from The Voice: October 2013
by Brad Taylor-Hicks 

I emerged from the burial chamber into the Danish sunlight. Those who know me will testify that l’m not often lost for words, but I was quiet as we drove away from the farmer’s field, still coming to terms with the experience I had inside that tomb, and trying to place it within the framework of all the various notions of death and rebirth. 

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 triple­horn 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… Our magical mystery tour continued (being truly magical and mysterious), and in short order we arrived at our next destination. If the burial chamber was the place of stasis and contemplation, then this was a place of action and abundance. The Trelleborg at Slagelse was a massive Viking age ring fort, used as a staging post for raids into other lands; it was built under the auspices of the King, Harald Bluetooth, son of Gorm. We were welcomed with the laughter of joyous children as we made our way past the museum’s playground, complete with miniature God poles, a felled tree in place of a climbing frame, and a miniature long house. 

The Long House (the full sized one) was something to behold, huge in its scale. Reconstructed in 1948, it stands as one of the earliest efforts to reconstruct our ancestral halls. Modern historians debate the reconstruction as new information has come to light, but that did not dim our pleasure as we took our lunch there, sitting like ancient kings under the high shingled roof. 

We crossed the bridge over the moat and started to make our way toward the entrance through the 16-foot-high dirt walls. Steve leapt up the wall charging as if into battle; I think a part of him wanted to know how it would have felt to have scaled the walls, sword in hand. And what a view greeted him from the top of the wall! Laid out in a sun wheel, the massive fortification was breathtaking. There were concrete markers that showed where the various houses would have stood and one could imagine the place filled with warriors where now there were only sheep grazing freely. Alongside the fort ran a river; perhaps there had been ships laden with goods, well earned or well won, their oars pulled by men coming home to a glad Jarl and a full horn. A more sobering place was near the exit where we walked past the numerous small burial mounds. We paid our respects to the 157 ancients who lay there; most had been Christianized, though some were buried with grave goods.

We drove again through the Danish countryside; this time our goal was the small village of … much larger stone in commemoration of the original, which now sits in the National Museum in Copenhagen…

We raised a horn in honor of Gunnvaldr, and it was impossible not to feel the connection made in that place, that sense of the old and new, of the carrying of that Gothi’s work into the future, of remembrance of our Gods and Kings, of honoring the strength of our people and pushing back against a thousand years of Christianity. I left a small gift at that site, a token of thanks: a round pin, with a tri-horn on it. 

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