The position of Chieftain is a responsibility recognized and bestowed upon a member of their kindred or tribe, by the other members of that kindred or tribe. In bestowing this responsibility upon one of its members, the kindred or tribe is recognizing the Luck, knowledge, stability, force of character, decision-making, skills, and ability to “get things done” of that particular member. The relationship between the Chieftain and his tribe is a reciprocal one.
The kindred goes as its Chieftain goes. A kindred without a Chieftain can often lack focus, direction, and the ability to wisely come to important decisions or get things done. A Chieftain without a kindred, is essentially nothing, and certainly not a Chieftain.
In the interest of simplicity, I have referred to the Chieftain throughout this essay using masculine pronouns. There is no reason that a woman could not be Chieftain. I know too many strong and knowledgable women of Luck and worth to hold the opinion that only men can serve in the role of Chieftain.
|Gunnar Miller of Volkshof Kindred, Ralph Romig of Tyr's Helm Tribe, and Mark Ludwig Stinson of Jotun's Bane Kindred.|
BOUND BY THEW
A Chieftain is bound by the kindred's thew, perhaps more than any other member of the kindred. Due to the vast responsibilities that rest with the Chieftain, the kindred's eyes are always on him, and the Chieftain's actions and decisions rarely go without notice. Many of the most basic and practical matters of kindred thew, affect and are affected by the Chieftain. The customs and traditions of a kindred, establish many understandings and expectations between the Chieftain and the kindred's membership, and this thew helps preserve and maintain the reciprocal relationship between the Chieftain and the kindred's members.
To be successful, the Chieftain must have a strong working knowledge of kindred thew, and an understanding of how his actions and decisions will be perceived by the members of his kindred. When the Chieftain acts or chooses a course of action within established thew, the kindred will quickly and naturally agree and follow his course of action. If the Chieftain acts or chooses a course of action for which no thew has yet been developed, the Chieftain must ensure that the kindred's members fully understand the situation and his decision. If the Chieftain acts or chooses a course of action which is contrary to kindred thew, then the Chieftain should expect to be challenged and be ready to explain in a compelling manner why acting contrary to thew was necessary. The Thyle plays a role in advising the Chieftain in a manner consistent with kindred's thew, and also in challenging the Chieftain when he acts outside of thew.
This dynamic within the kindred, described above, will often result in new thew being developed or in thew being adjusted or expanded to fit new situations as the kindred encounters them. One of the roles of the Chieftain is to act within the bounds of thew, or to build consensus regarding adjustment or expansions in the kindred's thew.
As in all things involving the Chieftain, success in his actions and decisions play a large role in the development of trust between the Chieftain and his kindred. A kindred will follow the decisions of a person who has shown great Luck in the past, and a kindred will continue to follow his decisions as his Luck holds, and as it grows.
It is completely false to think that a Chieftain can dictate whatever he wants to his kindred. A Chieftain is bound by thew, and must always actively consider thew when making decisions. To do otherwise reduces the trust between the Chieftain and his kindred, and will surely unbalance the reciprocal relationship between the kindred's members and its leadership. If the Chieftain is allowed to continue along this course, distrust and dissension will develop, disrupting the frith shared within the kindred. This in turn will negatively affect the collective Orlog and Luck of the kindred. If a Chieftain regularly acts in ways contrary to kindred thew, and overrides all attempts to challenge him regarding these actions, it is likely that he will be removed from his position or some or all of the kindred will walk away.
|Mike Spires of the Hridgar Folk Kindred.|
The strongest way for any group to move forward and accomplish something, is to move forward with a consensus of what to do, how to do it, and why you are doing it. Moving forward with a consensus means that everyone's ideas and opinions have been voiced, discussed, and evaluated. Having a consensus means that you have examined the way forward and discussed it to a point that everyone is in agreement with the plan. A consensus means the entire kindred has “bought in,” and will do their best to make the proposed plan of action succeed.
Consensus is completely different than majority rule. In majority rule, it is possible for half-the-kindred-plus-one to love the plan for moving forward, while half-the-kindred-minus-one does not like it at all. This can cause division within the kindred and result in a disruption of frith.
Consensus is also different from compromise. Compromise suggests that several courses of action were proposed, and discussions were held until such time as the kindred decides on a hybrid plan with bits and pieces of the opposing plans. There can be quite a lot of deal-making in compromise. “I'll agree to this thing I don't like, if you agree to this other thing that you don't like.” Often compromise can lead to a plan for moving forward that no one is particularly happy with.
Consensus is also completely different from having a dictator. If one person dictates and all the rest are just expected to follow, then you don't have everyone's input and ideas, and you have very little true “buy in” from the members of the kindred.
For consensus to work the kindred must share true frith, and the use of consensus further develops and deepens the feelings of frith between kindred members. The goal of having a consensus, is to talk about a course of action in a free and frithful way, until the best parts of everyone's ideas make it into the plan. The process also involves the exposure of flaws in the plan, and efforts as a group to adjust the plan to remove those flaws. The goal of building a consensus, is to develop a plan that everyone “buys into,” and values as a healthy way of moving forward. A plan based on consensus is almost always a better plan than any one person in the kindred could have developed on their own.
When the kindred faces a serious problem or a large disagreement exists within the kindred regarding how to move forward, it falls on the Chieftain more than any other member of the kindred, to move the kindred toward a consensus. Within a frithful kindred, the Chieftain should not spend all his time politicking for his own ideas or his own side of an issue. An inexperienced Chieftain will use the power of his position and the force of his personality to make things go “his way.” An experienced Chieftain listens to everyone's ideas, fully evaluates all the pluses and minuses, and then communicates a course of action that everyone can support and be excited about.
If the Chieftain wants to enact a new program for bringing in new members, or wants the kindred to host a new gathering, or wants to purchase something substantial with the kindred's money, it is not enough that he just dictate this new direction. When a Chieftain wants to takes his kindred in a new direction or wants the kindred to tackle a new project, it is the Chieftain's role to elicit suggestions and input from the kindred's membership, and to communicate his plan in such a way that a consensus successfully forms to move forward with the new idea.
An experienced Chieftain knows the thew of his kindred and he knows the members of his kindred very well. The Chieftain must look ahead to problems, challenges, or decisions that the kindred will likely face in the future, and works to build consensus and thew regarding these future problems, challenges, and decisions before they even occur. This ability to look forward and anticipate issues where a consensus among the kindred will be necessary to move forward, ensures the smooth operation of a kindred and reinforces the frith that they share.
Ultimately, a kindred's Chieftain is respected in that role by his people, based on his own Luck, knowledge, decision-making, and skill with dealing with the world. The need to build consensus within a group does not mean that a Chieftain does not make decisions. The need to build consensus with a group does not amount to some sort of “leadership by committee.” A Chieftain is constantly making decisions.
Based on the Chieftain's knowledge of his kindred and its thew, the Chieftain can make decisions without consulting with the kindred when he knows that his decision will be accepted as being within the kindred's thew. For example, if the same or similar situation has come up two times and both times the kindred handled it in the same way, the third time that situation comes up the Chieftain can simply handle it according to thew, and no one will question it. Actually the kindred will appreciate the fact that their Chieftain knows what to do in that situation in a decisive way, based on established thew.
In emergency or any situation where a decision must be made immediately or quickly, the Chieftain is expected to make a wise decision at that moment. The kindred will understand and appreciate their Chieftain being able to handle that situation quickly and wisely, without having to call a kindred-meeting or form a committee. It is for this very purpose that a kindred has chosen to recognize one of their own as Chieftain, and hopefully they have picked someone to fill that role that has the Luck to make good decisions under pressure.
Even for small details, the kindred will often look to the Chieftain for decisions. What time will dinner be served at an event? Who will set up tables and who will cook? What time are we leaving for a trip to visit another kindred? What time do we need to break camp and start packing up? Should we do our study group first and the faining later, or the faining first and study afterward? These decisions are not always made by the Chieftain, but there are times when the kindred simply looks to the Chieftain to make some easy decisions regarding what the kindred should be doing, and in what order we should be doing it. It is not that kindred members can't decide these things on their own. They are all strong and intelligent individuals with a will of their own. But there is a convenience and efficiency to having someone willing to make a quick decision about a small matter that affects the entire kindred. The last thing a kindred wants or needs is a full kindred discussion or a committee meeting to decide what time the kindred should start cooking dinner.
Another time that the Chieftain may have to take control and simply make a decision for the group, is in any situation where a decision must be made but the kindred cannot come to a consensus. If it is clear that no consensus can be found, but a decision must be made, the Chieftain must take everything into consideration and make the wisest decision possible. It is important that the kindred understand that this will sometimes be necessary, and trust in their Chieftain and support his final decision on such a matter. If the Chieftain is good at building consensus and everyone in the kindred approaches these discussions in a frithful manner, it should be fairly rare that the kindred cannot reach a consensus.
The Chieftain is constantly making decisions regarding what matters deserve priority, interactions with heathens outside the kindred and other kindreds, and regarding the basic internal operations of the kindred. He must know what is going on in the lives of his kindred members, and decide what actions he can take to advance them forward in their own lives, and collectively as a group. Good decisions and successful results help build Luck for the Chieftain and his kindred, and further develop and deepen the complexity of the kindred's thew.
|Magni Thorsson of Mjolnir Kindred and Mark of JBK.|
One way that a Chieftain serves as an example to his kindred, is in his work ethic. If the kindred sees the Chieftain working hard, they are more than willing to work hard by his side. If the Chieftain is working hard, and asks someone in the kindred to assist him or to take on the completion of some other important task, the direction given by the Chieftain will be welcome. Often, if the kindred sees the Chieftain working hard, they will busy themselves with work of their own out of obligation and loyalty to their Chieftain.
As an example, if at the end of a camping trip the Chieftain walks over and begins packing gear and loading it into the vehicles for the trip home, the rest of the kindred will also begin packing and loading their gear and the kindred's gear. The Chieftain doesn't even have to say a word. They follow his example, and they would feel shame to sit quietly off to the side while their Chieftain works alone.
As a contrary example, if the Chieftain hardly works at all, but instead sits on his rear constantly telling other people what to do, this can very quickly lead to resentment among the kindred's members. They will quickly recognize his laziness and either join in on the laziness or quickly develop anger at the work they are having to do on his behalf.
The Chieftain sets an example for his kindred in many areas besides his work ethic. It is true that as the Chieftain goes, the kindred goes. If the Chieftain is generous, honorable, works hard, shows frith towards everyone in the kindred, and has a strong sense of responsibility...this behavior sets a tone and expectations within the kindred that its members also be generous, honorable, work hard, show frith toward others in the kindred, and have a strong sense of responsibility. The opposite is true as well. If a Chieftain is stingy, dishonorable, lazy, disloyal, and has no sense of responsibility, then it is enormously likely that his kindred will eventually turn into a mirror image of their Chieftain's failings.
This happens in two ways. First, the Chieftain can set a tone within the kindred and inspire existing members to be the best they can be, or conversely the worst they can be. Secondly, a strong Chieftain of worth, will attract new people willing to join the kindred that are also strong and worthy. A weak and dishonorable Chieftain will by his nature, drive away every new person of worth that comes around the kindred.
When choosing a Chieftain for your kindred, consider the fact that within several years the kindred as a whole will very likely have many of the same qualities the Chieftain has, for good or ill. And if you serve in the role of Chieftain for your kindred, you must understand that your every action and decision will have an effect on the nature of your kindred.
HOLDER OF THE KINDRED'S LUCK
To understand this portion of the essay, you must understand that Luck is something we earn. Our hard work, our knowledge, our skills at dealing with people, our ability to overcome hardship and conflict, our decision-making, and all that we accomplish honorably in this world is part of our Luck. Over time, the more successful one is the more Luck he/she gains. When something goes wrong, the Luck we have built can make the problem easier to overcome. When someone attacks us, the Luck we have built can turn their attack away. Our Luck encourages unanticipated positive events and opportunities to develop for us.
Collectively, the same things that constitute the Luck of an individual, can also be attributed to the Luck of a kindred. When a kindred performs great and honorable deeds, builds its collective knowledge and skills, and learns to work together in true frith, then they begin to build collective Luck. When something goes wrong, that Luck makes the problem easier to overcome. When someone attacks the kindred, the Luck they have built can turn the attack away. The collective Luck of the kindred encourages unanticipated positive events and opportunities to develop for the kindred and its members.
Our ancestors understood that the collective Luck of a group was held by its leader. It is simply common sense that this same concept is true and applicable today. If a kindred or tribe is led by a person who is knowledgeable, focused, makes good decisions, stable, a hard worker, knows how to work with others, and determined to succeed...the kindred or tribe will do well. It will experience Luck in its efforts in a positive way, and will be able to take advantage of all the positive opportunities for moving forward that are generated.
If a kindred or tribe is led by a person who is ignorant, unfocused, makes poor decisions, unstable, lazy, unable to work with others, or lacks determination...then the kindred or tribe will likely have no Luck at all. Many bad things will happen. When problems do occur the problems will be more difficult to overcome. The group will be so busy dealing with the problems their poor leader causes or allows to happen, that very few positive opportunities will come along, and even when they do, they will be squandered.
Without quality leadership, any group will have very little Luck. Individual members of the group can attempt to make up for this bad leadership, but they spend all their time essentially swimming upstream as long as the bad leadership remains in place. This not only goes for heathen kindreds and tribes. It is also true of heathen organizations, study groups, pubmoot efforts, and it is also true for groups outside of heathenry, like corporations, organizations, small businesses, charities, and clubs.
In order to effectively hold the Luck of their kindred, a Chieftain must have Luck of his own. He must know how to generate Luck, how to protect his Luck, and how to use his Luck. Having this knowledge personally in his own life, such a Chieftain knows what the kindred must do to generate Luck, protect its Luck, and how to use the kindred's Luck to its maximum benefit.
The Chieftain should also understand that a kindred that accepts Luckless individuals into its Innangarth, is putting its own collective Luck at risk, and a Chieftain should do what he can to avoid this.
|Gregg Tharp of the Bifrost Bridge Kindred, Gunnar of Volkshof, and Mark of JBK.|
GUARDIAN OF THE KINDRED'S ORLOG
The past deeds of an individual do have an effect on the opportunities and possibilities that come their way. This feature of individual Orlog, also plays a role in a kindred's combined Orlog. The past deeds of every individual in the kindred and the past deeds of the kindred itself do have an effect on the opportunities and possibilities that come the kindred's way.
As a consensus-builder and a decision-maker within the kindred, a Chieftain must always keep the kindred's combined Orlog in mind. What will be the results of the kindred's deeds and actions? Are these deeds and actions honorable? Are these deeds and actions pleasing to our Gods? Do these deeds and actions make our ancestors proud? Will these deeds and actions show the respect and consideration of the Vaettir that is due to them? How will these deeds and actions affect the kindred's Gefrain (reputation)?
The kindred's Thyle should work very closely with the Chieftain in this regard, and they should communicate regularly about such matters.
If the kindred appears to be moving toward a course of action that the Chieftain believes will be damaging to the kindred's Orlog, it is his obligation to communicate, convince, and build consensus that his judgement is correct. He must use everything in his power to steer the kindred away from this damaging course of action. If an individual member of the kindred is acting in such a way that it threatens to damage the kindred's Orlog, the Chieftain has an obligation to share rede with that individual and help them understand how they can correct that behavior or action. If the matter is serious enough, he may hold a meeting that involves the individual in question, the Chieftain, the Godhi, and the Thyle so that the rede of these trusted men can add weight to his own rede. And there are times when the entire kindred needs to be brought together, the matter discussed, and frithful decisions made.
The Chieftain must always be vigilant in judging the character and worth of those individuals and families that show an interest in joining the kindred or seeking to become a part of the Folk Community that exists around the kindred. There are those that through their actions would unintentionally, or even intentionally, damage the kindred's Orlog if they are allowed within its Innangarth.
LORD OF THE HALL
The role of Chieftain outside of Symbel, is naturally reflected during Symbel as well. As Lord of the Hall, the Chieftain normally hosts formal Symbels and Symbels where non-kindred members and guests are present. For small kindred symbels at someone's home other than the Chieftain's home, the host may sometimes lead the Symbel. But not always. This is a decision made prior to such symbels, and is usually left to the preference of the host.
In formal Symbels and Symbels that include guests, the Chieftain works closely with the Lady of the Hall, the Thyle, the Godhi, the Valkyrie, and the Hall Wardens to ensure the Symbel goes well and brings Luck and Honor to all present. While the Valkyrie and Thyle have very specific roles during Symbel, the Lord of the Hall supports them in these roles and can and will step in if something appears to be going wrong. Since the Chieftain holds the kindred's Luck and protects its Orlog, it is ultimately his responsibility to ensure everyone performs their responsibilities during Symbel and that everything occurs as it should.
THE FACE OF THE KINDRED
As the kindred's Chieftain, many outside the kindred will associate the kindred closely with its leader. For Jotun's Bane Kindred, the Chieftain handles many of the administrative matters concerning events, gatherings, or other efforts with which the kindred is involved. For this reason, the Chieftain often serves as the spokesperson for the kindred. This tends to reinforce the association between the kindred and its Chieftain.
At events and gatherings that the kindred is hosting, ultimately the Chieftain is the host. The Chieftain usually welcomes the guests, lets them know what will be happening at the event, and guides everyone through the scheduled activities. If something goes wrong at the event, the Chieftain is always informed, and ensures the problem is quickly and quietly rectified, either by himself or at his direction. Even if a problem is immediately handled by a kindred member, the Chieftain is normally informed what went wrong and how it was corrected.
At such an event or gathering, it is ultimately the Chieftain's responsibility that things go as smoothly as possible, that the event is meaningful and successful, and that the guests feel welcome and leave the event pleased they chose to attend. In these situations, the Chieftain should attempt to greet and talk with everyone in attendance, and get to know them. This role as host tends to reinforce the association between the kindred and its Chieftain.
The Chieftain must never forget that without his kindred, he is essentially nothing, and certainly not a Chieftain. Rather than reacting to the attention given him with arrogance and a sense of entitlement, a Chieftain should be generous and friendly. He should advance his men and women forward, giving them credit for their good work and accomplishments, and never forgetting that everything they achieve as a kindred is a group-effort, accomplished through frithful and collective effort. It is natural that the Chieftain is often seen as the Face of the Kindred, or that the Chieftain should sometimes receive praise that might be better directed at his entire kindred. In those moments, it is important the Chieftain be generous and give credit to everyone that works to make the kindred successful.
In turn, the kindred must remember the enormous burden of responsibility that is often placed upon the Chieftain, and should be understanding that there will be times that outside people will closely associate a kindred with its Chieftain, and further associate the kindred's successes with he who bears the burden of the kindred's oath-ring.
|David Ballard of Bifrost Way Kindred, Dan B-E of Winterhof Kindred, Gunnar of Volkshof, Mark of JBK, Ralph of Tyr's Helm, Mike of Hridgar Folk, Gregg of Bifrost Bridge, and Biarki of Third Raven Kindred.|
Every kindred members has unique skills and specific knowledge that no one else in the kindred has. Over time, members of the kindred take on various roles of responsibility at which they are best. There may be one or two kindred members that are very good at organizing a kitchen and getting a large meal prepared. There may be one of two kindred members that are very good at starting need-fires and tending to campfires. There may be kindred members that are good at teaching, carving, keeping the bank account in order, playing music, working with children, and this list could go on and on. One of the most important things a Chieftain must learn to do, is to step back and let other kindred members do what they do best. He can support them. He can roll up his sleeves and help them. But, as important as the role of the Chieftain can be, it is not all about the Chieftain. What is paramount is knowing when to step back into the crowd and simply allow your frithful kindred to work like a well-oiled machine.
A Chieftain must also know when to delegate and direct others to get things done as efficiently and effectively as possible. A Chieftain can't do everything himself, and must give responsibilities and tasks to others to perform. The Chieftain must know the capabilities of his kindred's members, and know who he can trust to successfully perform specific tasks. Once a kindred member has proven their ability to fulfill certain responsibilities successfully, the Chieftain must rely on that member to do their job without micro-managing them or interfering with their work.
Part of the Chieftain's role as a facilitator, is helping newer members find their “place” or their role in the kindred. New members to a group must go through a process of “settling-in,” and part of that process for the new member is to figure out where they fit best into the kindred. Sometimes it takes some time to figure out what unique skills or specific knowledge they bring to the table. The Chieftain can give advice on this and help new members find their specific roles within the kindred.
A frithful kindred or tribe is more than the sum of its parts, but the successes of each individual member do play a role in the success, Luck, and Gefrain of the kindred as a whole. The concept of frith suggests that what one kindred member has done, the whole kindred has done – and what the kindred does as a whole, each individual member has done. Toward this end, a Chieftain must support and facilitate the growth and success of each individual member of his kindred. A Chieftain should encourage, support, and allow the individual members of his kindred to grow and become the absolutely best and most honorable people they can be. There are times when individual members of the kindred will get a lot of attention for their great deeds, and a Chieftain should celebrate this and even do what he can to give that individual member the spotlight they deserve.
GIVER OF REDE
Our ancestors believed that when you asked for advice from a man of Luck, that the rede you received contained some of that man's Luck. If you followed the rede given by a Chieftain or the King, then the Luck of that rede was likely to bring you success. In very practical terms, this makes complete sense. When you require advice about a business matter would you rather ask someone has built and operated a successful business or a guy who has run three businesses into bankruptcy? When you require advice about your marriage or your children would you rather ask a happy and successful family-man, or a guy who has been divorced twice and never sees his kids? When you require advice about interpersonal relationships would you rather ask someone who deals well with people and who is well-liked and respected by many friends or a guy who seems to eventually anger and drive away everyone with whom he interacts?
If the kindred has chosen their Chieftain well, then the kindred as a whole will benefit from his rede on important matters and decisions that must be made. In addition, individual kindred members may seek rede from their Chieftain regarding matters within their own families and in their own lives. Kindred members may even ask the Chieftain about how to resolve a problem they are having with someone in the kindred. It is possible that heathens involved in the Folk Community surrounding the kindred, or even heathens from around the region, may ask for rede from a Chieftain who is considered to be a man of great Luck.
If a Chieftain's rede is good and leads others to success, then his Gefrain as a giver of rede will grow.
|Some of Jotun's Bane Kindred...|
It is said that a good Chieftain is the poorest among his men. It is a high compliment to say that a Chieftain is a “gold-hater,” as it illustrates the Chieftain's generosity.
If someone in the kindred needs money or food, the Chieftain should be the first to give what he can to help. If someone in the kindred is facing a serious problem, the Chieftain should be the first to give advice, take action to help solve it, or to fight by their side to make things right. If someone tries something and fails, the Chieftain should be the first to pick them up, dust them off, and be available to give them rede should they require it.
A Chieftain should be generous with is money, his skills, his time, his energy, his effort, his concern, his rede, his Luck, and his love. He should be willing to give all that he has for his family and his tribe. He should work tirelessly to advance his kindred forward as a whole and to advance forward in life every individual member of his kindred.
Often, those that deride the idea of kindreds needing leaders, will suggest an image of the arrogant Chieftain, dictating orders, while he sits back doing nothing, and enjoying some sort of power-trip over others. This is the exact opposite of true leadership.
Some would suggest the image of the selfish Chieftain, hoarding the kindred's assets and all the goods and money generated by the work of the kindred. Pushing himself out in front on the backs of the kindred's members, taking full and complete credit for all his kindred has done. This too is the exact opposite of true leadership.
A heathen Chieftain is the first to get to work – and the last to stop and rest. A heathen Chieftain sees his role within the kindred as a responsibility to those he values and cares most about in the world. A heathen Chieftain leads by example, and not by making others do his work. A heathen Chieftain is bound by his kindred's thew, not someone who can do whatever he wants, any way he wants, whenever he wants. A heathen Chieftain is generous and sharing with both the tangible and intangible results of the kindred's hard work.
INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER ROLES WITHIN THE KINDRED
The Chieftain works closely with everyone in the kindred, but he must work even more closely with the other kindred members that hold positions of responsibility within the kindred, such as the Godhi, the Thyle, and the Valkyrie. He must be able to inherently trust the people who serve in these positions. He must communicate with them regularly, and be able to do so in a direct and straight forward manner. There are times that the responsibilities of these other roles will intersect, or even overlap, with the responsibilities of the Chieftain. And so it is important that all of their efforts are coordinated as efficiently and effectively as possible. As trusted Thanes of the Chieftain, these other leadership roles have a responsibility to support and protect their Chieftain from the actions of others that may intentionally or unintentionally hurt or diminish their Chieftain, and thus hurt or diminish the kindred.
The kindred's Godhi gives rede to the Chieftain, which the Chieftain then evaluates, and decides what is to be done, what priority should be given to it, and when and how to do it. If the Godhi says that the kindred would benefit spiritually by accomplishing A, B, and C, it is the Chieftain's role to build consensus within the kindred regarding whether A, B, or C will be worked on, when that work should be scheduled, what will be needed to accomplish the work, etc. In the simplest terms, there are times that the Godhi may say where the kindred needs to go, but it is the Chieftain who decides when to begin, who is going, and how to get there. The Godhi serves as an adviser to the Chieftain, and it is drastically important that the Chieftain and Godhi work together well.
The kindred's Thyle knows and maintains the Thew of the kindred, and plays a major role in safeguarding the kindred's Orlog. So, there are many areas of responsibility where the Thyle and Chieftain work together. This redundancy is intentional, because these responsibilities are enormously important to the stability and strength of the kindred. While the Thyle plays an important role in judging oaths that are made and ensuring that sufficient Shyld is offered in case there would be a failure in fulfilling the oath, it is the Chieftain in our kindred that wears our kindred's oath-ring. The Chieftain literally holds the oaths made on that ring, including each member's kindred oath.
The kindred's Thyle also serves as a safeguard, and should be free to privately challenge the kindred's Chieftain should it appear that he is on the wrong course or making decisions that will negatively affect the kindred's Orlog. Depending on the seriousness of the situation and the degree to which the Chieftain may be acting outside the kindred's Thew, it may be appropriate for the Thyle to challenge the Chieftain before the kindred, and ask him to explain and justify his actions, so the matter can be worked through and resolved.
Both inside and outside of Symbel, the Chieftain and Valkyrie must work well together. During Symbel the Valkyrie is walking among the guests, safeguarding the horn (well) and will often become aware of a problem or a potential problem long before the Chieftain, the Thyle, or the Hall Wardens are aware of it. The Chieftain and Thyle must watch the Valkyrie closely, and respond appropriately when she requires assistance from them or the Hall Wardens. Away from Symbel, the Valkyrie serves as a trusted adviser to the Chieftain, and helps to watch his back in all matters.
As the Chieftain goes, the kindred goes. A good leader understands and accepts that he is bound by thew more than any other member of the kindred. He will work to be a consensus-builder and he will lead by example. He will make decisions that protect and build the collective Luck of the kindred, and is always mindful of safeguarding the kindred's Orlog. He must work well with everyone in his kindred, and especially those who also hold positions of responsibility. As Lord of the Hall, he should be known for his hospitality, generosity, and honor. A Chieftain must never forget that his words, decisions, and deeds directly impact to what degree his kindred and its members will succeed and prosper in this life. His reciprocal relationship with the members of his kindred, is a position of responsibility bestowed upon him by his kindred. A Chieftain with little Luck, damaged Orlog, or who does not show love and generosity toward the members of his kindred or tribe...will not long be their Chieftain.
Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods
NOTE: I chose just a selection of photos of Chieftains here in the Midwest, there were 23 kindreds represented at Lightning Across the Plains 2010, so it would be difficult to share pictures of all of them. :-)