A Report by Redwald OR
If I’m honest, no doubt like many others, I considered Profession rather early on in my OR ‘apprenticeship’. Being pretty eager regarding new challenges, I have often tried to run before I can walk. Sometimes this enthusiasm has paid off, and other times I’ve ended up taking on a bit too much for my own good. Indeed, my wife is often telling me that I do too much… and I nod, smile and tell her that my greatest fear is to be lying on my death bed regretting not having done more.
It frustrates me greatly to see people of my folk sitting idle and merely enjoying the lifestyle granted to them by their ancestors rather than attempting to advance themselves and our folk further. I like to use my days off work to cram in as much as I can rather than to ‘chill out’. However I have come to see that in the past I have occasionally moved forwards a little too quickly, and so although I’ll admit to thinking about being Professed for quite some time, I decided to wait until I was certain about taking this particular step forward before actually submitting my Application for Profession.
I’d made a short mental check list of things I should do before I applied to be Professed. I wanted to pen a few ORB articles, I wanted to attend a couple of Folk Camps and I wanted to attend a GM. If I could be useful in other ways to the Rite, then obviously I would be add more to my list as the months and years progressed.
One thing that, in hindsight, should have been added to that list was to be certain that I was comfortable with other OR members. However, from day one I have had no second thoughts whatsoever in that regard, and therefore it didn’t occur to me to consider this. The first time I knowingly met OR folk face to face was when I received an invite to an Einheriar Hearth social in the Nottinghamshire area. It was a very well attended event hosted by Hans and Eva. I can’t name everyone I met there as the evening went much too quickly, but I remember chatting to Sigbert and I remember seeing a mead horn passed round for the first time and the roars and cheers that are a part of any good Odinist gathering. I also remember the faces of the bar staff – where as I was grinning ear to ear, they were looking more pale than their pale ale. I felt comfortable in the company of these Odinists and I knew it was the right path, and the right organisation, for me.
Asrad, of course, had been the first point of contact for me, via email and the written letter. And later when we finally met in person it was like meeting an old friend. Little did I know way back at the beginning that Asrad would be the man presiding over me and my good lady’s handfasting a few years down the line. Hand on heart I can tell you that there is more incentive to be faithful to your wife when your vows are taken in front of an Odinist Gothi rather than a spindly-framed (typically camp) vicar!
I’d joined the Odinic Rite after noticing the OR listed as a reference in a book I’d read on the subject of Odinism. Thinking back, my thoughts and actions have always been of the ‘Old Ways’ so to speak. I was never christened and have never felt any affinity with Christianity, however I did crave some form of organised religion to make my gut feelings more understandable. I’ve never really liked the word ‘religion’ due to it’s negative connotations but I use it here as we should try to alter people’s perception of what religion really is. To me it’s a structured way of living with moral guidance and common sense room for adjustments over the ages. The OR offered me that kind of orderly structure and much more, along with a sense of camaraderie and I was only too pleased to be a part of that.
Profession, of course, means more than just joining a ‘club’. I’d purchased a Book of Blotar some time beforehand and I’d read and re-read the oath and I’d tried to understand our ceremonies a bit more too. The words we say and actions we take are performed in front of our friends and also before our ancestors and our Gods too, which is quite a frightening thought. We live a short life in the grand scheme of things, but as the Havamal says, “…the only thing that doesn’t die is the fame of a dead man’s deeds.”
I’m certainly not an expert in our scripture but the above passage holds a lot of weight. Once we’ve said something or done something it is said and done forever more. And that’s the frightening part. So I believe the CG is right to ensure prospective OR members fully consider the seriousness of the oath of Profession before jumping in head first. For had I been allowed or encouraged to go through with it, I’d have probably been Professed years ago. But having waited, I feel happier. I feel I’ve done some good for the Rite and I’ve finally managed to attend a GM and so forth. I don’t believe the CG have a set of boxes that need to be ticked before the oath of Profession is undertaken, but serious thought certainly goes into the decision making process.
I’ve tried to explain what lead me to finally submitting my Application for Profession, for I am certain there are newer members than me who don’t understand the reasons behind being Professed – both the CG’s reasons for making their final decision and also the reasons for individual deciding to take the oath. The CG want to see a strong OR and there is nothing more disheartening than hearing that a respected member has drifted away. If that member has been Professed it is surely all the more upsetting.
One lesson I have learnt while spending time in other (non-religious) organisations is that people are often loyal when times are good, yet that loyalty often disappears when the chips are down. Hopefully in understanding the oath of Profession and having fully understood that oath, in times of distress the OR members will come together to face those difficulties. The CG can but do their best to ensure they build strong foundations; of course it is down to each individual to be strong and loyal – loyal to the Rite, to the High Ones and of course to our families.
Back-story over, onto the big day!
I’d submitted my Application for Profession to Asrad at the Great Moot and requested my friend Hans to act as sponsor and presiding Gothi. Hans was the first OR man I’d met face to face as previously mentioned, and I have over the years tried to attend all the major monthly ceremonies and camps held by the Einheriar Hearth. I’d also spent a significant number of hours making my Torc, which included an Algiz rune and fylfot into the design. And most importantly to me, I wanted the Profession ceremony to take place outdoors, and I’d requested it take place at a Yule blot – my favourite blot of the year and one I always try to attend.
Some weeks passed between submitting my application and hearing whether I’d been accepted for Profession, but I resisted the urge to ask what was going on. For all I knew my application could have been turned down. If that was my Wyrd, I resolved not to be upset but to continue to play my part in the OR. Fortunately I finally received a text from Hans with a date for the ceremony: December 18th. Now my only concern was the weather; the previous year had seen a lot of snow across England, and although I love the white stuff, it plays havoc with travelling.
The day finally arrived and I set off to the designated RV. There had been no snow, however Jack Frost had been a-visiting and some local roads had been quite treacherous overnight. That Sunday afternoon was glorious, however, with Sunna shining as bright as was possible for the time of year.
I drove the 90 minute journey through the counties of Shropshire, Staffordshire, Leicester, Derbyshire and into Nottinghamshire partly in silence, and at other times listening to the Folk Spirit compilations crammed onto my USB stick. I contemplated being professed; being accepted as a full member of the OR and what that would mean. My only concern was ‘can I do enough?’ but I tried not to doubt myself and instead focussed on the positives. I remember a friend of mine telling me how he’d tried to encourage another friend of his to join the Rite, and that person’s response was “What benefit would it bring to me?” which, of course, is the wrong response. To the spiritual person, the benefits are obvious, and furthermore we are here to support each other and future generations of our folk. The people I’ve met in the OR are, to me, a tiny glimpse of what our folk could be like if our Old Ways were brought to the fore once again. A microcosm of integrity in a world of selfishness.
The miles ticked by and soon I arrived at our meeting place. I was early, which is how I’d planned it. Didn’t want to be late for my own Profession. I parked the car and headed into the bar, taking my Book of Blotar with me for one final read of the ceremony and the Yule blot. I ordered a half of ‘Greene King’ and spent 30 minutes relaxing and preparing mentally. Like most modern people I do get caught up rushing through life and I was determined to savour the moment on this special occasion.
I finished my drink and went back to the car. I took my rucksack and placed my Torc inside. It was brilliantly polished and flashed golden in the fading light.
No sooner had I locked my car when my good friends from the Einheriar Hearth arrived. Hans OR, the Hearth Guardian, arrived with his family and we all shook hands and chatted while shivering as evening descended. There is always one well prepared individual in any group, however, and Lee took the honours in his new down-filled North Face coat; sweat dripping off his forehead. At the other extreme, Gav looked the coolest in both senses of the word in his tee shirt and leather jacket. I was okay; I had my thermal trousers on. Would Ragnar have worn them? I’ll ask him in Valhalla!
Greetings over, we began our 10 minute walk towards Catstone Hill, during which we chatted about what books we’d read and what music we’d listened to since our last meeting. And before I knew it, we were all standing atop the hill, in the dark, overlooking the motorway in the distance and surrounded by ancient trees. After a few minutes to clear our heads of mundane thoughts, the Yule blot was underway.
I love this blot. I’m not sure I can explain precisely why, but it’s my favourite blot of the year. I tipped back my head and looked at the stars as members of the Einheriar Hearth undertook their readings. Sometimes during blots I lose myself a little bit and start daydreaming; not in an absent minded way – I can only liken it to upright meditation. I’m aware enough to join in with the blot, but I do let myself drift away. An out of body experience may be over-emphasising the feeling, but it’s certainly a kind of dream-state and I occasionally snap out of it and feel a bit off balance for a second, though I’m not sure anyone notices.
Soon we came to the part of the Yule ceremony where Hans had chosen to break off and begin the ceremony of Profession. He called me forwards and we clasped hands. The fire snapped and crackled, sending sparks into the icy air as he spoke, reminding me of the oath I was about to take. As I spoke my replies, I tried to ensure I spoke clearly. My mouth was a little dry, due mainly to the smoke from the fire rather than nerves, and despite a few butterflies in my stomach I felt comfortable agreeing nine times to proceed and to take my oath and receive back my Torc which I’d given to Hans before our procession to the sacred site.
As the ceremony of Profession ended and the Yule blot recommenced, I felt like I’d deepened my bond of fellowship with those who were there. That felt good to me, but I didn’t want it to be just about being ‘accepted’. I sincerely hoped at that moment that I was worthy of Profession. I didn’t and don’t want to let anyone down and most importantly I don’t want to be the kind of person who burns themselves out in a short space of time. I thought of the good people I’d met in other areas of my life that had drifted away from what they were doing and I hoped I had it in me to stay the course. I’d taken an oath in front of my friends, my ancestors and the High Ones. But I’d also taken an oath to myself too, for that’s who I have to live with every day. But I can see no reason why I will not last, and writing this after the turning of another year, I have no doubts about the step I have taken.
I’ve been Professed into the Odinic Rite and I’m proud of it. I can look at society’s depravity and decay and then I can look to the Rite and it gives me hope. And I urge Apprentice ‘AOR’ members to stick with the Rite, to make friends with fellow members and to dip your toe a little deeper into the water. At no point have I ever felt uncomfortable with the OR; I have never had that feeling I used to have when I met Christians at childhood youth clubs, for example, where I immediately felt I was being indoctrinated into something strange and alien and that there was something they were not telling me. The OR is an organisation worth giving your time to, for we have the kind of beliefs, traditions and high ideals which have served our folk over many generations.
Thank you to the OR for accepting me as a full member and thank you also to all those of the Einheriar Hearth for your continued friendship.
Hael the OR, our members and Families.