10/16/08 12:23 pm - valkyrieofodin - The Differences Between Vanic & AEsic Godhar
I would like to talk about the differences between the AEsic and the Vanic Gydhia/Godhi. The concepts presented here stem from a conversation I had with a friend some time back in 2007. We were discussing the ways in which Vanic folk and AEsic folk work in this world. We discussed at length what our opinions were, and how we as individuals functioned. We talked about how we had come to our present point in practice and how it reflected as to whether we ran more toward an active Kindred Model or not. At the time I was a member of a different Kindred than I am now, one which is still in existence. This particular Kindred, I would have to say, functions more on an AEsic model than a Vanic model, I on the other hand tend to be more Vanically focused. The fact that there was such a difference in world view caused a rather dramatic split and we parted ways, with me taking a small percentage of the members with me. Over the past year I have been trying to work on a smaller, rather Vanic dominate model for my Kindred with a fair amount of AEsic influence. I think that it has blended well.
The AEsir in general are more formal in the way in which they socialize. Their social structure is somewhat stratified, and while they have a council for making decisions they need a definite, leader to get the ball rolling. Also, they have someone to hold onto the tools for blessing (Thor), and so forth. This is rather efficient and made to keep things from getting out of control, everything in its place and a place for everything so to speak. If you look at the way that Bill Lindsey sets forth the religious structure he believes that the most traditional format in Germanic Worship or Germanic Spirituality, he states that the individual freely related to their ancestors and the landvaettir (or land-wights) but had to have a godhi (he never once mentions a gydhia) to intervene on their behalf with the Gods. In my opinion this is very difficult to prove, and the structure itself is very AEsic as far as the societal implications. Not always a bad thing as far as the societal part, but... I'd like to see all his proof; obviously the sagas don't give a complete picture one way or the other. So most of us are going on UPG in either direction here. What he is displaying, which I agree with however, is that the more AEsically oriented gothar tend to be oriented on conducting ceremonies of varied forms for their communities, whether that is the common blot, or weddings, funerals and other rites of passage... And that they tend to hold on to the tools for major blessing for the Kindred, such as the formal hammer if one is used, the oath ring and so forth. That in this sense their place is very important. And that their duties most likely are formalized in some manner. There would be a distinct beginning and end to them. Many within such a structure are more likely to participate on a peripheral level, and find that they are looking to the AEsic godhar to do a large portion of what it takes to structure things for them. While this can give a lot of experience to someone it can also be wearing upon them over a long term period of time, and they may need to learn swiftly how to incorporate others into the more formalized roles so that they will be supported in their efforts, otherwise they may end up carrying a load they are not prepared for. An AEsic style Kindred has a very good example of structure from the get go, but it is up to the godhar (godhi or gydhia) to set this into motion others are not going to be eager to jump into action as they are going to be looking for guidance to the individual they perceive as having the ability to delegate authority. Many people are in great need of structure and cannot work without it, for them the AEsic style of godhar is the most rewarding because they always know exactly what they are getting at all times, how much they can expect out of them and the amount of effort they will invest of themselves. No more, and no less. But, others do not do well in this setting and feel that it is not dynamic enough for them, in this sense it becomes almost stagnant. There is a need for a more supportive structure, one that is more personalized. It is not for me to say who is right and who is wrong. Only that different people have different needs. If this is not acted upon there will be what I like to call 'ebb and flow’, what that means is that people will simply come and go, with little personal commitment. Without structure it is easy to revert to this state. Most though not all AEsic style Kindreds have some form of oath to the Kindred. Those that do have less likelihood of an 'ebb and flow' effect as when an individual makes an oath to Kindred they are more likely to stick with it.
The more vanically oriented gothar, on the other hand would in my opinion seem to recall more the village cunning man or woman... They would be on a par with the Village Shaman in the role that they play. They would not only be there for particular events in an individual's life, but would in fact be there throughout. And would be able to be turned to in times of need no matter what. They tend to be someone who works with the Gods directly and who tends to encourage this in those within their Kindred, helping them to build personal relationships. The Vanic Godhar, has(in my opinion) a tendency to help people work through their issues on a personal level, many times being there with them during perception altering experiences, whether during meditation or in other circumstances. They tend to work with runes or in some other capacity to give guidance (though not to solve the problems themselves, but to simply give direction) and help the individual in times of distress. This does not mean they take away personal responsibility from the individual but that they may help the individual set their foot on the path when they feel they cannot do so otherwise. The Vanic Godhar tends to be more a part of the community on a gut level. And in my experience has often the small things that may or may not make the difference at key points. I make sacred objects out of sculptey and often have them to give to the members of my Kindred, this can (and often does)include Thor's Hammers as well as other things such as sun wheels and even swastikas if necessary. I also give away a relatively large number of sage smudge sticks (usually when someone is moving). I have done a fair number of things dealing with moving energy for folks that has helped speed healing along, and I have helped at least one person to move things out of the realm of her wyrd that did not belong there. The thing that I have noticed (not just with myself mind you) is that the Vanic Godhar does not usually ask for 'trade' for their services from their Kindred. The Vanes are deities of prosperity and the more that they give then will the community thrive, the more they become empowered. This does not mean that the community will not respond with gratitude and in fact give back to the godhar; simply that asking for repayment is not the highest of priorities for the Vanic Godhar. Much of what they glean back directly is in personal growth and in understanding of the dynamics of those they care for. That the Kindred thrive is essential to them and their sense of accomplishment translates into the rest of their life. If the Kindred begins to wane then this will also translate into the rest of their life. Those individuals in the Kindred will give back to the Godhar; however, I am not trying to say that they will not. That of course is part of being a community. And as this exchange continues over time you will find a kind of symbiosis which allows for extensive frith-weaving all about.
Both the AEsic and the Vanic gothar are very instrumental in setting up study groups to help those members of their Kindred(s)to become self-empowered, to learn and to find that they can become more than they were when they entered the Kindred. By doing this they make their Kindred(s) stronger and closer knit communities. The big difference(s) come in how these things manifest. From what I have seen those groups led in a more AEsic manner tend to be worksheet oriented, and in some ways overwhelmed by so much information that beginners feel a bit as though the work is beyond them. The study groups of those who are more Vanic oriented tend to concentrate on those individuals gathering together and presenting the information, interpreting it and absorbing it on a basic level so that they may push each other forward in an organic manner. Were the two to come together and work together we would find a more powerful alliance in my opinion. To me this is why Kindred should entertain those who are concentrated in both Vanic and AEsic directions.
These are my observations as to how things have manifested for me. I am a blend between the AEsic and the Vanic with the majority of my leanings toward the Vanic. I do hold the Oath Ring for my Kindred. Oath taking in our Kindred is a very serious act and is very rare. I host most events at this stage in the game, with other members picking up the slack as they can. This is because most of our members are students and they live in apartments or dorms, which does not facilitate the room necessary for blot and other events. When things get tough for folks we all come together in support of one another. I make the bread for all of the events, and I hallow the libation for the blots… But other than that? I’m pretty much Vanic in my practice and I think my Kindred is glad of it. I take phone calls at three in the morning. I do house-blessings and if someone needs energy work or anything within my capability I am there for them. I maintain several working altars which are available for the use of the members of my Kindred should they need such. This is particularly valuable to those who live in dorms or with non-heathen friendly roommates and cannot practice as freely or often as they would like. Of course my Kindred is there for me too. And it has thrived since we began working along these lines. Before we began working in this vein we were working on a completely AEsic model with the Elder of our former Kindred doing all the godhi work and it was totally 'ebb and flow' ...To me it felt unsatisfactory. I'm glad that things are as they are though it has been somewhat bumpy along the way. Especially in establishing a new Kindred. I think that the Vanic mode is more holistic overall and I'm going to keep working away at it. The past year has been a proving ground for me, that by implementing Vanic principal mixed with AEsic concepts folks will hold together and become stronger. I think that it has proven out. We have grown together, become stronger and expressed our wants, our needs, our joys and our sorrows. Though it has not always been easy we are becoming. To me this is what it means to be a Vanic Gydhia.
Written by, Ayla Wolffe©2008