The YouTube channel Let’s Talk Religion posted a nice little video highlighting the Assembly of Forn Sed Sweden’s Vårblot ritual. The Vårblot celebrates the beginning of spring. Here’s the video, and I’ll provide some running commentary below, focusing on the ritual itself, rather than their theology or the commentary that accompanies it.
2:15 – Nice processional accompanied by music. They’re bearing the god-post with them, and I see a mix of modern clothing and ritual garb.
2:30 – When they get to the circle, I notice they move deosil (clockwise) to form a circle.
3:20 – Elder Futhark on the necklace.
4:45 – Sprinkling the assembled folk with water (?) using a flowering branch. Again with live music; I think it really brings the ritual alive. I’ve been to far too many where it’s just a bunch of people standing around in a field waiting for something to happen to them.
5:00 – A singing bowl? Neat sound, but is it an import from Tibet, or a Scandinavian thing?
5:29 – A good look at the altar. I’m actually a little surprised it’s just a metal folding table.
5:45 – Call and response, but again with the music that elevates it.
5:55 – He’s reading from a script, which surprises me again. I thought he would have memorized the ritual, or be speaking extemporaneously.
6:40 – Is this ritual drama? I do believe it is! (And, laudably, not using a script.) The guy in the blue tunic with the fur hat is the embodiment of Winter, and he’s being chased away/banished by Freyr, who serves as the embodiment of spring. And then he’s crowned with flowers and meets Gerd, with whom he dances. Love it.
9:20 – Ah, an explanation of the elements of their ritual. But oh, dear. They start off by talking about “readying” the ritual site with a hammer; the dreaded “Hammer Hallowing Ritual”. I wish we could have seen their version; maybe it wasn’t so awful as those I’ve seen in the US. Then, inviting the gods, in this case Frey and Gerd (which makes sense for a Spring ritual). Then the ritual drama, as noted above.
10:35 – Then the actual blot, or offering. The assembled folk make offerings of food, etc. to the gods. Then something called the “Sending” which is basically the passing of the horn, as seen in bumbles* here in the US. I note he admits it takes a very long time, because everyone wants to make a toast, and often ends up with not everyone having a chance, because there are so many people (a nice problem to have, of course!). So now they only do six toasts. I wonder why six? Then the ceremony ends, and they give thanks and dance.
11:25 – More of that wonderful live music as people make their offerings directly to the god-posts. I see drink being poured on the posts themselves, and vegetables placed at the base.
13:45 – Here you see the six toasts mentioned above.
14:55 – I can’t help but laugh. Someone has leaned their bicycle against the big rock that the Pope erected to mark the victory of Christianity over the Pagans. Heh.
15:17 – And now the assembly dances. Note that they’re going widdershins (counter-clockwise). Not sure if this is done with intent, but magically that would be to undo the energy that was raised when they entered deosil.
All in all, a terrific looking ritual. I might quibble with a few things like the hammer hallowing rite, but all in all this would be a ritual I’d be happy to be a part of.
* My tongue-in-cheek term for this style of ritual that combines elements of the blot and sumbel.