Friþ

It doesn’t get much more fundamental than frith. That being said, occasionally the term is subject to a bit of confusion. After all, many people define frith in different words than others. I offer one of my own, though I suspect it will sound similar to someone’s out there, know that no attempt was made to plagiarize:

Frith is the sense of security, sanctuary, comfort, peace, and wholeness found within one’s innangeard.

In other words, the sense of wholeness in which one is safe around those close to them. Much in the way many of us are when surrounded by our families, or close friends, our lovers, those with whom we share mutual bonds. Those with whom you feel completely safe and comfortable.

Generally, folks would regard this as a very pleasant feeling. However, as it may go without saying, sometimes it takes effort to maintain this. As frith is not a merely a feeling, but often something built. Hence, the relationships in which frith may flourish typically require a degree of maintenance. As frith can be broken.

Like anything else in Heathenry, frith is about action. It is not merely a quaint “throwback” to our cultural forebears, something that merely can be put on a shelf. It is a very vital and necessary element of practice. Maintaining a state of frith in one’s innangeard is one of the most important things a Heathen can possibly do.

The innangeard was the center of the world for the Elder Heathen. To those who wish to partake in the reconstruction of the customs of the aforementioned Elder Heathens in earnest, this is an essential component. Terms such as “good” or “evil” were cast specifically upon those things which helped, or hurt one’s innangeard. So, to maintain, or to break frith had direct implications on the luck of the family, clan, or tribe.

If we look into Old English itself, we find the word “frithgeard”, literally “frith yard”. This implies a sanctuary and site of worship. So the concept of frith applies not only to the persons of the innangeard, but extends as well to beings to whom reverence and worship are offered. Such as ancestors, wights, and the Ēsa (gods).

What can also be seen when discussing frith is that it is one of those absolute cornerstones of Heathen worldview. Practically inseparable from luck, the concept of the Innangeard, even touching upon the gifting cycle. So, it may go without saying: Frith does not and cannot exist without the definitive bounds of the innangeard.

In the time of the Elder Heathen, frith was a necessary guarantor of social order and cohesion. Without it, a tribe would fall apart. After all, a family, community, or tribe that could not provide frith to its members would not have lasted. If one could not be protected by their kin, lord, or tribe, they were essentially defenceless. Outlaws were also in this very situation. Certainly an unenviable position in a time when making to the next day was even less likely than it is in modern Western society.

In a modern sense, one might think it wise to consider of whom their innangeard consists. Once that is done, one must decide if a state of frith is present, and what can be done to build and maintain it. Without it, not only is one’s practice difficult, but life itself. For a home without frith, is hardly a home at all.