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Encyclopedia > Theodism

Theodism, or Þēodisc Gelēafa (Old English: "tribal belief") is a North American variant of Germanic Neopaganism which seeks to reconstruct the beliefs and practices of several historic Northern European tribes. Initially, Theodism referred solely to Anglo-Saxon polytheism, the religion of the Anglo-Saxons which had settled in England. Now, however, the term Theodism encompasses Norman, Angle, Continental Saxon, Frisian, Jutish, Gothic, Alemannic, Swedish, Danish and other tribal variants. Þéodisc is the adjective of þéod "people, tribe", cognate to deutsch. Old English redirects here. ... North America North America is a continent[1] in the Earths northern hemisphere and (chiefly) western hemisphere. ... The Mjolnir is one of the primary symbols of Germanic neopaganism. ... Romuva Spring JorÄ— festival in Kulionys, Lithuania in 2006. ... Northern Europe Northern Europe is the northern part of the European continent. ... Anglo-Saxon polytheism refers to the Migration Period Germanic paganism practiced by the Anglo-Saxons in 5th to 7th century England. ... For other uses, see Anglo-Saxon. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Norman conquests in red. ... White cliffs of Dover in England White cliffs of Rugen down the Baltic coast from Schleswig The Angles is a modern English word for a Germanic-speaking people who took their name from the cultural ancestor of Angeln, a modern district located in Schleswig, Germany. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... The Frisians are an ethnic group of northwestern Europe, inhabiting an area known as Frisia. ... For the coarse vegetable textile fiber, see Jute. ... This article is about the Germanic tribes. ... Area settled by the Alamanni, and sites of Roman-Alamannic battles, 3rd to 6th century The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of west Germanic tribes located around the upper Main, a river that is one of the largest tributaries of the Rhine, on land that is today... is a Middle Latin adjective referring to the Germanic vernaculars of the Early Middle Ages, first attested in 786 as both in Latin and in the vernacular. The Old High German language in Latin sources of the time is referred to as . ... Deutsch is: the German word for german a misspelling of the word Dutch, see Dutch (disambiguation) one of the three cognates of medieval Dietsch // A German family name Diana Deutsch, British-born, American cognitive psychologist Felix Deutsch, Helene Deutsch, Austrian-born American psychologist, Morton Deutsch Alexander Nikolaevich Deutsch, Russian astronomer...

Reconstructionist beliefs are dependent on the material record. Reconstructionists have a very strong scholarly and academic bent which emphasizes the intense study of history, languages, archeology, anthropology and folklore. Importance is placed on cultural and historical authenticity. The primary focus of Theodism is an attempt to reconstruct the pre-Christian religion of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European peoples, within the cultural framework and community environment of specific tribes. The Proto-Indo-Europeans are the hypothetical speakers of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language, a prehistoric people of the Chalcolithic and early Bronze Age. ...



Garman Lord formed The Witan Theod in Watertown, New York in 1976, which was the first Theod group. A few years later, the Moody Hill Theod emerged as an offshoot of the Witan Theod. While having some commonalities with the budding Ásatrú and Odinist movements, Theodism primarily derived its origins as a reaction to Seax Wicca. Theod attempts to adhere to a more historically accurate reconstruction of Anglo-Saxon religion in a distinct contrast with Seax Wicca. The other extant North American heathen organizations such as the Asatru Free Assembly and the Odinist Fellowship were then focused primarily on the Viking Age and the Icelandic pre-Christian religion. Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor, is one of the major symbols of Ásatrú. This article is about the reconstruction of Norse paganism in particular. ... Ásatrú describes a number of attempts to reconstruct the indigenous religions of Northern Europe. ... Seax-Wica is a tradition of Wicca that came from the vision of one man, Raymond Buckland. ... Seax-Wica is a tradition of Wicca that came from the vision of one man, Raymond Buckland. ... The Asatru Folk Assembly is an Ásatrú organization based in the US which was founded by Stephen McNallen in 1994. ... The Odinist Fellowship was an early Germanic Pagan Reconstructivist organization, founded by Else Christensen in 1969, in Canada. ... Viking Age is the term denoting the years from about 800 to 1066 in Scandinavian History[1][2][3]. // The Vikings have been much maligned in European history, due in large part to their violent attacks on Christians in the first centuries of their excursions out of Scandinavia. ...

Theodism is focused on the lore, beliefs and social structure - particularly the concept of thew or customary law - of various specific Germanic tribes. The most glaring distinction between Theodism and other modern manifestations of Germanic Neopaganism is that while many groups are attempting to reconstruct the pre-Christian religions, the Theodish are also attempting to reconstruct the tribes, hierarchical social orders and even languages of the pre-Christian Northern Europeans.

In 1983 after being on hiatus, the Witan Theod became the Gering Theod (pronounced 'yerring'), a play on words, meaning "the Sprout of the Sprout". In 1989 the Winland Rice was formed which was an umbrella organization of Theodish groups, with Garman Lord chosen by consensus as the Æþeling or "lord". The Rice, as it is known, is now the oldest surviving Anglo-Saxon Heathen organization in North America. One of Garman Lord’s earliest gesiþs or retainers, Gert McQueen, went on to serve as an Elder and Redesman of the Ring of Troth, an international organization serving the Heathen community. Gert McQueen was successful in lobbying the U.S. Army Chaplain’s Corps to adopt guidelines for recognizing Heathen religions and Theodish belief in particular. Together they operated Theod Magazine - and Theod Publishing also ran a successful small bookshop venture. In 1995 Garman Lord was raised on a shield as Cynehelmung or presented as king by his followers. Map of runestones raised over a thegn. ... The Ring of Troth, now called simply The Troth, is a US Germanic Neopagan organization. ...

Several groups formed as offshoots of the original Gering Theod and/or Winland Rice. The Fresena Rike formed in 1994 and remanifested in 2005 as the Axentof Thiad. The Normannii Thiud was formed in 1997 by Troth Elder Dan O'Halloran and continues to this day to practice Danish-Norman belief. The Œthelland Cynn was formed in 2004 by Troth Godman Daniel Flores and practices the tribal beliefs of Migration Age Jutland. After some tumult within the Theodish community in 1996, Troth Elder Swain Wodening and Troth Godwoman Winifred Hodge left the Winland Rice to found the Angelseaxisce Ealdriht, to establish a more democratic alternative to the Winland Rice. The Ealdriht became the largest Theodish organization in the Heathen community, until it was dissolved in November 2004. The dissolution was necessary to facilitate the growth of two emerging communities of slightly differing tribal beliefs: the Mercinga Ríce and the Neowanglia Þéod. In August of 2007, Neowanglia Theod announced that they have evolved away from Theodism and are not to be considered 'Theodish' in this sense. Human migration denotes any movement of groups of people from one locality to another, rather than of individual wanderers. ... Jutland Peninsula Jutland (Danish: Jylland; German: Jütland; Frisian Jutlân; Low German Jötlann) is the western, continental part of Denmark as well as one of the three historical Lands of Denmark, dividing the North Sea from the Kattegat and the Baltic Sea. ... Year 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

In addition to these Theods, there are numerous Greater Theodish groups in the Heathen community, who do not have a direct organizational lineage to the Winland Rice, but were inspired to organize based on Garman Lord’s seminal work, The Way of the Heathen. These groups include The Frankish Leod, the Ostrogothia Thiod and others. The Ring of Troth continues to have numerous members from the Theodish community, who contribute heavily to periodicals such as Idunna.


  • Theodism is a tribal movement, seeking to create a "folk" and revive the weltanschauung necessary to accurately practice the religion of their progenitors
  • Theodsmen hold freedom of conscience as matters of necessity for all Heathens
  • Theodism advocates the Germanic Heathen concept of Sacral Kingship as the gift of the Gods and expression of Luck, Might, and Main
  • Theodish groups advocate a Web of Thew and a Web of Oaths to bind the community
  • The goal of the individual is to struggle in life to build worth, which is something that will remain after death for the individual's family and community
  • Theodsmen adhere to the Three Wynns: Wisdom, Generosity, and Honor
  • All Theods submit to the Thing as the measure of recht or right and abide by its rulings

A world view (or worldview) is a term calqued from the German word Weltanschauung (pronounced ) Welt is the German word for world, and Anschauung is the German word for view or outlook. It implies a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. ... Capital wynn (left), lowercase wynn (right) Wynn () (also spelled Wen or en) is a letter of the Old English alphabet. ... A thing or ting (Old Norse and Icelandic: þing; other modern Scandinavian: ting) was the governing assembly in Germanic societies, made up of the free men of the community and presided by lawspeakers. ...

Important Theodish concepts

  • Theodism is by its very nature a tribal or hierarchical group construct - the luck of the group is derived from the top down
  • Nobility is defined by one's deeds and worth rather than any concept of equality or birth-right - everyone is born worthless and unproven
  • Practicing the concepts of Innangarð and Útangarð or insiders and outsiders - placing ones' loyalty to family and community eminently above all obligations to those who are not bound by oath or blood relations


Oaths are binding and are the glue which holds society together - betrayal and treachery are grievous sins which bring ill luck to the individual and the community. Oaths which are not fulfilled will actively damage the luck of not only the person who failed to keep the oath, but also that of those who were present when it was uttered. It is for this reason that at the Theodish ritual of symbel (the main ritual at which oaths are sworn over a sanctified alcoholic beverage such as mead or ale) there will actually be an appointed officer (the þyle (OE) or þulR (ON)) who is tasked with ensuring that impossible-to-keep oaths are not made over the symbel cup. It is also for this reason that thralls, in their capacity as "learners", might not understand what constitutes a bad oath, and thus in order to prevent them from inadvertently tainting the luck of the Theod, they are not judged capable of making any oaths until they have earned their freedom ("cheaped their abraidness"), and become free and full members of the Theod. A special class of oath is the "hold oath", which is sworn from one free individual to another of higher arung. The text is based on the ancient Germanic comitatus oath, and forms the basis of the "web of oaths" which lead up to the King, and which binds the Theodish group together. [1]

Right Good Will

The concept of Right Good Will states, simply, that Théodsmen will treat with one another in a completely above-board fashion, and will not willingly harm or do ill to one another without a compelling reason. [2] It is by thinking first of the well-being and best interests of other Théodsmen, as a matter of personal honor, that Théodish Belief attempts to address the problem of personal evil. Humans are flawed creatures, and it is only by the application of such a strict and comprehensively altruistic ethic, that a workable and sustainable society can be maintained. According to Swain Wodening, not all Theodish groups use this concept, instead preferring to use the term grith, the temporary peace of a gathering or get together to refer to the idea that there should be peace amongst Theodsmen.[citation needed]


Thew or þeaw is an Old English word meaning custom or virtue. In the Theodish community thew is the unspoken law which is the basis of society. Dan O'Halloran explains:

"Thew is situational: circumstances can and do dictate how we, like our ancestors, deal with each individual event. As Theodism is a human endeavor, it is prone to all the failings, fragilities, and frailties of man. However the Theodsman trusts to the overarching Thew, that thew is the Great Thew of Hope. The theodsman has hope, hope in his lord, in his men, in his troth, in his gods and ancestors, and in his fellow tribesmen. A Theodsman strives for the goal, even knowing he will likely fall short, because it is a worthy endeavor, because it is innately lucky, and thus Weh ("holy")."[3]


In general, Théodish religious festivities are referred to as 'fainings' (meaning 'celebration'). As a rule, there are two sorts of rituals; blót and symbel. They are accompanied by a feast in between.


Blót is a term denoting sacrifice.(cognate to blood, blut, blot) In Théodish context, it can refer either to an actual animal sacrifice or to the sacrifice of valuables. [4] In the case of an animal sacrifice, the meat from the beast is used in the feast for the assembled worshipers. Any excess is burned as a direct offering to the Gods. Whether the sacrifice is of an animal, fruits of the harvest, or other valuables, it is always treated with the utmost respect, as it is a gift to the Gods Themselves. Some groups differentiate between a blood sacrifice and other sorts of sacrifice, reserving the term blót exclusively for the former, and using the ON term 'fórn' to refer to any other form of votive sacrifice. The Blót was the pagan Germanic sacrifice to Norse gods and Elves. ... Human blood smear: a - erythrocytes; b - neutrophil; c - eosinophil; d - lymphocyte. ... The Bl t was the pagan Germanic sacrifice to Norse gods and Elves. ...


Húsel is technically part of blót, it is the sacred feast that takes place after the sacrifice. It opens with three toasts, one to a god or goddess each, and then is followed by the mynne full (ON minifull), or memory cup. The bragafull or "leader's cup" may follow. Toasts may follow as in symbel, but these are to the gods and ancestors, and therefore of a different variety. Once all are through eating, then left overs, and any special parts of the sacrificial beast are given to the Gods. [5] Midwinter blót (at the Temple at Uppsala), by Carl Larsson (1915) The blót (Old Norse plural same as singular) was the pagan Norse sacrifice to Norse gods and Elves. ...


Symbel (ON sumbl) is normally held after the feast, inasmuch as it is custom not to have food present. Symbel consists of rounds of ritual drinking and toasting, and invariably takes place within an enclosed space of some kind. [6] It is usually inaugurated by three formal rounds, as determined by the host; often led by toasts in honor of the Gods, then ancestors and/or heroes, and then a general or personal boast. Other boasts may take place as necessary. Symbel is always formally closed once the formal boasts are completed, in order that the symbel might maintain its dignity and not degenerate into "mere partying" [7]. The two types of boast are the ʒielp (pron. 'yelp') and the béot (pron. 'BAY-awt"). The former is a boast of one's own worthiness, such as one's accomplishments, ancestry, etc. The latter is a boast of an action one plans to undertake. In order to protect the luck of the hall, such boasts are subject to challenge by the thyle (ON þulR), whose job it is to make sure that unlucky boasts do not contaminate the luck of all present. Symbel (from Proto-Germanic *sumlan banquet, continuing *sm-lo-, i. ...


  1. ^ Garman Lord pp. 55-57
  2. ^ http://gamall-steinn.org/theod/gl-rgw.htm
  3. ^ O'Halloran p.31
  4. ^ Garman Lord pp. 23-26
  5. ^ Swain Wodening, p. 100
  6. ^ Garman Lord, p. 27
  7. ^ Garman Lord, p. 30


  • Lord, Garman (2000). The Way of the Heathen: A Handbook of Greater Theodism. Theod. ISBN 1-929340-01-X. 
  • McQueen, Gert Thygen (1995). A Brief History of Theodism. Theod. 
  • O'Halloran, Dan (2005). Thewbok: A Handbook of Theodish Thew. ISBN 0-9777610-0-2. 
  • Wodening, Eric (1998). We Are Our Deeds: The Elder Heathenry Its Ethic and Thew. Theod. ISBN 1-929340-00-1. 
  • Wodening, Swain (1994). Beyond good and Evil: Wyrd and Germanic Heathen Ethics. 
  • Wodening, Swain (2003). Hammer of the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism in Modern Times. Global Book Publisher. ISBN 1-59457-006-X. 

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Germanic neopaganism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3135 words)
Theodism, or Þéodisc Geléafa seeks to reconstruct the beliefs and practices of the Anglo-Saxon tribes which settled in England.
The first modern attempt at revival of ancient Germanic religion took place in the 19th Century during the late Romantic Period amidst a general resurgence of interest in traditional Germanic culture, in particular in connection with romantic nationalism in Scandinavia and the related Viking revival in Victorian era Britain.
Theodism, in the larger sense now encompass groups practicing tribal beliefs from Scandinavia and the Continent, in addition to following in the model set forth by the early Anglo Saxon theods of their insular thew.
  More results at FactBites »



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