Monday, October 19, 2015

Winternights in the Poconos 2015

Photo credit: Jason Erich Luhavalja
This weekend I was once again at beautiful Camp Netimus for my third event of the year, this time to celebrate Winternights in the Poconos, the big official Asatru Folk Assembly event on the East Coast.

Unfortunately, due to a confluence of family obligations, I wasn't able to stay late on either Friday or Saturday, and so missed the sumbel on Friday and Saturday's Wotan Blot and music, but I was there for just about everything else on those days.

The opening ritual was led by Stephen McNallen, and served to set the mood for the weekend as well as open the sacral events. Once nice thing that the AFA does at its events is to have everyone introduce themselves, say where they're from, and give a brief one-sentence intro, which is really nice. I realized there were a few people there that were right in my neck of the woods, whom I had not met before. It really helps to get people engaged with one another.

I confess I thought the disir blot on Saturday, led by newly-minted godi David Wolfheart of the AFA's Spanish branch, was a bit long. There were a good 70 or more people in attendance, and having a horn passed around not once, but twice, with a pause as each person was given a personal blessing and said "Hail the Disir", seemed to recall my similar issue with the main ritual at Trothmoot, except instead of standing in the hot sun, we were standing in the chilly winds. If it had ended after the first passing of the horn, I think the ritual as a whole would have been greatly improved, and the restlessness I noticed from others it attendance seemed to verify my thought. It really was a good and powerful ritual, aside from that superfluous second round with the horn.

The grand opening of the AFA's Hof in Brownsville, CA was just the week before, so AFA Chief of Staff Brad Taylor-Hicks gave a wonderful slide show and running commentary on all the work that went into making the grand opening possible. Starting with an improvised twenty minute lecture on the transition from artisans to industrialization in 19th century England from the perspective of William Morris(!), while a technical issue was being addressed, the presentation was an amazing demonstration of just how much enthusiasm there was for making the New Grange Hof a reality, and how much real talent and effort went into getting it done. One of the highlights of the weekend, really.

But the real highlight of the weekend was just hanging out with the people. There is a real sense of camaraderie at one feels at an AFA event that simply wasn't there at either Trothmoot or Folkish Summer Hallowing (which is not intended as a shot at either of those gatherings, each of which was good in its own way). There's a sense of purpose and unity that just isn't there at other gatherings.

It's a wonderful thing to be a part of, I can tell you.

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