from The Voice: August 2013

Here are a few pictures of the first AFA Event in Europe. The next issue of THE VOICE, will contain more stories and photos from all whom attended the moot. 

I walked into the room at the National Museum, and my eyes immediately focused on one object out of perhaps half a dozen, many of which were larger or more colorful. It was only about three feet tall, but to me it stood high above the others …

As many of you know, the Snoldelev runestone is of special interest to the AFA. The triple-horn motif which we adopted as our emblem appears on this monument, signifying the three containers of mead Odin drank to win the gift of wisdom, of the divine ecstatic condition. 

The Snoldelev stone – named for the village in which it was found – is dedicated to the honor of Gunnvald, “son of Hroald, thulr at Salhaugar.” In this context – and especially considering the heavily Odinic associations of the three-horned symbol – thulr would be a reciter of the religious lore, and perhaps a seer himself. The inscription dates from around the year 800, just as the Viking Age was getting underway.

Another strange thing about the Snoldelev stone is that it contains not one, but three, …seems to me to be significant, indicating a sort of succession from the age of bronze, to the age of iron, to that of the odr/subtle energy. But that’s just my personal interpretation.

I lingered in the room as long as I could, contemplating this stone that is so important to the organization to which we belong. I asked it for its wisdom, for the secrets contained within, and I thought on Gunnvald, deprived of his memorial stone.

-Steve McNallen

Denmark – Part One

It’s hard to describe our pilgrimage. It wasn’t a vacation, not a simple snapshot tour of the European countryside, nor was it merely an AFA ‘business trip’. It was the quenching of a thirst I didn’t know I had; an ecstatic mead of people and places pouring their spirit into the cauldron that hangs in my heart. Looking back just a few weeks later, it becomes difficult to separate the experiences; impossible to think which stone circle we visited first or last, or to count the seemingly endless bottles of mead that we poured on the ancient mounds of the great dead.

Denmark is the storybook land. As I write this, hundreds of people gather to celebrate the centennial of The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. Everywhere we went, thatched cottages sat at the end of meandering country lanes, fields of wheat were being harvested, and the Danish flag flew proudly atop flagpoles everywhere, dwarfed only by the multitude of windmills.

I could write at length about the land of Jutes and Angles, but I’ll just point out a few highlights that I felt transformed me spiritually.

The Copenhagen Museum – Surrounded by items I have long seen in pictures was fascinating. The Gundestrop Cauldron was a real highlight, as were the numerous hammers, idols, swords and helmets, but two moments of greatness happened here. The first was standing in the shadow of an Auroch’s skeleton. Together with Matt Flavel, our Folkbuilder Coordinator, we stared at the mighty beast, hunted and lost to a bog, not eaten by his killers, but preserved for all time. Perhaps his destiny was not to sustain another’s …have breezed the bones. Uuuuuruuuuzzz .. .for the might of the young hunters …. Uuuuuuruuuzzzz … for the might of the beast… .. Uruuuzzzzzzz …… a destiny fulfilled, 
perhaps for us and for the Auroch’s.

It was just a few rooms later, past the wagon, the bog bodies (I admit to mixed feelings about their being showcased) the shields and Lur trumpets that the Hall of Runestones appeared. It was not the largest, nor the most elaborate, but for us it was the most important. That day, the Trihorn emblem of the AFA came home. I was honored to be present when Stephen McNallen set eyes on the Snoldelev stone for the first time. The symbol which has meant so much to us as AFA kin was taken from the engraving made on that stone in the 9th century. It was the perfect first day, and set the tone for the days to come.

We visited standing stones and dolmens, but I had a true awakening deep in the womb of the earth. Our Danish Folkbuilder Lars lrenesson along with our new friends Soren and Aziza had planned an amazing tour (most of which Steve has detailed in his regular postings on the web). We drove our cars along country roads and made our way on foot up a dirt path in the middle of a farmer’s field. I don’t know where it was. I couldn’t point it out on a map, nor tell you the name of the place, but those are details, unimportant and unnecessary as we made our way up the gentle slope to two tree-lined burial mounds. They stood as a shocking green crown atop the golden wheat that covered the land. We made our way past the first hill, under shady beech trees and past brambles, to the second mound.

My breath left my body. I’ve stood at burial mounds before, but never have I stared at the entrance to one. The long stone-lined tunnel invited us deep within, where Aziza had lit candles to illuminate the chamber. As Shiela McNallen entered the tomb, a rabble of Butterflies made their exit, jet black and beautiful in the sunlight.

The tomb was big enough to fit eight of us comfortably, and tall enough that I could stand upright, albeit barely. We sat against the cool stone. We passed a horn and absorbed the silent beauty of the chamber. Here we sat not in a place of death, but in a gateway to the next realm. I found it strangely comforting and humbling. Matt asked if I would lead us in a… down the entrance and see the world from that perspective. From the stony dark to the blue skies and fields outside. Life, to death, to rebirth. Something shifted inside me. In that moment, the sunlight washing over my face through the darkness, I changed.

-Brad Taylor-Hicks

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