This page contains nothing especially profound; it is about my trip to Trothmoot in the spring of 2001. Some of this material was originally on my Asatru page, but it did not really belong there, and so I have moved it and added a little. This might be of some interest to those who belong to The Troth, but have never attended Trothmoot, to those solitary practitioners who might wonder what happens when a large group of Asatruar get together, and to those who belong to other Asatru organizations and would like to compare. This was my first time in any large group, and I was curious and unsure about what to expect. There were five of us, me, my wife, her two children, and our friend Keisha, an eclectic pagan with a thirst for mead.
We arrived on Friday, midafternoon, and tired--it was a five or six hour drive to the southern Indiana campsite. We had belonged to a Troth site for posting messages for some time, and I had been impressed by the seriousness and intelligence of the discussions. One had better think carefully before making any assertion about the sagas, eddas, history, or anthropology; these people knew their stuff. Some knew old Norse, and some, modern Icelandic or German.
I even had my own success. Catherine got me to enter a bottle of mead in the mead making contest against my better judgement. To my surprise, I nearly won, and did come in second, beating the professionally made mead that I would have given the prize to. There was a wedding shortly after, and one of the judges carried the bottle off for the bride and groom.
These are certainly not all the people or events that were memorable, and Catherine's account would be quite different, but for both of us the trip was like returning home, to a home that we never realized we had.
Perhaps the most memorable experience, though, was the Grand Sumbel, a ceremony in which the horn is passed around the table, and each participant makes a boast, a toast, or an oath. We had been drinking mead all day, and Keisha was nearly out of it at that point. She looked up and saw Stefn Thorsman bring out his silver mounted, gallon-and-a-half drinking horn and, forgetting that she did not have to drink the whole thing herself, said in a tone of desperation, "I'm not ready for this." The Sumbel was a great event, and apparently a loud one, for the park rangers showed up sometime around midnight and told us we'd have to keep it down, though we were the only people on that side of the lake. Asatru does not involve a lot of speaking in a hushed voice.
The seithr session was an impressive experience, and the three seeresses sitting together had all the archetypal dignity of Norns. My wife, Catherine, asked another of the seeresses, Winnifred Hodge, a question about her daughter in relation to her dead grandparents, and recieved an answer based on a detail that no one outside the immediate family could have known.
It was not until Sunday morning that Catherine found an opportunity to speak with Diane Paxton, Steerswoman of the Troth about her dreams and other experiences with the goddess, Sif. She was hardly started when Diane said, "You have to talk to Laurel." A little later she got the chance, and aside from everything else, Laurel read her a long, elaborate, and very beautiful blot to Sif which she had written.
There were many interesting and impressive people there; one was Laurel Mendez, a large, Scandinavian-looking woman who ran the kitchen with great good humor and an authority no one questioned. Later, on Saturday night at the seither session she was one of the seeresses dressed in full regalia, and wearing enough amber to start a jewelry business. Among some pagan groups there are spiritual divas who expect to be treated like princesses because of their arcane knowledge or skills, but to Laurel, seeing that people were fed was the essential business of life. Journeying to the realm of the goddess, Hel to find answers to people's questions was secondary--a refreshing view of the real needs and priorities of life.
There were workshops, discussions, organizational meetings, and varous activities, along with blots for various of the gods--Nerthus, Frey, Sif, Weyland the Smith, and others. Most impressive was the blot for Frey by the Meadowberg Kindred. All who entered the roped off circle had to leave all weapons in a special area outside--weapons being mainly pocket knives. Then a very beautiful sword was laid across an anvil and beaten nearly double, then thrown far out into the lake as a sacrifice to the god. It was a very simple thing, but very moving. I was so effected I could not speak for some time afterward.
That night Ann Sheffield of the same kindred led a memorable Odin meditation. The whole group of nine set out down a path in the woods in the darkness. We were hardly in the place set for the meditation before suddenly a tall, lean figure in a wide brimmed hat joined us. The whole group immediately began counting those seated in the circle, half-believing we had been joined by the subject of our meditation. As it turned out, there were only eight seated. The ninth had been sent back for something that had been forgotten. But it was a memorable moment.
Still, there was the feeling that we might be going to some sort of SCA event. Were the people there role players and costume fanatics--Treckkies with horned helmets? My first stop at the dining hall reassured me. There was a lot of loud talking and general heartiness, but the people looked like real people, and though most were in ordinary clothes, they felt closer to the Vikings than any fanatic over the details of a costume ever could. There were tables along the walls with mead, drinking horns, amber, and much else for sale. In addition to a vast quantity of mead, there was also a keg of beer. Asatru know how to drink. We heard and saw no quarrels, however, while we were there, and Keisha, an old hand at pagan events, claimed it was the most organized and together event she had ever attended.