Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oaths and Blot

Last week, spinning didn't come easily. I didn't like the colour, it didn't seem as easy the green (which I'd really likes but finished spinning up), and it even began to spin worse, or at least seemed to.

Every single day, I forced myself to pick up the spindle and spin my allotted amount for the week and it *sucked*.

When I created this taboo, this promise to a deity, I knew there would be those days, in which spinning would be the last thing I wanted to do. But although I never so much as said it, I'd essentially made an oath.

As Heathens, we don't, or at least we *shouldn't* oath easily. American Heathens oath much easier than Heathens in other places, the oathed kindred model so prevalent here didn't take to the same degree in Europe. Instead, people have groups that they worship with, but there's no pretense of kin. Kinship takes years to build, it goes beyond friendship, it's family. Without that background, any oaths made around kinship are doomed to fail.

Ultimately though, the oaths that we tend to make are selfish in nature; maybe we need a push to do something that we'd otherwise slip from, maybe we've gotten into a rut or slipped. Oaths, with the public accountability they provide, are a perfect way for us to do those things.

Some weeks, completing my spinning is a close run thing. I'm like the limping runner, just making it over the finish line right before they take it down and pack it all away. I hate every second that I'm spinning. Other weeks I finish comfortably and love my work.

This past week, I loved my work. I loved the light brown corriedale that I spun up, the work is relatively even and it's just beautiful - the perfect preclude to a perfect weekend.

This weekend was the Oak Ridge midsummer blot. Oak Ridge is a Heathen fellowship based in NJ but that invite a core group of people to worship with them at the main tides. That worship involves swineblot. My husband and I feel so honoured and blessed to have been invited to both this and Yule, we love hanging out with the Oak Ridge, Laerad and other associated folks, there's a comfort there. Like we've all known each other for much longer than we actually have. We talk, we laugh, we debate and some of us bait each other like siblings. After a day of storms and further storm warnings for the weekend, the weather was perfect too. It was all very fitting. After days of preparation for things like our contribution to the feast, getting supplies for some of the activities we were planning, getting together our camping supplies and working on a stand of sorts for our Wodan godpost, we packed the car and were finally off.

The Oak Ridge Fellowship keeps and maintains an amazing grove on the land of their gothi, it's a place that has this most incredible sense of peace and holiness. The godposts stand tall, the wights are content. The whole area is so fertile and lush, inhabited by deer and bear. It is an honour every time we step foot in that grove.

And yes, there is also blood.

This swineblot was to Thor and it went very very well. The pig was nicely drunk and the kill was very quick and clean. Oak Ridge fellowship was officially brought into being and the posts and ourselves asperged. It's not an easy thing to do, to sacrifice in this way, just like oaths aren't easy to keep, but for those of us that do this and experience it, it's so very holy and we've all seen gains in terms of our luck.

After the rite was ended and the pig butchered and roasting, another devotee of Holle and myself spun an amount of yarn that will be offered to the waters of that lovely lady's bog. Spinning is also luck. We sat and talked about spinning, women in Heathenry and of course about the blot just gone. Another lady sitting there, had just experienced her first blot and whereas I have struggled to define what I feel at blot and how to convey it to people that have never experienced it, she nailed it. It's a huge welling of emotion that you can't really name. It's not sadness, hurt, anger or even happiness. It's literally no emotion you can name, and yet it is so strong and you feel it in every cell of your being. And the omens...this time they were so clear and quick in the coming.

Outside of the grove is an Odin godpost with a well before it and it's surrounded by mugwort. For me, one of the best moments of this weekend was seeing people realise this and collecting handfuls of mugwort to take home. More people seem to be getting interested in the Anglo Saxon and Continental Germanic traditions and it was so good to discuss things like the 9 Herbs Charm, the medicinal uses of mugwort and concepts like haelu.

There was also a 'Laeradnerok' with padded swords, kubb, American football and general shenanigans.

Oh and the pig was delicious :).

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