Online Kindred

A solitary practitioner contacted me to ask whether it is possible to have an online kindred. That is a good question. Though there answer is yes, there are some differences between an online community and one made up of people you know in person.

A kindred is also called an Inhered, Mot, or an assortment of other localized names. It is the local group of heathens with whom you worship. To use the Christian term that is more familiar to many, a kindred is like a congregation. It is usually made up of family and friends. It is common for several family groups to form a kindred.

It is also common for the kindred to have a formal set of rules or bylaws to which members must adhere. These rules set out who can join and the manner in which they join. The reason for this formality is that the kindred must be able to rely on its members. Each new member must show that they are reliable and will fit in. Until this has been demonstrated, the member may be just an associate member. Of course, to become an associate member one must be invited to the group.

An online community is different. Though there may be rules, entry is usually easier. A member may have to create an account and check a box stating that they will abide by the terms of use. After that, the communication is entirely online.

It is well known that an Internet account provides a level of anonymity that one doesn't find in the real world. Because of this, an online community cannot easily build the level of trust and intimate knowledge that one builds in person. It is difficult to have the level of trust that is required by a kindred based on an online community.

That does not mean that the online community cannot serve a function. A member of your kindred may be able to watch your children or bring a dish to your gathering, but that is not all that a kindred is for. A kindred is also a community for sharing ideas and helping to anchor one's faith in times of difficulty. The online presence can do that, to a certain extent. If you are in an area where you cannot join or build a kindred, the online community is definitely better than nothing.

If you are in an online community, nothing says that you cannot make friends who you then meet in real life. That sort of thing has been known to happen. Some care is needed, of course, because you do not get a full picture of someone just online. If you are in a forum or similar and want to start contacting a person off line, start with other communication methods. Switch to emails for things that are off the topic of the forum. Do that for a while. Then switch to phone calls and do that for a while. Only when both parties feel really comfortable do you arrange to meet face to face. When you do meet, be sure it is in a public place.

At this time I will point out that there are forums here on the Vidar's Gothi web site. One in particular is for Solitary Practitioners. There you can post questions or discuss your experiences. You should also feel free to answer the questions of others as well as have general discussions. Try to keep it civil, please; Vidar the Silent is not a fan of yelling.

Regardless of the way in which you find togetherness, our religion is one of taking care of the community. To do that, you may want to commune with others as well as the Gods.