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Garman Lord

on

Theodish Symbel

 

In Theodish symbel we follow the Bauschatz thesis and, both by that and by
experience, think of the boast as "resounding," though not necessarily
throughout the worlds. We think of it as resounding in the sense of being
bound to be overheard, noted and remembered, by ears visible and invisible.
One always likes to think that the gods come whenever they are invoked, even
though you won't necessarily feel their presence any too strongly at the
weofod unless it's on sacrosanct holy ground. Where you do feel their
presence is aet symbel; they seem to love that, and always come, even though
they won't stay if they happen not to fancy the quality of the boasting, the
drink or the people. I think that throughout too much of Asatru one seems to
find a notion that the gods just love us to pieces, just like Jesus, just for
being whatever we are, and will cheerfully indulge us and put up with most
anything that we say or do. Alas, nothing could be farther from the case.
They are wiser than we, and often understand us better than we understand
ourselves, but they do have their likes and dislikes amongst people, just
like anyone else, and in general their love and respect for us has to be
similarly earned and cultivated.
 
What is also bound to be present in hall are all varieties of little wights,
generally of the better-natured kinds, of course, since you will have begun
by blessing the hall, but always with big ears nonetheless. They do not
always understand what is going on, but they are always curious, and they do
carry tales, either to your advantage or disadvantage, depending, and they
will indeed make mischief for men whenever they are offended. Nor is this
without good reason. Because symbel is held under a rooftree, with the whole
enclosure becoming in effect "the Well," men's words there are shaped, as
mains or energies, in ways not only able to go into the Well, but also bound
to "resound" throughout lesser invisible nature, which affects the ecology of
the world of the little wights for good or ill. It is a sense in which the
words of all in hall should be thought of as coming together to fashion or
cast some sort of spell, for weal or woe. Obviously any falseness, hypocrisy
or ill will is going to adversely effect that ecology for all concerned, and
when that happens, there is bound to be payback against the offender, and
sometimes against the whole hall just for entertaining it; that is why the
Thyle must be there and vigilant, and be prompt to disavow the rest of the
hall from any false or foolish boast that someone might make.
 
As to the gods, they too will be easily offended, and will turn their backs
on any false boast, and whenever they do that, there goes the luck. As noted,
the presence or absence of the gods is most strongly felt in symbel hall, but
you don't necessarily have to be a spaewife or The Amazing Kreskin to perform
this psychic feat; anyone with ears can tell it right away. Good hall
boasting seems to energize the whole hall, inspiring everyone to outdo
themselves in lofty flights of eloquence and fancy that may be well beyond
their ordinary day to day selves, such that the boasting just keeps getting
better and better as the horn goes round the board. When that happens, it
means that the gods are pleased with what they are hearing, and are putting
inspiration into the horn drink as it gets handed round.
 
By contrast, you know right away when you are in a "dead" hall, and the gods
are not present or not pleased. Instead of feeling energized, the hall feels
draining and enervating, and the boasting gets weaker and weaker as the horn
goes round. Even the trappings of the hall begin to seem vain and false, and
by the time the horn gets round to you, even if you are normally a good
boaster, you may be feeling off your usual form, and may decide not to even
give the boast you had thought to give, and may find yourself giving an
inferior one instead, just to get rid of the horn. Another way you can tell
is by the effect on time, which of course heathenry views as inherently a
relative thing anyway, rather than the Augustinian absolute. In a quality
hall, the night is fleeting, and by dawn you can only wonder where the time
went. In the other kind, the boasting and the night just seem somehow to drag
on forever.
 
Too often in Asatru halls symbel seems taken far too lightly, and very often
not even indoors but around a campfire under the open sky. Too often not only
are vain foolish things said over the horn, but even mockery or slighting
words to the gods, in some cockeyed attempt to shock or embarrass one's
friends, no doubt, by people who may think that it's all just a silly game or
pose... foolish words which are, in fact, rarely challenged, by a Thyle or
anyone else. One is put in mind of a rather silly fantasy movie in which
someone, maybe Conan the Barbarian, puts his plea to his god before a battle
and then ends his bedung with something like "and if you won't help me, then
to hell with you!" Yeah, right! Good thing this superhero has a better way
with a sword than he does with words, since it is easy enough to see by his
ultimate victory in battle that, fortunately enough for him, whatever god he
thought he was addressing didn't actually exist.