Thursday night at the Phoenix Phyre Ostara Festival, we attended a Viking Sumbel hosted by our new friend, Leraje. The Sumbel consists of a series of “toasts” and is one of the most common celebrations for Vikings to perform for a variety of occasions including the greeting of guests in order to strengthen the bond in the Community. The various toasts gives everyone an opportunity to get to know some basic information about each other as well as their beliefs and moral codes.
Leraje presented a rather large and impressive horn for the toasting and explained the usual sequence during Sumbels. The first round is for honoring your patron gods. The first person will usually say something like, “I am the son of Thor, the master of the war hammer and striker of lightening. He has defeated ice giants and guards my people.” Then the first person takes a sip out of the horn and passes it along. This continues from person to person until the horn returns back where it started.
By the way, if you don’t drink, you can still participate in a Sumbel simply by kissing the horn instead of the toast, so don’t let avoidance of alcohol keep you away from having a really wonderful bonding experience (and making fun of those who are imbibing along the way. Lol)
The second round is dedicated to the Ancestors. Everyone picks a person who has crossed into Vahalla (or the Summerlands) and toasts that person. It doesn’t necessarily have to be from your bloodline, but this round was traditionally used to speak about the accomplishments of the family or tribal lines. We were also advised that if you toast someone who is still living in this round, it’s an indication that you wish for them to join their ancestors rather quickly, so be sure to avoid insulting the living during this round or else the “haunting” you get just might be attached to the arm of a mortal person.
In the third round, the boisterous boasting begins. The toasts are about yourself and your accomplishments. You are entirely expected to add lots of “color” and “flavor” to your boasts which usually results in a lot of giggling, laughter, and good natured ribbing by everyone.
There was a tremendous turn out for the Sambel, which made it quite a Community event, but unfortunately, it also made the rounds last far longer than I could sit for and I was disappointed that I had leave early. However, I learned that the Sambel was going to meld into the Bardic Circle which was supposed to be held right next to our hearth, so the return to the Hearth offered an opportunity to prepare a fire and some tasty treats. So prepared as I was, the gods had other ideas in mind and the rains came and sang its own bardic tales. We put everything away and scampered to the covered dining tent over we shared with our lovely friend Dru, who is always ready with a warm welcoming (and usually some kind of Soup as well) for old friends as well as new friends.
During the rains, there were some lovely conversations and I had the opportunity to meet a lovely couple from Illinois along with their daughter. The family originally came from Germany somewhere around 18 years ago or so and they presented a heartwarming story that I wish to share with you. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the father’s profession, we could not use photographs or real names, so I will refer to them as Allen, Mary, and their daughter, Emily, who was 16 and had Downs Syndrome.
Although Allen and Mary are Catholic, their daughter asked to have a “spiritual” vacation where she could enjoy nature and spirituality. It was heartwarming and inspiring that Allen and Mary arranged their entire vacation around Phoenix Phyre not knowing anyone at all upon arrival and having never visited a pagan festival previously. Fortunately for them, Dru took them under her wing as she often does with new comers and they each had a spiritual and fun-filled vacation.
By the time the rains let up, we decided to bypass the fire circle and head to the tents and get some rest in preparation for the weekend. We fell asleep to the rhythm of the drumming by Tribal Soup thoughout the night and slept well.
Our event photographer, Ms. Mayhem, hasn’t been able to forward the photos from the Sambel yet due post-festival obligations like work, but as soon as we get them downloaded, I’ll post them to the website so that you can enjoy them.