I had the opportunity this Saturday to attend the Yule celebration of the Church of Vrilology, based in and around the New York/New Jersey area. It turns out that they have a new hof/mead-hall only about 20 minutes from my home, and their leader, Bob Blumetti, was kind enough to invite me a few days ago. So off I went.
The reception was warm and completely welcoming. After only a few minutes I felt quite at home, and many different of their folk took the time to speak with me, not only about their particular take on Germanic religion, but on everyday matters as well. I felt very good about the group.
We repaired to their dedicated hof/mead-hall, and while it is still a work in progress, it was insulated against the mid-winter chill and furnished with light and heat. Considering that even such modest accomodations are more than 99.9% of what the rest of the Heathen community has accomplished, I cannot help but be impressed by such dedication.
The ritual itself was mostly in the "standard" Asatru mould, which is not a bad thing. A cup of mead was charged with the Gods' energy and then shared among the assembled folk. (There were twelve of us present; a good turnout for many rituals I've attended over the years.) Bob's invocation was very well-written and well-performed, and there was a definite sense of power in the room during the ritual. One thing that struck me was that they explicitly asked for the mead to be charged with the energy of the Gods; in many Heathen rituals I've attended, that was implicit, but never explicit. An interesting ritual note; once the mead was charged with the energy, it was then poured into individual cups, rather than the folk sharing a single vessel. It certainly worked, even if it was a bit different from what I was used to.
After the ritual, we feasted on fried chicken and I had an opportunity to sample some very excellent mead from Denmark, which I'll be going out of my way to obtain for my own personal use. Much of the time was spent in talk about some of the differences between Theodism, Asatru, and Vrilology, and I certainly learned a lot myself during the conversation. Again, everyone was very friendly and seemed eager to learn about how other branches do their own rites.
After the feast was concluded, I was asked to demonstrate a Theodish sumbl, which is not performed as a formal ceremony in their own practice. I did so (serving as thulR myself), and I got the impression that while some of their folk found the strictures somewhat alien (having the horn passed by a woman, placing brakes on some of the oaths that were sworn, etc.), mostly they were fascinated by the change of pace. I personally think it turned out very well, and some very worthy words were spoken into the Well.
On the whole, I am extraordinarily pleased by my experience with the Vril-folk, and look forward to attending more of their rituals in the future. They seem to be on the same wavelength as the vast majority of Heathens I've encountered, albeit with their own unique slant on how things are done and slightly different emphasis on their understanding of Heathen beliefs and practice. If today is any indication, I will be having a great time at their events in the future, and hope that they will be able to make it to some Theodish events as well.
This sort of cross-pollenation can only help the entire broader Heathen community. I encourage everyone to try to reach out to some local Germanic pagan group that might seem, at first glance, a little "off" from your own practice. Maybe they're Norse Druids, or Norse Wiccans, or Seax Wiccans, or Theodish, or something else. You may just find that they're not as far away as such labels might imply. Good, sincere folk are a joy to find, no matter what their label.