Essays for The Troth 1.2 Innangarð

This is a response to a question from The Troth’s 101 course, prerequisite to the Lore program! Here is my masterpost of Troth 101 essays.

In Our Troth and other resources, we learn about the concept of útgarðr (out-yard) and innangarð (in-yard). Make a list of all the people in your life who you consider part of your personal in-yard (ie family, kindred, friends, community). Examine the way that some people fit into more than one category, and think about how this impacts your view of the world.

I see the boundary between innangarð and útgarðr as a certain amount of flexible, and the vast majority of wights falling neatly into neither category but rather into “unclassfied/unknown” (at least so long as modern technology keeps us living in cities and in touch with way more people than those living in our immediate neighborhoods).

In the cosmic sense I see innangarð as the habitable world. útgarðr is the outer layers of the atmosphere and the space beyond, the deep areas of the ocean, the centers of deserts, the coldest of latitudes: the powers beyond those boundaries are much more hostile to (my) life. Innangarð can be extended, but negotiating life in the boundary regions is an exercise in frith – it takes honest recognition and respect of those natural powers to live safely, and only by keeping frith with them (to not “dig too greedily or too deep”, to not reach beyond one’s grasp, to not externalize costs) can innangarð be extended without paying for it later. I would consider the dust bowl an episode of breaking frith with land-wights and suffering for it. Global climate change the same. Depletion of aquifers from over-irrigation in the Southwest.

In the social sense, I consider útgarðr any person who denies my humanity with their actions. Any person who treats me as an object. Any person who treats others as objects. útgarðr wights are the spirits of entirely dangerous objects: disease-wights, plutonium and uranium and carcinogen wights. Invasive species like false bamboo and garlic mustard are útgarðr here, though they might be innangarð elsewhere (rabbits for example, are innangarð here and útgarðr in Australia). The spirits of detrimental concepts rampant in my culture. Moloch, who entered my soul early, very útgarðr.

To start from innangarð, I would claim my house and land and watershed wights, my animal and plant neighbors that I know by sight, and the others necessary for their existence, whether or not I find them annoying or nonbeneficial (mosquito, etc). My housemates who live with me, my small group of closest friends from childhood. People whose fate is tied up with mine, by accident of geography. My family who raised me are innangarð: I share history with them and am stuck with them, and love them even when I don’t like them. These are all people I would do a favor for, without expecting anything in return. (I think the “obligation” part of extended kin spreads out fractally from one’s own nearest and dearest – the people my kin consider kin are included in a slightly wider ring of give and take, from me, and so on and so forth out to Kevin Bacon. I’m just trying to quantify in heathen jargon the relationships that I think are naturally felt by most people. The closer your relationship to a person, the more of their people you might be willing to stick your neck out for, because of your investment in a shared friend.)

I don’t think innangarð and útgarðr are categories that any wight can belong to both at once. I mean, a wight can be innangarð to someone but útgarðr to someone else, but I don’t think any can be both innangarð and útgarðr to me. What they can do is transition from one group to the other. Outward by broken promises and negative actions, inward (more slowly and cautiously) by mutual understanding, and built trust.

To me the purpose of a frithstead is to be a place where people who are útgarðr to each other can interact and build relationships, and (hopefully, eventually) change that status wrt each other. To hold that space – to enforce that peace – is sacred work that very literally extends the size of the individual’s habitable world.

(When the Pope talked, recently, about “a culture of encounter”, and “meeting [nonchristians] there” to “go forward little by little”, that sounds like first class frithweaving to me)


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