SkalkdomShane Frana Axenthowes
One of the most frequently questioned traditions in Theodism is that of thralldom, or as we call it in Axenthof skalkdom. In today’s age of unearned freedom and ill-conceived personal equality, many heathens are appalled at the thought of entering into skalkdom and what amounts to slavery in their mind. For some this discomfort can never be overcome, but for others a little bit of conversation with actual Theodsmen goes a long way to dispelling their apprehension. This short explanation is intended to aid in clarifying the purpose and expectations of the tradition of skalkdom.
Skalkdom serves many purposes within the thiad, none of which are directed solely at forcing subservience and demeaning the individual. The thiad is a living organism, a tribe of people gathered together under common thew and for a common purpose. Like any other business venture where a group of people come together to serve a purpose it is important to gather together the best people to meet the demands of such a venture. It is very important that the prospective skalk understand that becoming Theodish is about serving a purpose, a purpose that goes beyond the individual. Because Theodism is a religion that finds expression within a group dynamic it is necessary to determine and guarantee that all members of the group dynamic are capable of functioning together and functioning together well. It is also necessary to determine that the members of the group are willing to meet the demands of serving a greater purpose, as well as doing so with others. These are the primary reasons behind the tradition of skalkdom and the impetus for the arduous nature of thralldom within Theodish Belief.
In addition to the above, skalkdom serves the purpose of earning one’s worth within the tribe. As a skalk, the individual acknowledges his lack of worth within the thiad. This is important, because regardless of worth in other areas of life it is necessary to the success of the thiad and the expression of its religious ideals for the individual to earn worth within the context of the thiad and establish himself within the ranks of the tribe. There is an element of self-sacrifice in skalkdom. The ability of the skalk to demonstrate a willingness to serve his folk beyond his own personal desire to socialize is part of the worthing process. This aspect of skalkdom is most often accomplished through manual labor and serving the folk. This process also tests the ability of the skalk to endure. Enduring the effects of physical, mental and emotional strain and proving one's ability to perservere under such conditions is useful to both the skalk and the tribe in determining the veracity of the relationship to be established. An individual who is unwilling to put service to the thiad before his own personal gratification and ego-fulfillment is doomed to failure in a tribal setting.
Another purpose served in skalkdom is the education of the skalk in the thew of the thiad. During this time the skalk is introduced to the vision of the tribe, the expectations of its folk, and the Theodish religion. Part of the success of the period of skalkdom is measured in the knowledge gained as regards the reconstruction of heathenry, Theodism, the concept of the tribe, and knowledge of the other members of the tribe. An attentive skalk will learn a lot about the other members of the thiad in addition to the knowledge shared about tribal thew, the religion, the gods, and the cultures of the pre-Christian Germanic world.
Skalkdom is not expected to be easy. In fact, difficulty is demanded. Skalkdom is a test of the individual, a test of the individual’s willingness to serve a greater purpose, and a test of the compatibility of the individual and the thiad. It is important to mention this latter point. The thiad reserves the right to terminate the skalkdom at any point for reasons of its own. It is also important that the skalk knows that he can terminate the skalkdom at any time if he feels he is incapable of meeting the demands of the thiad or feels that Theodism is not what he thought it to be. Also implicit in the above is the fact that the period of skalkdom requires face to face interaction with the thiad. It would be impossible to successfully accomplish the above without actual personal interaction between the folk of the thiad and the skalk on a regular basis.
So after reading all of that, why would anyone want to become a skalk? Aside from the personal reasons, there is much to be earned in skalkdom. Coming through the other side of the period of skalkdom is to have earned a place in a tribe based upon deeds and worth. It is also to have earned a group of people dedicated to your support and success just as you have demonstrated you are dedicated to their support and success. This reciprocity is a key element of earlier Germanic world-views and is fundamental to Theodism. A skalk, who succeeded in being freed, can take pride that he was tested, had demands and expectations made of him, and standards set for him, all of which he, by his own hand-work and hand-strength, overcame to earn his worth in the tribe. He has accomplished something that not everyone is capable of accomplishing and has set himself apart as being exceptional in that regard.
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