by Frigga Asraaf 2018
The story of the Flame of Frith originated a year or so ago as a heathen initiative for peace. From the beginning onwards, it has been an invitation to heathens and pagans to work hand in hand for peace, safety, solidarity and sustainability, and welcomes people from the many other religions, traditions and world-views on this fine earth. One of the aims is to bring people together in harmony, even though it might be for the short moment of a ritual. A significant symbol of this initiative is a frith cord. Often, people who received their own piece of the cord tell that it gives them a lasting sense of connection.
Frith is a word that resonates to many (germanic) heathens today. I guess it is becoming a heathen concept to express germanic heathendom to be a peaceful religion. For those not familiar with the word: the English word frith derives from the old English friðu, friþ. Related words in the old Germanic languages mean as much as ‘ safe conduct’, ‘good understanding’,‘peace (calm)’, ‘joy’ and ‘well-being’. Words that all derive form the Proto Germanic word *friþu– ‘calm’, ‘protection’ and even more backwards from the Proto Indo-European word *priyas, ‘specific to’ (‘specific to the clan’ or ‘specific to the community’). In our modern day Germanic languages related words for peace are vrede (Dutch), frede (West Frisian), fred (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish) and friður (Icelandic). Frith is also related to the word free. All this brings me to the conclusion frith means how I would like life to be: living safe and free in a good understanding with my fellow people.
It saddens me that the reasons for the Flame of Frith have not changed since 2014. On the contrary, it is even more necessary. It made and makes me feel sad and sick to see what we do to the earth and I still wonder if all harmful effects can be stopped. Still, with dismay I look at how we are dragged into an abyss. Voices of changes are shouted down by the prevailing political story of money, greed and indifference towards our planet and each other. Ill-informed bandwagoning runs rampant and politics tries to keep us frightened with all kind of distractions, because fear has a paralyzing effect on a lot of people around the globe.
Strongly I felt and feel the need to do something. I have considered going into politics, but almost after the first thought I realized that is not my thing. It took a while before the obvious came to mind: magic works. Once this became clear to me, my path became obvious. Since then the heathen initiative of the Flame of Frith is growing in many ways.
From the very first ritual, people felt involved in the Flame of Frith. The frith cord is an essential part and represents this peace fire. I have lost count how many meters I have already made with my lucet in the last four years, but it is a lot and much more will be made, not only by me, but by others as well. The colours of the cord are the colours of fire: red, orange and yellow. Each time again it is special to stand in a circle with people connected by our frith cord and to feel the spirit of community and cooperation, of togetherness.
To be able to stay in touch, a FB group was set up and people started to contribute in various ways to the Flame of Frith. Dutch artist Barbara Anthonissen designed a logo: two flames connected by the Wunjo rune. A rune meaning joy, and to me it is also a symbol of togetherness and family, and represents a sense of community.
Over the years people from home and abroad have sent me packages with yarn for frith cords. One time, I received a box full of yarn in exchange for 24 meters cord, which I sent to people for their frith ritual. A fellow heathen from the USA dyed yarn especially for the ritual we performed during the International Asatru Summer Camp 2018 in Germany.
The Flame of Frith altar in my living room has become crowded. I made two wooden statues of ancestral spirits who keep an eye on it. There is a pot with ashes from rituals on the altar, a candle decorated with the Flame of Frith logo and it is also the place to keep the finished frith cords. Gifts found their way to the altar, like the frith spears forged by Volker Grey a German blacksmith and a triskel by the hand of Phil Rayner, a blacksmith from the UK. German woodworker Conny Müller manufactured whip bobbins. Dutch Nancy Tinkhof made a felted goddess, which together with the original painting of the logo and my frith drum, decorate the wall behind the altar.
All this and other contribution to the Flame of Frith are heartwarming!
As heathens we love stories and we are aware of their powers and the effect they could have. A remark about stories made by the English writer George Monbiot, well known for his environmental and political activism, in his book Out of the Wreckage caught me: ‘When we develop the right story, and learn how to tell it, it will infect the minds of people across the political spectrum. Those who tell the stories run the world.’
To me the Flame of Frith is such a story. A narrative how we as heathens and pagans commit ourselves, together with people of other religions or world views, to peace. I believe in the power of repetition and this certainly applies to narratives. Already, I have heard the various texts of the Flame of Frith rituals numerous times. Most of them are poems and prayers that I have written myself and I know them thoroughly. Yet, in each ritual they sound different. People recite them in their own way so even I hear new things in the same words. So, the more often we tell to each other what kind of world we want to live in, tell about freedom, joy, kindness, trust and well-being, the more we feed powers of peace for the earth itself and all living beings.
To make a long story short: all people who feel involved in the Flame of Frith are the storytellers of this narrative of peace! Together!
Connected by our own piece of frith cord we all can feed the Flame of Frith in our own way and wherever we are on a moment that suits us, united in peace. You do not need to leave your house to join us for our monthly Flame of Frith meeting every first Monday of the month at 20.00 hours. Some lit a candle, some meditate and others make a trance- journey. A trance-journey to the Frith Garth between the world to meet fellow frith keepers from Midgard and from the other worlds, like ancestral spirits and gods, and to sing and dance for peace. It’s a lovely thought that one day each month across the world in different time zones people empower peace in this way.
For those on FaceBook: please join our group Flame of Frith / Vlam voor Vrede
Monbiot, George – Out of the Werckage, A New Politics for an Age of Crisis – Verso Books, London, UK 2017