Sunday, July 05, 2009

Athelings and Odal

The atheling was the champion of the odal. That's clear in the etymological relationship of the words. In other words, a person who is part of the jarl class, of the noble class, gains their nobility via the fact that they champion odal rights. To simply call them an "upper class" or a "noble class" as if they were equivalent to any aristocracy is not only a misunderstanding but a turning of things upside-down. Their value and excellence lies in what they are championing, and it is through what they are championing that they achieve their status of nobility. When we examine the behavior of aristocracies historically, we realize that what is being gotten at here in the ancient lore is something quite different. Aristocracies rarely champion odal rights.

Kropotkin makes it clear that the foundation of the nobility in terms of their legitimacy was their original holding of the knowledge of the law. They were the educated class, the ones who memorized the laws and the stories, and therefore, their preservation of the rights, both in memory, to preserve them from amnesia, misunderstanding, and disinformation, as well as in the real world, to shield them from invading tyrants that would try to take them away, was what made people give the nobility such worth. These were people and families who took on responsibilities above and beyond the average living of a life. They educated themselves to levels of excellence in the interests of the common folk. Because of their willingness to take on extraordinary responsibilities above and beyond that which most people would want to attempt to, there were certain privileges that accrued to them, as recognition and reward for their fulfillment of responsibility in the defense of rights, reward and recognition granted by the people. A so-called nobility that is not championing the odal rights of the common people is no nobility at all in the eyes of Teutonic lore.

The athelings are the jarls, a word which I have demonstrated was used synonymously with gothi, the poetic priesthood, the shamanic song-smiths who sang the songs of the land. Now why this should be is connected with the fact that the odal rights had a spirituality of their own that underlay them. There is no legitimate land-holding without connection to the land-spirits who nourish that land, and the Gods who rule over them, and so a connection to the land-spirits and to the Gods who themselves govern those land-spirits is a necessary part of holding land.

Now whoever heard of that in the modern world, where property is an abstraction guaranteed solely through possession of money? To our modern ears, the idea of religious requirements for the holding of land sounds theocratic. But a slight twist of the ears allows us to see that what's being talked about is the necessity for ecological spirituality and responsibility as requisites for land-holding ; in other words, sacred stewardship.

The jarls as the living libraries of the songs that sing the spirits of the land are necessary parts of protecting the rights of that land.


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