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Rites of Passage

By: Garman Lord


Garman here.

> We have developed a ritual in which we do this in our own kindred. It's not  based on any historical examples simply because we have no models to go by.  I think it's much like what Garman was talking about when he discussed the  Sacrificial rites in Theodism. We've found a means that--although not  historically accurate--works well for us and seems to bring forth the  attempted result.

We have experimented with such rites of passage in Theodism, most notably when the Normans were with us; they systematically initiated a lot of experimentation with this sort of thing.

> My suggestion is that other kindreds/theods/hearths look into their own versions of a manmaking rite.

That makes sense to me. For one thing, this is surely what the elder tribes would have done. There was probably no one way of doing such things amongst all the German tribes; there must have been a tremendous amount of local variation, from individual tribes varying such practices according to their own local needs and tastes and orlays. Especially considering the broad range of doctrinal and thewful variation in modern heathen practice, there surely should be no one universal way for all heathens to do such things today.

> The manmaking of today does not and should not form the bond of a hunting  team, a warrior band, &c.--even if that's what our ancestors did--as these  kinds of groups do not hold the meaning and utility that they did back in the day. Instead, these rituals should declare the freedom and  responsibility the new adult is expected to understand in the community;  both the Heathen one and in the "outside world."

Again, I would agree. The neoheathen world view has never seemed to me as balanced as it ought to be, and for a long time it was a disproportionately all-male cultus, due to heavy orientation toward such primarily male interests as the martial; not much there for females and families to relate to. There is no question about the relevance of hunting and the martial to heathenry, historically and epistemologically, yet surely they are no longer primary concerns to the Reawakening community, and could usually be deferred in favor of putting more energy into things that really are primary concerns, yet which tend to get neglected in modern heathenry... in fact, which modern heathenry often acts as if it didn't have a clue about.

In Theodism, we are supposed to be primarily a fertility cult/wisdom tradition, and have never had a regular martial tradition, or at least any martial cultus that lasted amongst us for any length of time. Males will always be aggressive, of course, and naturally interested in mettle-testing ordeals and such, and we have always had an ongoing side-interest amongst us in traditional weapons and warfare lore. However, in general, we have tended to sublimate the male impulse to shatter shields and crack crowns into cultivation of our own peculiar kinds of strenuous athletic competitions, such as the Midsummer Games and other games and occasional exhibitions, which have usually included a lot of contact sports and sometimes refereed forms of combat, such as boxing, wrestling, melee, and various forms of sword- and spear-play. Such forms can offer plenty of action and ordeal, yet are much easier to structure and compartmentalize away from interfering too much with the ordinary course and quality of communal life.

It should be noted that, in our experience, at least, a martial orientation, at least when mixed into other communal vectors, tends to be corruptive to the communal life in modern heathenry. It has never seemed a lucky idea to incorporate too strong an enforcement/protection arm into a community that doesn't really need all that much enforcing and protecting, or, in the absence of wars to fight, to have a standing army of regular soldiery hanging around in your midst without enough to do. In our experience, it is only a matter of time before such soldiery will find something to do, usually things you might rather they didn't, and up to and including such adventures as coup d'etat attempts. The natural tendency of any gratuitous martial cultus in your midst is to inevitably take on a specious life of its own and get just plain out-of-control. I have been around long enough to see the martial tendency, too sanguinely indulged or cultivated, end up becoming the death of many many once promising heathen troths and careers.

In my own opinion, what modern heathenry really ought to be concentrating on is figuring out how to become a much better and more spiritually meaningful and effective religion than it is today. By contrast with the elder, which evolved spontaneously along whatever lines best served a given community's needs, today's heathenry tends to be a spiritually empty caricature of the elder heathenry's most outward manifestations, besotted in the merely ritualistic and material and sensational, a kind of play-mummery such as no elder community would ever have evolved for itself, devoid of any meaningful overarching metaphysic or regular useful wisdom tradition, mainly good only for keeping up appearances in high holiday gatherings. It does not even offer its votaries the one thing that Xtianity manages to offer, namely solace and the abiding sense of spiritual grace; it is about as far away as any discipline could be from being anybody's "Rock of Ages," and is even less useful than Xtianity in fitting its votaries to find meaningful answers in dealing with the slings and arrows of ordinary life or, alternatively, offering any sort of hopeful humanitarian service to the world outside itself. It suffers from a deficiency in real moral force, and in ability to inspire too many of its votaries to really take it, or each other, very seriously, which ends up reducing heathenry to somewhere around the level of Wicca on the overall seriousness food-chain, even though it is a real historical religion with real gods, and could potentially be so much more.

We tend to sometimes excuse ourselves by saying that heathenry today is still a very young old troth, and so it is. No doubt this is easy enough to see in the callow juvenile quality which still suffuses so much of modern
heathenry's most influential and important thinking. And no doubt, given enough time, this will not always be the case. As heathenry becomes more seasoned and experienced, it may become able to offer more religious depth and substance, and to tolerate more cultish experimentation. For now, however, experimentation on heathenry's part with initiating people into becoming better warriors or hunters or martial artists has tended to produce rather bad and disappointing resulting effects on their troths and fellowships overall, and will very likely continue to do so until such time as we first manage to come up with ways to initiate them into becoming better heathen, real heathen, such as would never dream of doing some of the shameful unright deeds that too many heathen seem to just take for granted and do so casually today.