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Tribes

By: Garman Lord

 


Leof Gunnsmith Wassail!
Garman here.


T. & L.Joy wrote:
>There are many religious tribes and subtribes.... over 3000 "denominations" of christianity alone, numerous islamic ones.. bhuddist, hindu...There are sport clubs and service organisations like the YMCA, and the Masons, Shriners... order of the eastern star. These are tribes too. The Hells Angels MC club is a tribe.
We are known among other peoples as"the White tribe". Especially in Africa. Native Americans simply refer to us as "the Whites".
When I hear the word "Theodism" I see in my minds eye the SCA carried to another level.. where the "play acting" has become real to those involved. It has real signifigance  to them then and is probably the logical step from "playing" to "being".Thats I guess the Existentialism that Garman is talking about.

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It should be noted that, although a word like "tribe" may mean many things to many people, in Theodism it is normally used as a technical word with a specific meaning, a "term of art," in other words, and is never used by Theodsmen in any other way.

Theodism has never been play-acting and isn't anything like the SCA; Theodism is a religion, and has never been anything else, and has from the beginning always been just as intense and prescription-strength serious as it is today. The "existentialist" aspect is merely the taproot-source of Theodism's uniquely "autochthonous" character as a nouveau-religion. "Religion," to a Theodsman, is also a term of art, and refers specifically to a certain specially defined class of sociological phenomena, and never anything else. We say that "theod" means tribe because, literally, it does; theod is just the Anglo-Saxon word for tribe. In Theodish parlance, a tribe is not just any random collection of people with a shared common trait or special interest. Tribe denotes a body of people that is structured in a certain specific way, and that is all it ever refers to.

The specific anatomical features of the kind of body of people that is termed a tribe in Theodish sceaftcunnung (another term of art) are that they all live together, or would if they were able, and by preference as
self-sufficiently and independently as possible, that they are, functionally, a kind of human biome, made up of members of more than one family or clan, yet have a population that is small and exclusive enough to be self-governing, that their sense of transpersonal tribe-specific identity is in most respects personally equal to or more important than their individual identity, that they exhibit a strict social hierarchy in which that personal sense of transpersonal tribal identity doubles as a place- and status-marker, that they make regular traditional use of special tokens or other distinctive livery as tribal identifiers whereby they recognize each other and distinguish each other from foreigners, that they share a common mythologized origin story and history, a dream time, a tribally distinctive religion, and a personally binding common thew in all matters moral, ethical and sociological.

To the extent that any of these anatomical features may be deficient or missing, any group of people is not, technically, a tribe. Some kinds of microcultures do in fact exhibit some of these features to a sometimes startling degree, but rarely the full complement. An LA street gang, for instance, or sometimes even a biker gang, is about as close as any contemporary group of people is likely to come today, and typically features self-government within an independent communal lifestyle, a significant exclusive transpersonal identity complete with markers and livery, a strict hierarchy and sense of place and status, and a rigorously observed moral, ethical and sociological code or thew. Normally, however, they do not exhibit a mythologized origin story or history, dream time or full-fledged tribally distinctive religion, so in the last analysis they are really just another quasi-tribal kind of special interest group. One thinks, of course, of the Mafia in such a context too, but then, probably nobody really doubts that Mafia families are indeed tribes in the technical sense, as well as being special interest groups.

One can easily see why so many Asatruers are interested in the concept of tribe, of course. On the other hand, one can also see why no Asatru aett has ever managed to attain to tribehood so far; it is a sense in which the original Asatru concept was naively designed to be self-defeating. There are too many necessary parts missing from the strict doctrinal canon of the way Asatru was originally designed and defined, a canon to which mainstream Asatru still generally cleaves "religiously" as articles of faith. As we have seen, Asatru in fact normally drives out any aett that does begin to exhibit too many features of tribehood, since such aetts must necessarily apostasize into so many dangerous heretical flirtations to do so.

And of course we know that Theodism is another matter, and has always doctrinally supported tribalism in its basic design, though today's Theodish Rice is probably no more than a virtual tribe at best, since we don't all live together or independently. Other than that, Theodism is exclusive and self-governing, and does have an origin story, a dream time and a history, which are, although embedded in relatively recent business and real-time history, nonetheless at least quasi- or proto-mythologized already, in the sense that they contain so many vital defining central elements of the supernatural, and have begun to accumulate a special corpus of associated art and poetry, song and story. Theodism has a strict hierarchy, a distinctive transpersonal tribal identity complete with identifying livery and place- and status-markers, a strictly observed and distinctive body of moral, ethical and sociological thew, and a distinctive tribal religion with full-fledged sacral features. So in many ways, I guess we are to be considered either a true tribe or else perhaps a very strange kind of street-gang. Theodish break-dancing, anyone? Or maybe bust a bit of Anglo-Saxon hiphop rap?

Your sentiments and vision concerning the greater folk, Gunnsmith, are unquestionably very eloquent and very moving, but in this I'm sure you can see why your hypothetical folk are not a tribe, and could never be one. For the folk, tribes may well be the answer, but tribe is not. As perforce a solitary, you have the leisure to utopianize about them in ways that those of us with organizational responsibilities and personally involved in the harrowing business of daily dealing with the actual nasty flesh-and-blood creature in the round never could. If the folk as they really are ever could be a tribe, not many people in their right minds would likely want to join it, and you wouldn't either, bless your heart, at least not for long. The upside, though, is that we really once were, and theoretically could be again, some kind of far finer and better thing than what we are, and if we just keep our hopes and our spirits up and start trying to really do something with our better selves, then no doubt we will one day get there.



Godspeed........

Garman