Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Some Thoughts from a Nithing

Trump's Role in Capitol Riot May Figure in Criminal Probe - Bloomberg

 

Contains sexual content

 

Call it the “honor system.”

Most traditional societies were—and are—societies of honor.

In such societies, honor—also called reputation or name—is an important motivator of action. In these societies, one acts in such as way as to preserve one's honor, whether individual or collective, and tends to avoid acting dishonorably to avoid the resultant shame.

The opposite of honor is a state that the Old English-speaking Hwicce, the original Tribe of Witches, called níð: dishonor.* One who behaved dishonorably was known as a ðing or—even more cutting because it's diminutive—a níðling.

None of these words survived into Modern English, having been replaced by Norman French instead. (In any given society, the moneyed/ruling classes are the ones who can best afford to be preoccupied with matters of honor.**) If they had, we would today speak of nithe (rhymes with writhe), and know the nitheful as nithings (r. writhings) or nithlings.

For the ancestors, what was considered nitheful was frequently non-normative behavior. In societies with strong gender-role categories, the paradigmatic act of nithe for a man would have been to experience receptive sex, especially willingly. (Some, of course, would still see it this way.)

Nowadays our ideas of what constitutes nitheful behavior have changed in major ways; but in neo-traditional communities—like the pagan community—the concepts of name and nithe are still important.

What do other people say about you? If you give your word, do you keep it? Can others trust you?

Those seeking current examples of nithe and the nitheful will have not far to look.

  • Twice-impeached loser one-term president Donald Trump is a nithling of the worst sort. On current evidence, this is a man—to use the term loosely—who has never once, in his entire life, behaved with honor.
  • All those spineless Republicans (and Democrats, for that matter) who, throughout his mis-administration, have cravenly enabled this nithling president, are themselves despicable nithings and well deserve our opprobrium.
  • All those who broke into the American Capitol, who left their trash on its floors, who defecated in its corners: all are nithlings, one and all.
  • All those who plan violence in the days to come, to overturn a people's free and fair election: I say to you, you are nithlings, the sons and daughters of nithings, whose shame shall last while memory endures.

 

I, Steven of the Tribe of Hwicce,

whom some might account a nithing in my own right

wherefore I know whereof I speak—

do so declare.

 

 

*Old Norse nýð.

**As for the rest of us poor working stiffs: If you want my butt, m'lord, you can have it. That will be 20 shillings, please it y'r lordship, payable up front.

 

 

 

 

 

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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.

Comments

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Tuesday, 12 January 2021

    There is no honor without honesty.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Wednesday, 13 January 2021

    The Bigger the Lie, the bigger the shame.

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