The Troth, formerly the Ring of Troth, is an American-based international heathen organization. It is prominent in the inclusionary, as opposed to folkish sector of heathenry. The organization was founded on December 20 (Mothers' Night), 1987 by former Ásatrú Free Assembly members Edred Thorsson and James Chisholm. Chisholm remains associated with the organization as an Elder Emeritus. The current Steer is Robert Lüsch Schreiwer.
The Troth is recognized as a non-profit corporation in the state of Texas and recognized by the state of New York as a 501(c)(3) non-profit religious organization. It hosts a yearly June meeting called Trothmoot. Trothmoot 2016 was held at Fort Flager in Nordland, WA.
Objectives and organization
The Troth defines itself as a church of Germanic Heathenry open to all the forms of the religion (Asatru, Urglaawe, Forn Sed, Theodism, and others) international in scope, with training clergy, promoting cooperation and community, and providing information and educational publications as objectives. The Mission Statement refers to the ancient virtues of "Boldness, Truth, Honor, Troth, Self-Rule, Hospitality, Industry, Self-Reliance, Steadfastness, Equality, Strength, Wisdom, Generosity, and Family Responsibility."
The Ring of Troth was founded in 1987, at the same time as the Ásatrú Alliance, both emerging from the wreckage of the Ásatrú Free Assembly, which had disintegrated over disputes between the racialist and the non-racialist factions. The organization suffered a series of setbacks and disasters during the late 1980s to early 1990s. The leadership of both Thorsson and Chisholm became controversial because of their association with the Satanist Temple of Set. In 1988 to 1989, Rob Meek campaigned against the "Satanist infiltration" of the group. The Ásatrú Alliance in 1989 declared that there could be no association of Ásatrú and Satanism. In 1991, Thorsson and Chisholm sought for a new leader (Steersman) of the group, as it had become clear that they were too controversial to fill this position. The office of Steerswoman was eventually accepted by Prudence Priest in 1992. Internal controversy continued to plague the group, however, including accusations that Priest was intending to pass leadership back to Thorsson and attempting to marginalize the increasingly influential Stephan Grundy. As a consequence, Priest was ousted by William Bainbridge in 1995, who took over as interim Steersman. By the mid-1990s, the Troth, now led by William Bainbridge, had emerged as a stable organization with a wide spectrum of members situated "squarely within the Wiccan/neopagan community". Bainbridge was followed by Diana Paxson (1999), Stefn Thorsman (2002), Mark Donegan (2006), Victoria Clare (2010).
Approach within Heathenry
The Troth is prominent in the non-racialist, inclusive branch of modern-day heathenry. The organization's statement of purpose and bylaws refer to "non-discriminatory groups and individuals" and specify that "Discrimination [based on criteria such as race, gender, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation] shall not be practiced by The Troth, its programs, departments, officers, or any affiliated group, whether in membership decisions or the conduct of any of its activities."
Edred Thorsson intended the Ring of Troth to be based on scholarship and provide priests trained to high academic standards. While few members have achieved graduate degrees as he envisaged, the organization has been a prominent source of scholarly information within heathenry.
Ring of Troth Europe
A United Kingdom affiliate of the Ring of Troth, later renamed Ring of Troth Europe, was founded in 1993 by Freya Aswynn, who has held office in both the Troth and the Rune Gild.
The German Eldaring started in 2000 as a partner society of The Troth, and was officially founded and registered in 2002. As of 2008, it claimed some 200 members, and had an active internet forum with almost 5000 users. It claims political neutrality, and holds that folkish and universalist (non-racialist) heathenry are not necessarily at odds.
- On its main page (retrieved July 26, 2013), the organization says: "There are several modern names for various forms of our religion: Asatru, Forn Sed, Urglaawe, Theodism, and others. Historically, we were called Heathens, and we still use that name now, too."
- Jenny Blain, Nine Worlds of Seid-Magic: Ecstasy and Neo-Shamanism in North European Paganism, Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0-203-39876-9 pp. 8, 160, note 1 refers to it as "an organisation of Heathens based in the US."
- Jeffrey Kaplan, "Chapter Nine: The Reconstruction of the Ásatrú and Odinist Traditions" in Lewis, James R. (1996) Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft SUNY Press, ISBN 0-7914-2890-7, p. 213 and p. 231, note 41: According to Thorsson, "Only Thorsson and Chisholm were present. . . . Thorsson 'invested' Chisholm with the steersmanship of the RoT . . . . This ended with the declaration that the Ring of Troth was hereby founded with the aim of reestablishing the ancestral faith of the Germanic peoples." Kaplan emphasizes Thorsson's role, calling the Ring of Troth "[v]ery much the brainchild of Edred Thorsson" (p. 213).
- , Clergy Program, retrieved August 14, 2016.
- , Leadership, The Troth, retrieved August 12, 2016.
- Barbara Ardinger, Pagan Every Day: Finding the Extraordinary in Our Ordinary Lives. Weiser, 2006, ISBN 1-57863-332-X p. 32: "There are numerous groups who follow the paths of the old Norse and Germanic pantheons. The Troth of Berkeley, California, publishes an Old Heathen's Almanac with much useful information as well."
- 1st edition Seattle, Washington?: Ring of Troth, 1993, ed. KveldúlfR Gundarsson, ISBN 0-9623957-8-1; 2nd edition ed. Kveldúlf Hagan Gundarsson, North Charleston, South Carolina: BookSurge, 3 volumes projected: volume 1 History and Lore (2006) ISBN 1-4196-3598-0; volume 2 Living the Troth (2007) ISBN 978-1-4196-3614-1.
- Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements From the Far Right to the Children of Noah, Syracuse University Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0-8156-0396-2, p. 21.
- Kaplan, Radical Religion, pp. 21–29.
- Mattias Gardell, Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism, Durham, New Hampshire: Duke University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8223-3071-7, pp. 163-64: "To the abhorrence of spokespersons from the other two Norse pagan (ethnic and racist) perspectives, Ring-affiliated kindreds boasted Jewish, black, homosexual, and transsexual members, and had no problems with biracial marriages. . . . the Ring of Troth promotes the pagan revival without discriminating."
- Kaplan, "Reconstruction", p. 214: "the gulf which separates the Alliance from the Ring of Troth"; p. 224: "the leadership of the Ring of Troth has been the most outspoken in their opposition to racialism."
- Troth By Laws ratified June 2011, About Us, The Troth, retrieved July 26, 2013.
- Edred Thorsson, A Book of Troth, St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn, 1989, ISBN 0-87542-777-4, p. 122: "there will arise a great and learned troop of wise and true folk, who will go forth into the world to rebuild that which has been lost. These will be known as the elders of the Troth"; p. 208: "The candidate [to become a Troth-Elder] must have a degree from an accredited institution of higher learning in a field related to his or her work in the Troth. (A degree in Teutonic studies is ideal)"; p. 209: "With this requirement, the High Rede incorporates and co-opts the institutions of higher learning to our own purposes. . . . In addition to the lore that will be learned, the completion of such a degree, especially one beyond the B.A. level, will be a token of one's ability to see an endeavor through to its end."
- Kaplan, "Reconstruction", p. 224: "[N]oneless, the organization is by far the greatest source of research on the revitalization of the tradition on the basis of the historical record."
- Shelley Rabinovitch, "Aswynn, Freya (1949– )," Shelley Rabinovitch and James Lewis, The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism, New York: Citadel/Kensington, 2002, ISBN 978-0-8065-2406-1, pp. 19–20, p. 20.
- David Barrett, A Brief Guide to Secret Religions, London: Robinson / Philadelphia: Running Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-7624-4103-7, p. 330.
- René Gründer, Germanisches (Neu-)Heidentum in Deutschland: Entstehung, Struktur und Symbolsystem eines alternativreligiösen Feldes, Logos, 2008, ISBN 978-3-8325-2106-6, p. 59 (German)
- Anja Gregor, Neuheidentum und Geschlechterrollenverständnis—Die Darstellung von Geschlecht in den Texten der Internetpräsenzen neuheidnischer Vereinigungen, GRIN, 2008, ISBN 978-3-638-86154-0, pp. 12–13 (German)