On October 5-8, 2017 Inclusive Heathens/Asatruar gathered from around the world in Werder/Petzow Germany for our international conference, Frith Forge!
Despite a major wind storm that blocked road ways and rail lines on the day everyone was supposed to arrive, representatives from Germany, USA (including Deitscherei), Norway, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Spain, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands made thier way to the site, a former Young Pioneers camp near Berlin. Those of us who could attend became (in true frith and friendship) a council of elders, organization leaders and international representatives, Stewards, Clergy, academics, and curious individuals. Discussions were outstanding, highly intelligent, inspiring, joyful, intense, deeply respectful. We created a healthy fertile ground from which future collaboration can grow from robustly and with warm enthusiasm.
For me personally Frith Forge was an enriching, magical, deeply meaningful, and transformative experience of a highest magnitude. I am inspired to permanently continue to offer my support and build upon what we have started. Even our most skeptical of guests reported back that it was “mind-blowing”.
We created a powerful connection among us that we will nurture with conscious and ongoing collaboration in our “working group” that we may decide to formally establish as an umbrella organization to support inclusive Heathenry/Asatru initiatives. Frith Forge inspired a stronger sense of community and strengthened fruitful collaboration among our inclusive organizations. Frith Forge was not just a one-time event. It is an on-going initiative that supports our inclusive ideals and so much more. Come join us.
Organizations/groups formally represented at Frith Forge included:
- The Troth (USA based/international), primary sponsor.
- Verein für Germanisches Heidentum e.V (VfGH) (Germany), co-sponsor.
- Distelfink Sippschaft (USA).
- Alliance for Inclusive Heathenry (USA).
- Forn Sed Sweden. Eldaring (Germany).
- Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost (Norway).
- Asatru Schweiz (Switzerland).
- Asatru UK (United Kingdom).
- Pagan Federation, Deutschland (Germany).
- Pagane Wege und Gemeinschaften (Germany).
- Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) (USA based/International).
- 9 Werelden (Netherlands).
- Nordisk Tingsfællig (Denmark).
- Ásatrú Ibérica (Spain).
The full program can be viewed online at https://events.thetroth.org/frith-forge/2017 also gives summaries of the other excellent presentations and biographies of presenters.
The vision of Frith Forge was received more whole-heartedly than I anticipated. Frith Forge was an idea that came out of The Troth’s International Relations and Exchange Program. We wanted to have an international conference. Building on that I envisioned that it should be an international conference among INCLUSIVE Heathen/Asatru organizations and individuals that should meet in frith and build alliances. Once at Frith Forge we gave a lot more power to the impressive shift away from the angst of “You’re doing it all wrong. You’re not the boss of me.” to the frithful and curious tone: “This is how I do it. How do you do it?”. The Asatru-EU and others at the International Asatru Summer Camps had begun that shift prior to Frith Forge. I am so grateful we were able to build upon that foundation. Gods we need more of that in the USA and in online discussions! We need more of that everywhere. Frith Forge was particularly successful in bringing together the inclusive American and European Heathens/Asatruar. In the future I hope to see groups and individuals from more countries able to engage in person.
Though most or all of us in attendance have “been around a while” we all still learned a lot. It may take a little while longer for us to start articulating exactly what it is that we learned. I can’t emphasize enough how inspiring this conference was. I brought with me and shared the concept of “Social Vaccines” that protect us from and reduce implicit and explicit bias. A concept I learned from an amazing woman I work with, Nilanjana “Buju” Dasgupta, Director of Faculty Equity and Inclusion, and Professor of Psychology at The College of Natural Sciences in The University of Massachusetts. Earlier this year I attended her Distinguished Faculty Lecture on the concept of “Social Vaccines” and shared it at the beginning of the Round Table discussions at Frith Forge. In exchange I learned that it worked, the social vaccine and our dreams for Frith Forge worked!
Frith Forge is probably the most meaningful and worthwhile Heathen/Asatru event I’ve ever been to. Some highlights for me included Diana Paxon’s presentations at Frith Forge. She masterfully described everything I wish I could articulate. Stay tuned for the video of her new presentation “Balancing on the Rainbow Bridge: How to we reconcile ethnic pride, inclusive ideals, and Heathen traditions?”.
I am deeply grateful for Haimo Grebenstein’s masterful ritual leadership and work prior to and for Firth Forge and The Sacred Sites Tour of Germany that followed. The rituals were amazing and transformative. Everyone who attended was so interesting and cool.
I am especially grateful for Rob Lusch Schreiwer’s leadership in The Troth. His hospitality and dedication are deeply appreciated. I’m grateful for all of you who supported Frith Forge in person or in spirit from your homes, and those who will continue the work we have done. Looking ahead I’m particularly grateful for Robb Lewis for spearheading the “working group” and potential umbrella organization that is developing from this so that our efforts and connections are nurtured and maintained as effectively as possible.
Will there be another? As Frith Forge should be “rare and special”. Perhaps once every 3 years. Details to be determined.
What does this mean for Troth members- or why should the regular individual troth members care- what’s in it for you basically? How can you get involved?
You might have attended Frith Forge or will appreciate the videos of Frith Forge presentations that will be posted online. Perhaps you would like to join us online and chat with many of the attendees of Frith Forge and many other Heathens/Asatruar from around the world by joining The Troth’s IREP discussion group on Facebook or join us in person at the International Asatru Summer Camp July 28-August 4, 2018 in Jugendherberge Eifelsteig, Gerolstein, Germany. You might also appreciate reading the recent article in The Atlantic, “What to do when racists try to hijack your religion”. This article mentions Frith Forge and includes interviews with Hilmar Hilmarson, Frith Forge speakers Diana Paxson, Ulrike Pohl, and Karl Seigfried. The article reflects on one of the reasons why we created Frith Forge to begin with. This article also speaks of Karl’s Frith Forge presentation, “A Better Burden Towards a New Asatru Theology” which includes a call for inclusive Heathens to write original theological essays which he will edit and compile into the first international anthology of the public theology of Heathenry.
Hopefully soon we will all be benefiting from some books translated into English from other languages and vice versa. This is in ‘the works’ stemming from our Frith Forge working-group. Or maybe you have or will enjoy future tours like the Sacred Sites Tour of Germany. The Troth is always appreciative of volunteers who would like to engage to help us make a difference. If you would like to volunteer you can contact me as The Troth’s Volunteer Coordinator at Volunteers@thetroth.org, or AmandaLH@thetroth.org. I also recommend staying connected using the IREP Facebook group or contacting me directly as Program Coordinator for IREP at IREP@thetroth.org. Let us know what’s going on in your area, and any ideas you would like to see made a reality. Let’s continue to engage in Frith together. Like my new friend Solveig from Germany said: “In a strong community we can ward off heavy storms – like the one that rampaged over our heads (at Frith Forge)”.
In Frith and Service,
High Rede Member
International Relations and Exchange Program Coordinator
New Steward for Western MA, NH, VT, ME