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Blot? Sumbel? Heathen Ritual?


Guest Capricorn
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I had a short but intensive flirt with Heathenry earlier this year. While my path has led me away from Heathenry I would like to integrate some of the practises I've come across during that time.

The thing is I could never quite make out the differences between Blot and Sumbel, and to be honest not really sure what either really means. Could you explain to me please?

Also, I have adopted a practise where I address deities / ancestors / spirits of the land or other and toast to them and drink 'with them' in their honour. 1) is that anywhere near a Blot or Sumbel? 2) what elements could I add to this rite to give it depth?

Thanks for replies :)

Capri

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I should really leave this reply to the Heathens who are far more knowledgeable than I - however, I have attended several sumbels in the Northern Tradition and my experiences: there is a Master of the Hall and a Lady who prepares the mead for blessing. The mead is circulated in rounds where everyone has the chance to do what the round dictates when they hold the cup/horn of mead or ale: first round "Toast" - to the gods, the ancestors, as you choose; "Boast" - when you speak of an achievement you have made; "Oath" when you promise to do something. The latter is a serious promise and you should not choose to make an oath that you neither can nor intend to keep. After that, the evening can go on as long as there is a desire to circulate the mead and to drink - when people offer a song, a poem, a story or whatever ............

Now, I expect the proper Heathens will explain correctly and better than I can .... and, indeed, what is a "blot" and how the two differ :)

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Blot is a sacrifice to the Gods to link our luck with theirs. Symbels are meant to link our luck with our family, kith and kin. They're very different (though really don't need all the amateur dramatic ritual or language though it floats some people's boats). I'd blot with either non-heathens or heathens I didn't know very well as long as we respected each other. I'd never enter a symbel with folk I didn't regard as my folk since we are mixing our luck and reputation - after a symbel your oaths affect my reputation as well as yours.

That's just me though. I've met folk who'll symbel with complete strangers - or do a mini symbel at the end of an open to everybody pub moot. Myself I'd stay well clear of such people.

Edited by Marcus
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Ah, my practices differ from Marcus. We approach things a little differently, though i honour that!

From my perspective, the difference between the two is that a blot involves food as well as toasting, and the food (and some drink) is explicitly sacrificed to a named god. A sumble isn't dedicated to one particular god. :)

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Viva la Difference ! :o_wink2:

A blot is a sacrifice and as the name suggests involves blood. I will not blot outside my own hearth.

The sumbl proper is a feast during which a horn is passed, the horn is the equivilent of the Talking Stick. He who holds the horn may make a boast, a toast, make a speech quote poetry etc, without interuption. In theory one could sermonise for hours but good manners usually reins in the more enthuiastic.

The mine-sumbl is the triple round of the horn when each person may for example call on their own personal deity in the first round make a boast or promise in the second and perhaps remember an ancestor or someone who is sick etc in the third round, or indeed may indeed just take a sip of the horn and pass it on if they are shy or the muse deserts them.

In some company it is considered good manners to anounce before hand if one is going to be utterly outrageous and call on Loki during a mine-sumbl to allow the sensitive souls to retire. I take the view that I stand on my ground and you on yours and your actions do not effect me so I will sumbl with anyone, :o_wave:

Edited by davkin
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Davkin's answer is probably closest to my practice. The bl贸t is something I participate in with my kindred. Or, given, that's rarely possible these days, with people I'm very close to. A coupe of years ago we did experiment with a skyped bl贸t. Didn't work, but the attempt was interesting.

A sumbel is for calling upon the gods, and making boasts and oaths. As such I will sumbel with anyone. I have no problem with anyone wanting to call on Loki - so long as they supply the single malt themselves! :o_wink2:

To be honest, the boundaries can be blurred, in my experience. There are bl贸ts that are followed by sumbels. I know groups who prefer to close a sumbel after the third round of the horn/drinking cup so that people don't make oaths they can't possibly live up to/say things they don't mean if they get a bit carried away. On the other hand I've known plenty of sumbels that continue for a long time..... :o_wave:

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Viva la Difference ! :o_wink2:

A blot is a sacrifice and as the name suggests involves blood. I will not blot outside my own hearth.

I have not, but that is because my hearth no longer exists. I would want to blot only with people I trust - i think we agree on that :)

In some company it is considered good manners to anounce before hand if one is going to be utterly outrageous and call on Loki during a mine-sumbl to allow the sensitive souls to retire.

I'm not sure how far you're joking, Davkin. Loki often simply pops in, IME. Or, if you mean a formal toast, then why would he not be entitled to the same treatment as another god?

You ARE joking?? :lol:

There are bl贸ts that are followed by sumbels. I know groups who prefer to close a sumbel after the third round of the horn/drinking cup so that people don't make oaths they can't possibly live up to/say things they don't mean if they get a bit carried away. On the other hand I've known plenty of sumbels that continue for a long time..... :o_wave:

Yes to all of ^^^^ ;)

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thank you all for the replies and the information :) Ok follow-up questions: does a Blot necessarily mean involving blood? - or can it be non-blood/meat food? Also what kind of ritual does the solitary Heathen? - I understand that Sumble is a communal activity (either with only close folk or others, depending on opinion) (?) Can a solitaire just toast their gods without involving food? - and would that then be a sumble or something else entirely? :o_confused:

and another question: is there any known of cross-fertilization to other pagan traditions? - especially thinking of Druidry? (I remember drinking from a horn was involved in the one druidic ritual I attended)

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