Hail to the lovely folks at Crowder State Park for giving us a venue in which the facilities were very accessible and accommodating, the local wights were overwhelmingly welcoming in a natural beauty that teemed with life, and yet didn't’t seem overly inclined to snack upon us who guested.
Trothmoot 2017 was a risk, as we who put on the event had never been to the site, but we were determined to bring Trothmoot and its attendant magic to those folks who had never had a chance to be to one, or who had not been in many years. It is not enough that Trothmoot brings together the usual suspects in the usual places, if hosting a Trothmoot is more difficult than any festival I have ever been a part of it is because the moot serves the folk, not the folk serving the moot. Trothmoot exists to weave together the many peoples that make up The Troth, from far flung hearths and kindreds we hail, so to each region must the moot be brought, that it belongs equally to all.
I will not lie to you, I approached the arrival with concerns, so very many unknowns, yet with confidence for the strength of the Troth is the folk who make it up, and in this we are among the most blessed of organizations as our folk are a wonder indeed.
Upon arrival, the site offered us so many gifts at once, the site photos we had seen were clearly fall or winter pictures, as the green lush forest that teemed with birds singing and soaring through the air, whose little critters moved happily and obliviously through the woods of the site, not pausing in their business out of fear of us, and whose site knew gentle cooling breezes to offset the humid heat of a Missouri summer.
First wrinkle of the moot was perhaps one of the better symbols for how the Troth actually works. Our noble steer had with him the glove of Tyr that, when placed upon the spear, will render the site Frithstead, calling the peace of The Thing upon the land as long as the moot runs. One problem, he didn’t bring a spear. Are we not the Troth, do the gods themselves not provide a certain amount of backup for just such occasions? A little raven had whispered in my ear, telling me I had to add my spear head to my already overburdened Trothmoot bag. Should I bring eighteen inches of weapon through international customs for reasons amounting to “a god kind of suggests it’s a good idea”? Why not, its Trothmoot, far weirder requests will likely happen, and I never second guess hints about events this complicated. I took a staff brought by Distelfink kindred of Pennsylvania and carved its end to fit a spear head from the Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia. Now while a workable ad-hoc repair, it required the support of Winifred’s strong blacksmith husband to hammer home local iron to bind it together. West coast, east coast, and central, from the north of Canada to the southern soil of Missouri, we had come together to establish the peace of this place.
We had other wrinkles, but like most things that occur in life, you can view them as misfortunes or you can view them as opportunities to come together. We had a very special event planned inside our Trothmoot this year, for a young heathen couple had asked us to bless their union by allowing the marriage to be held at Trothmoot so their Heathen community and their families could both bear witness. How could we not agree? Their godhi was right ready to perform the ceremony, but a heart attack rendered him unable to do so safely; but this was not a problem, for the ceremony they used is one that the bride had requested permission to use from my own Heathen Freehold, so of course I would volunteer to officiate. Now the stress of the wedding, the rush of events, and of course some additional medical issues caused the bride to collapse the day of the wedding. Instead of performing the wedding, we were performing care for the bride and seeing her looked after. The hosts of Trothmoot, representing the Blue Heron, Hrafnar, and Heathen Freehold kindreds took bride and groom to hospital to make sure she was cared for, as people really do come first, or you are Heathening wrong.
The wedding was rescheduled, and we flowed from Idunna-blot to wedding, to main feast and grand Sumbel. What could be more perfect that joining together two good and worthy heathens in the sight of the gods, wights, ancestors and the community, and joining the wedding feast to the high feast. In this way the wedding guests took part in the hospitality of the high feast of Trothmoot, and got to witness the miracles that Tanya manages, making you think we stole her from some royal hall, rather than had her kidnap the Shoppe on her way to do the Trothmoot food shopping.
Trothmoot exists to weave frith, to bring together the community in real space and time, to build real personal bonds between kindreds that span the physical borders of our many lands, and the breadth of our traditions. What better symbol of Trothmoot can there be, than the joining of two good and worthy heathens in love and troth, supported by not only their families, but by their community as well.
We did many fine rituals, had amazing discussions, I doubt I slept more than nine hours in the four days of the moot and prep, and counted none of my time wasted. We talked, oh how we talked, sharing stories and discussions from the deep to the comedic, from the very real and important work of dealing with the issues before heathenry in our communities, how to deal with delivering the services of existing programs like prison In-reach to make sure our faith is not being used to radicalize prisoners with white power poison, to Military Outreach to make sure that those who have served our folk are not cut off from both community and support when their service ends.
There was magic, both the kind that would amaze and impress those who look to such things for the measure of a practice, and the kind that would amaze and impress those who look at hospitality and community building as the measure of a practice. Honestly, Trothmoot weaves so many things together it is not a surprise that we raided a yarn store after running the bride to the hospital; you can’t weave that much without offering to she who weaves the lives of our folk.
I miss standing in the kitchen doing bacon for Tanya and discussing the amazing events from the night before with the starry eyed breakfast prep teams. There is nothing more exciting that hearing how much others are getting out of Trothmoot and the wonderful people they are meeting either for the first time, or deepening the valuable relationships forged at earlier moots.
Trothmoot 2017 is over, and we bid Crowder State park fare well. I think the echoes of what we did there will ring in the land for some time, as they will inside those whose voices were raised together in celebration and praise. Hail the folk, hail the Troth, and hail to the fair lands and wights that welcomed us.
John T Mainer
Thanks to Staci Baisch, and Dara Grey for joining me in helping Lorrie Wood make this happen. Our second moot, and on ground we hadn't’t even trod yet. Not too badly done, my fair maidens, not too badly done at all!