History of Theodish Beleif
Theodish Belief began with one man, Garman Lord. Garman was not alone in its early development, but if anyone can be said to be the founder of Theodism, he can. Others, such as Lord Ealdoræd of Moody Hill Theod also contributed much while later folks like Swain and Eric Wódening did much to change the course of modern Theodism. The roots of Theodism are hard to trace. Leave it to say, it has roots in both Wicca and Germanic Paganism. Garman began his path towards Theodish Belief as a Wiccan, studying in the Gardnerian tradition. In 1971, his coven made their High Priestess, the "Witch Queen." And as she was a "Queen," they also developed a council of advisors. Looking in a dictionary Garman found the term Witan (the Anglo-Saxon councils appointed by kings to advise them). Finding this word in a dictionary started Garman on a quest that would eventually lead to the foundation of Theodish Belief. In 1971, he and others founded the "The Coven Witan of Anglo-Saxon Wicca" (Garman Lord, "The Evolution of Þéodisc Belief: Part I" Theod Lammas, 1995).
The idea of Theodism did not truly begin to take form however, until July 4, 1976, when according to Garman Lord, the God and Goddess, Wóden (Odin) and Fríge (Frigga) appeared to him. Shortly thereafter, he founded the Witan Theod. In 1981, the Witan Theod became inactive, and Garman started publication of a magazine, Vikingstaff. This magazine created early Theodish Belief’s first contacts with the rest of Germanic Paganism, which, at that time were only Ásatrúar. By 1985, the Witan Theod was active again, and it was at that time Garman Lord came up with the term Þéodisc Géleafa, "the belief of the tribe." By 1988, the Winland Ríce was founded. It consisted of two theods, Moody Hill Theod, a former Seax-Wicca coven and Géring Theod, the former Witan Theod. Garman Lord was sworn in as Lord Æþeling at Hallows of 1990. And, in 1991 at Midsummer, Garman hosted a gathering of over fifty Theodsmen. (Garman Lord, "The Evolution of Þéodisc Belief: Part II" Theod Lammas, 1995).
At that time, Theodism was still very basic, and still very much influenced by Wicca. Its rites were, for the most part, Wiccan, as were many of its beliefs. At this point however, some important developments took place. With the formation of the Winland Ríce, the árung of Æþeling was established (árungas had existed prior to this time, but not that of Æþeling). With it came the concepts of tribal luck (then expressed as the "king’s luck), and the idea a leader of a theod had the gift of ræd (the idea the leader can receive divine guidance from the Gods). At that time, Theodish Belief focused on kingship, and even though there was no king, it was felt there would be one. Thus, most metaphysical concepts revolved around the idea of kingship. Other ideas such as the leadership needing the consent of the tribe, or the leader merely being a guardian of the tribal luck would not develop until later. It was in this period that Theodsmen performed the first Theodish blót. On Nov. 9, 1991, near where the Iroquois say the first werman (male) and woman appeared, in the State of New York, Garman Lord gave an animal to the Gods and Goddesses. At that time, Theodism was still giving the animal whole to the Gods and Goddesses much like the sacrifices of the ancient Hebrews in the Temple at Jerusalem. Later however, the idea would develop that such sacrifices must be eaten and shared between Gods and men (more like a sacred barbecue).
Gert McQueen, who would be influential in Theodism’s development became a thrall of Moody Hill in 1989 after having met Garman Lord at a party. Moody Hill soon developed problems with Gert, and later Garman. By Hallows of 1991, a struggle began between the two theods, with the end result of both theods going their own ways in September of 1992. Despite the two groups separating, both still referred to what they did as Theodish. The number of Theodsmen fell dramatically after that from over fifty to nearly zero. Géring Theod did not cease to be active however. Gert was appointed to the Rede of the Ring of Troth (now the Troth), and both her and Garman began to publish articles in its magazine Idunna, as well as the Heathen magazine Mountain Thunder. Moody Hill had its own publishing ventures as well.
It was at this time Gert became aware of two other Anglo-Saxon Pagans. The brothers Eric and Swain Wódening had been publishing articles in Idunna. The Wódenings, unlike Garman had not come from a Wiccan background. Instead, after being raised Methodist, and then be-coming agnostics, they found their way to a brand of Anglo-Saxon Paganism they had created themselves. They were aware of Wicca, and dismissed it out of hand, but an interest in Vikings, the runes, and the Dark Ages, lead them to Norse mythology. This in turn lead them to the fact their own English ancestors worshipped the same Gods. In seclusion, they developed their own religious rituals and beliefs. In time, they became aware of Ásatrú, but by the time they decided to join the AFA it was already defunct.
When in 1989, Swain learned of the Ring of Troth, they promptly joined, and soon after were writing articles. Their first full length articles were in the only Idunna published in 1991. By late 1992, Gert and the brothers Wódening were corresponding with each other, and by August of 1993, they were members of the Winland Ríce, and founders of Wednesbury Shire.
Not long after, the Winland Ríce began a new publishing venture with a booklet by Swain, Beyond Good and Evil. It saw publication along with the launch of THEOD Magazine in February of 1994. Up until then Swain and his brother both had been rather prolific contributors to the Troth’s Idunna (13 articles in 1993 alone), but had not attempted any publication of their Heathen works outside of its pages. The Wódenings brought to Theodism the blót outline many theods use today. They also introduced symbel, a rite known to Ásatrúar, but one for which Theodsmen would become known. With Beyond Good and Evil, the Wódenings gave the concept of Wyrd, which Theodsmen were already familiar with, deeper meaning, and introduced the concept of orlæg (the idea that wrongs must be compensated for with restitution). Other metaphysical concepts were also introduced at that time, such as the idea of the tribe as an enclosure or innangarð, the difference between the sacred and the holy, and ideas on good and evil. They also elaborated on the idea of "worthing," the thought that a Heathen must be constantly striving to improve his or her self. Some of the ideas the Wódenings had borrowed from authors such as Edred Thorsson, others were the results of their own research.
Others soon began to join the Ríce, and Theodish Belief once again began to grow. In May of 1994, Swain hosted the only gathering ever co-sponsored by the Troth and a Theodish organization, Walburges 1994, which, for a several years, remained the largest Heathen gathering, held in the Midwest. The Ríce continued to grow during the years of 1994 and 1995, but there seemed to be incessant fighting with various Ásatrú organizations. In part, this was because of a continuation of the "Troth Wars" (a power struggle inside the Ring of Troth in 1994 and 1995). A good deal of it however, was due to paranoia on the Winland Ríce’s part. Nonetheless, the Wednesbury King’s School was founded as the first organized attempt at educating Theodsmen in 1994. In its day, it was thought to rival the Troth’s Elder program, and many programs created since have used its structure as a basis. Also at this time, Eric Wódening and Winifred Hodge produced the first research on the concept of frið or frith, the peace and prosperity of the tribe that must be maintained at all costs.
In 1994, the Fresena Rike was founded with Gerd Groenwald as its leader. It was the first Theodish group to become independent of the Winland Ríce (in 1999) and survive. It perhaps, more than any other theod, sparked the movement towards true authenticity. The Fresena Rike was the first non-Anglo-Saxon theod, and it introduced such scholarly au-thors as Georges Dumezil and Mircia Eliada to Theodish Belief. This in-flux of new scholarly material had an impact on the intellectual development of Theodism. Finally, it was the first to produce sung liturgy in great quantity. While others had produced prayers in the old tongues, many in the form of songs, only the Fresena Rike did so with consistency. The Rike lapsed into a period of no activity a few years later but was revived as Axenthof Thiad in 2005. At one time, its numbers rivaled that of the Winland Ríce, and its members were known for their scholarship, liturgy, abilities with the ancient languages, and crafts.
At Midsummer in 1995, Garman was raised to cyning (king) of the Winland Ríce. This had immediate repercussions, good and bad. Two Theodsmen left shortly after for reasons debated to this day. Not long after another was outlawed when one of his thegns had a vision showing him as king. Yet, many things were accomplished that furthered Theodish Belief. From 1995 to 2000, the Winland Ríce continued to publish THEOD Magazine, Eric Wódening released We are Our Deeds (which addressed many of the ideas covered by Swain in Beyond Good and Evil in more depth), Garman published several booklets, and its numbers continued to grow. During this time the Winland Ríce, continued working on many of the things it had started in 1994. Bedes or prayers were composed in Old English and sung to harp accompaniment. A working liturgy was developed, while old Wiccan based rituals were dropped in favor of Heathen ones. Anglo-Saxon charms such as the Síð Galdor were reworked for use in modern ritual. Theodish ritual perhaps saw more change from 1994 to 1996 than it had in years.
By late 1995, Swain had grown tired of the constant fighting with other Heathens and Heathen organizations. Further, the outlawry of one of his former thegns deeply disturbed him. He asked to be released of his hold oath in early 1996. With no results to be seen on his request, he began to speak with Winifred Hodge and three other former members of the Ríce. The plan being discussed was to form a more democratic, more authentic Theodish organization. He and Winifred Hodge officially founded the Angelseaxisce Ealdriht on Midsummer of 1996 with the plighting of oaths.
The Angelseaxisce Ealdriht grew to become the largest Theodish organization ever. Unlike the Winland Ríce, it was more democratic, more scholarly, and unfortunately, often less organized. Instead of staying truer to authenticity however, it strayed just as far as the Winland Ríce had in other directions. Nevertheless, it did contribute a great deal to the evolution of Theodism. While the Winland Ríce remained relatively unchanged from 1997 until 2000, the Ealdriht was constantly reinventing its self. It did not make many innovations, but it did establish there were other forms of oaths than hold oaths, alternate means to entering Theodism than thralldom, and strengthened the idea of the tribal assembly. In addition, it perfected the rite of húsel, blót as a sacred feast.
Normannii Þjóð ok Rík was founded in 1997 by Dan O'Halloran. It remained under fosterage of the Winland Ríce for several years and later became an indpendent theod. They have made several innovations in the practice of symbel, and are responsible for some innovations in blot.They are currently the largest theod in existance with a large base of people in the states of New York and New Jersy. Dan is an attorney with a very active practice and is very active in local politics.
Theodism continued to grow as other Theodish groups were founded. In September of 1999, the Green Thorn Grove was formed. It was dedicated to the study and practice of the ways of the Old Saxons and Anglo-Saxons. In June of 2000, members of Green Thorn Grove founded Vorstead Kindred to replace it. In December of 2000, after merging with another kindred, Vorstead became the Folk River Shire. By August 2002 (having become formally Theodish earlier that year) Folk River entered into fosterage under Garman Cyning of the Winland Ríce. This fosterage ended badly as by March 2003, Folk River Theod found its self in conflict with Gering Theod. Êrmund was elected war king (as the ancient Saxons only had kings in times of war) in order to deal with this conflict. This conflict ended in June of 2003 when Folk River broke all ties with Gering Theod. In Novemeber 2002, Folk River renamed its self Folcaha Sahsam Thiod, and took its present name of Sahsisk Thiod in September of 2004. Sahsisk Thiod expanded on ideas of kingship by raising the first war king, something that had not been done before. In addition, in being authentic to the ancient Saxon social structure, they paved the way for other tribal confederations. This made it possible for people to found teods resurrecting the ways of the Alamanni, Winnili, Quadi, and Turingii, and other ancient tribes using the tribal confederation model if they wished. Finally, Sahsisk Thiod was the first not to require hold oaths for ceorls (the lowest non-novice árung in most theods). Sahsisk Thiod took this bold step as a way of breaking away from the warband structure of many theods, and becoming more authentically a tribe. This was something that had been discussed in various theods since 1993, but never done. Up until then it was felt the "web of oaths" was necessary to bind a theod together. Sahsisk Thiod broke away from Theodism in the fall of 2007, and became Thea Markosashan. Although still Theodish in nature, they no longer choose to call themselves such.
In the latter half of 2003, the Ealdriht was experiencing growing pains as its two largest bodies (Néoweanglia and Ærest) were each developing their own thews and traditions. These tensions increased over the next year as Néoweanglia became a more cohesive, conservative, and localized body; seeking to establish a more "traditional" Théodish practice. In the later half of 2004, with no compromise in site, Néoweanglia took the bold step towards independence and established itself as the Néoweanglia Þéod. This move caused the dissolution of the Ealdriht, and the remaining groups reformed under the name of the Miercinga Rice.
Néoweanglia was the first Angle théod, attempting to arrive at an Anglian thew through the reduction of Saxon elements, and "metaphysically tying" itself to the ancient peoples of East Anglia. The Miercinga Rice soon followed suit and modeled itself along the ancient people of central England. Miercinga Theod had a fairly uneventful histroy although it did start again the burning of grain to the dead. In 2005 after being diagnoised with Bipolar II, Swain Alderman allowed his former wife Teresa Wodening to take over leadership.
Under the leadership of her first lord, Brian "Cynemund" Smith, Néoweanglia Þéod revived the concepts of wærgengas (refugees), mund (the protection of the tribe towards outsiders), and fácun (ritual vitium) which have now become commonplace in Théodish practice. And while a few théods had made use of god poles before Néoweanglia, no one else made as many or as exquisite idols in the modern age. They raised the first eofor-cumbol (boar banner) in a millennium, and hosted the first multi-tribal swine blót in over a decade, with representatives from over five tribes (or proto-tribes) in attendance.
Néoweanglia was the first to end the ritual decapitation of animal offerings, by instituting exsanguination via slitting the throat (and working out the methods necessary for ritual strangulation). They also revived the practice of offering the animal in as hale and whole a condition as possible, never breaking the bones of the animal, or causing unnecessary damage to its hide.
Soon after their move towards independance, Néowanglia's lord entered into fosterage under the lord of New Normandy, Dan Eorl Halloran, so he could shore up and speed his understanding of thew and Théodish Belief. Initially this was viewed by all parties as a happy and cooperative arrangement, but as time passed a few members of Néoweanglia began to chafe and demanded that their lord end his fosterage. Rather than break his oath, Brian Smith released his men with all honors, and abdicated his lordship and hold of Néoweanglia. He remains in fosterage to his lord to this day, slowly building a new tribe, Hwítmersc. Néoweanglia elected a new lord from amongst its membership, but faded away some eighteen months later. Miercinga Theod disolved it self in March of 2008. In July of 2007, Eric Wodening formed Englatheod, a theod based on the ancient tribe of the Angles. It became the second theod ever to elminate thralldom as a means of training new members. In June of 2009 Englatheod became a part of Hwítmersc Theod and renamed its self Wednesbury Shire for its sættan Wednesbury Sættan. Wednesbury Sættan is a continuation of Wednesbury Theod founded in 1993, and has been a part of the Winland Ríce, the Ealdriht, Miercinga Theod, and now White Marsh Theod.