Dan O’Halloran, Normannii Thiud Ltd.
THEODISM, THEODISH BELIEF, THEODISIC GELAFE, GERMANIC TRIBALISM, THEOD: The movement is at once a cultural, religious, and a social system; its purpose is to revive not only the religion of our ancestors, but also the fabric and folkways of the Germanic peoples of Europe – and to do so within a tribal context. Similar to Asatru, in that it relies on the Germanic pre-Christian religious complex, Theodism differs in its application because at its core it seeks re-tribalization. Utilizing history, anthropology, and applied comparative studies disciplines, it is the hope of Theodish community to reconstruct the pre-Christian tribal religions of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European peoples; all within the cultural framework and community environment of specific elder tribes.
In 1976 Garman Lord formed the Witan Theod, the first aett within the Theodish community, as an apostasy of Seax Wicca; striving to cleave to a more organic and accurate reconstruction of Anglo-Saxon religiosity. Shortly thereafter, Ealdoraed Lord founded the Moody Hill Theod in the same area of upstate New York, Watertown. Unlike the other major Heathen organization of the time in America, the Asatru Free Assembly, which concentrated on the Viking Age, Theodism was focused on Anglo Saxon lore, beliefs, and all its attendant social structures, particularly the concept of thew (customary law). The religion was founded strictly to be a Reconstructionist tradition [called often “retro-heathen”], now known as Theodish Belief, Theodisic Geleafa (belief of the tribe – in Old English) or simply Þéodism.
In 1983 after a period of inactivity the Witan Theod became the Gering Theod – a play on words – meaning the Sprout of the Sprout; it began drawing many of its members and families from Fort Drum. Gering and Moody Hill merged and in 1989 they declared themselves the Winland Ríce of Theodish Belief, and named Garman Lord its Æþeling. The Winland Ríce, as it is generally known now, is the oldest surviving Anglo Saxon Heathen group, and the longest continuously running Heathen organization in America.
One of Garman Lord’s earliest gesiþs, Gert Thygen McQueen, went on to serve as an Elder and Redesman of the Ring of Troth for many years; she was also successful in lobbying the U.S. Army Chaplain’s Corps to adopt guidelines for recognizing Heathenry in general and Theodish Belief in particular. Together they operated Theod Magazine for many years – and Theod Publishing also ran a successful small bookshop venture, the most notable titles included: Beyond Good and Evil by Swain Wodening, Gods of the World and We Are Our Deeds, by Eric Wodening, instructional cassettes and CD’s on Anglo Saxon Scopcraft and galdorcraft, as well as reprints of Theod Magazine. In addition Theodish authors contributed greatly to IDUNNA throughout the Troth’s history and two Shopes were Theodsmen, Will Thegn West, and Troth Elder, Dan O’Halloran. Dan also served as a Redesman, the Steward of New York, and High Steward, and now acts as a member of the Godmatheler Board of the Clergy Program, and the Troth’s corporate legal counsel.
Within Winland Ríce, Garman Lord was raised on a shield at Litha of 1995, his Cynehelmung, the first, and to date only, Cyning in modern Theodish history. After some tumult within the Theodish community in 1996, Troth Elder Swain Wodening and Troth Godwoman Winifred Hodge left the Winland Ríce to found the Thaet Angelseaxice Ealdriht, and establish a more democratic alternative to the Winland Ríce. It became the largest Theodish and Anglo Saxon focused organization in the Heathen community, until it was dissolved in November 2004. The dissolution was necessary to facilitate the growth of two emerging tribal communities, the Mercinga Ríce, centered in Texas and the Midwest, which Swain Wodening was named Æþeling of in 2004, and the Neowanglia Þéod, under Brian Smith, which spanned across the Northeast; both these tribes cleave to Anglian thews.
Two other Theods emerged directly from within the Winland Ríce as fosterages of Garman Lord; the Fresena Riki, led by its Æþeling, Gerd Groenwald, which was founded in 1994 and revived in 2005 as the Axenthof Thiad, concentrates on Frisian thew; and the Normannii Thiud, formed in 1997 by Dan O’Halloran, who serves as its Æþeling, and which cleaves to Dansk-Norman thew. A secondary fosterage also emerged at Garman’s knee – the Leod of Visigothia was founded by Aelfric Thegn, as a Hall within the Winland Ríce in 2001, and remains in thew with the Gering Theod to this day. At Harrowmoot 2004 the Œthelland Cynn of the Jutes was formed by Daniel Thegn Flores and Richard Thegn Culver in Texas to revive Jutish thew. They entered into a fosterage alongside Neowanglia Þéod, under the gefannon of the Normannii Thiud aet Reik, and tutelage of Dan O’Halloran. Together, these groups, along with the Mercinga Ríce, represent the portion of High Theodism outside of the Winland Ríce.
In addition to these Theods, there are numerous Greater Theodish aetts in the Heathen community, whose membership sprang from Garman Lord’s seminal work, Way of the Heathen. Published in 2000, A Handbook of Greater Theodism expounded on the religious theoretic of Theodism. Included in these ranks are the Sahsisk Thiod, which is centered in Virginia, the Frankish Leod which hails from Oklahoma, and Ostrogothia Thiod, in Pennsylvania.
The Theodish religious philosophy can be described as three interlocking sets of thews: A) The Votive Thews – i. Sacral Kingship, ii. Theodish Affinity – the Web of Troth and Oaths, and iii. worship of the Germanic Gods and Ancestors; B) The Criterial Thews – i. Life as a process of Ordeal, ii. Worthing and Becoming, and iii. its context of the Three Wynns – Wisdom, Generosity and Honor; and C) the Existential Thews – i. Freedom of Conscience, ii. Right Good Will, and iii. Sovereign Tribal Weal. These Three Rings of Thew [the “TRT”] are what binds together each tribe’s Theodsmen and makes possible the Theodish theological construct. Each of the thews interlock and are co-dependant, they are likewise situational and dependant on context for expression.
Theodism regards thew as situational – circumstances can and do dictate how we, like our ancestors, deal with each individual event in the course of life. 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, which thew is Hope. A Theodsman must have hope; hope in his lord, in his men, in his troth, in his Gods and Ancestors, in his luck and thews, and in – of course – his fellow tribesmen. Theodsmen strive for the goal, even knowing they may well fall short, because it is a worthy endeavor…because it is innately lucky, and thus Weh. It is done so, for faith and folk, for Worth and Are, that one may have good Gefrain, and leave an enduring mark.
Theodism, in the larger sense, now encompasses 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. Theodish aetts include Dansk-Norman, Frisian, Angle, Saxon, Jutish, Gothic, Alemannic, Frankish, and Swedish tribal cultures. Each Theod is striving to reconnect with the heritage and the elder cultures of the Germanic peoples, in Theodish gelafe. There are hundreds of High Theodsmen, and many more Greater Theodsmen to be found in the United States and Canada.
The Way of the Heathen: A Handbook of Greater Theodism by Garman Lord ISBN 192934001X (2000)
Hammer of the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism in Modern Times by Swain Wodening ISBN 159457006X (2003)
Thewbok: A Handbook of Theodish Thew by Dan O’Halloran ISBN Pending (2005)
Beyond Good and Evil Swain Wodening THEOD Press 1995
We Are Our Deeds Eric Wodening THEOD Press 1999