BCHF Awards 2020

Each year the British Columbia Heathen Freehold makes awards to recognise those within and outside of our community for their achievements. This year’s award winners were an amazing crop of nominees that we believe embody the spirit of our awards.

Freeholder of the Year

This is the only award that the Freehold must make every year. The Freeholder of the Year Award is to recognise the member of the Freehold that was most outstanding in a given year. The achievements can range from exceptional volunteer work for the Freehold to gaining widespread recognition for themselves and the Freehold in the wider community. John T. Mainer was this year’s recipient. His skaldic and galdr related contributions to the Freehold and wider Heathenry are exemplary every year, but this year we believe his activities were truly outstanding.

Frigga’s Loom

Frigga’s Loom is to recognize an individual who has rendered exceptional service to the creation or maintenance of Frithful environments. This describes Paula Maylin as she spearheaded the creation and operation of the BCHF Slack server. She also makes great effort to ensure that people feel welcome and safe in any environment where she can.

Shield-Maiden Award

This award is to recognise an outstanding woman in Heathenry. This year’s recipient certainly fits that description. Lorrie Wood has been a prominent member of the inclusive side of Heathenry for a very long time. Her achievements should serve as an inspiration to all Heathens, but especially other Heathen women. It is unfortunate that her recognition is even more noticeable due to her gender. While the BCHF does not condone discrimination in any form, we must recognise that it exists. One of the intentions behind this award is to raise the recognition profile of women in Heathenry, so that hopefully sexism in Heathenry will be a thing of the past.

Tyrbold Award

This award is to recognise those who best represent the virtues of Tyr, by standing fast in service of the values of justice and honour. Aviation Electrician’s Mate Second Class Joshua Wood is one such. Through hard work and dedication he is now certified as a Heathen religious lay leader aboard a ship of the United States Navy. It is through efforts such as his that Heathenry can come to the attention of government and media in a positive light.

Wyrd-Spinner Award

This award is to recognise excellence and significant contribution to the esoteric practices of Heathenry. Once more Lorrie Wood is nearly peerless in this regard. She has been involved in the development of modern Seiðr for decades. Lorrie has such a familiarity with the runes for both mystical and mundane uses as to be dizzying. Her mastery of Galdr is complete. In short Lorrie Wood may be the most proficient practitioner of Heathen magic alive today.

Althing 2020 Results

Yesterday the 2020 BCHF Althing came to it’s conclusion. We have many exciting announcements to make. The Freehold has adopted a new constitution, amended our by-laws, and made awards and presentations.

The constitution was adopted as proposed by the Witangemot (Board of Directors) without amendment by the Althing. This new constitution clearly states our community’s purposes and beliefs. There is also a very loose organisational structure around which we can adapt to changing circumstances without re-writing our constitution every decade to keep it current.

The amended by-laws reflect the new structure of our constitution and provide for clarification of the structures and beliefs found there. The most drastic change in the by-laws centres around our former Ritual and Lore Council which has been amalgamated into the Witangemot. The Ritual and Lore Council was responsible for setting the Freehold’s Religious Calendar and training those who wished to become priests. The following positions were members of both the Ritual and Lore Council and the Witangemot, the Freyr, the goðar(priest(esse)s) of the kindreds, and the Keeper of the Council. With this level of overlap in positions that must be both, and a near identical overlap in other witan and members of the RLC, it was determined to take the lead of most other religious bodies in Canada and amalgamate our administrative and religious oversight bodies. The other aspect of this was the need to create he new office of Jarl of the Freehold, who serves as the deputy of the Freyr.

You may find a complete summary of all decisions made by the Althing here in the minutes.

If anyone wishes to express concerns, questions, or opinions about these matters, I invite you to contact us either here or through our social media.

In frith and service,
Aaron Brookes
Freyr of the Freehold

Lammas 2020

Today the Freehold will be hosting our Lammas faining online through Facebook.We hope that you will all be able to join us as we celebrate Thor, and honour the gods, goddesses, elves, dwarves, and ancestors on this bright sunny day.

The term Lammas is Old English for “loaf mass” where the first loaves of bread made from the current year’s grains were shared and eaten by the community in early Mediaeval England. Though not directly attested from pre-Christian sources, the customs and practices associated with Lammas strongly imply pagan traditions carried forward into Christian times. The Freehold has chosen to participate in this practice.

For Lammas we will be honouring Thor, as he is very active in BC at this time with a significant number of Thunderstorms in our province around this time every year. It is also at this time that farmers harvest their major crops in BC. As such Thor is the obvious choice for associating with this time of year in our community.

Those who wish to join us for a livestreamed faining can do so on this Facebook event. We will be going live at approximately 5:00 pm PDT, the faining will last approximately 15 minutes. We will open with a brief prayer to Thor, then recount a tale about one of his many adventures, make our offerings to him, and finally we will have a symbel. Those who wish to participate are encouraged to grab a drink, and possibly a small offering bowl if you want to pour out your own offerings. During the symbel any toasts you wish made publicly on your behalf can be entered in the chat for the stream.

As usual, the symbel will consist of 3 rounds. The first round, or bedes, is for making toasts to the gods and goddesses. The second round, or myne, is for toasts to ancestors and nature spirits whether elves, wights, dwarves, or other friendly spirits. The third round, or bragafull, is for making oaths, boasts, and toasts about what you or another member of our community has accomplished.

In frith and service,
Aaron Brookes
Freyr of the British Columbia Heathen Freehold

Empaths: Service Message from Thor

Excellent advice from our second Freyr John Mainer.

mainer74

I have been listening to a whole lot a people who are suffering right now because of a gift that they have, empathy. The gift of empathy is nominally a very important one for those who serve their community, but right at the moment, it comes with a huge drawback.

We have a perfect storm of negative emotions right now. Covid 19 pandemic brings with it risk of death, loved ones in danger, loved ones lost. It brings with it loss of social outlet, loss of community, loss of connection. It brings with it HUGE political division, and the threat of persecution no matter what course of action you take, someone is going to see this as an attack on their way of life, freedom, and even faith. We have the simmering racial tensions that have been accumulating since the election of a President who endorses open racism in a…

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Althing 2020

Hail Members of the Freehold!

The Witangemot is proud to announce the dates and format for our 2020 Althing. We will be using a private Facebook group that is invitation only to ensure that all members have the opportunity to voice their opinions and cast their votes on the important items on our agenda. Members of the Freehold should ensure they have been added to the Althing group by the 1st of August so as to prevent delays. Members who do not wish to join the Facebook group may ask for an absentee ballot to vote on matters that are on the agenda, or they may designate a proxy to cast a vote on their behalf.

The dates and schedule for the Althing is as follows:

  • August 4th
    • reports submitted by the guilds, councils, kindreds, and officers of the Freehold
  • August 5th
    • motion to accept reports
    • Discussion of item 2.1 Proposal to adopt the new constitution, last chance to recommend amendments be made
  • August 6th
    • Vote to accept or reject item 2.1 the proposed Constitution
    • Discussion of item 2.2 by-law amendments to reflect the new constitution, other amendments may be suggested
  • August 7th
    • Vote to accept or reject item 2.2 amendments to the by-laws
    • Discussion of item 2.3 grant a two year grace period for current Goðar to meet new requirements
    • Discussion of item 2.4 budget for 2020/2021
  • August 8th
    • Vote on item 2.3 Goðar grace period, if item 2.2 by-law amendments was passed
    • Vote on item 2.4 budget
    • Discuss any new business brought forth by members
  • August 9th
    • Vote on any business brought by the members
    • Nominations for awards
    • Discussion of probationary members eligible for acceptance as full members
    • Nominations for Ombudsman, up to three Thanes, and the Freyr (if necessary)
  • August 10th
    • Vote on award candidates
    • Vote for acceptance of probationary members
    • Vote for Freehold Officer elections
    • Confirmation of Jarl, if necessary
    • Instruct guilds, council, and Kindreds to conduct elections, and report the results
    • Motion to close the Althing

This format was chosen so as to enable maximum participation by our members. We desire your input on how our community should be run, what our goals should be, and how to implement them. If you don’t speak up, you can’t be heard. All members of the Freehold are entitled to be heard at the Althing, so do not hesitate to let us know. You are encouraged to read the Agenda, draft Constitution, and draft by-laws before we begin so that you are prepared to discuss, ask questions of clarification, and make any suggestions you might have.

If you do not receive an invite to the Althing group, and you are a member, please contact us at contact@bcheathenfreehold.org

In Frith and Service,
Aaron Brookes
Freyr of the BCHF

Midsummer 2020

Midsummer is a common folk celebration throughout Germanic countries to this day. It is a time to mark the pleasantries of summer and the recreational activities it affords us. While there are no surviving attestations of the ancient Germanic peoples celebrating Midsummer, the Freehold has chosen to include it as a modern celebration, due to it’s prevalence in Modern and Mediaeval Germanic Countries. The likely reason there was no major Faining during Summer in ancient times is that most of those who could vote in a Thing/Moot would have been away, raiding, trading, or exploring during the season of war and commerce.

Our modern Freehold practice has designated Midsummer as the fourth major faining. Midsummer is usually a great time to gather in the sun and commune with the gods, goddesses, and wights outside of the home. Sunna is a frequent choice for the deity to honour at Midsummer, this is the time when she is most felt in our world. We will be offering Sunna our worship as we gather online this June 21st at 4:00pm PDT.

We invite all to join us in reverence and worship of the goddess of sun and summer.

In frith and service,
Aaron Brookes
Freyr of the BCHF

Freeholder Newsletter Yule 2019 – Eastertide 2020

Hail!

Friends and Members of the Freehold it is my great pleasure to announce that our Editor Kristy Williams has released the newest edition of the Freeholder (a few weeks ago, it’s my fault for the delay). It covers a wide variety of Heathen topics. I hope you enjoy reading the articles and art submitted by our membership.

Eastertide

Eastertide is a celebration of the goddess Easter, and the spring and new life she heralds into the world. This year this may be harder for us to get excited about, as we face a pandemic that may not run its course for a long time. I am here to try and remind you that not all is lost, we are keeping as separate as possible that we might all make it to the other side of this. Just as the plants and animals hide and sleep through winter that they may burst forth full of life when Easter calls them forth. Like the animals in winter, we can and should get out for exercise (even a walk around the block while maintaining 2m of spacing).

An alternative name for Eastertide is Sigrblot, meaning Victory blot, was practised historically in Scandinavia. This year, I find myself more drawn to this alternative than usual. For at Eastertide we will indeed be making offerings to ensure our society’s victory over Covid-19. This poetic battle has the potential to be a major threat to our society.

In Anglo-Saxon England, Eastertide was a celebration of the coming of spring, known as Eostre, for the goddess of the same name. The month in which this festival occurred was named for her as well, according to Bede’s De Ratione Temporum (On the Reckoning of Time). Beyond a name, and the date of her festival, we know little of the historic Easter. Her name is cognate with many Indo-European “Dawn Goddesses” the UPG of many Freeholders has placed her as a goddess of new beginnings, and renewal in addition to the assumed roles of dawn and spring goddess. She has been called upon to witness marriages as the beginning of a new cycle of a couple’s life, and to receive offerings on behalf of our community that we might be renewed each Althing.

I hope you all are able to find the peace and magic of Easter as we do our best to preserve life for when this quarantine ends. Easter will call us forth to the world, just as she calls her bunnies and flowers now, when it is safe for us to do so.

May Easter bless us all with renewal when our hibernation has passed!

In Frith and Service,
Aaron Brookes
Freyr of the BCHF

Althing 2020

Hail members and friends of the Freehold!

As many of you are no doubt aware Novel Coronavirus is currently spreading among the population, and everyone is now being required to take every possible step to limit infection vectors. It is for this reason that we will not be hosting a physical Althing this year. We will instead hold an online forum to handle the business of the Freehold. Details will be forthcoming as the Witan decide on a specific method and dates for the Althing.

It is our hope that this decision will appear to be an overreaction in years to come, but we are not willing to gamble with the lives of our community when a safer option is available. I for one will miss seeing you all in person this year, but I am glad to know that you will be safer for it.

May the gods keep you all safe and healthy. Remember to make frequent ablutions as a devotional act to Eir in these times.

In Frith and Service,
Aaron Brookes,
Freyr of the BCHF

Governing Documentation

As a fairly young religious body, the Freehold is nearing 18 years since our founding, it is understandable that we need to review our governing documentation as our definitions of terms and concepts is refined. Such it has come to pass that after twelve years with our current constitution needs review. There are many passages in it that are troubling, and quite ambitious. We are never going to be able to establish completely separate Heathen communities in BC, with our own economies and minimal interaction with the outside world (never-mind how that is not really desirable). There are some passages in our statements of belief that are troubling, especially regarding the kinship between Heathens and the gods. It does not fit well with our belief that all who feel the call of our gods are welcome to join us as full members and equals in our halls.

5.6: Divine Ancestry of the Folk
The gods themselves are among the earliest ancestors of our tribes, or the gods have intervened at various points in our development.
The Germanic tribes are regarded as family by the gods.

2008 Constitution of the Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia

There is also the redundancy of separating administrative and theological oversight onto the Witangemot and the Ritual and Lore Council (known as the Weoh Guild in the 2008 Constitution). The mandatory members of the two bodies have always had significant overlap, the Freyr and Leaders of any Kindreds of the Freehold must belong to both bodies. In practice if not in Freehold Law the two bodies have had almost perfect overlap for over a decade. When compared to most long lasting religious communities in Canada and around the world, separating the oversight in this way is rare. The proposal made by the Witangemot of the Freehold is that the Ritual and Lore Council’s duties be absorbed by the Witangemot and the Ritual and Lore Council be disbanded. By combining the administrative and theological oversight functions it is hoped that the Freehold can become a more efficient organisation.

With the proposed adoption of a new constitution for our community, we will need to make amendments to our by-laws, as they rely on our constitution and were tailored to fit it. The dissolution of the Ritual and Lore Council in particular has great effect upon our by-laws. Not only does it render a whole Article moot, it also means we must make new arrangements for emergency succession. This prompted discussion among the Witan of the title such a position would have, the eventual consensus was that Jarl would be the ideal title for the Freyr’s deputy. Unfortunately, Jarl is already in use as the leaders of the Kindreds of the Freehold. Further discussion resolved that we should be aligned with other Heathen communities and call our Kindred Leaders Goði/Gyðia/Goðar, this would free up the term Jarl.

Discussions about the Goðar eventually lead us to the recommendation that they should be required to complete the Freehold Liturgist Program, so that we can assure those leading our Kindreds are knowledgeable and competent to provide religious services to the members of their Kindreds. This requirement is not intended to discriminate in any way, and we remain committed to working with any who wish to build Heathen communities in BC. It is simply acknowledgement that we cannot continue to rely on individual’s self-assessments of their knowledge. As we seek to be recognised to consecrate marriages in British Columbia, we must ensure that those we will empower as clergy be trained as clergy before assuming those duties.

For those who have not yet reviewed the draft constitution, the highest power in the Freehold will remain the Althing, at which each and every member has one vote and the right to speak for or against any motion brought before the Althing. The Witangemot will be elected as determined in the by-laws, as approved by the Althing, to oversee the administrative and ritual functions of the Freehold. Any decision of the Witangemot can be overridden by the Althing. The Freyr shall be elected by the Witan from among themselves to exercise those powers assigned to the Freyr by the Constitution and by-laws, summarised as control routine and emergency matters on behalf of the Freehold.

This review of our Governing Documentation is important, though it may feel tedious to do it right. It is important that we be clear and firm in our community’s thew, all are welcome to honour the gods with us, except those who would try to prevent others from honouring our gods. Our constitution should not be ambiguous on that while firm on theological points that are still the source of debate and contention in our community.

I hope this helps to explain the reasons why the Witan of the Freehold have joined me in suggesting these revised governing documents for our community.

In Frith and Service,
Aaron Brookes
Freyr of the BCHF