The Great Moot – Observations from a first timer!

| January 21, 2015
The Great Moot - Observations from a first timer!

By Hodekin AOR

The Great Moot… What a wonderful title to conjure with!

And for someone who is still very much a newcomer to the OR, and in spite of the many posts on the forum which said everyone would be welcome and no one would be left alone, for me it was still something of a daunting prospect to attend a meeting in which I would come face to face with the very people who I regard as being the living breathing heroes of the Great Awakening. Now, for anyone who knows me, they also know that I could not exactly be described as being a shy and retiring wallflower! But even so, to say that I was nervous, apprehensive and just a little bit scared would not be pushing the realms of credibility too far. But the hotel was booked, I was in my car for the 60 minute journey to the venue and I was on my way for my long awaited meeting with (some at least) of the blood and bones behind the Odinic Rite, my fellow members!

Mr. Satnav ensured that I easily found the venue and in time for the proposed 09.30 start. Did I say 09.30 start? LOL…..more of that later! As I drove into the car park that fronted the very impressive hall that would host our meeting, I noticed two figures standing outside the entrance chatting, by the time I had parked and locked my car and was walking to the entrance only one now remained and as I got closer I recognised him from the many pictures I had seen.

They say that first impressions are always the most important and most lasting and here was this very smartly dressed character in black suit, black shirt and black tie, the only contrasting colour coming from his very distinctive OR lapel badge. His beaming smile told me that he also knew who I was and we fell into one another’s arms amid much back slapping and laughing….I had finally met Heimgest!

In truth, I cannot now recall what exactly we said to each other in those first moments, but I do remember the overwhelming sense of warmth and comradeship which I felt. Although this was our very first face to face meeting, such was the instant connection and intense rapport between us that it would be somewhat of a massive understatement to say that, at that moment I felt as if I had known him for years.

After a short while chatting, Heimgest explained that we were still waiting for a lot more people to arrive and that the proposed 09.30 start would be inevitably delayed, that being the case I went into the hall to meet my fellow Odinist brothers and sisters who had already arrived. I felt entirely at home and no longer felt apprehensive, not one little bit. Inside, the hall was a flurry of movement, rows of chairs were being put out, and in the kitchen (the hub of any dwelling) there was also considerable activity.

The first person to come over and introduce himself to me was Sigbert OR, closely followed by Ben of Fylfot Hearth OR, we chatted briefly but it was obvious they had work to do so I let them get on with that whilst I perused the merchandise table which held books, stickers, tee shirts and badges enough to satisfy any Odinist! It was here at the merchandise table that I had my first in depth chat with any of our members; it was Ralf, who had flown over from Frankfurt to attend the GM. Such a nice and unassuming man, he apologised for his ‘bad English’ but I understood everything he said and we had a good long talk about things, in fact we sat next to each other throughout the meeting, a good friend and blood comrade indeed! Also I had a great conversation with Torthred OR, as we chatted about his South African roots.

By now more people were turning up and the hall was a flurry of greetings and handshakes, I wandered into the Kitchen to see that Hengest and Fran had arrived and we warmly introduced ourselves. At this point I have to say that Fran is one of the nicest ladies I have ever met; always a smile and nothing too much trouble. It was plainly obvious to me that nearly everyone there already knew one another, and that I was possibly the only ‘Newbie’ on the day, but in many ways that made it easier for me, also the fact that I had a picture of myself on my forum info page meant that people were coming up to me and knowing who I was straight away. Next I quite literally bumped into Eowyn OR and we had a brief chat. Brief as it was, Eowyn confirmed my already held belief that she is one very switched on lady and the OR is indeed fortunate to have someone of her undoubted calibre. Her later address to the meeting served to underline that confirmation even more!

Then a cheer erupted, this was of course to herald the arrival of the mini bus containing Hariulf OR and the Swiss contingent, also with them was Paolo and his brother Kveldulfr who had travelled separately from Langbard in the north of Italy. And now combined with several others who had all the while been steadily arriving we were just about ready to start…more like 10.30 than 09.30, but we were ready none the less!

I had previously asked Heimgest some weeks before if he would dedicate the ‘Odin Guard Hearth’ Raven Banner at the GM and he had graciously agreed, and now as I sat next to Ralf waiting for the start of things, he approached me to say that it would be the first item on the agenda!

As soon as the meeting was brought to order and the first blessings said, I was called forward by Heimgest and asked to briefly explain to the assembly the origins and history of the banner. This I did as best I could and then the dedication began (thanks to Paolo and his indomitable video phone this is available to view on the OR forum). I cannot adequately express my profound joy and gratitude as Heimgest duly dedicated the Raven Banner into the Odinic Rite. That done, the meeting got under way.

We were treated to some excellent talks which ranged from Renaissance art to ecological living on a narrow boat, and also a beautiful poem read by Tracy. Some talks were light hearted, others deeply profound, but all of them were relevant to Odinists and Odinism. The passion of deliveries and quality of content were highly impressive, including I might say the venue we were in, which suited our purposes perfectly!

There were intermissions and a break for lunch during which the merchandise table (admirably managed by Linda) did a brisk business and these breaks also gave me the opportunity of shaking more hands, chatting to more people and in my case making more friends. All this time, the kitchen operated like a well-oiled machine and no one went without food or drink. It was during the lunch break that I got to chat with Paolo and his brother about things in Northern Italy, both brothers are outstanding comrades and I also got to speak with Hariulf and his lovely wife Severine, in fact I was introduced to all of the Swiss guys, and although my spoken French is almost non-existent, we managed to converse adequately enough, although I should not have worried as later on in the evening I was chatting to Nicholas and John S from the Edelweiss Hearth for most of the night; isn’t it strange how alcohol makes you understand any language! Mind you, Nicholas did a lot of translating.

If the first half of the GM was full of information, then the second half after lunch was full of ritual, but not before we had had the famous GM auction! Master of ceremonies Sigbert managed to wring as much money out of the assembly as possible for the many donated items up for grabs. He even tried to auction off the Raven Banner! I jest, but Sigbert did us proud and a lot of money was raise. I was intending to bid for one particular item but Ben was also interested in it, and when I saw the bundle of ‘notes’ in his hand, I knew I had no chance…but I did bid for a bottle of mead, which I got!

Then came two ceremonies of deep profundity and importance. Firstly Eowyn was ordained as the OR’s very first official Gythia after successfully progressing through the Gothi/Gythia training program. The ritual involving her and Heimgest was really something to behold. Then came what for me was the highlight of the day, the inauguration of Hariulf OR into the Court of Gothar. A warm feeling of gratitude to Hariulf swept around the assembly as he rightfully took his place on the CofG. Was there ever a more deserving recipient of such an honour? A proud moment for us all, not least the Edelweiss Hearth.

I must pause here to reflect upon what for me was a first! And this was the main ritual of the day ‘The Blot of Remembrance and Becoming’. It was a ritual in several parts, each significant to its own purpose. It started by the hallowing of the Holy Ve. Then Gothi Asrad led the call and response chants of the Elder Futhark. This in itself was awe inspiring! Gythia Eowyn took her rightful part in the invocations as did Gothi Hariulf CG who spoke part of the address in his native French. Redwald gave a reading and, as throughout the Blot, the words were profound, meaningful and sincere. Also Tyrsson as Rite Garman took a noticeable part.

Then there came the Uniting of the Folk Soul, those of us who had brought earth from our various Odal land locations were called forward to pour their earth into a bowl, earth from Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and all over the UK was solemnly mixed in the trygill and was blessed by our Gothar as a potent symbol of our common earth our common cause and our common blood.

Then came the memory cup, a horn full of mead blessed by our Gothar was passed to everyone around the hall, each person standing and making a statement or oath before taking a draught from the horn. These oaths were spoken aloud in English, French and German. In fact Ralf who was sitting next to me made an eloquent oath to the Allfather….it sounded so right spoken in German as it was!

Then came the response to the Gothis final call:
“We shall not fail to defend family and Folk and our holy religion from the force of spears and the powers of fate. In the name of Thor, we shall have strength! In Freyas name, we shall hold our faith! In the name of Tyr, we shall have justice! We shall rise again! These things we swear in Odin’s name. Hail the Aesir and Vanir! Hail their Folk!”

I knew I had just experienced a powerful and life enhancing experience, looking around at the many faces seated around me I could see the same look in their eyes….we were the living, breathing, manifestation of Odin’s will on Midgard….we were the Folk! And that vibrant thought radiated out to all our Brothers and Sisters around the world who could not be there with us.
The Blot had ended.

Gradually the mood seemed to change from one of reverent sobriety to one of “let’s feast!” Plans were announced for those of us who were booked into a nearby Travel Lodge to take our cars back there and book in whilst those who stayed behind would prepare the hall for the evenings social. This done, we returned in as few cars as possible so that we non-drivers could enjoy a drink and not worry about driving later on. Upon our return to the Hall we found it transformed into something resembling a Viking banquet! Tables had been pushed together to form a long line and were loaded with all sorts of food and drink and everyone sat around them talking, laughing, shouting, singing…you name it!

I managed to squeeze in beside Anders B and Nicholas M, and a fine time I had. I left my seat only once and that was to take my hip flask containing Brandy over to Paolo who had tried some earlier. Food and drink were passed around and nobody went without. Sitting next to Anders B I had the advantage of sampling some of the wonderful cheese he had brought along with him. Michael C sitting opposite me benefited from this also…in fact I am now convinced that Michael C is the cheese eating champion of Switzerland! Also I was able to sample some of Anders West Country Cider…Mmmm!

All sorts of drink and food was continuously passed around the table, my bottle of mead was poured into a large drinking horn (but not before I had added a hefty dose of Brandy to it) and off it went around the table…I had to laugh when it got to Eowyn, she took a draught and her eyes opened wide as she said “there’s more than just mead in there”! Anders was excellent company and we spoke of our common surname…it’s a small world. Soon however I was in deep conversation with Nicolas and John S. They told me of Switzerland and I spoke of East Anglia and we spoke long into the banquet. Nicolas had to do a lot of translating between English and French but he, John and I spoke about all things and it was so good to share such good company with like-minded brothers of the blood. We went over to examine the Raven Banner which was still on display and I explained further its history. During the banquet (for that is what it was) I thought of those comrades of ours across the other side of the world who could not be with us…Hawk and others in the USA, Dana and others in the southern hemisphere…but to my mind they were all with us in spirit and I drank a silent toast to them all.

It was one of those situations where everything seems to be happening at once, I looked over to where Paolo sat talking with Hariulf and Severine, I looked over to where Heimgest shared a joke with Redwald , just then a beer keg semi exploded as Tyrsson was trying to open it…everyone was laughing, talking and fully engaged….it was wonderful….I even saw Hengest look around the table and smile contentedly, it was a good night!

But all good things come to an end and it was now time to pack up and get moving. Our Swiss friends were booked into another hotel near to Heathrow airport which was some distance away and they had a minibus to catch, the same applied to Paolo, Kveldulfr and Ralph. We said our goodbyes as an army of volunteers cleared and cleaned the hall. I had made many lifelong friends that day and I was sorry to say goodbye to them all, Paolo, Ralph, Nicolas, John S, Severine…all of them. Some of the English contingent also had to leave, again, people like Neil and Ben I’ll never forget!
But the party was not over, there were quite a few of us who had booked into the nearby Travel Lodge meaning that we were able to continue our socialising over a few ales….so off we went! I was lucky enough to get a lift with Hengest and Fran…(have I already said what a nice lady Fran is?)LOL

Back at the Travel Lodge we took over the bar area, pushed tables together as a mini representation of what we had just left and the social continued into the night. I hope I have not left anyone out (and Redwald has helped me here) but around the tables were Me, Redwald, Tracy, Roger, Linda, Tyrsson, Steffa, Hans, Eva, Theodred, Torthred, Sigbert, Anders, Hengest and Fran (who incidentally is a very nice lady). Although food and drink were ordered from the bar, Tyrsson and Sigbert had managed to bring along some of Anders West Country cider…which was very nice, added to that was my Brandy! And there the OR party continued. I remember having a wonderful chat with Tracy and Roger…I do hope I see them again sometime soon!

I do not remember what time I eventually got to bed, but I did! And at breakfast next morning, most of the previous night’s party were already there. This was where I got to chat to Steffa and Linda for quite a while. Having eaten a breakfast (which I think may have been Hengest’s) it was time for me to say my goodbye and leave for home.

My final impressions?
1. A fantastic experience which I want to repeat every year.
2. Humbled by the effort put into getting there by our Swiss, German and Italian comrades. Also not forgetting Heimgest who had travelled from Canada.
3. Meeting at last Heimgest, Asrad, Eowyn, Hariulf and Hengest.
4. The secure feeling that I am not alone.
5. I have finally found my Faith, Folk and family.


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Category: OR Events

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