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GVK Fact Sheet


Great Valley Kindred is an Anglo-Saxon kindred, serving Heathens in and around the Cumberland & Shenandoah Valleys. Meeting on a regular basis in Gettysburg, PA, we are committed to building a peaceful, non-racialist, and non-political version of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry.   

Although we offer and run rituals, workshops, and choose to involve ourselves in community service projects, our rituals are not by any means, public, and attendance is by invite only. If you are interested in who we are and what we do as a kindred, we run quarterly pubmoots where we can get to know new people.

Further details about our pubmoots can be found here.

If you are unable to make any of the pubmoots, please feel free to contact us via this form and we will work to arrange a time to meet in a public setting so that we can get acquainted first.

Anglo-Saxon Heathenry

What does Great Valley Kindred understand a modern ‘Anglo-Saxon Heathen’ to be?

In very general terms, an ‘Anglo-Saxon Heathen’ is a polytheist inspired by Anglo-Saxon Heathen period culture and belief. The modern AS Heathen endeavors to build a worldview that would not be too dissimilar from that possessed by Heathen period Anglo-Saxons, and maintains reciprocal relationships with the various Holy Powers worshipped by at least some of the Anglo-Saxon Heathens.

This is a goal we share with the more reconstructionist forms of Ásatru that you may be more familiar with.

We have no illusions that what we do is somehow the same as what Heathen period Anglo-Saxons did, we are very much products of the modern world and the worldview of our time. Moreover, the process of changing a worldview is not a quick one, especially when surrounded by a dominant worldview that is, in many ways, different from the one we are trying to adopt. It is for this reason why we do not necessarily always stick to what is historically accurate, instead preferring to stick with a model of research followed by a period of evaluation during which we decide as a kindred whether or not to change our liturgy and worship. This is a constant process for us, with the end goal of creating what will eventually become our sidu’, or custom.

Although a good many Anglo-Saxon Heathens are also Theodish, we are not a Theodish group. We count many Theodsmenn as friends, valuing greatly their friendship, hospitality, and research contributions to the field of Anglo-Saxon Heathenism. There is much that is admirable in Theodism, but we have simply decided that it’s not for us.

Key Concepts in Our Heathenry:

Here you will find short explanations of each of the key concepts in our Heathenry. These explanations are by no means exhaustive, and are far more complex than these descriptions. At the end of each description, you’ll find book recommendations and links where you may find out more.

World Acceptance vs World Rejection

To be ‘world-rejecting’ is to look outside of this world and life for salvation. For example, Christianity is a world-rejecting religion because the focus is not so much on living this life to the fullest, but on living well enough in this life in order to reap the rewards after death in a place that is not this world that we live in now. The Heathen period worldview was one of ‘world acceptance’, in other words, what you do now matters more than what comes after. The sacred is here and there is no salvation from a deity set apart from this good green earth.

Book recommendation:

‘We Are Our Deeds: The Elder Heathenry, Its Ethic And Thew’ by Eric Wodening

Available from here.


Inner-Yard and Outer-Yard

As well as looking to this world and this life, the Heathen period worldview also divided the world into the ‘inner-yard’ (the civilized space of human settlement shared with family, friends, and community), and ‘outer-yard’ (all that sat outside of the civilization of the Inner-yard).

Book recommendation:

See above.


For the Heathen period Heathen, every relationship was reciprocal in nature; that is to say, that every relationship was built upon a foundation of gifting.  Depending on the type of reciprocal relationship, this gifting was an equal (or as near to equal as status would allow) exchange of items, favors, or service. Some of those relationships were equal, such as the relationship between friends, but others were unequal, such as the relationships between king and subject, or humans and gods. Regardless of the equality or inequality inherent in each type of relationship, no relationship was considered possible without gifting, and it is upon this foundation of reciprocity that Heathen worship is predicated.

Book recommendation:

‘Sacred Gifts: Reciprocity And The Gods’ by Kirk Thomas

Available from here.


Hælu and Unhælu

When we, as modern humans, think of ‘health’, we may think of ‘health’ in the more general sense in purely physical terms. Some of us may also think of ‘mental health’, or ‘emotional health’. However, for the Heathen, the word for health, ‘hælu’ was far more complex and encompassing than our modern ideas of what ‘health’ (even including the fields of mental and emotional health) are. ‘Hælu’ not only referred to physical health, to being ‘uninjured’, but also ideas of ‘wholeness’ and ‘holiness’. These now-separate concepts were once one and the same. Conversely, ‘unhælu’ signified not only physical sickness or injury, but ‘not holy’, ‘profane’, ‘impious’, and ‘wicked’. There was no separating the physical from the ‘spiritual’, from the holy and unholy; it was all bound up together. Other words for ‘health’, such as ‘gesynto’ (related to ‘Gesund’) further support this association between physical health and more ‘spiritual’ attributes, with meanings ranging from ‘health’ and ‘soundness’, to ‘prosperity’, ‘wholeness’, ‘luck’, ‘prosperity’, and ‘salvation’. It is for this reason that much of the native healing practices of the Early English were ‘magico-medical’ in nature, designed to not only cure the physical ailment but also the potentially underlying ‘spiritual’ causes too.

Book recommendations:

‘We Are Our Deeds: The Elder Heathenry, Its Ethic And Thew’ by Eric Wodening

Available from here.

‘Leechcraft: Early English Charms, Plant-Lore and Healing’ by Stephen Pollington

Available from here.

Mægen and Miht

How hæl or unhæl a person was, was dependant on the possession of something not unlike the Polynesian concept of mana, or indeed the Chinese concept of ‘ch’i’. Those who were hæl naturally had it, whereas the unhæl did not. Moreover, this quality was one that could be gained or lost, manipulated via magical means, or even transferred from one person to another. While many scholars agree that this concept was something that existed, pinning down the terminology is another matter, with some preferring to refer to it simply as ‘luck’, and others as ‘Mægen’ (‘physical strength’, ‘metaphysical force’, ‘bravery’, ‘efficiency’), or ‘Miht’ (‘virtue’, ‘physical strength’, ‘metaphysical force’).

Book Recommendations:

‘We Are Our Deeds: The Elder Heathenry, Its Ethic And Thew’ by Eric Wodening
Available from here.


When we, as modern people, think of ‘fate’, we tend to think of it as a kind of unmalleable force, something unchangeable and ‘set’ from birth to death. However, for the Germanic peoples, the concepts of both ‘fate’, and even ‘time’ were quite different.

In Old Norse sources, we’re told of a ‘world tree’ upon which all the worlds are set, a kind of ‘infrastructure’ for the ‘multiverse’ of Germanic cosmology. At the foot of this tree is a well – the Well of Wyrd – which is overseen by the Nornir (or ‘Wyrdae’ in OE), who according to the lore, ‘laid layers’ and ‘spoke orlog’. There is a lot of confusion over ‘orlog’ (‘orlæg’ in OE), but essentially ‘orlæg’ (meaning ‘primal layer’ or ‘primal law’) is ‘what was’, or ‘what was already done’.

For the Germanic Heathen, everything a person did, every decision made or action carried out, was a ‘layer in the well’. The collection of one’s actions or decisions -in other words – what you set down in the well – the ‘what was’ – would then affect what you have to work with in the ‘what is happening now’. This is obviously a simplification of the process, but hopefully you get the general idea.

To frame this in more mundane  and everyday terms, this effect on the ‘what is happening now’, might be a habit developed, or the social consequences built up over time. For example, if you are invited to parties but never choose to go, then one day you will no longer be invited and the choice taken away from you. This is not unmalleable though, over time and through conscious effort, new layers – better layers – may be set down in the well to produce a better circumstances for the future ‘what is now’.

Moreover, the effects of ‘what was’ in the ‘what is now’ are not limited to individuals. From local communities to entire societies, we see the effects of ‘what was’ in the ‘what is now’ everyday. For a Heathen, there is no separation of past and present, all of what is now has its roots in what was, making the adage ‘those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it in the present’, especially meaningful.

Recommended Reading:

‘We Are Our Deeds: The Elder Heathenry, Its Ethic And Thew’ by Eric Wodening

Available from here.

‘The Well And The Tree: World and Time in Early Germanic Culture” Paul C. Bauschatz

Available from here.

Our Luckgivers:

While the Early English sources may provide us with many useful remnants of Heathen period worldview, when it comes to the information regarding the ‘Luckgivers’, or gods, they’re almost non-existent in comparison with the Old Norse sources on the same topic. However, the information we *do* have does suggest that there were differences between how the Early English viewed the gods, and how the Viking Age Scandinavians may have done. We also have our own way of understanding our gods, and we also include that understanding here, so that you might better understand us.


For Great Valley Kindred, Wōden is a god that wears many masks – perhaps even more than Óðinn – because of our expanded area of focus. He is a wanderer and lore giver. Rune giver and god of magic and healing. The one who, with his brothers, killed the Giant, fashioning this wonderful cosmos from his body, and enlivened the trees that would become the people of Middle Earth. He is a god of wisdom and poetry – the one who gave us language even. He’s a god of warlords and kings, of warbands and warriors, ecstasy and the liminal between, bringing the dead back in a Wild Hunt during the darkest tide of the year.

Recommended Reading:

Looking For The Lost Gods Of England’ by Kathleen Herbert

Available from here.

‘The One-Eyed God: Odin and the (Indo)Germanic Männerbünde’ by Kris Kershaw

Available from here.

‘Lady With A Mead Cup: Ritual, Prophecy, And Lordship In The European Warband From La Tène To The Viking Age’ by Michael J. Enright

Available from here.




Frige, while not widely attested in Old English sources is known to have been an important goddess to the early English. Frige has cognate forms in both Old Norse (Frigg), and Old High German (Frija), Lombardic (Frea), and is also cognate with the Sanskrit name Priya – meaning ‘Beloved One’. Tied up in the Old English meaning of ‘Frige’ is the term frig or frigu, or ‘sexual intercourse’. However, this connection with sexual intercourse did not hold the same connotations for the early English as it does for us today. Kathleen Herbert writes that “In English, the idea that there was something essentially vicious about sex, or that it entailed the debasement of women, was not native and was very slow to develop.” This is something we must bear in mind when considering the goddess Frige.

In Old English, as in Old Saxon, the name of this goddess was also cognate with freo, or ‘High Born Lady’, and was in turn linked with the words freond (friend), and freondscip (friendship) – words typically used in contexts where we would say ‘passion’, ‘romantic love’, ‘or devotion’.

Unlike among the Old Norse, there was no splitting of the goddess between the queenly and devoted Frigg, and the desired witch Freyja. Interpretatio Romana of English deity names in the days of the week gives us Frige-daeg (Frige’s Day) for Dies Veneris – or Venus’s Day – known to us as Friday. In the late tenth century, the homilist Ælfric referred to her as ‘the shameless goddess’, and in the 13th century poem Brut by Layamon, the first surviving poem to be composed in English after the Norman conquest, we are told the following about Frige (here called ‘Frea’):


“We have a lady who is most high and mighty

High she is; and holy; nobles love her for this:

She is called Frea, well does she direct them…

Frea, our Lady; we give to her Friday…

So spoke Hengest, of all knights the handsomest…”


Which this is indeed a late source, names like Friden in Derbyshire,  Fretherne in Gloucestershire, and Freefolk and Froyle in Hampshire attest to her earlier presence in the land.

As a term, Freo survived in English until the 14th century and denoted a gracious, high born lady.

From the History of the Lombards, we may discern from Frige’s cognate form, Frea, that she was the wife of Wōden to the early English (and indeed wherever she is found).

As a kindred, we see Frige very much as the early English did – as having the qualities of both Frigg and Freyja. For us, there is no splitting between what might be termed the ‘virgin-whore’ complex. She is also the wife of Wōden, who gives as good as she gets and is the only being in the worlds to be a match for him.

Recommended Reading:

Looking For The Lost Gods Of England’ by Kathleen Herbert

Available from here.

‘Lady With A Mead Cup: Ritual, Prophecy, And Lordship In The European Warband From La Tène To The Viking Age’ by Michael J. Enright

Available from here.



Like Frige and Wōden, Þūnor was known to all the Germanic peoples. Known variously as Þūnor to the early English, Donar to the Germans, and Thor to the Norse, it is from Þūnor’s name that we derive our word ‘Thursday’ (Þunres-daeg). Like Wōden and Frige, Þūnor is attested in place names like Thundersley (Þūnor’s Sacred Grove). Þūnor was also represented symbolically by fylfots (swastikas) on cremation urns, and by hammer amulets worn by people; the earliest of which was found in Kent.

For Great Valley Kindred, Þūnor is a hallowing deity, the deity to whom we sing when we hallow our ritual space. He is also the defender of the inner-yard against the chaotic forces of the Eotenas and Þyrsas. He is also a protector deity who takes interest in human affairs, and a storm-bringer who we might pray to for rains and fertility of fields. In more modern Heathen terms, we feel that his hammer symbol has become a kind of ‘badge of unity’ for modern Heathens.

Recommended Reading:

Looking For The Lost Gods Of England’ by Kathleen Herbert

Available from here.




The God Ing, or as he was known to the Norse, Freyr, is one of the better attested gods in Old English literature. Symbolically, he was connected with the boar, and his symbol was widely found on armor. The boar stands on both the crest of the Benty Grange helmet, and the shoulder-clasps of the Sutton Hoo armor. In Beowulf, we are told that the hero and his companions were wearing boar-emblems on their helmets:

“Boar-shapes shone above the cheek-guards, adorned with gild, bright and fire-hardened, kept guard over life.”

This suggests that the boar symbol, and perhaps Ing, was considered to be a protector of warriors. Norse sources speak of a Freyr who is “the most glorious of the Æsir. He is ruler of rain and sunshine and thus of the produce of the earth.”

However, as the boar and sow were also symbols of Freyja, the sister of Freyr, we cannot be sure if it was the association with Freyr that was believed to be protective or if it was the association with Freyja that granted that protection. A thousand years before Snorri, Tacitus wrote of the Baltic Aestii tribe who spoke a non-Germanic language but whose rites and behavior were Suebic:

“They worship the Mother of the Gods. As an emblem of the rite, they bear the shapes of wild boars. This (boar) avails more than weapons or human protection; it guarantees that the worshipper of the goddess is without fear even when surrounded by enemies.”

Ing was also associated with wains, and we are told in the Old English Rune Poem that:


“Ing was first seen among men among the East-Danes,

till he later departed east over the sea; the wain ran after;

thus the warriors named the hero.”


This suggests that a wain cult was also part of Ing’s cult, and this is an idea further supported by the mention of Freyr’s wagon in Ögmundar Tháttr dytts.

For Great Valley Kindred, Ing is a god of fertility of land, and the members of our kindred who worship Ing the most are small plot farmers.

Recommended Reading:

Looking For The Lost Gods Of England’ by Kathleen Herbert

Available from here.




We see Hama as the Old English counterpart of the Norse Heimdallr. Sadly, there is very very little evidence of this god in Old English sources, but we feel that it is enough for us to include this god, as one of our luckgivers. In Beowulf, there is a reference to ‘Hama’, who rescued the Brosinga mene necklace. This may be the same as the Brisingamen that Freyja is said to possess in Norse sources. The Old Norse sources tell of a fight between Loki and Heimdallr over a gem called the ‘sea kidney’ – a term sometimes identified with Brisingamen – so we feel that Hama may be the same as Heimdallr. Given the fact that Beowulf was a story from originally from Denmark, we also cannot rule out the idea that the inclusion of Hama wasn’t down to that Danish connection, and the early English may simply have not known of him.

As there is no other information in Old English sources about Hama, we have largely taken our information about this god from the Old Norse sources. He is the guardian of Bifro”st, the watchman whose job it is to sound the alarm at the first signs of Ragnaro”k.

Great Valley Kindred sees Hama as a deity who is very dedicated to duty and using his skills for the good of others, especially the wider community. He’s the creature of social order and as such is interested in the world of man. Some in the kindred consider him to be something of a ‘patron’ of finding people’s abilities and bringing them together for the good of the whole. One of our members also holds the view that Hama is a god who used to travel constantly and guards out of choice. He also feels that the opportunity to share stories with travelers on the bridge is something he likes and may even collect stories.



Like Wōden, Frige, Þūnor, and Ing, Tiw was widely known in the Germanic world. Known to the early English as Tiw, the Germans as Ziu, the Goths as Teiws, and Tyr to the Old Norse, Tiw derives from *Dyaus, the reconstructed name of the chief deity of Indo-European religion. It is from this god’s name that we derive the day name ‘Tuesday’ (Tiwes-daeg). In England, Tiw was represented symbolically on swords by the ‘Tiw rune’, and we also find the place name Tuesley (Tiw’s Sacred Grove) in Surrey.

In the Old English rune poem for the Tiw rune, we are told the following:

“Tir is one of the signs, keeps faith well with princes,

is always on course above the night fogs; it never fails in its duty.”

Tiw’s Norse counterpart is believed to have sacrificed his hand in order to bind the wolf Fenrir for the good of all. This story is attested both textually and on a Migration Period bracteates found in Trollhättan, Sweden. Given the age of this story, we take it that the early English probably also knew this story, and Great Valley Kindred includes it in part of how we see Tiw.

For us, he is the oldest god, who keeps order and isn’t afraid to make the tough decisions. He never fails in his duty and makes the sacrifices needed no matter the cost to himself. For us, he is also the guardian of tribal thew.

Recommended Reading:

Looking For The Lost Gods Of England’ by Kathleen Herbert

Available from here.


Eorthan Modor

The earliest mention of the tribes who would come to make up the Anglo-Saxons, and eventually the English, came in the 1st century AD. Tacitus wrote of a confederation of tribes that were like the other German tribes in worship except for in one way:

“They worship in common Nerthus, that is Terra Mater and believe she intervenes in human affairs and goes on to progress through the tribes. There is a sacred grove on an island of the ocean and in the grove is a consecrated wagon covered with a cloth. Only the priest is allowed to touch it; he understand when the goddess is present in her shrine and follows with profound reverence when she is drawn away by cows. Then there are days of rejoicing: the places she considers worthy to entertain her –[that is wherever the cows drawing the wain, which has no human driver, come to a stop] – keep holiday. They do not go to war, do not use weapons, all iron is shut away – peace and quiet are so much esteemed and loved at that time – until the same priest returns the goddess to her sanctuary when she has had enough of human company. Directly, the wain, the covering cloth and, if you like to believe this, the goddess herself, are washed in a secluded lake. Slaves are the ministers; immediately, the same lake swallows them. From this arises a mysterious terror and a pious ignorance about what that may be, which is only seen by those about to die.

In later times, we see the prayer-like charm to the Earth Mother in the Aecerbot (Field Remedy), which goes:

“Hail to you , earth, mother of mortals,

May you grow big in God’s embrace,

filled with food for the use of humankind.”

The opening line of this prayer, “Erce, erce, erce eorthan modor” (Erce, erce, erce, Mother of Earth) further adds to this idea of a belief in an Earth Mother, or Mother of Earth. Regarding the mysterious word, ‘erce’, that it “might be used in this line in the sense of ‘High One!’ or ‘Exalted One!’”

Herbert also links the wain rite as recounted by Tacitus with the later English folk harvest traditions of a ‘Harvest Queen’/representative of the fruitful earth riding in a wagon and making random progress through the people amidst rejoicing in September (Haligmonath). German visitors in the 16th century reported seeing such a rite during which the goddess was called Ceres (a goddess of fertility with a chthonic aspect such as the kind to which Romans typically applied the epithet ‘Terra Mater’).

We at Great Valley Kindred see Eorthan Modor (Mother of Earth) as a goddess of earth (albeit not the only one). She receives the offerings that are not offered to fire or water and when not explicitly to her, receives them on the behalf of the gods or other Holy Powers.

Recommended Reading:

Looking For The Lost Gods Of England’ by Kathleen Herbert

Available from here

Our Events

The Timing and Frequency of Our Events

Some Heathen groups only celebrate 3 or 4 holidays a year, as those are the only ones they find strongly attested in Lore (Midsummer, Winternights, Yule, and sometimes Ostara/Sigrblot), whereas other groups have 8 major holidays inspired by the Neopagan Wheel of the Year.

As a group, we feel that regular opportunities for in-group interaction are key to building strong community and so it is for this reason that we decided that we would have a public holiday once a month. Some of these are the standard holidays, while others are, as you might imagine, inventions loosely based on lore, for we feel that for Heathenry to be meaningful, it must not only carry forward ancient traditions, but create new traditions for the here and now.

Details about the monthly holidays we celebrate can be found here.

If you are interested in coming to our rites and we do not already know you, please feel free to come to one of our quarterly moots so you can get to know us first ( the schedule may be found here ), or contact us using this form. While we are not opposed to having new people come to our rites, our rites do take place on private property and so we reserve the right to only invite people we feel would be positive additions to our community.


What to Expect at a GVK Event

Our events typically start around two or three in the afternoon, and include time for socializing, ritual, and a short workshop on aspects of Heathen worldview. Guests bring food and/or drink for the potluck, and any extra items that they wish to offer during the rite. We are a family-friendly group, and so we expect behavior to be such that it keeps that in mind.


What Does Ritual Look Like For GVK?

Our ritual format is one that is constantly evolving and changing as we change and evolve as a group and find what works the best for us. Our rites begin with a hallowing chant which attendees are encouraged to learn and join in with, and then we call to our seven Luckgivers before making offerings to any deity associated with the festival. Some of our rites have specific worship activities associated with the time of year, for example, our Midsummer rites includes the burning of a sunwheel. After the main offering, we have a kind of Symbel that has three rounds. The first is made in honor of any gods, the second is for the ancestors, and the third is far freer. While this form of Symbel-in-offering rite is not lore-based, it has become our custom.



Please turn your phone off, or at least on silent during rituals. Recording is not permitted without prior approval.

Please refrain from invoking deities from other pantheons or religious faiths during the rites. That being said, we fully welcome others whose spiritual path is different from our own to attend and respectfully participate during our rites. During Blot and Symbel, saying a general “Hail the gods!” is appropriate if you happen to honor non-Germanic deities. If you do not wish to acknowledge a deity at all, and still wish to participate, a simple “Hail!” is appropriate as well.

Our liturgy may seem simple, and sometimes relaxed, but keep in mind that it is still a religious ceremony. Please do not be disruptive during our rites. When others are speaking, please show respect by listening and responding. Our Kindred usually attempts to familiarize our guests with the liturgy before the rite begins, but if questions come to mind during the rite, please save them for afterward.  And of course, turn your cell phone off (or at least on silent)!

Our liturgy includes a Symbel, or ceremonial drinking ritual. We pass a horn around for three rounds to toast the gods, the ancestors, and the folk. During Symbel, we do not toast (or “hail”) the following: Loki, jotuns/eotens, evil people or spirits, or anything generally considered dishonorable. The Symbel is a ceremony that promotes the positive and improves the Wyrd, or luck, of those assembled. It is meant to honor and thank our gods and goddesses, our beloved ancestors, and the community’s accomplishments. If you wish to make an oath during Symbel please discuss this with a Kindred member prior to the rite – we do not take oath making lightly, and would appreciate the chance to discuss this before mixing our Wyrd with yours.

More about Symbel: If you do not wish to drink from the horn, kissing the horn or just passing it to the next person are both perfectly appropriate. If you are, or were recently, sick – please DO NOT drink from the horn.

We do NOT tolerate racism, sexism, or any bigotry whatsoever. Keep your negativity to yourself, and find yourself a different group to spend your time with if you espouse any of those things.  Also, our community consists of folk from many walks of life and are of many political persuasions. Please keep this in mind when engaging in political discussion and keep it civil!

Our guests are encouraged to bring offerings, including: Mead or another alcoholic beverage, food, crafts or poetry, or any meaningful and respectful token of your devotion to the gods, ancestors, and wights.