Cue the Flashback Sound Effect
It was Yule of 2002, I’m 20 at the time and had identified as Pagan since 1997. This was a huge deal, this was my first Yule event hosted by a Heathen Kindred. I’m going to abstain from naming the kindred but it was a local group that was led by a man who at the time was the Florida State steward for The Troth.
I’d met my host and his wife once before. They are wonderful people. They went all out for this event too. Upon entering their home that was full of fresh evergreens boughs, a large tree decorated with ravens, and natural items such as fruits and pinecones. Hard to miss was a large table laden with food. Included in this huge spread was a full size roasted pig with the obligatory apple in its mouth. Yes it really had the apple. I’d never seen a pig actually presented this way. It was definitely a sight.
Immediately our host offered us drinks, of the adult variety if we chose. The selection was quite vast. My two friends I had come with and I then set to socializing for a bit.
The Start of the Blot
It wasn’t long before everyone was called together for the Blot. If you have never experienced a Blot but have been to a Modern Pagan ritual, they are little a like. We stood in a circle like shape around the living room. while a woman from our hosting Kindred filled a bowl with ale. In her other hand was an ever green sprig. She walked around the room clockwise sprinkling every one of us with ale using the sprig. While she did so, she softly spoke a blessing. What the words were now I can not remember.
Once she had finished our Host spoke. He welcomed us all into his hall and told us a bit about the history of his kindred. He spoke of Yule, Mother’s Night and of the Wild Hunt. He pointed out that both his front door and back door were open. This was to ensure that the Old Man (Odin) and the rest of the Wild Hunt would pass through the house and not linger on this evening.
Oh my did we eat.
In time after everyone finished and the evening was growing dark. Our host again called us all into the living room area. It was time for Sumbel.
Sumbel is a ritual described as Oaths, Toasts and Boasts. There are High Sumbels and Folk Sumbels. The main difference is the occasion, the seriousness, and how it is facilitated. In a High Sumbel (which this one was) a female of the hosting Kindred will hand a drinking horn of Mead or beer (always a good one too), too each person. The person will then say what they wish to say and hand the horn back to the Mead Maid (as she is sometimes called). She’ll then pass it to the next person and so on and so on. A Folk Sumbel is much more relaxed and each person just hands the horn to the next.
Sumbel always has at least 3 rounds. The first round all toasts are said to the Gods or a specific God or Goddess. It is asked that they always be of the Norse pantheon and never from anywhere else. The second round is to the Ancestors. The third round is an oath, toast or boast. Oaths are taken very seriously and I’ll write about them when we get to O some more.
On this occasion sumbel when on for many rounds. I believe it went on for hours. People dropped out as time went on, the Mead Maiden was let off her duties after a bit also. Eventually this sumbel earned it’s jocular nickname Heathens have for it, a stumble.
It was a wonderful evening though I will never forget even if I don’t remember the exact conversations I had. I remember the feeling of family, community and spirit. Even now while I am trying to understand my relationship with the gods, that night I was sure they were present.
I hope you enjoyed my flashback to the past and a bit about Blots. There is loads of good information out there. I also inserted hyperlinks throughout this post to more information. Follow them to learn.