us directions to his apartment and the first Austin hof. I'll always remember that first meeting with Edred and Jim in that first Troth Hof, there I was siting at the same table with Garman Lord, Edred Thorsson and Jim Chisholm. I was watching history being made, old aquaintances being renewed. I sat and watched and listened as the two Heathen Lore Masters spoke to each other, and then Edred turned to me and asked me if I would accept membership in the Rune Gild, he had faith in my work. We visited there for three days, also meeting Dianne Ross and other folk. We had a camcorder with us and filmed the afternoon meetings in the hof with all the folk.
On our return trip home I made my decision, I wanted to have authorization to set up a Runa-Workshop from Edred. During a phone call with Edred after we were home, he granted it and I then received such authorization dated June 29, 1990 and began teaching public rune classes in my public library in Sept 1990 which have continue since that time.
The next Idunna (July 1990) carried an announcement written by Jim Chisholm, Steersman, telling about Garman's and my trip to Austin, in which Jim says, "Garman is a heathen from way back who edited an exceptional heathen journal called Vikingstaff about 10 years ago. The folks in Watertown developed their own Anglo-Saxon heathenism in relative isolation from the rest of the Asatru movement. While we look to the Icelandic sources, they looked to the Anglo-Saxon sources, so much so that they have learned to speak in the tongue. Though their terminology is different from that of the rest of the Asatru world they are doing the same thing! They met with Edred Thorsson and old ties were renewed. Edred expressed great confidence in both Garman and Gert and looks upon Garman as a colleague. They play hockey and Garman and Gert taught me the rudiments of ice-skating." A note from Dianne came with this Idunna: "thanks for your letter and donation. What a wonderful time I had with you both."
My next Idunna (Dec 1990) had another note from Dianne, and there was an announcement for the next Ostara (March 91). This time we made plans to attend. We did not know at that time that Edred and Jim were in the process of reorganizing due to controversies, I personally didn't know a thing about the ToS business, but I was soon to find out.
The orlay of 1991
Garman, I and Wordsmith attend Ostara, which took place in a house that Edred and Jim shared, Edred having just separated from his first wife, that also doubled as Edred's office and the second location of the Austin Hof. Besides us, in attendance were Edred, KveldulfR Gundarsson, Jim Chisholm, Dianne Ross, Thorfinn, John Gyori and his wife, Tadhg MacCrossan, Crystal Dawn and a variety of other folks. At this Ostara I witnessed Dianne's confirmation of Eldership, and a challenge to KveldulfR by Edred to take on the Lore Warder position. Edred made it clear to of us there that "these things could be yours". Many many deep things were learned at this event and they inspired me in the pursue of my own activities within Theodism and Heathenry in general, though at that time I was unsure about what I could actually do for the Troth. I had offered to take care of some of the Troth mail, but these duties were never given to me.
It was at this Ostara, 1991, that we had met and visited
with Thorfinn who was new to the Troth but was getting ready to take over the
editorship of Idunna. Thorfinn and Dianne said they supported my activism and my
work. We had visited Thorfinn in his apartment, he was living sparingly and
wanted to devote all his time to Heathenry. Unbeknownest to me at the time, the
Meek affair had just happened the month before. Those that had known the
individuals involved were at this Ostara, KveldulfR, Dianne, Edred, but they
never said a word to us about it. It would take a long time before I understood
all of that and the full situation of Edred's Setianism, which wasn't hidden,
and much of which would have been told to me at that time if I had asked, but I
didn't ask because I wasn't interested and it was none of my business. We
returned from Ostara full of enthusiasm for the Troth as a worthy cause. Garman
was at first concerned whether we were compatible, they being Asatru and we
being Theodish, and over the next few weeks the Troth leaders assured us that we
were compatible, and we decided to help the ause
in every way we could. It would take a lot of Theodish resources, but even so we knew that we would also be helping ourselves too, since, as Garman put it, "When the tide comes in, all the boats go up".
At the same time we in Theodish Belief had an internal insurrection and attempted coup d'etat of leadership from the M.H.Theod. These events occupied us for months and I had not realized that I was not getting any Idunnas, nor what was happening in the Troth. There was only one Idunna in 1991 (August) completed by Dianne and in its pages were the first submissions by Swain and Eric Wodening. Thorfinn Einarsson became the Shope of Idunna, swearing to do twelve issues, and his first issue was September 1991, which included Garman's and my first submissions to Idunna as well as the first "True Gert" column, so named by Thorfinn, who at the time liked it very much. Mountain Thunder, edited by Will von Dauster, made its debut at summer 1991, and many called it the Vikingstaff of the nineties. Garman's first submission called "Theodism", was in the Fall 1991 issue. We had submissions in the Fall 92, Yule 92 and Spring 93 issues, but then the climate changed. By spring of 93, Gamlinginn, a strong supporter of von Dauster, had developed an underground hatred for Garman, myself and Theodish Belief, it was so underground that we didn't know about it for another year, and by spring of 94 Gamlinginn tried to subvert us at every opportunity. Mountain Thunder ceased publication at issue #10, Fall 1993.
Many things were happening in national Heathenry in the year 1991, including things we didn't know about. Edred and Jim Chisholm's Setianism had caused great alarm and at the Asatru Alliance's gathering that summer, the main issue was the "removal of all satanists from Asatru". But a secondary issue was Theodism, what and who was it? Theodish Belief, at the time, was having its own internal struggles with a local group, M.H., whose leadership was attempting to overthrow Garman. I myself had been part of M.H., but had gone wretched from them in the spring of '91 due to their betrayals of me. M.H. secretly went to the Asatru Alliance's gathering, where they met Gamlinginn, and petitioned to join the Alliance, hoping to use the Alliance against Garman.
One of the things that did come out into the open in the
general Heathen community at this time, was what everyone called "Edred's
Satanism". I myself had gotten tarred with this. During this time I had some
private students, from my public Rune Gild classes, three females, who had some
conversations with the leadership of M.H. When these students of mine asked M.H.
what I believed in, M.H. threw a copy of Edred's Fire and Ice at them and said,
"this is what she believes in". Of course M.H. knew better, but the students
didn't, so I was a "satanist", called so by people who were supposed to be
"honorable Heathens". M.H. had been placed under boycott by Garman, and were
given a year to get their act together or face outlawry. Instead of doing
that M.H submitted their own version of "Theodism" to Mountain Thunder. It appeared in the Yule 91 issue, but by that time, M.H. was already on its way to being outlawed.
I had started to write, as part of an agreement between Garman and the leadership of M.H. in the summer of 91, some kind of "what is Theodish Belief" manuscript to aid in teaching newcomers, but by the time they began to go defiant, my manuscript was the last thing in the world that M.H. wanted to see published, and they threatened to sue me over it. When I offered it to Idunna, they intimidated Thorfinn with threats of war between the Troth and the Alliance over my Theodism and possible "Satanism". Thorfinn caved in, and would have gutted it of the two most important middle chapters, half the manuscript. When the Rice began to lean on Thorfinn, it was the beginning of the end for Garman's involvement in the Troth, and Thorfinn told us that if we wanted something published, we ought to go publish it ourselves. I did, as A Short History of Anglo-Saxon Theodism, the first edition sold out, and a year later the first Issue of THEOD Magazine appeared. Interestingly enough, in the Yule issue of Idunna, 1991, in the "From the Helm" by Steersman Jim Chisholm, called "Fear and Hyperbole", Jim had used myself as one example of someone who doesn't succumb to fear. Too bad, others in the Troth leadership at that time didn't heed his words!
The orlay of 1992:
M.H. sued for peace and signed a peace treaty in Sept 92; they were never to call themselves or style themselves Theodish again. In January of '92, I received a letter from the Rune Gild, sent by Jim Chisholm, who was helping in the restructuring of the Gild, Idunna and the Troth, wanting to know who was available to remain in the Gild; Garman and I responded saying that we were ready to remain and help the Gild. Garman renewed his Thaneship in the Rune Gild. An Outer Hall was offered to me on the understanding that Garman was my mentor. From my letter Jan 12, 92 to Jim Chisholm: "It goes without saying, I am in total support of the Ring of Troth and the Rune Gild as valid functions of our faith. I shall always be supportive for the cause. I have learned and gained much from the Asatru traditions but you know I'm not Asatru but Anglo-Saxon Theodish. I have been brought up in Heathenry by Garman whom I believe to be very knowledgeable and scholarly and I look up to him in the same way as I do Edred."
On February 20, 1992 I had received a phone call from
Thorfinn who said that Jim Chisholm had something to ask me. Jim said that Edred
and he were in the process of finding talented people to sit on the Rede and
that they felt that I could help bring the Troth through the next stage. He
wanted to know if I would take the position as well as being named an Elder. I
surprised and told Jim that I did not know what to say, but of course I would do my best for the Troth". In a letter Feb 22, '92 to Edred and Jim, I wrote:"I am ... fully aware that as a lore speaker I am not as eloquent as yourselves, Garman or KveldulfR but ... in many cases I have lived my religion, its lore and its consequences. ... My driving force has always been to bring the dignity and respect to Heathenry that it deserves, that is why I'm an activist. I cannot tolerate the disrespect the world has to the
religion of Woden. In a letter to me, after a New Times article about my activism appeared, KveldulfR wrote: "The New Times article left me with a warm glow of pride, 'I know this woman!'"
The Troth in 1992 was 'new', with new leadership and ideas
and few of the Rede members really knew each other, or liked each other. Things
were going on in the Troth that I didn't really know about, it sometimes seemed
like I was the last to know anything. What I was beginning to see though, was a
lack of real Heathen sentiment and mindset. Soon, general attacks on us Theodish
folks began to appear on the Trothline BBS and the beginnings of a 'you are
different, you are not Asatru' propaganda pitch took hold.
The Troth in 1992 was 'new', with new leadership and ideas
and few of the Rede members really knew or even liked each other. Things were
going on in the Troth that I didn't really know about. What I was beginning to
see tho, was a lack of real heathen sentiment and mindset. I recall being very
appalled at the reactions of certain Redesmen in the way they handled real
heathen issues. I saw a variety of non-heathen thinking and acting and a willingness to allow just about anything within its scope, and this was troublesome to me, but, I didn't really know what to do about it, so I did the only thing I knew, I acted, at all times like a Theodsman, like a Heathen. Little did I know that The Troth really didn't want me to be a Heathen. General attacks on us Theodish folks began to appear on the Trothline BBS and the beginnings of a 'you are different, you are not Asatru' propaganda took hold. The editor of Idunna, Thorfinn, had banned Garman and me from the pages of Idunna, and it was coming to seem that the Asatru community really didn't like us or want us around, strange, I thought, hadn't I been invited to become involved?
The BBS Trothline was orginally set up as a means whereby the concerns of the Troth were to be discussed, to aid in the growth of ideas. It was expensive for me to obtain access to e-mail, in fact, it was Garman, a non-Trother, non-Redesman, who paid for the service so that I was able to 'be on line' in my duties to the Troth. But it seemed as if the Trothline was nothing but a bitch line, no one there wanted to discuss lore let alone come to any understanding of what it is we were all supposed to be doing. After less than a year, I got off it, and found out much later that the real decisions about Troth policy were made on the Trothline, often by individuals who were not Redesmen. The majority, or rather the loudest, voice on the Trothline, was the one that ruled and it was their ideas that got pushed onto the rest of the Troth, including the Rede.
The orlay of 1993
I had completed my Elder thesis in the summer of 93, it took a long time, a year, because we had had so many battles to fight, with everyone in Asatru thinking we were "different" and eventually it was published in Yule 93 of Idunna, the only article from me in the entire year! Swain and Eric Wodening had 13 articles published in 1993, and of course there was the Rune Ring. By 1994 Idunna Shope Thorfinn, who had been burnt out for quite some time already, was only finishing out the remainer of his term, as per his oath.
1993 was a year of regaining internal peace and rebuilding, after the struggles to maintain the core essence of Theodism; I had learned the hard way that many in Heathenry were not serious, that Heathenry was a sociopolitical game to many and I wanted no part of that, but still had to do my duty. Garman and I decided to give ourselves a year to build up THEOD, before we ever published it, it was I who said, even if we have 10 subscriptions we will do it, for 10 real Heathens were worth more than many of the numbers I had been dealing with. Swain and Eric Wodening were of the same mind and by the middle of 1993 they had plighted troth to Garman, as AEtheling and warder of sacral Kingship and the Rice was slowly being rebuilt.
1993 was also a year where we kept hearing about "Troth building", a term coined by Prudence in the September 92 issue of Idunna as a way of expanding, "what is done to attract new members to us, the more members we have, the more we can do."
Prudence Priest was Steerswoman and when she was at WiccanFest 93, in Canada, I went to meet her and Andy Biggers. I had never been to any kind of gathering before, other than local Theodish moots. I had a good time, but being around so many Wiccans was a shock, and not my idea of how I wished to spend my time. I was getting into desk-top publishing, learning many new computer skills and building up an inventory of goods, laying down the foundation of THEOD Magazine, as well as spending nine months, with Swain and Garman, getting Swain's manuscript Beyond Good and Evil ready for publication.
This was also the year of Ymir and Eagles Reaches, in
which I ended up playing a major role, not by my own design but on the design of
others. In the March 92 issue of Idunna, Jim Chisholm first told the readership
about Eagles Reaches: "One of the folk who has proven a promising prospect for
the Rede is Ymir Thunarson". From early 92 the Ring of Troth was on the search
for 'new blood' and already had brought in new blood, including me. Chisholm continued: "Ymir, the leader of the rapidly expanding Eagles Reaches of Houston, is about the most dynamic garth/hof I have seen in the movement since I offically became involved in 84. Eagles Reaches is highly organized and its sworn members demonstrate a fierce loyalty to the garth and the movement." This was also at a time when the Rede itself didn't know exactly what it was doing, it was new and several issues were brought out, one of them was the issue of what constitutes a garth or a hof.
From the earliest days, Chisholm's stead was sometimes
called a garth and sometimes a hof, so being because it was he and Edred who had
founded the Ring of Troth and so as new groups emerged they too called
themselves garths and hofs. But now that the Troth had a mission to train and
certify elders that also meant that they had to clarify what exactly a hearth,
garth and hof were. Such things were confusing, because within the greater scope
of the Troth individuals and groups were allowed to call themselves whatever
they wanted. So you could have a hearth of the Troth, calling itself, within its
own group, a garth/hof and they could have a governing body called the High
Rede, with Elders, but they were not the same as the Ring of Troth's Elders
nor the Troth's High Rede. We knew there was a flaw in that thinking and pointed it out emphatically, but Prudence and others seemed unconcerned. Individuals and groups were allowed to govern themselves, publish magazines and such and still be part of the whole "umbrella" of the Ring of Troth.
Another thing that began to happen during 92-93 was the
emergence of Kveldulf Gundarsson's role as Warder of the Lore and his programs
for elder training. Over time, various types of disagreements and disputes
developed because folks were in general not accustomed to having to really
'learn the lore' and major philosophical divisions began to occur, just like
M.H. There was one incident in which Prudence had recommended someone for
eldership, and I fired off a letter to the Rede saying that the individual in
question was just plain not qualified. This incident is what I believed started
the 'years long battle' between Kveldulf and Prudence, because Kveldulf was in
charge of saying who has or has not the qualifications and Prudence wasn't
in qualifications, she was interested in numbers, she wanted to get elders period, and began to accuse Kveldulf's program of stalling. Today of course, I realize that my pro-quality of eldership positions were naive.
The Rede, at that time, was unfamiliar with how to get
ideas around, they didn't understand how 'position papers' worked, I would write
my position paper on something and the next thing I knew various folks were bent
out of shape because they thought I was writing "policy" and making "personal
attacks". This unfamiliarly of how the Rede interacted within itself caused
further problems later on in 93-94. In the case of Eagles Reaches, the leadership there began to develop a problem with the Warder, and he with them. Ymir was seated on the Troth's Rede by September 92 and published his own journal called On Wings of Eagles from December 92 to about August 93.
In the first issue of On Wings of Eagles, Yule 92, it was
obvious that Ymir was proud of ER's accomplishments, for he said, "author and
vitki, Edred Thorsson, referred to this group (Eagles Reaches) of common folk as
'the jewel of the Troth'." And why shouldn't Ymir be proud, he was afterall
doing what he thought was right and he was getting encouragement from others. It
is interesting to note that Garman Lord called the M.H. Theod of Theodish
Belief, "a diamond in the rough", for just the same reasons that Edred called
Eagles Reaches a "jewel", that both these groups, in separate organizations, HAD
the potential of being something great, they just needed some polish. But, as in
the case of M.H., when KveldulfR began laying down the lofty
standards of the Elder program to the leadership, the unpolished stone of Eagles Reaches did not like being polished.
Being polished in this sense, means relearning the lore, getting beyond the Tyson/Fitch/Conway level of pop neoheathenry and understanding one's real, not personal fantasy, place in the scheme of things. Many folks just have a hard time in understanding how to behave within a structured society, and the Ring of Troth is, then and now, a structured society. Ymir's style was okay for him, perhaps not okay for others, and in fact there were others, such as Gamlinginn, who actually went out of their way to tell Redesmen that Eagles Reaches was "very different and they need to be watched very carefully", many times over the course of the year of 1993. I of course had no real way of knowing, at the time Gamlinginn was a "friend", he would call us frequently, asking questions about us and Theodish Belief, and telling us tales about everyone in Heathenry. Gamlinginn was very concerned about image, were Trothers being racist or nazi, and to Gamlinginn's mind, Eagles Reaches was suspect.
Gamlinginn, who appeared to come out of nowhere, had been making a name for himself, by traveling around the country, visiting with various Heathen and by phone to others. Gamlinginn was only known to us by his occasional phone calls during 1993 and we had no reason to doubt his sincerity about the Heathen Reawakening, he came with good recommendations, Kveldulf Gundarsson. Prudence Priest, of course, was the Steerswoman of the Troth, appointed by Edred Thorsson, and I being on the Rede, accepted her sincerity for the well-being of the Troth.
Towards the end of 93, we had heard from Kveldulf that Gamlinginn was to be named an Elder. At the time, I thought that was fine, he appeared to be fine and I had no reason to doubt his qualifications and I voted yes for his Eldership. I recall having a conversation with Gamlinginn and his wife, around January 94, the last one in fact in which we were on "friendly" terms, before he showed his true colors, and when I told him about his being named an Elder he expressed surprise. Gee, he said, no one told me that I was up for a vote. This as it turns out is the typical reaction from Gamlinginn whenever he doesn't want to show his cards, he plays innocent to knowing anything. Fact is, he knew all along that he was being named an Elder, because it had been discussed with him by Kveldulf and Prudence had already been working with Gamlinginn and his wife for some time.
There had been a swine-blot at a Eagles Reaches gathering at Yule 92, in which Ymir, Hulda, Kveldulf, Bill Bainbridge, Thorfinn, James Chisholm, and various Eagles Reaches folk were present. From what I was told, the slaying went wrong, and when a blot goes bad, it affects everything.
What finally caused me to take action on Ymir was his Call
to Action essay in the June 93 issue of OWOE, in which he stepped over the line
of proper behavior becoming a Redesmen, by openly criticizing the leadership of
the Troth, of which I was one. In a phone call to Ymir I tried to get him to
understand just what it was that was out of line but he would not hear me and
I felt that he had indeed gone sour and that to keep him on the Rede would not be a good thing. I petitioned the Rede to remove him from his seat. Bill Bainbridge took the case for the defense, I the case for the prosecution and in the end, Ymir was removed. Interestingly enough, part of Ymir's defense was that he had been talking about ER institutions and officers in remarks that sounded like he was talking about Troth positions and officers because they had the same titles and names.
With the problems that occurred with Eagles Reaches, the
Troth was left with no one to host the Yuletide gathering of 93 and because we,
of the Theodish Rice, were part of the Troth building program, we offered to
help the Troth out. We couldn't do Yule, because we all lived in snow country,
but we could do May Day 94, and we set off to do a joint Troth/Theodish
gathering, in Kansas, with Prudence as May Queen, Bill Bainbridge and Swain and
Eric Wodening, myself and Garman, AEtheling of Theodish Belief. Unbeknownst to
us, there was more to things developing, as we found, in 1994, but that gets
1994 was a year of continued new growth, and 'growing pains' within the Theodish Rice, we found ourselves 'teaching' more and more folks, and fighting more and more battles with those that were critical of us. 1994 was the year of the great tug of war between Prudence and Kveldulf and the 'under-the-covers' Gamlinginn capers, it was a Hel of a year!
With the removal of Ymir Thunarsson from the High Rede, Prudence appointed, at Yule 93, Gefjon Cleghorn, Gamlinginn's wife, to the High Rede, as the Troth's Public Relations Officer. Considering that her husband was at that time waging war on the Alliance, the move seemed completely insane. Gefjon resigned in March of 94, after my one and only position paper challenging the appointment. Gefjon's proposals were unworkable and I could not understand why the Troth would want to go into the Wiccan and minority communities to get members.
Gefjon's reaction to my position paper was extreme. We had placed an order with her craft business, Gefjon's ArdhR, several months before, paying a deposit, and now in March 94, she canceled the order and returned the deposit saying she couldn't do business with anyone who dealt with racists. I could not understand what that meant, and they didn't bother to tell me. Later I learned that they tried everything in their power to shun anyone who would do business with or talk to or subscribe to any Asatru Alliance kindred or magazine.
During 1993 Gamlinginn had waged a 'war' with the Alliance and Valgard Murray, which caused so much alarm in the Heathen community that Bill Bainbridge stepped in as meditator, a role he had played in earlier years, during the Temple of Set/Edred Thorsson controversy. The result was an agreement that Idunna, the Troth's official journal, would carry a free notice of Vor Tru, the journal of the Asatru Alliance and the Alliance would reciprocate. Gamlinginn's campaign against the Alliance included the removal of that notice of Vor Tru. It was Bainbridge and I who would remind the High Rede that there was a real reason why Idunna carried that ad, but to Gamlinginn and his wife in early 94, that was something they could not live with. By early 94, we in Theodish Belief became suspect in Gamlinginn's mind, according to Gamlinginn, we had 'secret' dealings with the Alliance, we were racist; Gamlinginn came to those conclusions from his previous dealings with M.H. Theod when 'they' went secretly to the Alliance Althing and trashed Garman.
Shortly after Gefjon's resignation I received a strange call from someone in CA (whom we later learned was a stooge of Gamlinginn's) asking us various questions that made no sense. The call was a 'fishing expedition'. In the conversation we discussed Gefjon's termination of our order and said that wasn't very Heathen of her. The statement got twisted around and eventually I received a call from Kveldulf, who wanted to know what my problem with Gamlinginn was and that Gamlinginn was threathening to sue me because I had said that Gefjon did not return my deposit money. I told Kveldulf that Gamlinginn had the story all wrong and that he had better talk with the right person, me, that what I said was that Gefjon's reneging on a deal because of some perceived notion against me, which she never was Heathen enough to tell me to my face, was unheathen.
I called the person in CA back to relay that same message,
being told that Gamlinginn was unavailable because he was traveling, but within
15 minutes Gamlinginn called me. The long and short of it was that Gamlinginn,
who maintained a very hostile attitude with me for an hour, with Gefjon refusing
to talk to me but screaming so loud in the background the whole time that we
could hardly talk. Gamlinginn believed that Theodish Belief had a secret pact
with the Alliance, that we were racists and nazis and that he and his wife
cancelled our craft order because of my "personal attacks on them" (my position
paper) and that I "sent letters to everyone" (i.e., my fellow High Redesmen). I
told Gamlinginn he was wrong on all counts, and though he said
he 'now understood us' Garman was not satisfied and called Gamlinginn back the next night, saying they needed to talk man to man. Gamlinginn was very uncomfortable talking with Garman. In the course of their conversation Gamlinginn even denied to Garman about having any knowledge about a former (set wretched) Theodsman that Gamlinginn had heard from, asked us about, and then subsequently 'advised' just six months before! The conversation was ended amicably but we realized, for the first time, that Gamlinginn was out to "get" us. At the time, however, we had other more important, things to think about than Gamlinginn's misperceptions.
THEOD Magazine, Swain Wodening's "Beyond Good and Evil: Wyrd and Germanic Heathen Ethics" and Wednesbury Kings School of Theodish Belief were all launched in February of 1994. The School lesson booklets were all written by Swain and Eric Wodening and were submitted to the Troth's Warder of the Lore, Kveldulf, and his godmaethlers for review of Swain's and Eric's lore-mastery, but in particular the school was chartered to Eric as Overlareow and to Swain, as a Theodish institution for the teaching of Heathen lore, within and without the Rice.
Right after our first issue was in the mail we began
getting ready for the Troth/Theodish Waelburges gathering at Gaea in Kansas.
Swain and Eric Wodening were to be interviewed for Eldership in the Troth, and I
was their sponsoring Elder. We were very naive; all being such good
Troth-builders, and we didn't have a clue as to what happens to someone who
isn't in the
political machinery, who thinks Heathen, who is not wiccan or PC, and who does good deeds; they never go unpunished.
Upon returning home from the Waelburges gathering, where Garman had crowned Prudence May Queen, I had conferred with Kveldulf and Bill Bainbridge that I felt that Swain and Eric needed more time before they were confirmed Elders and it was agreed that the Troth would wait, but, Prudence, once she heard this, decided to go ahead and place them on a ballot for Godman instead, she just wanted to appoint officers. There were several problems with that: 1) the Wodenings still needed additional time before they were ready for Godman or Elder status, 2) Prudence went ahead and called a vote on them over the objections and veto of Kveldulf, myself and the Wodenings.
The battle that was raging between Kveldulf and Prudence over training and appointment of Godman/Elders spilled over and caught up Swain and Eric, and then myself and Theodish Belief right in the middle of the Troth dirty-politics, cut-throat, backstabbing and power-tripping, with the Wodenings becoming the 'prize' that each political faction fought over with total disregard for the human beings themselves, their personal and spiritual wellbeing or for Heathen honor and truth.
At the time, we really didn't know, or understand what the core problems were, only that Prudence and Kveldulf were in battle and anyone that was involved was going to get burnt. So, not knowing that, but believing that it was our responsibility to guarantee that someone that we were sponsoring as Elder/Godman candidates would serve the Troth ethically, and feeling that they needed more time to develop needed skills, tried in vain to get the Troth leadership to understand to just leave the Wodenings alone, leave them out of the politics. But no one listened, particularly Prudence, Gamlinginn and Maryam Povey. The result was a concerted calculated attack upon the character of the Wodenings, Garman Lord, myself and Theodish Belief, and it was started by Gamlinginn. In retrospect, it is now apparent that there was a very heavy PC agenda in the Ring of Troth, from about 93, maybe earlier, that ws causing all the problems, but in any event, I began to see PC agenda with the Troth from 93, as well as the Troth going more Wiccan, which was from the Prudence influence, and the growth of "cultural bigotry".
Immediately following the May Day Gathering several overt and covert operations were launched against Swain Wodening, Garman, myself and Theodish Belief in general. Before the Wodenings were "Theodish" no one in the Troth noticed them, they were "just Trothers who wrote inspiring poetry and many articles for Idunna" (Dianne Ross), but once they were Theodish, producing Theodish material, they were 'fair game'. Kveldulf at first didn't see the significance of the Wodening's work with Wednesbury Kings School and when first approached by Garman to give his "accredition" to the school, Kveldulf turned up his nose at the idea. Later in 1995, after a year of Prudence's charges that Kveldulf was not training or certifying Elders, Kveldulf came to his senses and did accredit the school: "...anyone who fulfills the curriculum of Wednesbury would have a solid accepted level of lore, but not priestcraft, that would be determined by the Troth". Prudence wanted to remove Kveldulf from the Warder position and began a campaign, part of which was to 'enlist' Swain and Eric Wodening and Wednesbury School to be her replacements for Kveldulf and his Elder-training programs. Prudence, and everyone else, seemed to forget one thing, the King, it was after all Wednesbury Kings School. Swain and Eric wanted no part of the move to remove Kveldulf, and told Prudence and the rest of the Rede so. But Prudence and others would not have it so and with the help of Maryam Povey began to infiltrate themselves into the life of Swain Wodening. As Swain and Eric battled with the Rede and Prudence to leave them alone, during the summer of 94, Gamlinginn worked his angles.
During the summer of 94, it became apparent that what was needed was for some major Troth gathering to be held on the East Coast, so I went to work to enlist some help from Troth stewards and the only one who went to work on the project was Eric Moore of Dragon's Hearth with some help from Lew Stead of Raven Kindreds. During the month of August I was busy working with Eric via telephone, as well as trying to get Lew Stead to talk to us in a reasonable way about 'Theodish thew' and with CL Hankins of Indiana, who had at May Day declared his informal friendship with us, until Gamlinginn stepped in.
In August of 94 Gamlinginn was ready to launch his "Asatru
Declaration" which was his cryptic way of getting various leaders to "agree" to
his definitions and to "exclude" anyone that didn't fit his definition.
Gamlinginn had invited to his home Bainbridge and Murray, for no particular
reason and yet being adamant that they come. The end result was a prepared
"declaration" that Gamlinginn had put in front of them asking if they agreed
with it in principle, they indicated that they did not disagree in principle and
as individuals, and Gamlinginn took that and presented to the community as some
sort of "diplomatic coup". Gamlinginn and Prudence then presented that
declaration to the readership of the Ring of Troth as a crypto-official
statement of policy, and to this day refuses to admit to the underhanded way he
contrived the "declaration". Valgard Murray told the truth of how that
declaration was presented to him in Vor Tru, issue #53, 2245 re.
On the very day that Bainbridge and Murray left
Gamlinginn's home in New Mexico, August 19, Gamlinginn mailed a letter, to
Garman Lord, in Anglo-Saxon. This letter was the second stage of Gamlinginn's
plan; to obtain his proof that Theodish Belief is not the same religion as
Asatru. Gamlinginn wanted to impress Garman by writing it in Anglo-Saxon.
Garman, who can read
Anglo-Saxon, wasn't very impressed, and he read it off to me in Modern English, saying he didn't see how we could go along with its agenda, and asked me to prepare a Modern English transcription to circulate. Gamlinginn was asking for 'diplomatic cooperation' and for 'correspondences' so he could explain Theodish Belief to people that asked him about us. Garman knew that what Gamlinginn was really after was "standardization" of Theodish Belief with his version of Asatru. Over a three week period of time, we exchanged paper letters and e-mail, giving Gamlinginn a full detailed explanation of the correspondences he wanted and explaining tribalism and why Theodish Belief had no desire to 'standardize' our language and customs, to his ideas.
When Gamlinginn saw that he was not going to get his way, he said "You keep your people away from our people", drawing a line in the sand, a clear enough declaration of 'borders'. Garman immediately e-mailed Gamlinginn asking what does that mean, and Gamlinginn telephoned us saying we 'misunderstood him'. After talking for three hours, in which he had plenty to say about almost everyone in Asatru, Gamlinginn agreed that Theodish Belief was the same religion as Asatru, the only differences were in the language and he assured us that he would, as he had in the past, always speak well of us. That three hour phone call, during which Gamlinginn called Garman a "Klansman", was just before we went to the Eastern Althing in PA and Gamlinginn went to the Harvest Gathering on the West Coast, where he proceeded to trash us to folks out there! When we contacted Gamlinginn after the gatherings and told him that we 'gotcha' (caught him in lying about us) his reaction was to boldly and openly trash Garman as insane, alcoholic, in ill health, that Theodish Belief was a mind-control cult that leads good souls astray and other such niceties.
The events that happened during and after the Eastern Althing in PA and Gamlinginn's continued actions finally caused me to petition the High Rede for his removal as an Elder, on the grounds of his unethical behavior. When Prudence, the Steerswoman, received my petition, she of course told Gamlinginn and C.L. Hankins who immediately began 'harassing' some of my oath-witnesses but before any action could be done from my complaint to the High Steward on C. L.'s unethical behavior, I and the rest of the High Rede, received the ballot from Prudence. She called for my own removal from the High Rede, on advice from Gamlinginn and C.L. and the reason? If Gert can call for Gamlinginn's removal, then we want her removed. No case presented against me, no oath-witnesses presented, just an 'off with her head' move. I called for Prudence's immediate impeachment, for gross malfeasance of her office, and was told it can't be done, and so I resigned, in Nov 94. As an honorable Heathen, I could not afford to stay involved with a governing body that was not willing nor able to rid itself of dishonorable people no matter what they did.
During the early months of 95 Prudence's behavior became more and more outrageous. She enlisted the help of Maryam Povey to win Swain Wodening over to her side, by promises of power and office, and when Swain remained loyal to his Theodish oaths, Swain, myself and Theodish Belief were then viciously attacked by Povey, leading to her outlawry throughout Heathenry. Gamlinginn, according to Povey, was in the background too, but he was more clever in covering up. Prudence then went after the Shope, William West, a Theodsmen, and had him removed from his office and then she went after the High Steward, Dan O'Halloran, Friend of the King and had his office abolished.
Finally, the High Rede realized what I had said all along,
get rid of Prudence, and as soon as Dan got the necessary votes for impeachment,
in March of 1995, she resigned. The Troth then went though a period of
redefining its goals, with Bill Bainbridge as Steersman, but none of the purged
Theodsmen were willing to return to office, at least until we knew the reform
process was completed. Then Edred Thorsson, founder of the Ring of Troth, moved
to have an unanimous vote of the Rede to recognize his old office as High
Drighten of the Troth, in an attempt to restore it to its original purposes.
Bill Bainbridge immediately voted nay, however, feeling that the perceived
connection with Setianism would be a PR kiss of death, so that Thorsson severed
all ties with the Troth as it now stood, and the Troth was off on yet a new era,
preparing for its first General Elections of officers. For us Theodsmen,
meanwhile, we had come to the realization that the Troth, which hadn't done a
thing about Gamlinginn, was not so reformed as to be about to start playing by
our kinds of rules, and while we were staying at home, minding our own business,
revenge attacks from various quarters of the Troth continued all through 95, but
by early 96, when Gamlinginn tried
yet again to go after a Theodsman, the counter-attack from Theodsmen was overwhelming. One of our rules had become that we are a community, and when one is attacked we all are attacked, and we fight back. And so it was that, through all the hard times, Theodish Belief still prospered and we are still here, standing strong.