Translated these terms mean “the dwelling within” and “the dwelling without”, also referred to as the Inner Yard and the Outer Yard. These terms refer to the fundamental societal model in Fyrnsidu. This concept should be viewed as a series of concentric circles, starting with the Hearth (Immediate family/members of the household) , then Sibb (Kin, Extended family), then Folc (The people of your “tribe”, community and nation), then the Outer Yard which surrounds all of the Inner Yard, a place of lawlessness and danger which is governed by primordial forces of chaos, wights and creatures of ill repute.
Think of it in terms of what means most to you. First there is your immediate family – your wife/significant other, your children and of course yourself. Outside of this tight unit, you then have your Kin – your family on each side of the equation. If you are married, as I am, then your partner’s family will also fall within this and should not be treated any differently to how you would want your own to be treated by your partner. When you marry someone, you also marry into their family and their history and this meeting of two persons is far more significant than a simple attraction. The weight of history and expectation are upon you both. Your collective mægen affects everything you do together and should be cultivated and respected. Learn about the family you have married into, for they may be needed by you at some point in the future and if you have not shown them respect and honour, then you may not be able to count on their support.
Surrounding this is the concept of the Folc, the Tribe, the very people you hail from. I am very proudly English and my family hearken back on my father’s side to the area of Yorkshire whilst I currently reside in Dorset. My duty to my nation is borne out by my role in society as a whole, my contribution to my nation. England is part of the United Kingdom and therefore we have close ties to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Whilst those ties are significant and to all intents and purposes we are considered by many to be “one nation”, we are very different peoples culturally, and that has become lost with the subsequent globalisation of the 20th and 21st centuries. Rediscovering my heathen roots has given me back a sense of pride in being English and I do feel we are lacking the national identity that our cousins in Scotland, Ireland and Wales have with the forming of their devolved assemblies. I personally would like to see something similar for the English one day, with a federal style government overarching the whole system. One should always be proud to contribute to one’s society, for to take from it without giving back is stepping very firmly into the realm of the Outer Yard. The gifting cycle is paramount, as I will describe as time goes on. To receive without giving is not conducive to societal model of the Fyrnsidere. No one gets something for nothing. They will have given something of themselves at some point and if they haven’t yet, that which is taken from them could be a steep price indeed. The Inner Yard is associated with what is good for society and represents the law of the land. The Outer Yard represents not only the wild places that are free from direct human control and intervention, but the lawlessness of individuals as well. It is where the term Outlaw first came from – those who live outside the law.
The terms relate not just to the physical, but also the metaphysical as someone can living within the enclosure of the Innangeard, yet through consistent lawbreaking may spiritually and metaphorically be residing in the Ūtangeard.
This country has been significantly tamed from overpopulation and cultivation leaving what seems like relatively few spaces that are truly wild or truly remote. These few wild spaces are very much areas governed by the Outer Yard and may be inhabited by wīhta that have been ignored now for millennia and have a particular dislike for the meddling of foolish men. Wild spaces are the areas where men have no right to be, yet often choose to go, seeking thrills, the unknown and putting themselves in danger. To ignore these spaces when they are encountered, to not show due deference to possible wights that may be present is to invite such danger upon yourself. Some of these wights actively seek to harm that which is protected in the Inner Yard, and for that reason the modern heathen will still seek to show respect and above all caution when dealing with the unknown.
The lawlessness of men also will come under the Outer Yard. Those people who break the laws of this land are actively seeking out chaos and negativity, or are addicted to it and this affects and damages the Inner Yard, seeking its destruction in some fashion. From the man who beats his wife, to the woman who leaves her baby to cry whilst she takes another hit of heroin, to the fraudster stealing money from those who cannot do without it, to the terrorist plotting atrocity against society directly; each of these persons live outside of the law and are active parts of the Outer Yard. They must be challenged and defeated at every opportunity. Some modern heathens see their beliefs in the old gods as a symbol of rebellion against society itself and revel in getting drunk or high, perhaps even having anarchical views where they fantasise about “bringing down the government”. These individuals are a danger to society itself and cannot claim to be part of the Inner Yard. Change within society should be effected from within and there should be no need for damage or harm to come to anyone or anyone’s property unless those who govern us are actively bringing about direct harm to the folc they are sworn to serve.
As a friðkeeper, it is my role to uphold the law, to protect society, to protect my folc within the Inner Yard. My responsibility is therefore not only to my hearth and my kin, but to my folc. That is my role in an official capacity, however I would argue that every heathen has a responsibility to their folc and should keep frið wherever possible. This concept of Inner and Outer Yards is one which should underpin the entire worldview of the modern heathen.