Some of you may have heard the word Kindred before, some of you may not have a clue what it is and what a Kindred can mean to you. I want to explore this aspect of Heathen life with you this month.
What is a Kindred?
Here is the definition from the kindred page on Wikipedia:
In Ásatrú and some forms of Germanic neopaganism, a Kindred is a local worship group. Other terms used are Garth, Stead, sippe, Hearth, skeppslag and others. Kindreds are usually grassroots groups, which may or may not be affiliated with a national organization like the Asatru Folk Assembly, the Ásatrú Alliance, or The Troth. It is more typical for a Kindred to be affiliated to an organization within the US than elsewhere. Kindreds are composed of hearths or families as well as individuals, and the members of a Kindred may be related by blood or marriage, or may be unrelated. The kindred often functions as a combination of extended family and religious group. Membership is managed by the assent of the group.
Kindreds usually have a recognized goði (priest) or Gyðja (priestess) to lead religious rites, while some other kindreds function more like modern corporations or communes.
For a more personal definition, I’ve invited a member of the Rúnatýr Kindred to give us a view on the subject of Kindred.
Erik Lacharity, Lawspeaker, Rúnatýr Kindred:
As Lawspeaker of Rúnatýr Kindred, an Ottawa based local heathen folk, I have been asked to give a little insight on what I, as a modern heathen, have come to know of heathen kindreds. I think that the best way to gain an understanding of what a kindred is and what it means for those who are in one is to look at the etymological roots of the word.
Our modern word kindred is a very ancient one indeed. The root of the word has come to us via the OE cyn, which was understood to mean “family, race, kind or nature” (1). Though this root is still older than OE and most likely was derived from the Proto-Germanic *kunjan. In every case, the many derived nouns from this common word in all the Germanic tongues share a theme of “family”. So what modern heathens have come to mean by kindred is “a cohesive family unit”, though this unit is not necessarily united in blood, it is always united in strong bonds of worth.
What makes a kindred different from any other group of worship or club is this notion of shared commonweal of its members in all times. In times of need or times of plenty, members of a kindred come together as a family should and help each other better themselves so as to better the whole of the membership. A worship group may meet for religious observances, such as a Wiccan coven, but in most cases these groups are not involved in each other’s lives in the same way as a brother or a sister would. A club usually meets for fun and entertainment though they too are not as involved in the lives of their membership in the way of a kindred. This is because heathenry isn’t so much about the religious aspect of life on a given day of the month; it is about being the best person you can for your family every minute of every day. This closeness between folk has been lost on many in modern society and it has been the focus of modern heathenry to reconstruct this more ancient view of the world, which was the normality among Germanic tribes.
Unlike the majority of the modern pagan movements, heathenry does not have a large number of “solitaires”. This is due to the fact that every religious observance or social undertaking in the Germanic worldview is communally based. If we look at ancient tribal life, there was no room for the rugged individualism that we see today. Everyone relied on each other to survive in this world. The realm of the solitaire was most often that of the outlaw who was without kin and therefore cast out into the wilds to fend for himself, an almost certain death. It is true, however, that there are solitaires within heathenry in our day and age, though for the most part this is due to circumstances out of the heathen’s control than by personal choice.
What does the future hold for modern kindreds? Well, if we look at the headway that has been achieved by many dedicated heathens in the past forty years, what is certain is that whatever it is… it will be good. The kindreds today are, for the most part, strong and deeply kin oriented. They want to build their luck within their trusted family but also build luck with neighbouring kindreds as well. In time, North America will be dotted from coast to coast with kindreds of every stripe and when the time is right some of these kingroups may unite into regional confederacies and hold regional ‘Things’. How far modern heathenry can go and how great kindreds can become is only limited to the amount of effort each member wants to put into the commonweal, the luck of their folk. In the end, there would be no heathens without kindreds and there would be no kindreds without heathens as each are inseparable.
Having been personally involved in the building of a kindred, I can attest to the points that Erik makes about it being a family with close personal interaction outside of the religious aspect.
I’ve found great comfort with the creation of a family from friends of like mind and I know that those I choose to call Kin will be with me throughout the long length of my life.
Outside of your blood family, do you have folks in your life that you can truly call Kin?
Blessings to your Hearth,
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, Best Selling eBook Author and Award Winning Blog Writer.