Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread: The Blot and Sumbel

  1. #1
    Funding Member
    "Friend of Germanics"
    Skadi Funding Member

    Blutwölfin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Last Online
    3 Days Ago @ 01:16 PM
    Status
    Available
    Ethnicity
    German
    Ancestry
    Skåne and North Frisia
    Country
    Iceland Iceland
    Gender
    Family
    In a steady relationship
    Posts
    4,118
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    18
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    92
    Thanked in
    61 Posts

    Sumbel

    The sumbel is a ritual toasting which is a part of many important religious and social occasions. The Heimskringla Saga mentions Jarl Sigurd toasting Odin for power and victory, Njord and Frey for peace and good weather, and to the dead ancestors. Juliues Caesar recorded ceremonial drinking using the horns of the aurochs, a now extinct species of wild bull. In the epic poem Beowulf, the word sumbel is used to describe the drinking vessel used in the ceremonial drinking that occurred immediately upon Beowulf's arrival to Hrothgar's hall. Traditional European weddings, going back to heathen days, required ritualized drinking from the same drinking vessel. H. R. Ellis Davidson, the noted scholar of Germanic folklore and history, stated that

    "The drinking of wine, ale, or mead was of ceremonial importance at all feasts, and it seems to have been this which 'hallowed' the hall when men met for sacrifice."

    It is these sorts of rites that the modern practice of the sumbel is based upon. Some hold sumbel only inside, some hold it outside. The kindred should sit or stand in a circle, and a ceremonial drinking vessel, preferrably a horn, should be filled with alcohol. It should be mead, if at all possible, the fermentation of honey. It is the most traditional alcohol, but, if it is impossible to obtain, any other drink may be used, such as wine, beer, or even whisky.

    However, nonalcoholic drinks should not be substituted. All historical references specifiy alcohol. Alcohol was the holy entheogen (religious drug) of the ancient heathens. It was regarded as an important social bond and the basis for legal contracts as well. It was the substance of inspiration. Odin is said to take no meat but to live exclusively on wine. If someone cannot drink alcohol it would be better to simply take no part in this ritual rather than to warp it into something that it wasn't. Alternately, though, that participant can ritually touch the horn to his or her lips without imbibing.

    The horn should be passed around the circle. (If there is more than one particpant in the sumbel.) Toasts should be drunk to the gods, goddesses, landwights, or dead ancestors. Toasts can be long and elaborate, naming the deeds and good attributes of the god, and giving reasons the toaster in grateful to that one. They can also be as simple as "Hail Odin!" Instead of a toast a bragging story or boast of an accomplishment to be undertaken could be spoken, but any such boast is given the weight of a most solemn and binding oath. Some kindreds limit the number of toasts to be drunk, often to three. Others place no limits but feel that the toasting should continue as long as the participants are so moved. Many kindreds have adopted the habit of, once the toast is given, having the toast echoed, loudly, by all the rest of the kindred. This practice adds much to the atmosphere and bonding of the ritual.

    The sumbel is the simplest sort of ecstatic altered state of consciousness to get to, in no small part because it is aided by alcohol. It (and/or perhaps the Ve) are the only altered states of consciousness that most practitioners of Asatru use. One of the primary effects alcohol has is to lower social boundaries and inhibitions. It also generally depresses the activity of the forebrain, the conscious mind. Doing this while toasting the gods and spirits can, in the right circumstances, create a feeling of closeness to the gods and spirits, and a vague sense of immanent deity might develop. Doing this while socially bonding with others can, in the right circumstances, dissolve normal interpersonal boundaries cand create a sense that all present are family or even part of one whole thing, with such intensity that the feeling becomes "realer than real".

    And what are the right circumstances? A relaxed and open mind is usually one. Being in a meditative state helps, but even relaxation caused by other means works well. Feeling "charged up" is also often a requirement, and this can be easy to do by drinking the alcohol at just the right rate to provide a lift to the emotions. These things work with the deadening effect of the alcohol to amplify the images brought on by the toasting and social interactions. (Because they are what is foremost in the mind; being brought out, as they are, in the course of the ritual. Having the attention primarily upon them while the emotions are charged up and while the normal background noise of the brain is quieted makes these images and emotions amplified much more than is usually possible, and this can be enough for at least a soft unitary state.)

    ----


    One of the most common celebrations noted in tales of our ancestors is the Sumbel or ritual drinking celebration. This was a more mundane and social sort of ritual than the blot, but of no less importance. When Beowulf came to Hrothgar, the first thing they did was to drink at a ritual sumbel. This was a way of establishing Beowulf's identity and what his intent was, and doing so in a sacred and traditional manner.

    The sumbel is actually quite simple. The guests are seated, (traditionally, in some formal fashion), and the host begins the sumbel with a short statement of greeting and intent, and by offering the first toast. The horn is then passed around the table and each person makes their toasts in turn. At the sumbel toasts are drunk to the Gods, as well as to a persons ancestors or personal heroes. Rather than a toast, a person might also offer a brag or some story, song, or poem that has significance. The importance is that at the end of the toast, story, or whatever, the person offering it drinks from the horn, and in doing so "drinks in" what he spoke.

    The sumbel is also an important time for the folk to get to know each other in a more intimate way than most people are willing to share. People within our modern society often behave at one of two extremes. At one end are individuals who remain unnaturally distant from their own emotions, either because to display emotion would be "unmanly" or because they have been socialized to believe that self-sacrifice for others is the only desirable way to live. On the other side are those who cultivate their "feelings" and who spend their lives consciously attempting to stir their emotions and who force an unnatural level of intimacy between themselves and others. There are some levels of emotional intimacy which are not meant to be openly shared with strangers. Doing so reduces their meaning to the mundane. At sumbel, barriers can be lowered in a place which is sacred to the Gods. Thoughts can be shared among companions and friends without embarrassment or forced intimacy.

    One format for the sumbel is to drink three rounds. The first is dedicated to the Gods, the second to great heroes of the folk such as historical figures or heroes from the sagas, and the third to personal ancestors, heroes, or friends which have passed from this world.

    Another theme for a sumbel is past, present, and future. This type of sumbel is more of a magical ritual than one of celebration. The idea is to make toasts which bring up some aspect of your past and present situation, and a third toast or brag which represents your wishes for the future. One might make a toast to the first Asatru ritual one attended as the past, a second to the companions and kindred then gathered, and for his third toast might state that he intends to be dedicate himself as a Gothi in the coming year. The purpose would be to link the coming event of his dedication with the two already accomplished events of pledging Asatru and finding a kindred -- two other important rites of passage. In this case initiation as a Gothi then becomes something which is linked to a chain of events that have already occurred, rather than an isolated action which might occur. Thus magically, this moves the person towards his goal.

    A third and everpopular type of sumbel is a free-for-all where stories are told, toasts are made, and bragging is done until all gathered are under the table. Perhaps this is not quite so esoteric or purposeful as the previous ideas, but it's certainly in keeping with the examples of our Gods and ancestors. In any case, no matter how relaxed a sumbel has become, I have never seen one that was merely a drinking event. Some of the most intense experiences I have had with people have come from such "open ended" sumbels.

    These are only ideas. The sumbel is a very freeform type of thing and the framework is very simple to adapt.

    The blot and sumbel make up the mainstream of our modern Asatru tradition. This does not mean that they are the only rituals that modern Asatru perform, but in one way or another most rituals revolve around one or both of these "generic" ceremonies.
    Lík börn leika best.

  2. #2
    Funding Member
    "Friend of Germanics"
    Skadi Funding Member

    Blutwölfin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Last Online
    3 Days Ago @ 01:16 PM
    Status
    Available
    Ethnicity
    German
    Ancestry
    Skåne and North Frisia
    Country
    Iceland Iceland
    Gender
    Family
    In a steady relationship
    Posts
    4,118
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    18
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    92
    Thanked in
    61 Posts

    The Blot and Sumbel

    The Blot

    The Blot is the most common ritual within Asatru. In its simplest form a blot is making a sacrifice to the Gods. In the old days this was done by feasting on an animal consecrated to the Gods and then slaughtered. As we are no longer farmers and our needs are simpler today, the most common blot is an offering of mead or other alcoholic beverage to the deities.
    Many modern folk will be suspicious of a ritual such as this. Rituals which are deemed "sacrifices," such as the blot, have a certain lurid connotation and have been falsely re-interpreted by post-Pagan sources in order to denigrate or trivialize them. The most common myth about ritual sacrifice is that one is buying off a deity e.g. one throws a virgin into the volcano so it won't erupt. Nothing could be further from the truth. The other common misunderstanding of sacrifice is that the purpose is to gain some type of energy from the action of killing or the fear or suffering of the animal. This is also untrue, in actuality, if you do any kind of slaughtering--ritual or mundane--correctly there is neither. Our ancient spiritual forebears were slaughtering animals because they were farmers, and sacrifice was simply a sacred manner of doing so. In the way one might invite a friend to dinner, that bounty would be shared with the Gods.

    The Norse conception of our relationship to the Gods is important in understanding the nature of sacrifice. In Asatru it is believed that we are not only the worshippers of the Gods but that we are spiritually and even physically related to them. The Eddas tell of a God, Rig (identified with Heimdall), who went to various farmsteads and fathered the human race. Symbolically, we see ourselves as kin to the Gods. On a more esoteric level, humankind is gifted with "ond" or the gift of ecstasy. Ond is a force that is of the Gods. It is everything that makes humans different from the other creatures of the world. As creatures with this gift, we are immediately connected to the Gods. We are part of their tribe, their kin. Thus we are not simply buying off the Gods by offering them something that they want, but we are sharing with the Gods something that we all take joy in.

    Sharing and gift giving was an important part of most ancient cultures and had magical significance. Leadership was seen as a contract between the leader and follower. It is said, "A gift demands a gift." A good leader among the Norse was known as a "Ring giver," and it was understood that his generosity and the support of his war-band were linked and part of a complementary relationship. Giving a gift was a sign of friendship, kinship, and connection. Among the runes, gebo G encompasses the mystery of the blot. In English, the rune is named "gift," and the two lines intersecting are representative of the two sides of a relationship both giving to each other. By sharing a blot with the Gods we reaffirm our connection to them and thus reawaken their powers within us and their watchfulness over our world.

    A blot can be a simple affair where a horn of mead is consecrated to the Gods and then poured as a libation, or it can be a part of a larger ritual. A good comparison is the Catholic Mass which may be part of a regular service or special event such as a wedding or funeral, or it may be done as a purely magical-religious practice without any sermon, hymns, or other trappings.

    The blot consists of three parts, the hallowing or consecrating of the offering, the sharing of the offering, and the libation. Each of these is equally important. The only physical objects required are mead, beer or juice; a horn or chalice; a sprig of evergreen used to sprinkle the mead; and a ceremonial bowl, known as a Hlautbowl, into which the initial libation will be made. The blot begins with the consecration of the offering. The Gothi (Priest) or Gythia (Priestess) officiating at the blot invokes the God or Goddess being honored. This is usually accomplished by a spoken declaration with ones arms being held above ones head in the shape of the rune Elhaz. (This posture is used for most invocations and prayers throughout Asatru.) After the spoken invocation an appropriate rune or other symbol of the God or Goddess may be drawn in the air with the finger or with the staff. Once the God is invoked, the Gothi takes up the horn. His assistant pours mead from the bottle into the horn. The Gothi then traces the hammer sign (an upside down T) over the horn as a blessing and holds it above his head offering it to the Gods. He then speaks a request that the God or Goddess bless the offering and accept it as a sacrifice. At the least one will feel the presence of the deity; at best one will be able to feel in some inner way the God taking of the mead and drinking it.

    The mead is now not only blessed with divine power, but has passed the lips of the God or Goddess. The Gothi then takes a drink of the horn and it is passed around the gathered folk. In our modern rituals each person toasts the deity before they drink. Although this sounds like a very simple thing, it can be a very powerful experience. At this point the mead is no longer simply a drink but is imbued with the blessing and power of the God or Goddess being honored. When one drinks, one is taking that power into oneself. After the horn has made the rounds once, the Gothi again drinks from the horn and then empties the remainder into the hlautbowl. The Gothi then takes up the evergreen sprig and his assistant the Hlautbowl and the Gothi sprinkles the mead around the circle or temple or onto the altar. If there are a great number of the folk gathered, one may wish to drop the drinking and merely sprinkle the various folk with the mead as a way of sharing it. In a small group one might eliminate the sprinkling and merely drink as the blessing.

    When this is done the Hlautbowl is taken by the Gothi and poured out onto the ground. This is done as an offering not only to the God invoked at the blot, but it is also traditional to remember the Nerthus, the Earth Goddess, at this time, since it is being poured onto her ground. Many invocations mention the God, Goddess, or spirit being sacrificed to, and then Mother Earth, as in the Sigrdrifa Prayer "Hail to the Gods and to the Goddesses as well; Hail Earth that gives to all men." (Sigrdrifumal 3) With this action, the blot is ended.

    Obviously this is a very sparse ritual and if performed alone could be completed in only a few minutes. This is as it should be, for blots are often poured not because it is a time of gathering or festivity for the folk, but because the blot must be poured in honor or petition of a God or Goddess on their holiday or some other important occasion. For example, a father tending his sick child might pour a blot to Eir the Goddess of healing. Obviously he doesn't have time to waste on the "trappings" of ritual. The intent is to make an offering to the Goddess as quickly as possible. At some times a full celebration might not be made of a holiday because of a persons hectic schedule, but at the least a short blot should be made to mark the occasion. However, in most cases a blot will at least be accompanied by a statement of intent at the beginning and some sort of conclusion at the end. It might also be interspersed with or done at the conclusion of ritual theater or magic.

    One important thing to note about any Asatru ritual is that ours is a holistic religion, integrated into everyday life. We do not limit our Gods or spirituality to a certain time and place. While the sacrament of the blot is usually poured as part of a ceremony, the feast afterwards, singing of sacred songs, reciting of poetry, toasts at mealtime, etc., are all part of our religion. At one Kindred Yule Gathering, we began with a great feast, then we held a blot ritual which involved a mystery play of Thor and the Frost-Giants. Afterwards, we held a sumbel. All the gathered folk sat for the first three rounds dedicated to the Gods, Heroes, and Ancestors, but afterwards people came and went (politely and quietly) as they wished. The atmosphere of the whole evening was one of ritual and celebration. When done appropriately, there's no disconnection between the parts.

    Asatru is also a very vibrant, intense, and somewhat rowdy religion. Invocations to the Gods, particularly outside, are often shouted at the top of ones lungs, and are punctuated by loud "Hails!" which are echoed by the folk When someone in an Asatru ritual says "Hail!" or hails a God ("Hail Odin!" for example) it's appropriate to repeat after them in a similar tone and loudness.
    Lík börn leika best.

Similar Threads

  1. Ever Performed a Blòt?
    By Valkar in forum Germanic Heathenry
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 09:13 PM
  2. How Do You Celebrate Blot?
    By Sigurd in forum Germanic Heathenry
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: Thursday, July 29th, 2010, 08:02 PM
  3. How Integral Do You Consider Blot To Our Faith?
    By Sigurd in forum Germanic Heathenry
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: Saturday, August 15th, 2009, 12:49 AM
  4. Ostara Blot...
    By Grimsteinr in forum Germanic Heathenry
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 03:44 PM
  5. Guide to Blót Arrangement
    By Blutwölfin in forum Germanic Heathenry
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: Tuesday, July 4th, 2006, 08:42 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •