The Free Folk is a lawless society. In place of law we observe something called þéaw (thew). Roughly translated from Anglo-Saxon, þéaw means “custom”, “conduct”—a sort of observed manner and behavior when among one’s own. An example of þéaw would be that of the humility and obedience observed by a learning Fosterman. Another example would be the hospitality and generosity displayed by a symbelgifa (symbel-giver) towards his guests. A third would be the observation by a guest of moderation when at the feast-table and of temperance when sitting at symbel. Returning gift for gift is another example, and there are many more that are afforded us in the lore, our myths, and modeling by our elders and wisefolk. It is our belief that observance of these þéaws leads to a joyful life for the Tribesman.
There are twelve þéaws, in specific, that the Free Folk recognizes as embodying more or less “the whole” of its ethic:
- Bisignes (industriousness)
- Efennes (equity, justice)
- Ellen (courage)
- Geférscipe (community, fellowship)
- Giefu (generosity)
- Giestliðnes (hospitality)
- Metgung (moderation)
- Selfdóm (independence, individuality)
- Sóð (sooth, truth, honesty)
- Stedefæstnes (steadfastness, perseverance)
- Tréowð (troth, loyalty)
- Wísdóm (wisdom)
These are taken from the excellent work We Are Our Deeds: The Elder Heathenry Its Ethic And Thew by Eric Wódening. The book is required reading for all Tribesmen and is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the moral and ethical system of our Germanic ancestors. The þéaws might be likened to “rays” of excellence that “shine out” from the noble Germanic heart and together form a radiant “sun”.
Wódening cites in his book that these and all other þéaws stem from what he calls The Three Wynns, which “offer the path to true happiness” or wynn (joy). These are: Wisdom, Worthmind (personal honor), and Wealthdeal (generosity). These three Wynns are represented by the three visicae piscis of the Free Folk Triquetra, and the Circle which is woven through them represents the hālnes (wholeness) attained by the Tribesman through their cultivation and application. The Knot (Triquetra and Circle together) is a simple reminder of this wisdom and an encouragement to cultivate it within himself and apply it in his daily life.