will cover just a couple of ways to do Symbel/Sumbel
(rhymes with stumble). The basic format is a shorter
less involved form, while the high format is much more
basic piece was written when a local pagan decided they
wanted to do a symbel for their campsite at a gathering
that was coming up. Knowing the gathering, I highly
suggested that they find one of the several Heathens,
that would be in attendance and whom had experience with
Symbel, to host the event... Whether they took the
advice or not I don't know, but I would rather they now
how than totally botch it up... The serious nature of
Symbel as well as some of the metaphysical properties
were also pointed out to the person...
high Symbel piece was written a while ago and is still
evolving as we learn more from the past... It is the way
we try to hold Symbel when we can. Sometimes location or
situations dictate necessary changes to the format. This
format is much more likely to be seen in the Theodish
& Irminist communities than that of mainstream
Sumbel is/can be a very moving and powerful ritual, but it is just that, a ritual... It has very real effects and
consequences that you really need to know about to properly protect all of those involved in the
event... A knowledge of the concepts behind the what, why,
and how are important... With that said, here is a short outline and some of the what and
For Sumbel all you need is a Horn and some Mead or other drink and a
blessing bowl... There are plenty of pages on the web that deal with
sumbel (also spelled symbel and rhymes with stumble)...
There are several ways to do sumbel as well, this is just a fast and
easy way that would probably work well for someone not very
experienced in it...
The first thing you would do is fill the horn. Once filled, the
contents will be offered to 3 gods, Odin (for victory), Njord (for
peace), Freyja (for a good season). This can be found in the lore
( Heimskrigla to be exact). The contents are then poured into
the blessing bowl.
**You can do one of two things here... One, pour all the contents into
the bowl and then spoon a little back into the horn. Two, leave
a little in the horn. What this does is charge the horn...
There are also a couple of thoughts about the contents of the horn.
Some people use a method where the horn is never empty once it is
filled the first time until sumbel is at an end. The other (which is
what we use), the horn is emptied at the end of each round into the
blessing bowl. Another words, what ever is left at the end of the
round goes into the bowl, the horn is then primed once again from the
The first round is one to the Gods, ***this being a Norse/Germanic
ritual only the Norse/Germanic gods should be hailed***...
**Two thoughts on hailing certain gods... Some Heathens believe that if
Odin is hailed then his blood brother is also due a drink. What this
translates to is, if Odin is hailed then some of the contents of the
horn is also poured out to L***. Others believe that it is very bad manners to even mention L*** in
sumbel. So if there are Heathens/Asatruars present, do not be
surprised if there is a negative reaction to his name being mentioned
The second round is to Ancestors & Heroes.... It can be anyone alive
or dead who has made some mark on your life, a past relative, or just
someone you admire...
The third round is Oaths and Boast... This is where things can get
It is very important to watch what you say at sumbel. Once things are
placed into the well, you can't take them back... If you make an
outlandish boast or oath, then fail to do what you said you will do,
it effects the orlag and wyrd of all who bore witness to those words
not to mention what is does to your own... So it is important to
watch what you say as well as watch what other people say...
Any round after the 3rd is open to anything, stories, poems, songs,
oaths, boast, hails, whatever... Just remember, the gods are
watching, and they like to be entertained<G>.... It is
up to the host of the event to know when to bring things to a
close. Once the words start becoming forced or just don't have the
same level to them, its usually time to bring it to an end... Sumbel
is not a drinking competition!!! Nor is it a shouting contest...
Sumbel is a very Wheo(Holy) ritual... But that doesn't mean there
can't be levity<G>...
Once things are done, the contents of the horn is emptied into the
bowl, the people and gods are thanked for their attendance. The
contents of the bowl are then taken to some special place and poured
out in honor of the gods...
Just a few last words here...
The horn is seen as representation of the well of wyrd... So when you
are talking over the horn, your words are being placed in the well...
That is why it is so important to watch your words while at sumbel...
Bad language, cursing, ect. is never to be tolerated while in
sumbel... A sumbel is considered a frithstead...
As I said earlier, the gods are watching you at sumbel, your words and deeds are being
taken into account...
Before anyone enters the hall it is cleaned both ritually and
literally. BTW, we prefer to hold it indoors. The hall is step up
with the implements laid out and seating is arraigned to best suit
the hall. We also prefer to use candles or lanterns to the electric
lights in the hall.
When the hall is ready if we have a blowing horn
it is sounded 3 times at the door. At that time the lady of the hall
will greet each individual at the door where they will
wash their hands after which she will offer them a greeting and
Once everyone is seated (people do not have to file in like
in wiccan circles, they are usually free to sit
anywhere, but some people might have assigned seating due to their station in the community) the
Lady of the hall will come up front and fill the horn. The Lady of
the hall or her helpers will ideally be the ones to handle the
draught due to maegen/luck issues, but I get to do it all by myself
on occasion<G>... (If there are people who have never been to a
Sumbel before this is generally when I go through some of the basics
and do & don'ts.) Once the horn is filled I will start things after
saying a small poem I came up with for the occasion.
something from Hakon the Goods Saga in the Heimskingla which will
explain some of the next things we do.
"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 (1); and then the guests emptied a goblet to the memory of departed
friends, called the remembrance goblet."
Before we even start passing the horn around we offer 3 horns which
the contents all go into the Blessing Bowl. As mentioned above and
for the same reasons, 1st goes to Odin, next to Njord, 3rd to
Freyja. Once those are offered we prime the horn by ladling some of
the draught from the Blessing Bowl into the horn then filling it the
rest of way with fresh draught.
The first round is to the Gods, the Lady of the Hall or her helpers
will escort the horn around the folk refilling it as needed (in all
rounds). When the horn makes it all the way around, whatever left in
the horn goes into the Blessing Bowl.
Between the 1st and 2nd rounds
we have a special toast that is usually offered by the host of the
event/group for the continued luck of said group...
The second round
is to the Ancestors and Hero's with the third round being the Boast
& Oaths or Gielps and béots... Everything after the 3rd is free
form, tell a story, sing a song, recite a poem, ect...
When all is said and done the symbelgifa(aka host) will generally
decide when Sumbel should end. When we finish we generally thank the
Gods and the Folk for their attendance and contributions to the
Well. The blessing Bowl will be taken care of by the Lady of Hall
(in most cases). Then the joy of cleaning up comes<G>...
This has been an ongoing evolution for some time. It has been
influenced by Asatru, Irminist, Theodish, and A-S Heathens.