Since Watertown – Forty Years of Théodish Thew

It was forty years ago this very day, on July 4th 1976, that Gárman Lord beheld the therewithness of Wóden in Watertown, New York. Those who cleave to Théodish thew and speak of themselves as Théodsmen remember this day each year as it betokens the beginning of our belief. Where before our folk were wretched in their godlessness, thereafter were we many-godded and richly gifted by Ése and Ælfas alike.
Since then, Théodish Belief has shifted its shape and reframed itself twice or thrice, beginning as a witangemót, the Wódenic witch-heap that was the Witan Théod (1976-1979), and then becoming the many-théodded Wínland Ríce (1989-2002) over which there was an æðeling and, by 1995, a cyning.
DSCN2823It is that span of time, the Wínland Ríce’s tide, that many nowtidely Théodsmen look to as the “Golden Age” of Théodish Belief. Then there was but one Théodish Ríce, to which all Théodsmen belonged, one cyning over them, and one web of hold oaths that bound all Théodsmen together. This was our Saxon Camelot, a legendary place and mythical time, the sort of kingdom and bygone age that scóp’s sing about. Théodism was one. Frith abounded. Worthmind and Right Good Will waxed among all Théodsmen. Bealdor was not yet dead.
Sadly, the history of the Wínland Ríce did not measure up to its myth. This was a contentious time, one fraught with treason following treason and outlawry following outlawry. Indeed, many of the Théodish “greats” were either wolfheaded or out of thew within a handful of years. By the Wínland Ríce’s end, Théodsmen, once bound beneath a single banner, now gathered about so many smaller boar-crested caps. Camelot had fallen. The roundtable was broken.

The Wínland Ríce spanned but a decade and a half in Théodish Belief’s now forty year history. As it now stands, nearly as many years have since gone by.  What has come of Théodish Belief in that span of time?  Théodish Belief, it is said, has always been a great experiment, an experiment in shaftcunning, the knowledge of shaping or reshaping things. Did the experiment fail when the Wínland Ríce fell?
Hardly. With the Wínland Ríce there was once one great Wóden-wrought experiment upon which the hope of men depended. Now there are many Wóden-willed sooth-seekings, each sparked from the same troth, yet each its own thew. When Gram broke itself against the edge of Gár, it was because the Allfæder had both willed it’s smithing and it’s shattering. In no wise was Wóden unaware. Indeed, such was Wóden’s whim to set cyning against cyning, tribe against tribe and, in doing so, to fill his hall with the worthy. Such has always been his way.

This is a time for many théods each with its own belief and thew though they each light their hall torches from the same Witanic need-fire. Indeed, this is the strength of Théodism. Where we were once one, we are now many. Where once there had been but one hope whereby men might rekindle the holy-fire, manifold sparks now spill forth from sundry sooth-seekings.  Wóden, in his wisdom, has seen to it that Théodsmen have borne bright brands far and wide.
Though there is now no singular banner under which we all march, Right Good Will  binds us together more surely than so many unheld hold oaths ever did when we were unhappily wedded as one Ríce.  Moreover, free to enjoy our own frith and unburdened by infighting, we set ourselves about the work of rediscovering Wóden’s religion.  And Wóden’s religion is this: gift-giving and glad we are Théodsmen to share wit, wisdom, rede, or even a ring with one another.

About Þórbeorht Línléah

Ealdorblótere (chief priest) at Whitthenge Heall of the Ealdríce, an Anglo-Saxon Théodish fellowship. Author of Of Ghosts and Godpoles: Theodish Essays Pertaining to the Reconstruction of Saxon Heathen Belief, Both Old and Anglo (2014). Author of Þæt Ealdríce’s Hálgungbóc: The Théodish Liturgy of Þæt Ealdríce (2015, 2016). Þórbeorht resides in Richmond, Virginia with his wife Eþelwynn and two daughters.
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