Report by Asrad CG
The weather leading up to the camp had been awful, heavy rain and cool temperatures made even the hardest of campers cut short their visits, yet from the very first morning the Gods blessed us with perfect weather, which I am pleased to say I had predicted from the outset.
My initial plans were to travel up on the Thursday in readiness to meet folk on the Friday as they arrived, but like all well made plans this was not to be and so we travelled up overnight on the Thursday and stayed at a motel on route, thus leaving us a relatively short journey come the morning.
Before reaching the camp the next morning I took several phones calls from people with transport problems, either confusion about being picked up, missed trains and delays. In most cases the problems were overcome and folk eventually made it to the campsite with a shuttle run to Matlock station. I know the route to Matlock like the back of my hand now!
The first day at any camp is a mixture of greeting folk, getting people settled and getting settled oneself. By evening time we were pretty much settled.
Our first night coincided with the Full Moon Swastika Rising ritual. I had decided that this would be the first of our rituals over the weekend and so as darkness fell we all made our way up onto Stanton Moor, which is just a short walk from the campsite. We chose to hold the Blot in an ancient quarried area, the site of our main Blot last time we came here in 2255re. The site provides an amphitheatre style setting which superbly enhances the resonance of our Gealdor.
For many this was their first experience of joint blotar and for some their first ever blot. I have said this many times before and will probably say many more times, but it is very hard to gauge how well a blot went or what folk felt about the blot. I do not like to ask people directly, but the impression I got was that it had gone well. I know some felt energised after and more than a few were rather quiet. Experiencing collective Blot can be very inspiring and for some emotional. Experiencing such a powerful ritual as the Swastika Rising ritual as their first blot was I can image quite something, it certainly raised some very positive energy up on Stanton Moor that night.
It is at times like that, that I would like to witness the ritual from the outside, hearing and feeling the Gealdor would, I expect be awesome. Especially as the moon that night, sitting low in the night sky had a wonderful orange misty glow to it, its magnetism holding our gaze like only the moon can.
When we returned back to the camp it was a quick nightcap and early to bed for most, it had been a long day for most of us, though just a few managed to while away a few more hours catching up with old friends and getting to know new ones.
Saturday morning started early as is normal when camping, though at this site we do have an extra alarm call from the resident peacocks that delight in letting everyone know when dawn breaks.
The sound of whistling kettles and sizzling bacon was sure sign the peacocks had won the battle between sleeping in and an early start.
The folk camps are pretty much a relaxed affair, I don’t like to run the camp on military style timings, herding everyone about the camp is not my idea of a relaxing weekend. We experience enough rushing around and clock watching in our daily lives already and for those organising there is little if any time to relax anyway.
Our first trip out was to Thor’s Cave. We decide this time to head off to the nearby village of Wetton, set above the Manifold way. We set off in column, though it did not take long for our guide to forget he was supposed to wait for the rest of us! With our guide out of sight and the rest of the column now reformed we set off once more for Wetton with me map reading, always a dangerous thing and my wife driving, even more dangerous! We made our way to Wetton without losing anyone else though.
We waited a while for the trail blazers to turn up, but they had obviously got a little confused with the plans, so our hardy bunch set off through the village down towards Thor’s Cave. Just to add to the excitement we took a little detour under the advice of Hengest, not something we should have listened to in hindsight as it did entail the crossing of several fences and dry stone walls, but it all added to the excitement of the journey. The weather by now was very un-Peak district like, very sunny and very hot, so it was very pleasant to climb up into the cool cave once we had overcome the gentle climb to the cave entrance. Once inside the splendid views of the Manifold valley and surrounding countryside are well worth the effort to reach this wonderful cave.
After some time spent exploring the cave itself we performed some Gealdor. The sound of this must have travelled across and down into the valley bottom as on our previous visit to the Cave a simple rune call had been heard by one of our members down in the valley below. Such energy and resonance will vibrate Wyrd’s web and I am sure it must also stir the spirits of the area.
The walk back to Wetton was somewhat easier, though still ensured we had built up a thirst and so we spent a little time chatting over a cold beer before we took a more scenic route (only getting slightly lost) back to the camp for a late lunch.
After lunch it was time for the Hammer throwing competition. There was a air of inevitability that our Garman, Tyrsson would once again retain the men’s hammer award, though I had my doubts about this, being privy to insider information that Tyrsson was carrying more than just a few extra pounds following his train driver training and some hefty lunches. So the battle lines where drawn and once again we were entertained and nearly killed on more than one occasion with some rather wayward throwing! Hengest still has nightmares about mallets now! Admittedly we did make it a little harder by having to throw the hammer with our weak arms, though this made little difference to Tyrsson (aka the fat controller) as both arms appeared to have been weakened by too many lunch time lasagne’s from the canteen!
With a weakened Tyrsson a new contender stepped forward and took the lead with a mighty throw. Hrothgar looked extremely confident that his throw would not be beaten, even by Hengest, who had some considerable weight behind his throw. After some tremendous attempts and a good few wayward ones also, Hrothgar was crowned Hammer champion for 2257 and duly presented with a very fine Hammer pendant.
The lady’s Hammer competition was won by Nadja of Sunna Rising Hearth who won a rather nice torc and the children’s competition was won by a dodgy pair of kids who managed to fleece their father of prize money by coming first and second. Peter was delighted to have won at long last, and Heidi was just pleased to take money off her Dad, me!
With the excitement of the Hammer competition over and everyone fed we made ready to head off to Arbor Low. This wonderful Stone Age “henge” sits on the high ground with beautiful views across the surrounding countryside. The henge is believed to have been constructed about 2500 BC and consists of a circular bank 76m in diameter and 2 m high. Inside the circle there is a ditch about 1.5m deep. The central area of the henge has some 46 large and 13 smaller stones. All the stones are lying down and it is not known if this was how they were originally positioned or if the stones were laid down by Christians to “de-sanctify” the site.
The site itself is situated on a farm, though there is public access to the site.
We had a good look round the site before we held blot. It really is a privilege to be able to hold blot at such a majestic location. At such a site it was only right that we invoked the ancestral spirits and remembered and celebrate our folk. We formed a circle within the centre of the Henge and held blot. The atmosphere was very potent and positive as we honoured the Gods and Goddesses, folk geist and Ur geist, land spirits and all harmonious beings. The Gealdor was especially powerful and certainly raised plenty of energy. This became very apparent when, after the Gealdor had finished, and I opened my eyes to find we were being closing observed by a dozen cows and as many sheep! When we started the blot there had been a number of cows and sheep near the Henge, but now they were in the Henge and actually standing watching us from a few meters away.
Animals sense energy, both positive and negative more keenly than most humans and I am sure that these fine creatures could sense our positive intent. When the blot ended and we made our way out the cattle and sheep remained within the Henge watching us depart.
That night we gathered round a small camp fire and prepared ourselves for the Mead competition, though to be strictly honest this was not just about Mead, for we did have some fine home made drinks entered, many of which I can not recall the names of.
Sweppi certainly did enter some excellent brews this year including a very fine Sloe Gin, Marrow wine and his Cherry wine was excellent, no repeat of the rocket fuel of two years ago, thank goodness! Tyrsson entered some Meads, though this was disputed by the judges and suggested that it should have been entered into the household cleaning fluids category, a rather harsh comment I felt as bio-fuel would have been a much fairer category.
I’m not sure if it was the judge’s intention to take a long time sampling the various brews to ensure a fair winner or the need to rid themselves of the taste of Tyrsson’s toxic potions, but the competition certainly seemed to test the judges, their stomachs especially! After much deliberation and one suspects’ no real sense of taste after trying Tyrsson’s brew the judges astonishingly awarded the 2257 Brews Cup to Ynglingsson!
The rest of the evening was spent talking, a great deal of laughing and finishing off the home brews, especially Sweppi’s fine contributions.
Sunday morning came with the normal Peacock alarm call far too early. Unfortunately we had to say good bye to several of our campers by mid morning.
Sunna Rising Hearth all had to make their way home all too early. But just as some had to depart so we had the pleasure of Steffa and his wife Claire arriving, they had come down from the North East for Steffa’s Profession.
Once the farewells had been said and folk dropped to the station we made our way to a local public house for lunch before heading off to Arbor Low to perform Steffa’s profession.
On our arrival at Arbor Low it was early evening and a beautiful evening it was too. Bathed in warm sunshine we prepared the site. As we made ready several members of the public who were visiting the site asked if it would be alright for them to watch, (others just sat down and watched) to which we of course said yes, no harm in letting folk see our ritual. The Blot itself followed its normal format, the structure of our Blots are simple, but very effective. It was then time for Steffa to step forward and take the Oath of Profession into Odin’s Holy Nation.
It is an honour to be able to conduct the Profession of a comrade and I could see in Steffa’s eyes that this was a very special moment for him. The energy of the ritual, the site and the holy Odic force flowed around us. I’m sure the ancestral spirits were with us, for it felt as if hundreds of eyes were upon us that evening.
Back at the camp we said farewell to Steffa and Claire. The small camp fire was set up and the rest of us gathered round to enjoy another night of talking and much laughter.
Next morning we broke camp and said our good-byes. Another folk camp had come and gone and once more we had a wonderful time together. The Gods and Goddesses had blessed us with wonderful weather and beautiful countryside. I am looking forward to next year’s camp and maybe, just maybe next year we may have a week long camp.
Thank you everyone for making the effort to get to the camp, and to those that missed out this time, you really did miss a fantastic camp.