The beautiful Derbyshire Peak district was once again the setting for this year’s UK Folk Camp. The area has an abundance of wonderful sites and its magical pull cannot be ignored, so once again the Rite returned to Birchover just below Stanton Moor for our fifth folk camp.
We decided to make the camp a little longer this year in order to be able to enjoy the area and great company for just that little bit longer. As a community we do not get that many times in a year to gather, so it is important to make the very most of an opportunity such as the Folk Camp.
The camp started on the Thursday with many of the local members arriving early in the morning and those from further afield arriving during the afternoon and evening. Others unable to stay for the whole camp came and went during the weekend but it was fantastic to see so many making the effort to attend even for just one day, many making long journeys to meet with friends and comrades.
The Thursday was relatively quiet and a day of getting settled, tents going up all over the site and many hands helping those later arrivals. The evening was a time for catching up with old comrades and meeting new ones. The chatting, laughter and singing went long into the night. The evening had turned wet, not untypical of the Peak District but the marquee ensured that our folk did not get too damp.
Friday morning started a little damp, but soon passed over and the sun blessed us with her presence. We greeted more arrivals over the day and collected a few more from the station in Matlock. We had a camp meeting to outline the planned activities for the weekend, nothing written in stone though as I have said many times before, this is meant to be a relaxed folk gathering not a military exercise, though some Sgt Major style shouting was required to muster the campers at times. Tyrsson broke out the bokkens (wooden martial art swords) which he had purchased for the children and bigger kids to beat the merry daylights out of each other with over the course of the camp. The good thing was that Tyrsson, Johnny and Jim were on hand to demonstrate just how it should be done and gave the children plenty of instructions in blocking and attacking, which was fine until those techniques where put to use on the rest of us! The sounds of battle followed by the inevitable cries of pain as sword hit knuckles instead of sword! Still our brave warriors managed to keep the fighting up all weekend with only a few minor injuries, so thanks to Tyrsson for providing the children and big kids with the bokkens.
Friday evening we made our way up onto Stanton Moor and to the old quarry area we have held Blot before. The site is a wonderful amphitheatre and creates a wonderful resonance for our Blotar and especially for the Gealdor. The first Blot of the camp was the Swastika Rising ritual. For a few this was the first communal Blot and a powerful Blot it was. The energy was awesome and undeniably positive. The setting really does magnify and focus the energy we raised at that ritual. We had dissolved any negativity that had been targeted at us that was for sure. The walk back to the camp was filled with chat as everyone seemed completely energised.
Back at the camp we enjoyed an evening of merriment, much laughter and a great deal of discussion, not to mention just a little banter! The evening passed quickly in such wonderful company and with such wonderful entertainment, Lee on the guitar and Chris and Sigbert on the vocals, though Lee’s talents on the guitar outshone the rough singing style of Chris and Sigbert. We were then subjected to- sorry, enjoyed- the musical talents of Hengest and his five string guitar, so foolishly, err, kindly, given to him by Njal. With such talent emerging from all quarters and such diversity in singing styles it was decided that next years folk camp will see the introduction of the Ballard Cup, though we will also have to find a suitable venue, preferably several miles away from the rest of the camp! There will also be a total ban on recording and filming in the best interests of mankind.
Saturday morning started bright and Sunny with the sounds of burners filling the canopy of a hot air balloon which was rising from the valley in the early morning sun. The camp was stirring and the early risers drifted by and enjoyed a welcome cup of tea from the Asrad family kitchen. Hengest finally rose from his pit and immediately made claim that his drink had been spiked with mead the previous night! Yes he was hung over! Of course he received all the sympathy he deserved; none!
In past years the hammer throwing competition has been the source of much fun and more than a little danger with some wayward throwing from some competitors. This year we had an impressive turn out and some extra talent previously undiscovered, so Tyrsson’s hopes of retrieving the title from Hrothgar was under real threat. Some mighty throws soon pushed the markers back as well as nearly killing our mobile target, Tyrsson! Hrothgar produced a mighty throw as did Tyrsson, but this year the men’s title was won with a mighty throw from Steffa, aka Hagrid. The ladies’ award went to Sam R and the youth award (though the kids all got sweets) went to Rhys of Heimdalls Watch Hearth.
The Tug-o-War competition was next and this really did sort out the men from the boys! Several Hearth teams pitted their skills against each other in a competition of strength, skill and cunning!
The Sunna Rising Hearth really did look good from the outset, destroying all that came before them, which I hasten to add was not much! Led by Tyrsson, his two giant helpers had soon reached the final. From the other side of the Thames came the much younger and better looking team from the Fylfot Hearth. This dynamic team ably led by the anchor man Jim was made up of strength, cunning and two little lads at the front! Hengest being in no fit condition to take part! The Fylfot Hearth team had surprised all comers with their skill and surprising strength and soon faced the black shirts from the North, SR Hearth in the final. The first pull went to a well organised Fylfot Hearth, but the bully boy tactics of SR Hearth on our two young lads saw the second pull go to SR Hearth. The third and final pull was a tight affair with the crowd supporting the Fylfot hearth 100%, but big Dave and Einnulf had dug in well (Tyrsson being shorter could not reach the ground to dig in) and so brute force finally overcame the skill of the much younger Fylfot team. Sunna Rising Hearth were the 2258 Tug-O- War champions, though obviously not the people’s champions: that title went to the Fylfot hearth.
After lunch many of us set off for Matlock Bath for a look round the town and to try our nautical skills on the rowing boats. Hans from Einheriar Hearth had arranged for our group to take to the river so we set off like a hoard of Viking dragon ships, well not quite, as it took a good deal of effort to avoid the wildly zig zagging boat of yours truly! Rowing not being one of my fortes! But just as it was time to head back in I get the hang of it, though some wayward instructions from the helm did not help matters! Hans could be seen taking in the views as he flogged his crew and Hengest’s impression of Capt Pugwash and his work shy crew was uncanny! Remarkably we all made it back without falling in or sinking any of the boats. After some souvenir hunting and an ice-cream we made our way back to camp and made ready for the evening Blot.
We had hoped to hold Blot at the Nine Ladies stone circle, but on our arrival the site was busy with new agers so I decided that rather than hold blot with what could be a disruptive element, we made our way back to our original blot site in the old quarry.
Whilst the Nine Ladies site is a nice looking site, I cannot help but feel it lacks much of the energy is should hold. It is a special place, yet it seems drained of that special energy that you expect to feel to some degree at a sacred site. Perhaps more energy has been drained from the site than given by those that visit it. When I see people sitting on the stones drinking from cans and smoking herbal cigarettes of some kind, I find it totally disrespectful and it saddens me greatly.
Away from the Nine Ladies I felt more positive, the negativity no longer apparent. We prepared the site for Blot. The Ve was formed, warded and the holy energy of the runes invoked with the call and response. I find it very hard to describe the feelings I experience during a blot and even more so when you hold a powerful one as we did that night on Stanton Moor. We certainly did raise positive energy with our cone of power. Near to the end of the Blot I noticed several people looking up and pointing, but I did not take much notice, assuming they had seen some bats or owls maybe, but when the blot had finished and we shook hands and spoke of the Blot, Sigbert explained what he had been pointing at. Directly above us in the cloud cover a triskel had appeared. Sigbert was not the only one to see this and several confirmed the appearance of the triskel within the cloud covered sky. I took this as a clear indication that we had raised some powerful energy up on the Moor and vibrated the great web of Wyrd.
Back at the camp we got settled at the marquee and prepared for an evening of merriment. We also had the Brewer’s cup to judge and so our panel of iron bellied judges settled into their chairs and began the arduous job of mead tasting. After much oohing and aahhing from the judges, no doubt suffering from gut rot after trying the various entries, a winner was decided upon and so the winner of the 2258 Brewers Cup was Johnny from Frey’s Beacon Hearth. Over the past few years there have been some very memorable entries and more than a few awful ones. Having decided quite early not to sample too many of the entries I cannot really comment on the quality of these home brews, but well done everyone for giving it a go.
Sunday started pretty damp, the rain drumming on the tent in the early hours of the morning encouraged me to remain in my sleeping bag a little longer. The rain eased up in time to do breakfast and to brew the all important morning tea. Sunday was the day Sigbert was going to be professed at Arbor Low, an ancient site which we had first visited last year. As we arrived at the site the rain eased up once more, and we made our way up to the site. Sigbert’s parents and his daughter had made the long journey down to be present for his profession. The Blot and Profession went very well and I have seen few people as proud as Sigbert was on that day. It was clear that this meant a lot to him and it was an honour to profess him and to welcome him into the holy Nation of Odin. As we departed the site we also said farewell to some of our folk as they made their journeys home. A few of us made our way to a restaurant for Sunday dinner with Sigbert’s family. It was a pleasure to meet them and their presence at Sigbert’s profession made it that much more special for him.
Back at the camp the marquee once more became the focal point of the evening gathering. We had put together a quiz to test the old grey matter of our members. Teams were formed and the quiz master (me) and his able assistant (Odin, Hengest’s son) put some very challenging questions to our varied teams. We asked questions on a wide range of subjects including, Geography, History, Mythology, Science, Sport, Odinism and general knowledge. The youngsters faired well considering some of the questions were really aimed at the adults. Once the scores had been checked and double checked the winners by just a few points were the 69’ers, that is the 1969’ers! Tyrsson, Sigbert and Hengest. The winners celebrated in modest fashion, running round the camp with shirts on heads football style!
As the evening wore on Hengest and I attempted to perform the Snap Dragon ritual, though without having seen it performed by Heimgest, we struggled a little to get the exact conditions for the ritual of fire eating. We did get there in the end and everyone had a go and the children enjoyed it immensely. It had been a brilliant night of laughter, chat, discussion and merriment.
Monday morning started bright and sunny and near perfect conditions for putting the tents away, though a little hot. Slowly the tents came down and people said goodbye as they departed and made their way home. We were the last to leave, getting everything into the car proves harder each time!
It had been a brilliant camp and the extra day had really made a difference. We had held Blot together, discussed Odinism, visited some very special sites, but most importantly we had gathered as a folk. Just being around your own folk in such a lovely location is energising. You cannot help but feel uplifted after being with such good folk. We look forward to the next folk camp and to standing in a circle of unity with our comrades. May the Rite continue to grow and flourish.
Hail the Rite
Hail the Folk