Hail and Horn Gathering 2015 – Freya

Hail and Horn is an annual gathering organized by Canadian Heathens to express in fullness of our ancient religious custom. The gathering is anchored by three intertwined rituals – blót, húsel and symbel – and a deep reverence for the Gods. This is the fourth year of the gathering.  This year, in particular, we honour Mardoll, the Lady Vanadis, Freya.

Hail Lady Freya! Raising a God-pole is the main ritual at Hail and Horn. Each year a log of red pine is carved in the likeness of a god/dess and ceremoniously ‘planted’ into the earth within the Vé. To date Odin, Frigg and Freyr have been planted and Freya will join them in 2015. The lore on such a custom is taken from the Risala of Ibn Fadlan, where the Rus would erect the likeness of their gods and ancestors to receive sacrifice. It is our aim to honour the Æsir and Vanir in a similar fashion, befitting our ancestral ways. Offerings of food and drink will be made to the Lady Freya in a blót ritual which will link directly to the main feast. The Vé at Raven’s Knoll is unparalleled in Canada due to its stature, vision and plentiful community use. As a permanent publicly-accessible sacred enclosure, it is one of the best locations in the country to experience our Elder Kin.

As our ancient heathen ancestors did (as among the Anglo-Saxons) we will be partaking in a sacred feast known as húsel. Foodstuffs which we will offer at the Vé, will be collected and prepared in a way consistent with the cooking techniques of the Germanic peoples of old. Our communal efforts at the raising of the God-pole to Freya, the blót, bind gods and folk together through this ritual meal in his honour.  It is in the hall at the feasting board that frith is shared with every bite, growing in joviality well into the throws of symbel.

High Symbel
Raise the horn! Symbel (pronounced sumble) is a communal ritual drinking within a hall. At Hail and Horn participants are invited to partake in a ‘High Symbel’, meaning to hail the gods of the historic Germanic and Scandinavian peoples. Loki may be honoured at symbel, as for what is stated in Lokasenna. Our symbel is based upon well-documented research by Stephen Pollington in his work, the ‘Meadhall’. The format is modelled on that of Anglo-Saxon sources as opposed to the popular American Sumbel.  This symbel features a non-circular setting devoid of a simple three round structure. Each participant may chose to speak over the horn by signalling the byrele (Cup/Horn Bearer) if/when they are so moved to do so. The thyle (Orator and Hall Challenger) will keep the pace flowing and enforce any rules of etiquette, if such a need arises.

This is a preliminary program based on the work of volunteers, so some times and arrangements of program elements may change. Once you are at the event there will be a board displaying the program for all to see.

Thursday (June 25, 2015)
Early arrivals can secure their preferred camping spot, though there is no lack of space, and meet other early birds. Some activities may be organized if there are a fair number of folks on Thursday. Possibilities range from a movie night, board games or the age old art of storytelling. Heck, grab an ale and pull up a stump for a relaxing evening before the festivities begin.

Friday (June 26, 2015)

Carving of the God‐Pole (All day)
During the day, as you set up camp, come and witness Erik Lacharity carving the likeness of the Lady into the godpole. Get a sneak peek of the craftsmanship, envision the hidden form emerging from the rough red pine.  This will be the fourth heavenly pillar erected in the Vé and the second depicting a goddess.

Welcome Reception / Landwight Offering (5:00pm)
In the evening, after dinner, join together shoulder‐to‐shoulder around the hearth to meet one another and make offerings to the many wights of Raven’s Knoll whose land we will be meeting upon over the weekend. (Auz Lawrence & Erik Lacharity)

Welcome Fire (9:00pm)
As people from farther afield arrive into the evening, we sit in conversation around the fire reacquainting ourselves with those who we have not seen for a while and making new connections with our friends. (Folk)

Saturday (June 27, 2015)

Sausage Making (10:00 – 11:00)
Join Stephan Lebeau as he prepares the sausages we will enjoy at the Húsel feast. Listen and learn as he crafts these delectable morsels surely fit for the gods … but primarily for we mere mortals to indulge in.

Freya, Lady, Vanadis: Goddess of Many Faces (1:00pm – 2:00pm)
There are many sides to Freyja: love and sexuality, war and death, magic and seið all of which make her who she is. This will be a guided discussion of those many sides. From her time before the written word, all the way to the Medieval Nordic witch cults, to our experiences of her today. Participants are encouraged to bring their knowledge of lore, archaeology, and personal gnosis to the discussion. (Jade Pichette)

Ég tala ekki íslensku [svo vel] (2:00pm – 3:00pm)
No Problem! Have you ever wished to pronounce Old Norse words and names of gods and goddesses appropriately? Are you baffled by ð, þ and funky accents showing up in ritual texts and sagas? Join us at this workshop to learn about the Icelandic language, the closest language to Old Norse that is still spoken today. Tips on the phonetic values of letters and where to put the accent when using Icelandic will be discussed, but bring along any question you may have on grammar, history and use of the language. Questions on Iceland, and on where to turn if you also wish to learn Icelandic, are also welcomed! (This workshop will be given by Annie Langlois, who’s been studying Icelandic for the past 4 years and has achieved half-decent fluency. Because believe me, only half-decent fluency can be gained in 4 years.)

Freya Blót (4:00pm – 7:00pm)
At this holy rite we honour Freya. We plant her idol, her god‐pole; deep into the ground to rise high into the air to open the permanent holy enclosure that is the Raven’s Knoll vé. In a manner inspired by the account of Ibn Fadlan’s travels amongst the Swedish Rus, we provide offerings of flesh, leek, ale and grain to the Vanadis, the Falcon-skinned, that she may know of us and we may know her. We give a gift for a gift, for a gift deserves a gift. (Tracy Thillman & Assistants)

Folk Fire (9:00pm)
The blót rite having ended, we then regain the world of mankind and the social joviality which makes us a part of this world. By the hearth-fire, we will wile away the hours or, if we are yearning and brave enough … to prepare for the journey into the realm of the Unseen and meet with a Spá. Would we know more? …

Esoteric Rite, Prelude (9:30pm – 10:00pm)
At this time those interested in taking a fateful adventure will be briefed on the upcoming experience and some pre/after-care topics will be discussed before being led back to the Vé.

Esoteric Rite (10:00pm – 11:30pm)
In the Saga of Erik the Red, the Seeress performing oracular seið stated that she was the last of a band of nine sisters. In this spirit, let’s turn back the clock and experience the same tremendum which shook the centres of elder folk. May we find a good oracle with which to guide our coming days and shed light upon the winding ways of Wyrd. (Linda Demissy & Assistants)

Esoteric Rite, Aftercare (11:30pm – 12:30pm)
Folk attending the esoteric rite will have a subdued fire at which to come back to Midgard and discuss their experiences with one another before joining again with the rest of the gathering.

Sunday (June 28, 2015)

Preparation of the Húsel (Early morning)
During the day, those who wish can devote themselves to their community by creating the recipes of the blót feast. From the same ingredients offered to Freyja we will fortify the folks’ connection to our gods and our ancestors when we sit at the festive board. A number of discussions will surely be had regarding the archeology of Heathen food and religion, as well as the symbolic association of the ingredients, to participate in said discussions offer your hand in the crafting of the feast. (Sarah Clements & Folk)

Archery (10:00-11:00)
Warfare in the Viking Age Northland was not all groves of spears, songs of sword and shield, or arcing axes.  It was also storms of arrows! At this workshop basic archery skills will be taught and tested.  We may try some catching of arrows out the air and clout shooting , if there is the equipment and the interest. (Gypsy Birch)

The Meaning of Symbel (11:00 – 12:00)
Symbel is a holy ritual of Heathenry, the depths of which can sometimes be hard for people coming from other religious traditions to fully comprehend. This is a vital ceremony of modern Heathenry with deep and ancient roots in many places in the Northlands. Using “The Meadhall” by Stephen Pollington as a launching point, this workshop leads participants through some of the meaning and lore of symbel and will help familiarize the participants prior to the event. (Erik Lacharity)

Art of the Tale (1:00pm – 2:00pm)
Do you have a burning desire to share an epic tale? Have you ever crafted an entertaining yarn? Whether or not you have experience in the art of the tale, let an experienced bard share with you some tips and tricks to captivate your audience and lead them through a maze of punctuation and gesticulation. (Gypsy Birch)

The Werthana: Presenting a Canadian Heathen Archive (2:00pm – 4:00pm)
For many of us, we feel that we are living in a time of greatness … maybe even a new Heroic Age. Many of us have spent numerous years building Heathenry in Canada and leaving a footprint everywhere we go. Some of us have many stories to share about the early days of our religion as well as impressing memories of more recent deeds. Some of us feel that if we do not begin the work to document and collect these memories, in a fast paced world that accelerates with each passing year, we may lose them forever. After doing some research on smaller archives which specialize in sub-cultural Canadian spheres of society and ruminating on what a future digital archive may look like, the presenters wish to share their ideas and engage in a discussion of how we best preserve our fledgling legacy for those to come. (Jade Pichette & Erik Lacharity)

Húsel (5:00pm – 8:00pm)
After a formal welcome and greeting, we toast Freya with horns held high and sit at table together to experience the blessings of the húsel feast. With traditional food in our bellies, sitting on the benches one with the other, we know in our bones that we are a folk in communion with the Gods and ancestors. We receive a gift for a gift, for a gift deserves a gift.  (Auz Lawrence with many others)

High Symbel (8:00pm – 9:00pm)
At this formal, High Symbel ceremony, the banners that flutter behind groups and individuals that have come from far and wide to meet one another in the Hall sit and hear the sacred words of one another. It is honour and fortune we strive for in our lives, our virtue that brings gifts from gods and ancestors, good thoughts and words that bind us in frith. At symbel we honour the Aesir, Vanir and their allies, our ancestors, and the good deeds of our folk. Over the mighty horn, filled with the holy ale, it is through our actions, words and gift‐giving through which the images of the mind’s‐eye become reality in the weave and weft of wyrd. (Erik Lacharity with many others)

Skalds’ Fire (9:00pm)
The formal symbel continues into an evening of skaldic display about the hearth‐fire. Oh, wordsmiths! Oh, music‐weavers! Bring your ear‐mead that the folk can revel in the finery of our traditions. Stories and songs of our myths, of the Lady, of the folk‐lore of your place and people, are particularly appreciated. (Gypsy Birch & Folk)

Gifting of the Rings (after Skald’s Fire)
One of the important traditions at Hail and Horn is that of gifting arm rings. Each year a portion of each attendee’s entry fee is reserved for the crafting of beautifully ornate rings to be given, by the folk, to two deserving recipients. These new recipients are chosen by the body of past years’ receivers, one could turn to Pollington’s work and refer to them as the “doughty” or those who have proven themselves to be good and hale and inspirations for other’s to look up to. These rings, physically given by Auz and Erik on behalf of the folk, should be viewed as a constant reminder to strive towards excellence and to toil in service to folk, land, wights and gods. To stave off the wyrm, it is good to give generously and to be proud of our deeds whether great or small.

Monday (June 29, 2015)

Redemoot (11:00am – 1:00pm)
At this workshop we assess how the fourth annual Hail and Horn Gathering went. We start the planning process for next year. (Auz Lawrence & Erik Lacharity)

Farewell Blessing (1:00pm – 1:30pm)
At the end of the morning, a formal farewell blessing is offered to everyone who attends.  (Because a fair wind in your sails or a healthy horse are better than a storm rocked barge or a broken down wagon on the moors.) (Auz Lawrence & Erik Lacharity)

Hail the Landvettir! Hail the Ancestors! Hail the Gods!