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  • Jarl Arngrim Aethelwulfar

What is Theodism (Tribalist Retroheathenry)?

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

Unlike Asatru, Tribalists/Theodish Heathens seek not just to revive the beliefs and rituals of our ancestors, but ALL aspects of Northern European life. Customs, worldviews, norms and taboos, language (basic conversational usage, not necessarily fluidity), social hierarchy and structure, ways of thinking, living, and being. Our ancestors did not see religion and culture as being two separate things; such a view only first came about together during the conversion era. Together, our religious beliefs and practices and the rest of our culture comprise our "folkways" or the way of our tribe. There were common threads among the different tribes that all shared (without which they could not be properly identified as Heathen) but many differences as well. There was no "church canon" that all had to follow; nor do Theodsmen form church-like associations of worshippers; rather, our religious activity is done within the context of a community, which you could consider a society existing within the modern society, but with separate beliefs and practices from it. We do not believe that we “owe” modern society our allegiance to the degree that we must think and act like them, with only a different religious belief system setting us apart from the rest of the masses. To a theodsman, it’s not enough just to call yourself heathen and profess belief in the Aesir and Vanir. The individual in question must look like one, act like one, speak like one, and think like one. Each tribe, therefore, has a process of initiation and socialization whereby new members “learn the ropes” and are eased into this way of life. Our folkways are holistic, incorporating all aspects of the self in a way that redefines the individual to mesh well with a society of like-minded individuals- the tribe. It is assumed from the start that if someone wishes to join us, they will take the time to learn about our ways, do some soul-searching, and decide if it is for them. By joining, a member agrees to embark upon this path of self-refinement and discovery of our ancestral roots and heritage. It should feel like coming home, not like a journey to an alien world, and people are often surprised to find that despite thinking that it would feel strange at first, this feeling soon passes, melding into a sense of satisfaction.

Understand that none of this means that the modern world must be shut out; none of this is meant to be disruptive in any way to one's current life, but serve as a way of enhancing it, of helping people find newfound beauty, joy, and meaning in life. Though many of the views of the ancients and the modern do conflict, one need not be shut out at the expense of the other; instead a reintegration -- a balance -- is struck. No Theodsman is deluded into thinking they really live in the 9th century (unless they mistake our religion for a reenactment endeavor, which they should not!), but we wish to bring back all that was good, fulfilling, and wholesome from those days of yore and breathe new life into them here in the 21st century.

This new world that members enter is like a hub of information by which they may orient themselves, challenging and editing the "default" information paradigm of the modern world with another paradigm that is by far more spiritually, ethically, and socially sincere. Such a heathen paradigm redefines an individual’s understanding about their place and purpose in life, both to the outside world and to the tribe of individuals that they have joined. The folkways we propagate affect the way the individual thinks, behaves, acts, and reacts in their lives to a wide variety of situations that occur in the course of life. The individual, through our tutelage, will learn ways of doing so that are consonant with how our ancestors would have thought and acted.

The tribe is important, because it also serves as a bulwark against the ever-present influence of the modern world. Someone can make a conscious choice to give preference and first priority to living our ancestral troth, but will often find that old habits die hard. Particularly on the subconscious and more emotional levels of being, the voice of the monoculture is not an easy one to silence for those who have been brought up in it and have lived nearly all their lives as a nominal part of it. The members of the tribe collectively give one another strength in their beliefs, conviction, and resolve to follow this path -- a path of balance between the modern ways and the heathen, which should be foremost in our minds and hearts. The folk hence have a place to go where they not only can feel able to “be heathen” (without a moment’s pause for thought or for worry about what “the others” may think), but a place where the new society they have joined INSIST that they do so! Though some may want to, the fact is that no Theodsman is outwardly full-tilt Theodish 100% of the time; however, the moment you enter the threshold of our hofs and ve-steads, you are expected to live, eat, and breathe the elder troth! During these sacred times of communion with the gods and one another, we learn how be "Theodish." We are not building a Viking-themed bar or social club, we are resuscitating the folkways of our ancestors, and members are expected to act accordingly.

Outside of our rites and gatherings, we simply endeavor to live, as closely as possible, to how our ancestors would have lived had the Christian conversion never happened and had what remained of our folkways not been further reduced by materialism, atheism, secularism, and commercialism. For so many people, the search for meaning and happiness means grasping for all of the flashiest and latest material possessions, for cheap sexual conquests devoid of love, respect, or devotion, for sensory thrills, distractions, and various entertainments…all of which fail to fill the gaping hole in the souls of modern people. As a tribe, we of the The Loyal Thanes Theod seek after deeply satisfying spiritual truths and wholesome joys of living in accord with nature over the fast-track of modern life, with its cheap, disposable thrills. We cleave towards belief rather than skepticism and doubt. We embrace sincerity over cynicism and mockery of the sacred and the serious matters of life. We treat life as a great spiritual quest rather than a game or the 9 to 5 workaday rat race, filled with school, church, sports, and just “hanging” with friends on Friday nights. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. From young adulthood unto death. We believe that life was meant to be so much more than what it has been presented to be by the architects of modern society. Life is not “pointless”, nor is/should the ultimate goal of every person be material success.

The culture of The Loyal Thanes kindred introduces spiritually fulfilling and meaningful customs, rituals, and values that we share as a common bond. We are building something sacred and pure in the midst of the profane, and are looking for prospective members who can demonstrate the seriousness with which they regard our folkways and a very strong dedication for helping us to succeed. Members will find their “place” within the fabric of our tribe based on their trustworthiness, honor, and innate abilities.

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