A new series that I would like to occasionally do on here is something practical that anyone can hopefully take ideas from for their various parties that they may be having. These are some ideas that I have used for various Blóts and feasts that people have seemed to enjoy. I am by no means a well-experienced heathen, but I have planned a few events that seemed to have done fairly well (or maybe people complained in ssecret! lol). I noticed that looking online for “pagan party ideas” and such usually comes up with little to no results, or simply lists of rituals that veer more heavily over towards Wiccan festivals. Maybe I can help!
This summer, the kindred that I was previously a member of had a Blót for the Midsommar holiday in honor of the Goddess Freija; and being the more ambitious hosts, my girlfriend and I decided to take on an purportedly ancient recipe that was allegedly something similar to one that the vikings may have eaten. I had to substitute some items, and may have not cooked it properly due to the instructions being VEEERY vague, but everyone simply LOVED it. people were requesting “take home” containers after we got done, so it really made me feel good, especially after I warned everyone that we may be eating gross food and that Pizza would be the back-up if that happened.
Note: Like a moron, I did not take any pictures of this meal, if I make this again, I will attempt to chronicle this better. Here is a royalty-free stock photo that you can pretend was me:
Recipe: the chieftain’s soup
Modified (in italics and bold) from a recipe found on Ribe Viking Center
- Shoulder of lamb, diced
- Smoked pork, diced
- 5 chopped onions
- 5 chopped garlic cloves
- Diced parsnips
- Diced parsley roots
- added carrots and a turnip
- Horsebeans (AKA Fava Beans)
- Chopped Angelica stems (I used Tarragon)
- Spring onions
- 2 cups cream
Dice the smoked pork and brown it in the cooking pot over the fire. Add the diced lamb, chopped onions and garlic. Next, add the water, parsnips and parsley roots.
Mix in the horsebeans, mushrooms and Angelica stems. Leave to simmer over low heat. Stir frequently and add more water if necessary. When the meat is tender, it’s time to season with salt and cream. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and serve with bread.
So that was the old-school recipe – I mentioned above that I substituted angelica stems as I was unable to acquire any due to the legality of them in the United States. While, I have never tasted them, a number of websites suggested that tarragon would be a fitting replacement, which definitely put an interesting twist on the stew – it has notes of both licorice and vanilla that gave everything a nice counter to the sometimes gamey nature of lamb meat.
In addition to the parsnips and parsley root, which were insanely hard to get ahold of in my local grocery store, I added some heirloom carrots (the kind that come in 3 colors and look more hipster-y than regular carrots) and a turnip, since I figured this would end up similar to potato soup going by the ingredient list. I would assume that one could even use potatoes to make this more hardy.
Lamb was also sort of hard to get, but can be found rather easily in bigger cities that have halaal grocery stores. Since lamb can be somewhat prohibitively expensive, using pork ONLY honestly would not change the flavor too much. I boiled the soup on a lower heat for a few hours and everything turned out well.
If recreating ancient food is something you think might “spice up” your next party, there are a multitude of books on historical Scandinavian cuisine out there as well as online recipes such as this one – Grimfrost, for instance, has one called An Early Meal that is very well regarded. People love this sort of thing, and as long as you aren’t serving something completely adverse to our modern palate, everyone should be pretty excited for the adventure of a new food, and the educational value of learning about the past.
If you try this out or have any questions, feel free to drop me a line in the comments!
Did this a few months ago – I haven’t sketched in a loooong time – I used to do it all of the time, so much so that teenage me was seen as somebody destined to try to get into art professionally. Due to personal reasons, I was more-or-less pushed out of it and made to feel depressed by doing it, so I stopped one day. Days became weeks, weeks became months, and months became years. I really should have kept it up, but what’s done is done. I’ve been inspired to dip my toe back into it lately, not for any sort of reason other than that it makes me feel good to be creative.
Maybe one day I’ll get to visit Stonehenge, I’ve always wanted to ever since getting into books about mysterious phenomenon when I was a kid – you know those large In Serach of knockoff coffee table books from the 80’s and 90’s full of articles on Bigfoot, aliens, The Bermuda Triangle, and of course Stonehenge. I lived for stuff like that – of course these books were largely silly on how they talked about the popular Neolithic stone circle (It’s obviously aliens Ya’ll!) For right now, though, going to Stonehenge is not really in the cards – So I was VERY excited to do the next best thing this summer in Kansas City – a new traveling museum exhibition full of artifacts from the chalky hills of The Salisbury Plain.
This exhibit was held at a large train station / exhibition hall in Downtown Kansas City called Union Station – at any given time, about 2-3 times a year, they host traveling exhibits such as Pompeii, Titanic, or King Tut that draw large crowds. I actually brought members of the previous Kindred I was a member of in as a group at a discounted price, this was awesome, as paying basically half-price made everyone very happy.
‘Mysterious’, ‘awe-inspiring’, ‘magical’, ‘sacred’ and ‘eternal’ are some of the words used to describe Stonehenge. Scholars and visitors alike have puzzled over this unique prehistoric monument for centuries. After years of excavation and thanks to ground-breaking advances in science and archaeology we are closer than ever to understanding Stonehenge.
Stonehenge: Spirit and Science of Place looks to over 400 original artifacts and the latest cutting-edge scientific research to answer questions about this iconic, mysterious World Heritage Site. The exhibition tracks the development of Stonehenge as a special place in the landscape, and explains the origins of the monument while illuminating the lives of the people behind it.
Visitors will leave the exhibition with new revelations into what Stonehenge meant to the people who built it … and what it means to the world today.
The exhibition is a cooperation with the UCL Institute of Archaeology, Wiltshire Museum, the Salisbury Museum, English Heritage and The National Trust and was curated by Prof. Mike Parker Pearson and Dr. Beatrijs de Groot from the UCL, London.
Upon Entering the exhibition area, visitors were greeted with a brief introduction video laying out what we were about to see. Large “stone columns” lifted up and we were ushered into the huge multimedia exhibit hall consisting of videos from the contributing scientists that curated the exhibit, artifacts including rocks and bone fragments (just to mention a few), and items such as mannequins that showed what the people that built Stonehenge could have looked like. One particular highlight of mine was a film in which an actress portrayed one of the builders discussing her reasons for helping, and spiritual significance she felt in the process. This video was VERY powerful, and really set the tone of the exhibit – a look at the people behind Stonehenge Vs The stones themselves.
It was interesting to note that the main theory presented by the curators was that the Stones were a place of worship, and aided with ancestor worship as well as being a calendar and burial ground. I was surprised that this was seen as a “new take” on what the stones were, and makes me want to really read some other scholarship on the site to see what the consensus generally is.
Here are some photos of the exhibit:
Perhaps, my only quibble with the exhibit was that the possible spiritual significance of the site was not elaborated much on, which was one of the things I was fairly interested to see their take on. Granted, with no records left behind, anything is pure speculation. I’m just glad they didn’t talk about aliens the whole time!
Museum Partner has a number of other traveling exhibitions that might be of interest to fellow Heathens – 3 of which are Viking related and another Celtic. Let us all hope / Pray that one of them come to Kansas City (for me because I’m selfish!) or a place you live near!
A book by Gwendolyn Taunton
Fate and the Twilight of the Gods: The Norns and an Exegesis of Voluspa (2018) is an interesting little book that is comprised of two scholarly essays by the author Gwendolyn Taunton. I used this as a quick refresher between two much larger books I was reading; a palate cleanser of sorts. The book is comprised of two Essays that are about 50 pages each – one concerning the Nornir of North European mythology, where they came from and what they symbolize; the other was a look at the Ragnarok material found in The Volupsa. Both halves are very well researched, and the book is heavily footnoted and referenced. I’ve read other essays by the author in a Journal that I purchased a while back, so seeing more by her was a nice treat.
Fate and the Twilight of the Gods: The Norns and an Exegesis of Voluspa contains two sections, the first of which elaborates on the Norns (Nornir) and the concept of fate. […] The second half of the book examines Ragnarok, and provides an exegesis of Voluspa – the prophecy which outlines the inevitable destruction of the world, and the ‘Twilight of the Gods’.
– Amazon Sales Page for the book
The first half of the book is very interesting considering the author’s attempts to fill the gaps in from the void of historical references to the Norns left after the ancient Christians attempted to erase their existence (as well as everything else not Christian). For example, The three principle Norns of Urd, Verdandi and Skuld are referenced quite a lot in various scriptures, sagas, and poems. There are, however, other norns that are mentioned in texts that seem to be more general that not much information is known about specifically.
To hopefully flesh them out, the author does this extrapolation by referencing similar ideas found in Hindu scriptures and relating them to the Teutonic pantheon as well as talking briefly about the Fates of Greek and Roman mythology. This makes sense as Germanic religions likely came from the same proto-religion as Hinduism.
There were, however, times I felt there was too many references to Indian Gods and religion. A counter to this would be a previous book I read called The Hanged God Óðinn Grímnir in which a similar task was done trying to piece together traditions of ritual hanging, but the author used items such as Arabic accounts of such rituals in Uppsala as well as Slavic traditions that were similar. I understand, this was likely impossible on something as specific as Nornir for this essay, but concentrating on India made this feel more like a comparison of Indian and Northern fate deities.
The second half of the book is a broad overview of the story of Ragnarok and how it relates to other apocalyptic fiction, as well as the causes and aftermath of such an event. This section is less exploratory than the one on the Nornir, but is a solid base for those that may have never read the Voluspa, and would like to know what the true story of Ragnarok entails.
The book itself is very small, just over 100 pages and can be easily read in an hour or two depending on your reading speed. For this, I quite enjoyed it, but I would actually have enjoyed a bit more substance for the price I paid – I see the book is currently starting to become rare with scalpers jumping onto the scene gouging the prices even further – be careful!
All-in-all, this was a solid read despite my quibbles, and even with the issues I will say it was VERY informative. For those looking on information on both Ragnarok and the Nornir, you really can’t get a better “starter resource” than a book like this – its full of footnotes and has a detailed bibliography for further reading. I will definitely have to check out more from this author in the future.
If you would like a copy of this for yourself, I have provided a purchase link HERE.
A book by RC Fordham
BY FORGING A WILL AND BODY OF IRON WE MOLD OURSELVES
LIKE THE GODS WHO REIGN UP HIGH. THERE ODIN WILL GREET US AT THE GATES AS WORTHY OF HIS HALLS.
– RC Fordham yelling for some reason on the Amazon page
I mentioned in my last article, that I had purchased Kindle Unlimited and started using my Kindle as my primary reading set-up before I go to bed every night. Generally, this has been a good thing with some nice, quick, yet informative reads, however not all books can be winners! I have recently started a bit of light weight training for physical fitness and due to health reasons – I saw RC Fordham (who has a series of books in Kindle Unlimited’s Library) had a book on physical fitness with a pagan tinge to it, and figured – “why not?”
Somewhere in the world there are men training. They are training to kill you. They are training to be better than you. To over take you when the get they chance. They have not fallen for the lie that weakness is some kind of virtue to be admired.
Now the question stands… Are you prepared?
Preparation begins by becoming strong. The stronger you are the harder you are to kill. As we train to become the elite warriors of our gods, we are transforming ourselves into a living and breathing rune of strength. Our rune is Uruz. Our mission is to become it with no apologies or excuses.
– excerpt from Amazon sales page
Sadly, Iron Alchemy of the Gods: Feed Your Body With the Strength and Wisdom of Valhalla (2015) is not something I can recommend to pagans or even weightlifters for that matter. As you cans see above, the entire philosophical side of the book is presented in this weird alarmist manner that seems to be wanting you to be on edge and start furiously exercising as to not displease Odin by being too weak for Ragnarok. The majority of this section is basically trying to make the reader hate weakness, weak people, and left-leaning politics whilst striving to become a killing machine devoting the whole process to the Aesir. It’s honestly a bit much, and is not supported in any lore that I’ve read. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting, since we don’t really see anything like a Nordic weightlifting manual from 1000 AD anywhere, but it wasn’t this for sure.
This book, confusingly, also veers pretty heavily into this unnecessary anti-modern society viewpoint that I don’t wholly disagree with, but the way it’s presented is very much stilted in what I presume to be Mr. Fordham’s one-sided political beliefs, something I do not care about whatsoever.
I will not say that there was nothing in this book of worth, as I found the section on meditation very interesting and actually plan to use something from this book in my daily workout routine. Fordham basically outlines the importance of being strong in both mind and body and suggests meditation to help hone one’s skills. I won’t give away the entire thing on here, but he suggests envisioning the Rune Uruz, widely attributed to be the rune symbolizing “strength” before your workout to try to embody every virtue of the rune. This of course, has no basis in any historical practice in any way, but for most people that use rune magic, this is an interesting idea.
The rest of the book is basically a list of recommended exercises one can do at the gym with pictures to ensure proper form – I would say this amounts to about 60% of the content.
All-in-all reading this book was an interesting experience – Like stated before I was not a fan of the contents, but it is not all bad. The meditation ideas are very good, and something that I plan to try for myself. I have read a few more of Mr. Fordham’s books since starting this read-a-thon and most of them are better than this one.
If you would like a copy of this book for yourself, follow this LINK