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 Folk2008 Constitution of the Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia
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.
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,
Freyr of the BCHF