Frith

Divine Multiplicity

While frith directly translates to “peace,” it is a word that holds so much meaning inside it that “peace” does not do it justice. Frith and pax are not synonymous. Vilhelm Grønbech states in Culture of the Teutons,

A word such as the Latin pax suggests first and foremost…a laying down of arms, a state of equipoise due to the absence of disturbing elements; frith, on the other hand, indicates something armed, protection defense – or else a power for peace which keeps men amicably inclined (Grønbech 35).

Frith, then, is an actively defensive and protective type of peace. Frith, for the ancient Germanic people, formed the very foundation of the soul itself. Frith was such a vital part of life that it was considered a base necessity and not referred to as a virtue. Because of that, the society formulated around frith became one “based upon general unity…

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2 thoughts on “Frith”

  1. Frith is more about “right action” in a situation based on the zeitgeist of that culture’s values.

    Breaking the frith, meant you were outlawed from the frith, i.e. the protections of that community. This is why the frithguilds gave way to the term peace-keepers used with law enforcement. We think of outlaws merely as criminals, but in antiquity an outlaw could be robbed, beaten, or murdered with impunity. They no longer were afforded any protections.

    Lots of heathens like to spout the 9 Noble Virtues, but for me all the virtues foundationally come down to two things: frith and troth–being true in both your actions and words to your community.

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