The Norns set the length of the threads when a man, woman, or god is born. Urd, Verthandi, and Skuld weave the wyrd that binds the men and gods alike. Frigg at her loom weaves the lives of men and women, using the foreknowledge that is hers from her sharing of the High Seat.
“The fate of all | does Frigg know well,
Though herself she says it not.”
The Norns and the gods are not alone in the weaving, for did not Odin lay down in the Havamal the way that we can weave our fates brighter? What is the Havamal if not a telling of how we can brighten each others lives by recognizing those who are important to us, and through the bonds of hospitality, of exchanged gifts and shared labours, bind each other tightly together that we share in each others strength, and add to each others luck. I have seen such weaving.
Camp Netimus, set in the hill country above Milford PA was host to Trothmoot 2015. The Distelfink kindred showed the spirit of their luck holder Ewicher Yeeger, the Eternal Hunter, whose wild hunt rode the night and storm to make sure his people would have meat to carry them through the times of starvation and have a chance to grow strong together. Indeed meat was plentiful, as were other fine foods and goodly drink, as mighty were the feasts that the folk knew. With half a loaf and half filled cup, full friend found is a truth we have heard for generations beyond number, and its truth is still strong today. Loud rang the feast halls as old friends and new friends shared the bench and shared much worthy conversation, as strangers became friends, and old friendships deepened into kinships.
Workshops there were in abundance. Rich traditions from the host kindred were shared with us by Rob, while a comparative religious examination of Heathenry and its attendant concepts was hosted by Ann. Erik and Erik’s beard co-hosted discussions on the Valknut origins and meaning, while Su and Laurel examined the issue of Sobriety and Heathenry. It is not enough to examine and identify issues in heathenry, for once we as a folk have determined that the holy rite of Sumbel is not welcoming or healthy for those with addiction or recovery issues as currently practiced, we, the Rede of the Troth acted swiftly and formally to make our rites forever two horned, one with alcohol and one without so that all might partake equally in rite and its attendant luck without fear of damage to one’s self, or one’s own oaths reguarding their personal struggles with substance issues.
Community building was everywhere, Stewards and KAP KIndreds met to discuss the ways of improving their networking and furthering the advancement of our work in the community, In-reach continued to gain breadth and scope, wielding more resources in more places to further the important work of replacing the hate literature and leadership that exists in the prison population, turning it from a recruiting ground for the tainted mockery of heathenry that racism hides behind, into a tool for sharing the traditions of our ancestors to allow prisoners to begin to work towards lasting reconciliation and full membership in the community. In the heart of Pensylvania, I found myself at a table of Canadians working on building our local connections and increasing the visibility of our local groups to each other. We travel far from our own hearths to reach the magic of Trothmoot that makes such weavings simple and effortless. Everywhere you turn there are knots of heathens, six , a dozen, a score, all gathered and laughing or talking between events, sporting together at kube, drinking together around the fire, or sitting at the benches and sharing their lives and experiences. The lines of life and luck weave together, as we bind each to the other, and from such weavings bring forth a brighter thing called community.
Magic is not simply a metaphor at Trothmoot, for while hospitality is the heart of our gathering, there is too the matter of its spirit, and the gods and wights whom we assemble to honour. From our opening ritual, through the Idunna blot that is the heart and soul of Trothmoot, to our closing, the whole of moot was filled with sacred mysteries. Holy ve were raised, both in the cabin set aside, and elsewhere about the site. Moving it was to sit by Mimir’s well and in the forest silence listen to the whispering of the waters secrets. The deeper mysteries of Seidr were shared by those who dared to ask of the seeress and the dead for knowledge under Diana, Lorrie, and Laurel’s guidance. Ristandi explored brighter bindings with teachings that sprang from the bower not the barrow, for our folk was always one that embraced life and passion fiercely and without reservation. Deeper rites and mysteries were explored and deeper healings done as the work of our folk, the duty of our folk to care for one another, was made manifest as we who come together from every compass point are joined as one to care for our own as if to our closest kin.
Such skaldship did I hear at Trothmoot as would make Saga raise the horn, and Bragi himself give praise. Lynn and Will Rowan came to lend us their songs, but so too did we have the songs and poetry of our proud people. Our own Steer led the reading of the Sagas, while Laurel hosted our own Skaldic competition this year which I had the honour to win overall, but was but one of three individual event winners, as song, lore based were won by others whose works truly outshone my own, with only my non-lore based winning pride of place individually. For those who wonder at this boast, understand, I have only ever won this once our skaldic competition, such is the rich diversity and talent of our wonderous folk that at Trothmoot I find myself sitting at bench with nothing less than a hall full of my equals, and stand right proud this first year out of three, that I have at last won once.
We are not a people of word alone, for mighty are we indeed in craft and sport, and with weapons bright. Stitch and bitch sessions showed the craft of the folk, while weaving was both practically and poetically done by a community come together to literally stitch together. Tafl tournements were hotly contested, and kube was again a hard fought test of heathen might, endurance, and skill. Thanks to Mike for his generous assistance and equipment, we saw three generations of archers together draw bow and show the gods their people were yet strong and proud at arms, even as we showed we were frithful in the keeping of the peace. Young Aaron the young lad of but a hand of years who springs from our Shope’s own loins was shown to draw a bow, and rightly to smite his target true by Mike whose grizzled beard is a shadow of snow and iron, even as a young lad spear straight and new come to manhood draws bows against our Shope Ben whose beard begins to be touched by the first frost of fatherhood, and my own snowy fall of year tokens hearkens to daughter already grown, and others nearing womanhood. Mighty were the feats of arms, and mighty the mirth and fellowship, for of such things are generations bound together, and a folk forged.
Such stalwart sacrifice did we make, such noble duty did I know to sit with our fellows of the Rede to taste the best of brews, the magnificent meads brought by our far flung folk from all four points of the compass. Indeed it was an Odnic trial, for nine worlds of mysterious mead were ours to wander, to taste and test and ponder. Two it was that burned so bright and beautiful as to lead us into such a depth of discussion and debate, for Mike and Camille had proffered two meads that were the essence of two different perfections. One a taste of sunlight and summer, one of winters complex luster. Such was the battle to chose between them that both bottles were felled ere we could choose the winner. Prizes were given to each, for though the Canadian maiden won the gold with the heart of summer, the warm maple promise of winter’s warmth was with worthy prize also for Uller’s mighty American archer.
What shall I tell you of the boasting? Grand Sumbel was a time that few outside the Troth could understand. The horn was raised, and right strong were the boasts given. Shall I speak to you of the strength of Paul? You who see his thews see not the strength I speak of. His boasts were strong, spoke of pain and loss, of learning and acceptance, hard work and daring to risk loss again by continuing to care. Shall I speak of the elders who raised the horn and spoke in the terms of simple men of the land of how they matched their love with their deeds, to give back a lifetime of love of the land with gifts to guarantee its preservation. Shall I speak of other elders who have put their time and love to preserving the old songs and poems that they may be played, sung and spoken again? Shall I speak of Tom whose boast had no words beyond raising up a bundle of new born love and joy, cooing and giggling as she was raised high and claimed before the folk to the hammer and roar of the approving folk. Young women boasting of their struggles to find themselves through terrible hardship and loss, and the joy and strength they draw from the community, ending such a worthy list of battles won with the simple plaintive cry that they didn’t know how to make that into a boast, only to be greeted by the warm laughter of a hall that knew a worthy boast when it was spoken strong and true. To stand in such a hall, in such a company, beneath the banners of so many worthy kindreds, is to know that you stand in the sight of the gods themselves, beneath the eyes of all of our ancestors, and receiving a gift beyond all price.
You can only know the strength of a weave when it is tested. Sunday dawned too soon, for with it dawned the last of our days together, and shadowed the end of Moot. I will right cheerfully vike the phrase I heard “time for the long sappy goodbyes”. Spoken with bright mirth, for we who pride ourselves so often at grim stoicism that would shame the whetstone or the sturdy fire struck forge gave our goodbyes with much manful gripping of hands and hugging, bright eyes attesting to unshed tears as each seeks the words to say how much the sharing with the other has meant. Men and women come together in a hundred versions of the long goodbye, because we understand the gift each has given us for their sharing. A gift for a gift is our way, and in most cases, each thinks the other has given them the greater gift, for such is the worth we see in each other when we join together in moot.
What was woven at this Trothmoot, like every Trothmoot does not end here. We draw those threads we wove between us back to the far-flung hearths from which we wended. Already new friendships are cemented as we reach our home and formalize the friendships found at moot. Now when we see words in type we will hear fair speech and see the eyes of him or her that speaks, for they are no longer faceless and formless to us, but a friend whose voice and worth we know well. This is the magic of Trothmoot, this is watching the weaving of one people, one Troth, that will indeed shine fair in the sight of our gods, wights and holy ancestors.