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Sacral King & the Gods

By: Garman Lord


Garman here.

>Not being Theodish, I generally keep my mouth shut on this list, and prefer to sit back and listen and learn, but part of your post here brought up a question, and I'd appreciate it if you could help me understand a  little better.
You said "..King of the Theodish Rice, a sacral office which is set and defined in Theodish thew as being the folk's particular link with the gods, which means, of course, that regular conversation with the gods is, by thew, part of my job description"
Are the any implications to other Theodish folk, in their own links to the Gods, by having a Sacral King? In other words, how does the relationship of the Sacral King's link to the Gods impact on an individuals link to the Gods? Does having a Sacral King preclude others from having individual links with the Gods, or do they both exist?
I guess the main drive behind this question is that I am still unclear on the role of a Sacral King, and how it fits into the relationship that an Individual may have with the Gods.


Understood; good question.

The institution of Sacral Kingship goes back to what we call the "Theodish thesis;" the idea that some specific kind of First Functional sacrality, as the tribe's regular established link with the gods, was what the elder heathenry was really all about.

To understand how this works, you have to consider the psychological character of tribal life itself, a psychology that few people today have ever experienced first-hand. Today, it is normal for each of us to conceive of himself as, spiritually, an individual, with an individual identity. Where people still have strong family ties, we may also, of course, have a second "familial" identity as an extra feature of our personality, but few of us today have that in any way as strong as it used to be in the days when extended families were normally like clans. Today this feature is apt to be pretty strong in our youth, while our individual personality is still forming, but in today's world we generally tend to outgrow that. We grow up, we go off to school, move away, get jobs, spouses and a sometimes very different life of our own, and it is not uncommon for most of us to pretty much lose touch with our birth families for years at a time, and sometimes altogether. That familial identity, in other words, just eventually gets absorbed into the individual identity and disappears as anything that could be thought to have a real life of its own.

For a member of a true tribe, however, the psychological experience is very different. He grows up and develops an individual psychological and spiritual identity, but along with that he grows up with a tribal identity, that is not normally outgrown, but actually gets stronger over the course of his life. The reason is because of the power of his tribal identity to transcend his own personal human limitations, as he has cumulative life experiences and discovers those limitations. The tribe was there before he was born, it will be there to bury him and remember him and take care of his family after he is gone, and throughout his life supplies him with cultural riches and a support system beyond anything he could ever supply himself and his family on his own. He experiences his tribal identity as some kind of spiritual force standing alongside and supporting his personal individual identity, something so personal and beloved to him and his that he will even be willing to fight and die for it if necessary.

This is no mere subjective sentimental notion on his part. The fact is, the tribe really does have a collective soul life, of which all tribesmen who ever were and ever are partake, a collective luck, and a collective personality, in the form of the tribe's peculiar culture. It also has a collective spirituality, in the form of the tribe's traditional religion. Spiritually, in other words, a true tribe is far more than just a collection of individuals, and is always more than the sum of its parts.

Where sacrality comes in is that the tribal collective soul has to have some mechanism for relating to the gods and gaining their luck. It isn't just the individual who needs prosperity, increase and good crops; it is the tribe which needs them as a tribe. To get them, the tribe does not rely on each individual member, fit or unfit, to somehow do his part unbidden in securing the luck and weal of the gods; that can never work. Instead, the tribe sets up a regular system, an institution, devoted to that specialized task... in such cases as ours, the Sacral Kingship. Such an institution, in order to be reliably lucky, is set up in a very special way, as dictated by the tribe's received cultural tradition and taboo.

The luck that the sacral King is responsible for is the luck of the tribe as a tribe, not that of any particular individual in it. This is of course how it would have to be. Not everybody in the tribe is necessarily going to be worthy of the gods' esteem, for instance, yet there has to be a way to reliably prosper the whole tribe, whether or not the gods may particularly like everybody in it. And in general, the gods will be willing to do that, as long as they are on good terms with the tribe's king.

In answer to your question, then, this sacral function and relationship with the gods has nothing to do with the spirituality or relationship with the gods of any individual in the tribe, as an individual. It must be presumed that all sorts of people may sometimes manage, as individuals, to form significant relationships with the gods, and it is of course always their right to do so. What is different is that it is always the king's duty and responsibility, not right, to do so. And, accordingly, what is taboo for the individual tribesman, as to his spiritual relationship with the gods, is ever to express that relationship in some way that would interfere with that function of his King's.

Needless to say, none of this could work without the special help of the gods themselves, or if they were against it. One soon finds out, however, that the institution still works; the gods are evidently very much for it. Certainly before I was King I had relationships with the gods, which were vital to my personal evolution as a heathen. However, I can bear witness that, from the moment I was raised on the shield, that relationship changed dramatically, becoming much more intense, dynamic and vital. And of course it was well for me that it did. Since then, as an ordinary mortal, in a community as troubled as this one, I don't think I could ever have done the job without that kind of special help. At the same time, that does impose a special onus upon me as a person. I am obliged to always comport myself in such way as to keep the good will of the gods. Once lose that, and a King will lose his luck, a circumstance of which any tribe will be bound to be immediately aware, which is, of course, how Kings end up getting sacrificed for better crops.

For the King's part, he will not normally interfere in any individual's personal relationship with the gods, any more than in any other aspect of his life. The King is obligated to periodically conduct and provide communal religious observances, and all tribesmen are under a certain obligation to help him blot, as necessary, for the good of the tribe. That doesn't mean, of course, that everyone doesn't have a perfect right to conduct their own personal observances in their own stead, and of course many do. However, the king's business and province and responsibility is with the communal tribal relationship to the gods, not the personal. Nonetheless, in that special business, we can see how it is that it is a business traditionally sanctioned and warded round with special privilege and taboo; the King's word is law, the King is a holy man who may not be insulted, ill-spoken of or affronted or molested in his person, to gainsay him or rune against him is high treason, etc. etc. etc. I hope that makes things clearer; any other questions, just ask.

Glaed Hallows and Godspeed......