I've just returned from Trothmoot, the annual meeting of The Troth, which is one of the major Heathen organizations. The event moves around the country from year-to-year, so members can more easily attend. This year, we met at Camp Netimus, just outside of Milford PA, with well over 100 registered guests. Next year, we'll be somewhere on the West Coast.
This year marks the 25th year of The Troth's existence. In honor of this event, the organization's founders were invited to attend Trothmoot. Aside from Diana Paxson, most of us had never met the founders—most of whom were able to attend. James Chisholm, Dianne Luark-Ross, Freya Aswynn, Kveldulf Gundarsson, Sagadis, and William Bainbridge were all there. Most of these people were as I had imagined, but Jim Chisholm was a complete surprise.
For the third time, I've been elected to our board of directors, otherwise known as the High Rede. I'm very happy to be able to continue my service to The Troth in this way. I want to emphasize again the statement I put at the end of each of my articles here at Patheos. Whatever you read here is my own personal opinion, not the official policy of the High Rede or The Troth, unless clearly stated otherwise and verified elsewhere. Does my own personal opinion affect what I do as Redesman? Of course it does! And my actions are also affected by what I think can actually be done to make things better, or at least not make things worse. The central point to always consider, as a Redesman, and as a member, is that The Troth is not a sect. I'll ask that you think for a moment about everything that.
The primary point of interest in the proceedings this year was a formal discussion we had with the founders about our policy regarding Loki at Troth-sponsored events. Simply put, hailing Loki during official Troth blots and sumbels is currently not allowed. This is one of very few things not allowed in our organization, so you might wonder how this came to be. Well, here's the story:
At a Trothmoot several years ago, some new Heathens were present. This, of course, is a good thing, but there was fallout. One of these newbies was listening very closely to what was said as the horn went around during Grand Sumbel. When his turn came, he thought it would be a good idea to hail somebody who hadn't been mentioned yet. I'll give you one guess who that turned out to be.
As soon as the L-word was mentioned, about half of the people present took a step back. In other words, they withdrew themselves from the rite. If you're reading this and you're not a Heathen, you can still undoubtedly recognize this as a big deal. However, you may have a hard time understanding just how big a deal this is for us.
The story doesn't end there. In the shambles that remained of the rite, another one of these newbies was also paying attention to what hadn't been said. When the horn came to him, he promptly hailed Fenris. Chaos ensued.
Just so you know: nobody hates these people. And in retrospect, this might even be seen as a little bit humorous, but only a little bit. These days, we do what we can to head off the effects of innocent ignorance. Still, this showed us a problem that we needed to deal with: a lot of our members really don't want to hear about Loki during blots and sumbels. If you want to know how the current policy came to be, this is it. Ben Waggoner, Former Redesman/Current Shope, wrote the first draft, I reordered and rewrote some of it. The Rede accepted it, and a huge portion of our membership heaved a sigh of relief.
Let's look at the larger landscape:
Some Heathens won't even say Loki's name, referring to him only by kennings (and usually the rude ones like goat-tether, horse-mommy, Angr-buddy, etc.) and only when absolutely necessary.
Some Heathens aren't worried about saying his name, but still don't want Loki around for their blots and sumbels.
Some Heathens have very mixed feelings about Loki. They recognize his important and sometimes even positive roles in our myths. They also know how the end of the story goes, and they don't try to act like that's okay.
Some Heathens think Loki is fabulous, with a few flaws they're willing to forgive.
Each of these viewpoints significantly affects how people practice their Heathenry, but The Troth is not a sect. Somehow, we have to get all of these people drinking peaceably from the same horn at Trothmoot's Grand Sumbel. If we can't have frith, grith will do.
Some folks won't even walk in the door if they know that Loki will be in the picture. If they don't know that Loki will be in the picture, they will make it very clear that they should have been told in advance. Discussions of canceling memberships tend to follow.
So the Rede makes policy that Loki shall not be mentioned during this and other Troth-sponsored events. How do the Lokeans among us feel about this? The answer is an exercise in the obvious. Discussions of canceling memberships tend to follow.