Sunday, August 23, 2015

Folkish Summer Hallowing 2015

I spent most of Thursday through Saturday attending Folkish Summer Hallowing, an event sponsored by the Irminfolk, at Camp Netimus in the beautiful Poconos. It's actually the second of four Heathen events being held there this year, including Trothmoot in June, East Coast Thing next weekend (which I will be unable to attend), and AFA Winternights in October. Netimus has become quite the hotspot of Heathenry in the Northeast!

There were lectures and rituals, a concert, vendors (who accepted the Irminfolk's "trade medallions", the Futhmark), and naturally the opportunity to hang out with fellow Heathens and just talk, trade stories, discuss history and lore, and on and on. That's always the highlight of an event like this; being able to talk with people face to face really puts conversations on Facebook or email to shame.

The "Changes" concert (much more well-attended than
it looks like in this photo)
I confess that the workshops left me a little wanting, if only because there were so few of them, and most of them were on more craft things like making your own sauerkraut and so forth, whereas I usually gravitate to things more focused on lore and practice. The workshop schedule was a bit sparse, a fact that isn't really the fault of the Irminfolk, as it depends on volunteers (I did not volunteer, but have resolved to do so next year, and I know at least one other person -- my doppelgänger Cliff -- has as well). This stood somewhat in contrast to Trothmoot this past June, where I felt the classes and workshops were the highlight, deep in lore.

The offering wain is burned
But also in contrast to that earlier event, the rituals at Folkish Summer Hallowing were fantastic. I attended three; the opening ritual and offering to the landwights, a blót by the Svinfolkyn in honor of Freyr, and the main ritual, which also featured a sacrificial offering to Freyr in honor of the season (this is around the same time that the Icelandic Freyfaxi was held). I wasn't able to stay for sumbel or the closing ritual.

Last year's offering featured the burning of a ship filled with offering items, and this year's featured the burning of a wain similarly adorned. It was very moving, and absolutely spectacular to see the wain consumed by fire as the assembled folk looked on. I'm also proud to say I had a small part in it, as I was one of four who carried the wain onto the fire.

One thing that stood out for me during the Svinfolkyn ritual to Freyr was the use of antlers to sanctify the sacred space, rather than the usual hammer. I spoke with the goði about it afterwards, and he explained that they do that differently for every deity. I normally am not a fan of the whole "hammer hallowing rite" in general, as it seems to be quite ahistorical, but if you're going to go that route, clapping two deer antlers together and asking Freyr to sanctify the space was a great idea. Really worked in this instance.

On the whole, I had a terrific time at Folkish Summer Hallowing. Rituals were great, the folk were great, and the overall event was definitely a winner in my book. I'll definitely be going back next year.

1 comment:

  1. Good review - I wasn't going to be able to make two back-to-back events, but I'll be at ECT next weekend. Thanks for getting Netimus warmed up for us :)

    While the hammer rite does lack historical justification, I think that it, or chanting Odin-Vili-Ve, or intoning runes, or whatever...all serve an important purpose. We don't know that our ancestors had any specific means for stepping from a mundane into a separate spiritual headspace, in fact, it seems that they would likely shoot us some odd looks for even suggesting that such a separation even exists. Nonetheless, I think many people just need that today, so historical or not, I'm apt to include a transitional piece in any ritual I'm involved in - it sets a tone that makes the rite so much more than simply passing a horn.

    The example you mention, of using the horns to set up that space at the start of a Freyr ritual...yeah, that really is a great idea that spawns additional thinking about the deities involved in a rite. (There's an image in my mind of trying to bang two cats together, but I suspect that the lady would not be impressed :) )