Sunday, September 15, 2013

S is for Sumbel

Last night I had the privilege to attend my first sumbel with Nebraska Heathens United.  Of course, in the many books I've read about Heathenism and the Germanic tradition, many of them have talked at length about how Heathenism is not a solitary religion.  It's important to build community.  Being a fairly solitary person naturally, it's difficult for me to understand how something could be made inherently 'better' by a group - but I think, after last night, I understand a bit better.

First there was a nice talk about Freyfaxi, the harvest holiday, and Winterfinding, which commemorates the coming of winter, during which we each talked about our own harvests, and the signs of winter we've been seeing around us.  Particularly, I've been starting to notice more and more geese flying by, as there's a nice big field up the street they like to stop and rest in.

Then we held Sumbel.  Three rounds of toasts - the first to the Gods, the second to our honored Ancestors, and the third for boasts or oaths; all done with the most delicious homemade mead and (I think, I don't know much about alcohol at all!) wine.  The fellowship of having a room full of twenty-some people all toasting the Gods I honor has had a tremendous impact on me.  The religion of our ancestors, though obviously impossible to reconstruct, was, if nothing else, a social religion.  They held many gatherings probably very similar to the one I attended last night.  The people of Nebraska Heathens United, and the others who attended, created a fellowship that felt authentic.  I can not even describe how much I underestimated community in the honoring of the spirit of Germanic Paganism.


  1. I have to say that I understand you feeling completely. As someone who has been primarily solitary my entire time as a Pagan, I never fully understood the power of group ritual. I was blessed to encounter my first Sumbel very recently and it was a beautiful, moving experience. I definitely would love to experience it again!

    1. Late, but I'm glad to hear that others understand as well! Pagan Pride was another great community bonding experience, too :)