Dear Heathen Folk of the Great Valley:
4 of the 5 oathed members of Great Valley Kindred met on July 28th, 2014 for a quarterly business meeting. The following items have been made available for public consumption as they impact our members, prospective members and guests.
**Item 1: Membership Tiers**
In the past 2 years the kindred has experienced growth. We have met many new people, most of them honorable, but a few that were not. As the kindred grows, there is a question of who fits into our local thew given their experience and expertise, and how to best acclimate prospective new members to the fold. The following tiers of Membership have been adopted, and are as follows:
FREOND / FRIEND (FRIENDS OF THE KINDRED): Friends of the Kindred are acquaintances of the Kindred, and are not registered members of the Great Valley Kindred. The Kindred does not welcome convicted felons, sex offenders, racist/racialist, or those that are offensive in nature and personality. They must be met on neutral grounds before being invited to attend any Kindred events such as Holiday rites. The neutral grounds may include one of the quarterly pubmoots. The only exception is if a friend is known and invited by a member of the greater Heathen or Pagan community and is a generally respectable person. When invited to a Holiday rite, friends are welcome to participate during Symbel, but will not serve an official role during the rite. The only expectation is to bring food and drink to potluck events, and to observe the etiquette as described by the Kindred. Friends of the Kindred must attend nine Kindred functions (functions that will count will be determined by the Witan) within a year, show spiritual growth in Heathenry, and maintain a positive relationship with the Kindred before being considered for full membership (Gilda/Gildan); this is a minimum requirement, however, and the Witan will decide when to promote Friend to Gildan.
GILDA / GILDAN (REGISTERED MEMBERS OF THE KINDRED): Gildan are the registered, non-voting members of Great Valley Kindred. Gildan must be 18 years of age or older, and may be promoted by the Witan to this level of membership after the minimum requirement of attending nine Kindred functions within a year, and other expectations, have been met. Gildan will be required to make the Kindred’s Pledge of Faith. Gildan are expected to be active participants in Kindred event planning, active learners in Heathenry, and must maintain a positive relationship with the Kindred and the greater Heathen Community. Gildan will receive public recognition of their promotion during a specified rite and will receive a token of their membership as well as a copy of the Kindred Sigil. Gildan will also be listed on the Great Valley Kindred website, and will receive a GVK email address. Gildan who maintain good standing with the Kindred will be eligible for liturgical roles, as well as appointment to the following Kindred offices: Runwita, Wælcyrge, Scop, Stiweard, Larwita, and Meduwyrhta. Good standing will be maintained by adhering to Kindred Etiquette and the Code of Ethics (to be formulated). Gildan do not attend meetings of the Witan, and do not vote on business matters, but are encouraged to propose and discuss Kindred related activities and ideas. Gildan are encouraged to participate with quarterly community service and/or community outreach activities, as determined or approved by the Witan. Gildan must remain registered members of the Kindred for a minimum of one year before the Witan can consider offering the opportunity to take the Kindred Oath. Promotion from Gilda to Eaoldor must be a unanimous decision of the Witan. Gildan who are being promoted to Eaoldor will swear their initial Kindred Oath during the Yule Holiday rite.
EAOLDOR / EAOLDORAS (OATHED MEMBERS OF THE KINDRED, MEMBERS OF THE WITAN): Eaoldoras are the senior members of the Great Valley Kindred who have taken the Kindred Oath. Eaoldoras, who are in good standing, are eligible to be elected to serve on the Witan, the executive council of the Kindred comprised of the following offices: Reeve, Weofodthegn, Notwritere, and Hordere. Witan officers and Eaoldoras must have demonstrable leadership skills, display a high moral character, show commitment to the Kindred, and uphold the Kindred Oath at all times. Eaoldoras will be given public recognition of their promotion, and swear their initial Kindred Oath during the Kindred’s Yule Holiday rite and will be given a token of their promotion and a copy of the Kindred Oath. An Eoaldor’s good standing will be maintained by upholding the Kindred Oath at all times, adhering to Kindred Etiquette and the Code of Ethics (to be formulated), timely payment of membership dues as determined by the Witan (dues to be determined), and attendance of 50% of scheduled business meetings and 75% of scheduled Holiday rites (appropriate notice must be given for planned absences). Eaoldoras are required to participate with quarterly community service and/or community outreach activities, as determined or approved by the Witan. Eaoldoras are expected to interface with leaders of the greater Heathen community and maintain grith (as outlined by the griðowǽr pledged by the Great Valley Kindred: “An Anglo-Saxon Heathen Griðowǽr” in 2013). Eaoldoras are expected to attend the Oathing Ceremony and Founding Anniversary each year to renew their oaths (will be excused for appropriate reasons).
**Item #2: Offices of the Kindred **
Offices of the Kindred shall be divided into non-Witan (non-administrative) and Witan (administrative) offices.
NON-WITAN OFFICES: Non-Witan offices are available to qualified Gildan and Eaoldoras only. These offices are not limited to one member, but some may only be executed by one member at a time during rites. Appointment to these offices will be decided by the Witan.
- Runwita (Seer): invokes Woden during rites, and interprets runic omens. A working knowledge of Anglo-Saxon Futhorc as well as other runic Futharks and divination sets is required. Working knowledge of lore related to Woden and the runes is required. Must be willing to teach others about runes.
- Wælcyrge (Valkyrie): invokes Frige/Freo during rites, and presides during Symbel. Must be a female, and have working knowledge of lore related to Frige/Freo, Wælcyrge, and Symbel.
- Scop (Poet / Skald): leads and performs artistic, musical, poetic, and storytelling activities during Kindred events (not limited to during rites). The Scop may appoint other members (limited to Gildan and Eaoldoras) to assist with artistic activities as needed. All artistic activities must be prepared and presented to the Witan for approval.
- Stiweard (Steward): develops and maintains the Kindred website, and promotes the Kindred through various marketing activities. Must have technical and demonstrable knowledge of website coding and development. The Stiweard may appoint other members (limited to Gildan and Eaoldoras) to assist with website and/or marketing related activities as needed. All marketing related activities must be presented to the Witan for approval.
- Larwita (Lore Teacher): articulates Heathen lore to Kindred members and guests through various means. Must have a working knowledge of all aspects of Heathenry and Heathen lore. Plans and leads lore discussions during Kindred events. Develops and formulates “Kindred lore” that incorporates the present day setting of the Great Valley Kindred with the historical records of Heathen lore. Must have a working knowledge of the runes, and may assist the Runwita with interpretation of omens.
- Meduwyrhta (Mead Maker): makes various kinds of mead that will be shared during Kindred events and offered during blot. Must have working knowledge of mead making. The Meduwyrhta will submit costs of supplies/ingredients to the Witan for review and approval. The Meduwyrhta may lead discussions and give presentations on mead making during Kindred events.
WITAN OFFICES: Witan offices are available to Eaoldoras only.
- Weofodthegn (Altar-Priest(ess)): will serve as the spiritual adviser, chief liturgist, and interfaith ambassador for the Kindred. Must be an ordained clergy member with established credentials (from an approved source), or in the process of obtaining clergy credentials (within 3 years, from an approved source). Must have a high moral character, be regarded with respect by the greater Heathen community, and be an approachable person. The Weofodthegn should be willing and able to perform the duties of modern clergy (within ethical and practical boundaries) and should have experience with the development and implementation of Heathen liturgy as well as knowledge of the liturgical year of the Kindred. The Weofodthegn will plan and execute all Kindred rites, and the various components of the liturgy. The Weofodthegn will strive to promote the sacred nature of the Kindred and will maintain order and propriety during rites. All changes to liturgy will be proposed by the Weofodthegn to the Witan for review and adoption. As the custodian of the Weofod, the Weofodthegn will instruct the Kindred regarding the appearance and layout of the Weofod during Kindred rites. The Weofodthegn will be responsible for the safe-keeping of Weohs (idols).
- Reeve (Administrator): will serve as the secular administrator of the Kindred and preside over meetings of the Witan by establishing the agenda for Witanmoots. Must be regarded with respect by the Kindred and the greater Heathen Community. The Reeve must possess good communication and listening skills, and have practical experience that can provide evidence of these skills. The Reeve will articulate Kindred protocol, etiquette, codes, and customs to all members and visitors alike. The Reeve will promote assertive and respectful conversation amongst members and be willing to address concerns and matters that require disciplinary actions promptly. The Reeve will administer the Kindred Oath during the Yule Holiday rite as well as the Oath renewal during the Oathing Ceremony and Founding Anniversary. The Reeve will provide any necessary interventions to ensure that the Oath is upheld by all Eaoldoras, and support Gildan in their commitment to the Pledge of Faith. In the event that an Eaoldor may need to be relieved of the Kindred Oath, the Reeve will convene a special vote of the Witan to determine the appropriate course of action.
- Notwritere (Scribe): serves as the scribe of the Witan, recording and transcribing the minutes of all meetings, as well as publishing any public announcements of the Witan. Also responsible for recording the important details of Kindred events including omens, boasts, and other newsworthy particulars. Additionally, the Notwritere publishes the quarterly newsletters of the Great Valley Kindred. All documentation completed by the Notwritere is saved and posted to the Kindred website (GVK Board) for Kindred record. The Notwritere must possess exceptional writing skills and be detail oriented.
- Hordere (Treasurer): serves as the treasurer and financial manager of the Great Valley Kindred. Must be regarded with respect in terms of financial management and responsibility, have exceptional money management and budgeting skills, and have practical experience to serve as evidence for these skills. The Hordere will keep the Kindred informed of financial obligations, goals, and donations and will present a financial update to the Witan during quarterly Witanmoots. The Hordere will oversee the collection of membership dues from Eaoldoras, and will keep a record of financial standing for each Eaoldor. When a monetary goal has been met, the Hordere will inform the Witan and a plan will be made regarding the appropriate course of action.
**Item III: Yearly Cycle of Events**
The following cycle of yearly events has been formally approved.
- One seasonal blot a month except for July, open to Friends and above
- Yule shall be a time to induct new Elders with oaths
- July event is Founding Ceremony for Elders to renew oaths
- Various blots through year open only to Members and above
- Quarterly pubmoots, locations varied among Hagerstown, Gettysburg and elsewhere
- Quarterly Witanmoots for Elders only
- Quarterly community service projects
- Quarterly newsletters published
- attendance at Vanir Fest (May) and Winter Nights (October) at Thor’s Hollow
- attendance at East Coast thing in August
- occasional visitations to Gladsheim Kindred
- Annual camping event for kindred only
**Item IV: Non-Profit status **
As the kindred grows, we have discussed if it is worth our time to seek non-profit status. There were 3 national organizations under consideration: The Troth, ADF, and Geferradean Fyrnsidu. A 4th option was to incorporate GVK itself as its own non-profit entity, much like Gladsheim Kindred of Columbia, MD.
ADF has been deemed not suitable for the kindred, since it would possibly subject the kindred to non-Germanic (especially Celtic) influences. The members of GVK who are ADF members may explore their own local group someday, but this would exist parallel to the kindred rather than a replacement for it.
Geferradean Fyrnsidu is a small organization with a bare-bones study program. We have been approached in private by an elder of the Heathen community who has expressed reservations about Fyrnsidu. The Kindred as a whole will not be joining Fyrnsidu, but individual members of the kindred may or may not join as their own conscious and interests dictate.
At this point in time, we do not even qualify for joining The Troth as we don’t have 2 full members. However, many of our allies are members and officers. We would like to have conversations with Troth officials about the requirements and advantages of membership within the Troth, as their website is less than helpful in conveying useful information about this.
Finally, the ultimate aim of GVK is to have its own land and its own Hof someday, much like Gladsheim Kindred, but we are several years away from making that a reality.
As of right now, GVK remains a small (but growing) independent entity which is free to reconsider its options for the future.
These above decisions were approved unanimously by the 4 members present.
Finally, at the end of the meeting, the 4 members performed a symbel and a rune reading. The rune reading was thus:
- Ethel: Home or ancestral inheritance
- Ing: blessings of the gods
- Ur. Strength of the aurochs
We took this as a very positive endorsement of our actions.
The Reeve, Josh French, will be contacting some members in private about where they stand with the Kindred given some of these revisions. If you have questions about membership, please direct it to him.
Hail the Folk!
— Jeremy Baer, GVK notwritere