Friday, 8 April 2016

The role of a Gothi / Gythja

This was prompted as a follow on to the post on Lordship and from the discussions on the role of Heathen Guru's or Priests - The Gothi .
"The Gothi leads the ceremonies. That is fairly vague. Also stated was that the Gothi was a respected member of the group. Again, vague, but telling more. If you want to be a Gothi, you will have to be respected by an Asatru group and know enough to lead ceremonies." from here.
So from a Gewessi point of view think about the personal growth part of this; to be a Gothi to yourself you need to respect, love and understand yourself. You need to understand ritual, sacrifice and be knowledgeable on the lore of your land.   As Woden did upon Yggdrasil...
I trow I hung on that windy Tree
nine whole days and nights,
stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,
myself to mine own self given,
high on that Tree of which none hath heard
from what roots it rises to heaven.

You will need to learn about all of the seasonal blóts and symbels, as well as days dedicated to the Gods and Goddesses and ancient heroes to honour. There may also be ceremonies particular to your group (even a solitary like me has links to groups or tribes) if you are a member of one, such as its founding or the birthday of its founder, and you will need to know those. For a solitary it's important to know and develop your own, these are mine:

  1. Ritual Year - the 8 fold cycle from modern paganism and particularly Druidry
  2. Full Moon Meditation - Druidry meditation on peace and healing to the worlds
  3. Festum Prophetae - 17th June road ride to honour Eddy Merckx and road cycling
  4. Virum Honorem - 24th August MTB ride to honour Jason McRoy
  5. Life Events - these are ad-hoc
Rituals should involve either a Blót or a Symbel. Here is a prayer
When ale thou quaffest, call upon earth's might --
'tis earth drinks in the floods.
Earth prevails o'er drink, but fire o'er sickness,
the oak o'er binding, the earcorn o'er witchcraft,
the rye spur o'er rupture, the moon o'er rages,
herb o'er cattle plagues, runes o'er harm.

A Gewessi must decide when & know when to hold them and the difference between a Symbel or ritual feast where you need to give a toast, a boast & a promise, and a blót or sacrifice (ritual times of year & ad-hoc) - the text here is a Blót description:
To this festival all the men brought ale with them; and all kinds of cattle, as well as horses, were slaughtered, and all the blood that came from them was called "hlaut", and the vessels in which it was collected were called hlaut-vessels. Hlaut-staves were made, like sprinkling brushes, with which the whole of the altars and the temple walls, both outside and inside, were sprinkled over, and also the people were sprinkled with the blood; but the flesh was boiled into savoury meat for those present. The fire was in the middle of the floor of the temple, and over it hung the kettles,
which then moves onto a Symbel description...
and the full goblets were handed across the fire; and he who made the feast, and was a chief, blessed the full goblets, and all the meat of the sacrifice. And first Odin's goblet was emptied for victory and power to his king; thereafter, Niord's and Freyja's goblets for peace and a good season. Then it was the custom of many to empty the brage-goblet (Brage is a poem often to the departed); and then the guests emptied a goblet to the memory of departed friends, called the remembrance goblet.
This is a historical account, in our modern world I do not think that re-construction is appropriate with its unlicensed butchery and spraying blood everywhere! In our modern age alcohol such as beer, wine or vodka could be used or smudging with incense smoke. Most of all the sense you get from the lore is that this is not a puritanical, staid and boring experience but one of joy, laughter and good-natured flyting which in the modern world we call banter.

To sum up being your own Gothi or Gythja

you need knowledge of ritual and when to perform it, experience of working with your Gods and finally, but most importantly, the personal growth to have confidence and respect in yourself as your Gothi/Gythja.

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