Most heathens have a horn or two lying around somewhere; Even those with no interest in reenacting, whose Viking history starts and ends with knowing that they didn’t wear horns on their heads, will probably have used one at some point. It’s become a part of the culture, as much as a love of mead, (which is usually what the horns are filled with.)
There’s a romance to drinking from a horn that calls to mind images of medieval halls, feasting on chunks of roasted meat, toasting the gods around an open fire. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a tangible link to the past, something the ancestors used that you can hold in your hand.
I always liked the idea of the filled horn representing wyrd; oaths and boasts made over the horn are words laid down in the well of time, a way of using ritual to weave your own stories into the web.
That’s mixing metaphors a bit – is fate better expressed as a well, or a web? Should we drink from it, or spin it?
I also like to think of living as a creative act, where everything you do goes into forming the you of the future, I like to think of time as a flowing stream, a growing tree, an ocean of unending waves. Far better writers have attempted to put wyrd into words and failed. Whatever it is, it’s big – cosmic big – and we’re all in it, living in it and building with it and adding to it with words and deeds and intentions and mead.
This quote from Karen Bek-Pedersen’s ‘The Norns in Old Norse Mythology’ cuts through the metaphorical confusion, to the heart of the thing:
“…Fate… is not something in the face of which people admit defeat or to which they meekly submit, yet neither do they believe themselves capable of escaping or overcoming it… indeed, it seems to have been regarded as an invitation to action, a potential to fulfil, even a chance for the hero or heroine to show what he or she was truly made of.”
Whether you’re spinning, sipping, weaving or planting, a portion of what’s in your horns might be offered to the powers, to the ancestors, to the wights, to the land. At home we simply pour a little out by the god – posts in the garden. For me, that’s about giving thanks, a way of forging a positive contract, a friendship between us and the earth – a joining of fates.
Horns are for sharing. Get a good fire going and pass one round. You might discover a love of history. You might bind your wyrd to someone else’s. You might get drunk – You will definitely have fun.