What is a Kindred?

A BLÓT Ásatrúarfélagið observes four main blót each year, as well as a Þorrablót. Photo/Stefán
A BLÓT Ásatrúarfélagið observes four main blót each year, as well as a Þorrablót. Photo/Stefán
What is a "kindred"? Mirriam-Webster's says:

kindred – adjective 
kin· dred | \ ˈkin-drəd  \ 
Definition of kindred – (Entry 1 of 2) 
1: of a similar nature or character : LIKE a kindred spirit 
2: of the same ancestry – kindred tribes 
 noun 
Definition of kindred (Entry 2 of 2) b: one’s relatives… if his kindred still remain to him …— Alexis de Tocqueville 

kindred 
1a: a group of related individuals 
2: family relationship : KINSHIP

 

In the Heathen movements, kindred is a local worship group and organizational unit. 

Kindreds are usually grassroots groups, most of which are independent from any other organization. Many times, though, a kindred may be affiliated with a national organization such as Awaken the North, or The Troth. Independent kindreds are more typical within the US than elsewhere. 

Internal structure 

Kindreds are often composed of hearths or families as well as individuals, and the members of a kindred may be related by blood or marriage, or may be unrelated. The kindred functions as a religious group, and often also as an extended family. Membership is managed according to the legal organization of the group, which may range from an Unincorporated Associations to various forms of Corporate bodies. 

Kindreds usually function as cell groups, but sometimes as formal churches, study groups, or clubs. There is a prevalent interest in communal philosophy (called tribalism within Asatru), but no kindreds are as of yet known to have put that practice into action through land ownership. 

Starting a Kindred 

One of the questions most often asked by our members is “How do I start a Kindred?”  This is a straightforward and easy thing to do.  Keeping one going, however, seems to be a labour of love and dedication. It takes time for any group to get established, and running in a smooth and orderly manner. 

What constitutes a Kindred? Why, the PEOPLE, of course! Typically, a kindred starts off with at least four people: ChieftainGoðarSkald, and a High Drighton. 

  • Chieftain – The main officer of the Kindred is the Chieftain.  It is their duty to oversee kindred business as it relates to membership, legal matters, public relations, and staffing.  They are the leader of the Kindred.   
  • Goðar – The Spiritual leader of the Kindred, the “priest”, if you will.  The Goðar (male-Goði or female-Gyðja) will lead the Kindred’s ceremonies, such as the blots and sumbels, and ensure the spiritual wellbeing of the Kindred members.  It is also the role of the Goðar to teach the Kindred members about the Gods/Goddesses, Ancestors, runes, lore, Eddas, and Sagas.  It is recommended, but not required, for the Goðar to be ordained and able to perform legal marriages and funeral rites for the members and their families. 
  • Skald – The Skald is the Scribe of the Kindred.  They keep all of the official Minutes of the kindred meetings, as well as acting as Arbitrator between the kindred members and the Chieftain.  They keep track of oaths of all members, and the financial business of the Kindred. 
  • High Drighton – The position of High Drighton is that of the Constable. It is their job to ensure the physical safety of the members and uphold the Kindred’s laws and codes.  They help the Chieftain establish the bylaws and make sure they are accessible and known by the Kindred members. 

Finding people can be a difficult task.  Use all the resources you have, to find others in your area.  Social media, local pagan shops, online forums.. There are all sorts of places to find like-minded people.  

Once you have the officers and the bylaws are settled on, congratulations! You have yourself a Kindred.  In many cases, Kindred’s create their own custom banners to fly during their meetings and blots.  Look to your kindred members, and see what skills each has. Are there any woodworkers? Seamstresses? Writers? One of the most important things to running a kindred is to delegate!  This will help greatly when creating ritual items for the Kindred and other Kindred accessories or tools.  

There are a few items each kindred should have: a bowli, an oath ring or pendant, a drinking horn, and access to evergreen sprigs.  These are important things to have, that the Goðar will use for ceremonies. Once you are up and running, the members of the kindred can look into gathering a bell, drum, altar cloth, candles,  a hallowing hammer, and other items for the altar. It’s also a good idea to have an established loaner library of such books as the Eddas, the Lore, and other writings on our religious beliefs. 

Starting a kindred can be a daunting idea, but one that can be accomplished with time, dedication, and the will to make it happen.  Awakenthe

Do you feel you are ready to have your kindred join with Awaken the North? Click the button below for more information!