Wyrd Words: Building a Kindred

Wyrd Words: Building a Kindred June 2, 2016

Greetings, and welcome back to Wyrd Words. Keeping the Thor in Thursdays, every other week here on Agora!

Most of you readers here are familiar with my ongoing work over at Huginn’s Heathen Hof, but for those of you who aren’t super active on Facebook let’s just say it’s been a ludicrously busy few weeks! For example, HHH is now on Instagram, as well as Twitter. We’ve recently opened a whole new section on heathenhof.com devoted to Heathen book reviews, and started a collection of inspirational quotes from the Sagas. We’ve been pretty active and growing quickly via social media, which has been awesome! That said, I suppose I should mention one last little thing…

I’m Building a Kindred

Bjorns on TV with a caption reading "Yeah, you read that right! There's nothing wrong with your computer. Do not attempt to adjust the monitor! We are controlling the transmission!"

Huginn’s Heathen Hof is officially emerging from cyberspace and into the real world! I’ve heard so many people in the Maricopa area lamenting the lack of a group they can feel comfortable in. I would even go so far as to say that the vast majority of Heathens in my area are solitary for exactly this reason. Many local groups are closed off, and those that still welcome new members are not always welcoming to Heathens of Color or the LGBT members of our community. It’s a huge problem around here, and one that leaves many of those most in need of a Kindred without anywhere to go.

In my article “Is Heathenry Incomplete?” I wrote about how the real growth and vitality of modern Heathenry happens at the local level. Books preserve religion. People preserve faith. Heathenry, at its core, is a communal tradition; which is why it’s such a shame that so many of us end up feeling (at best) alone, or (at worst) actively excluded. That’s why I built heathenhof.com, and it’s why I decided to take on this project now.

What Kind of Community Are We Building?

First and foremost, at the most basic level, this Kindred will offer a group with whom members can celebrate the holy days and life cycle events. Heathenry is more than just the Blót and Sumbel. It’s the births, the coming of age, the weddings, and sometimes unfortunately the loss of a loved one. The holidays are an important starting place, but the need for a community one can rely upon extends so much farther than that. Which leads me to our second goal.

There’s a difference between a group or a club, and an actual community. A Kindred needs to be more than just a bunch of Heathens who only talk on the holidays, it should be a place where we form real and meaningful relationships. My grandfather (a baptist pastor) used to refer to this as the difference between “Friends from Church” and “Church Friends.” “Friends from Church” are those people who you genuinely enjoy spending time with. You have a lot in common, enjoy each other’s company, and just happened to meet at church. “Church Friends” are those people whom you only ever see at church functions. You sit together and chat about church stuff, because that’s all you really have in common. A healthy Kindred doesn’t just get together to worship; they talk about their favorite books and shows, they swap baking recipes, they play board games. It’s those relationships that keep people engaged in a meaningful way. Which is why our third goal is so important.

We want this community to be a safe, inclusive space for everyone, regardless of skin-color or orientation. I’m not referring to just a quiet acceptance into a group where someone might still have to fend off other members who don’t think they belong; when I say a safe space I mean a SAFE SPACE. One where nobody is going to attack their fellow kinsmen just for being who and what they are. How can anybody ever really open up and feel comfortable in a group where they know there are those who would rather exclude people like themselves? A Kindred is a group of people upon which we are supposed to be able to rely, how could that ever happen if you were constantly made to feel like the ‘other’ in your own tribe?

What Are We Offering?
Networking, Resources, and Infrastructure

I haven’t been running the Daily Hávamál or the HHH Facebook page all these years just for giggles! It’s an unfortunate reality that not everybody can make it to every get-together. We have lives, we have to pay for gas, we work long hours at hard jobs. How can we hope to build a close-knit community when we might not even see the rest of the local Kindred more than a handful of times a year? The answer? Networking.

Not only will there be an exclusive Facebook community for members to interact and share information on, we’ll be offering a Kindred specific newsletter. Using the infrastructure we’ve already built for heathenhof.com, we can offer regular updates on both group events as well as member-oriented news. Not sure what time the Jól blót starts? Check the event update. Hosting a garage sale next weekend with a bunch of old books? Tell your Kindred in the next newsletter! Not only can we provide a number of networking options for members, we can provide literary/research resources via our online Library of Lore. Hel, we even have an awesome heathen holiday calendar!

Interested?

If you’re one of us silly people who makes their home in the 115 degree weather of the Valley of the Sun, then you’re invited! Our first ever gathering will be Monday, June 20th, for an introduction as well as a Q&A. What I laid out here is a beginning. A framework that I hope to build upon alongside those who choose to join us in trying to make something both stable and worthwhile. Come on in, meet some new people, and decide for yourself if you like the sound of what we’re building here.


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