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Hall Thew


Wassail All!

Garman here.

I would like to extend my compliments to this hall and all herein on the decorum and quality of thew observed. To my mind, that says a lot, and ought not to go unnoted.

We all know what the Reawakening has been through from almost the first day a few of us ever reawakened. The Reawakening community has always been a troublesome turbulent place, where many an innocent came wandering in search of some better place than Xtianity to be, only to find a worse one instead, where it has always seemed that one's worst and most treacherous foes were never the Xtians at all, but one's own friends and coreligionists. I'm sure we have all wondered at one time or another whether that would ever change, and if so what would change it?

In the meantime, it has often seemed very hard for many to keep the faith in the struggle, borne up only by their love of the gods. Whenever some heathen has tried to contribute something of himself and do a little good for the cause, there have been all too many other heathen standing vigilantly by to sabotage his work and make sure no good deed ever goes unpunished. Whenever heathen have tried to come together and experiment with sharing whatever they could of their common troth in a frithful spirit, it has been all too easy for troublemakers to move in and break up the party, far more efficiently than any Xtian ever could.

These things have always tended along certain lines that we are all familiar with by now. We have all seen the hopeful efforts of some individual heathen destroyed time and again by the petty jealousies and power politics of fellow heathen who were supposed to be his friends. We have seen groups, gatherings, lists and such, destroyed by some Fundie, or group of Fundies, of either the Racist or Universalist or sometimes merely malcontented stripe, moving in to destroy the discourse and get everybody squabbling amongst themselves with their bogus agenda. We all know the dynamic of what happens next. Everybody gets demoralized and discouraged by such a shameful display, decides that it's just the same old shit all over again and they want no part of it, they all go their ways in disgust, thinking a good deal less of each other as a result, and yet another well-intentioned effort is destroyed, with the weal and behest of the gods getting yet another setback, while the predator smiles and move on to see who else's parade he can rain on next.

Thankfully, in Uthwitegan Hall, we have seen less of this painful dynamic than some other gatherings have. As the name implies, Uthwitegan Hall is a gathering of philosophers, no special knowledge or credentials or doctrine required except a right good will in a shared passion for our mutual quest, knowing as we all do that none of us has all the answers, while all of us may well have a few of them. And I think most have shown over time that they know that Uthwitegan Hall, like all Theodish virtual Halls, has only one rule: namely, treat it like a real heathen hall at all times; i.e., with proper observance of heathen hall decorum and hospitality thew. In other words, if it is something that would probably get you into a fistfight in a real hall, don't say it in our virtual hall just because it's virtual. It's really all right there in the Havamal, and time and again all present have seemed to show that they know and understand that a better friend hath no man than than his wits in hall, whereas many a fool in hall is undone by his own mouth, and everybody seems to know pretty well which side of that salt they would rather be found sitting on.

Easy to say, of course, but what seems to me most striking is to see what happens on the occasional times when such lofty intentions get put to the test. We can see what seems to happen in this hall. Most of the time, people are just being themselves, but when things suddenly start to get difficult, as will occasionally happen, people seem to suddenly rediscover their better natures, nobody's buttons get pushed, no words are so harsh as not to be called back whenever necessary, and the difficulty ends up with no place to go but somewhere else other than here. So my question is, what does such abiding lofty-mindedness on the part of so many present here mean? But of course this is only a rhetorical question, since I am just leading up to telling you what I think it means anyway.

What I think it means is some sort of slowly emerging evolution in the quality of the Reawakening community and its discourse. It means that all here are actually serious about our troth and our gods, something that has not always been seen in this community before. Somehow, in this hall, we have managed to see the coming together of a select group of heathen who are actually (gasp!) serious about our ancient and honorable trow.

It's like this: Ever since its first emergence in the seventies, the heathen Reawakening has never been a very respectable business. It has in fact tended more toward being an almost Wicca-style playground and theme park for spiritual power players, misfits and dilettantes. We don't always see this, because many dilettantes may actually talk a good line and seem like quite attractive people whom we wouldn't want to doubt or think any ill of.

Nonetheless, the secret canker worm that eats at the heart of every dilettante is that this stuff is not really serious; how could it be? It is all just a game to him, and one that in fact he thinks really ought to be played by his own rules, no one else's. In fact, it is not really his religion, since he already has some other secret unstated or unconcious religion, be it racism, leftism, rightism, PCism, universalism, rationalism, romanticism, sensationalism, egotism, just about any other ism you could name which has a secret agenda of its own that always pushes out the heathenism and comes into play whenever the heathenism may happen to get inconvenient. In fact, it is usually something ideological rather than religious, and something that tends to turn the religion itself ideological whenever it comes into play. The dilettante, in fact, is the ultimate summer soldier, and is only in all this for however long it keeps on being fun and playing by his rules. The minute it's not fun anymore, such as when someone becomes disruptive, he just throws up his hands, becomes disruptive himself, and is soon gone. He doesn't think there could be anything seriously worth preserving at stake, because his own religion is non-seriousness, and the minute he thinks you might be serious, he just considers you a heretic to his own religion of non-seriousness.

Which brings me to what seems so different about this hall decorum. No one here seems to be throwing up their hands and losing their cool when some strife comes along, and no one seems to really want to call anyone else a heretic. Instead, everyone just seems to be sort of saying; okay, that's over, and I've enjoyed about as much of it as I can stand; now can we start getting serious again?

To me, that seems to really represent some sort of benchmark in the Reawakened heathenry. We have an assembly of all sorts of heathen here, some are leaders, some are not, some are solitaries, etc. And yet, all seem to think like only the leaders ever really used to think in the old days, which is to say serious; like all this and our gods really mean something, no dilettantes welcome please. It wasn't that long ago that you could simply not have found as many such serious thinkers as seem to populate this rather large hall in the whole heathen community.

I say this advisedly, mind you. I have been around for awhile, I know most of the important heathen leaders personally, and knew some of them "when," just as some of them knew me "when;" namely, when the only ones who actually believed in what we were trying to do were ourselves, and the rest of the world just thought we were loco. In those thankless days, it was always a great pleasure whenever the pioneers could come together, even if it meant great travel, because of the unusual inspiring seriousness of the level of talk in such company, which you just didn't get in all the various babytalk viking-wannabe circles of the time. You might almost say that the leaders fed off each other's energies, and in many cases it was what kept them going when things seemed discouraging and pretty much hopeless and nobody else but a few cranks like themselves understood or cared to.

But that was then and this is now, and today there are lots of cranks, and lots of us are serious, willing to broaden our minds, keep our poise, sometimes even suffer fools gladly, if it will in some way benefit the cause of the gods which is greater than ourselves. In the old days, real conviction was often a bitterly lonely business. Today it is possible to be in a fine hall like this, with a sense of being at last in worthy company, where although untoward things may happen from time to time, nonetheless everyone seems glad enough to just let them strut and fret their hour upon the stage and then be seen no more, as if by some secret unspoken understanding. In this glaed Yule season, it gives me great pleasure to lift my horn in salute to the remarkably fine company of this hall, and especially to its long-suffering distinguished Dryhten Albareiks the Goth. Hail the gods and folk!