Naturalistic Paganism is on a journey, it is searching for ways to relate to the world around us, often through ritual, but without the supernatural. There have been many suggestions made for how to do this and today I would like to consider another – one with roots that go back thousands of years to the ancient times of our Norse and Anglo Saxon ancestors.
Anyone who has spent time researching Asatru and Heathenry will be aware that one of their most sacred rites is Sumbel. This is essentially a ritual drinking session. A horn filled with mead (honey wine) is passed around a group of gathered people three times and each time the participants praise their gods, ancestors and heroes and take a drink. Alternatively they may also make a vow or boast. It is very powerful.
I think that we as Naturalistic Pagans should also consider adding this type of ceremony into our rituals…even if we practice solitary. A first round could involve praising the Earth Mother (in honour of the Norse and Saxons we could use the names “Nerthus, Jord or Erde” for her), a second round could involve remembrance of and praise for our ancestors, and a final round could involve many possibilities – for example praise for our families, people who inspire us and why, the animals and plants around us or simply anything we are grateful for that day. Gratefulness is a very important practice.
This ritual drinking is not an excuse to get drunk and it is very important to approach a sacred ceremony like this with respect and reverence.
So what do you think? Could a Sumbel be part of Naturalistic Pagan spiritual practice?