It has become a custom that I spend Yule with my Asatruar hearth. This event is always relatively ‘light’ on ritual – not all of the invitees are Heathen or Pagan. So a couple of us, with our gyðja leading us, walk over to our Ancestor altar that sits in the corner of the backyard, and give thanks to the Gods of our Hearth and welcome them to the party.
There is always plenty of food, drink and conversation. Steaks are cooked on the grill (ah, a California winter), and bits are offered to the flames from each piece as an offering. The kids run around, looking at the chocolate fountain longingly, waiting for permission from their parents. The adults, of course, dip the various goodies as they wish – pretzels, marshmallows, banana slices and pieces of pound cake are favorites. Chocolate always seems to end up being used by someone as an offering – thankfully many of the Norse Gods seem to really like the stuff. Although, I’m not sure I’m fond of the smell of burning melted chocolate…
Eventually, the drinks flow, and an un-official sumbel starts. We boast of past deeds and some of the more intoxicated tell some very tall tales. While normally a sumbel is three rounds, we never seem to be able to keep it down to just three. Into the wee hours of the night, we talk and drink and eat. While we don’t stay up until sunrise the next morning, it certainly seems that way.
This night always leaves me both very, very tired and very, very happy.