Category Archives: Ancestors

Family Photo Tour

When my Uncle Lynn Osborne came up to visit in September, 2009 he gave me an envelope full of pictures of the family that he has collected over the years. Today I finally decided to get on with it and scan those pictures so that we have an electronic copy of them. Now, some nine hours later I am finally uploading those pictures.

There was quite a lot of work involved with this process, but thanks to even more hard work by my uncle the process was actually made a lot easier than it could have been. The man wrote detailed notes on the backs of the pictures with names, dates and locations whenever possible. Over the years, in visiting with family, he would take pictures of pictures that they might have of the family, and the frame shadows clearly identify these pictures.

Once I had them all scanned I did some basic color balancing and contrast adjustments to at least do a little to clean up the images. In some cases I took color pictures and turned them into black and white pictures because the color degradation was too bad, and I got a clearer picture without the color. I also put some effort into tagging the people and locations in the pictures, not only in the caption, but also in the meta data. Unfortunately, while I was able to add this data, my preferred photo archive site does not seem to recognize it. Fortunately, while it is my preferred, I do use alternatives as well, just to make sure that I don’t keep all my pictures in one location. The Google service does make use of this data and provides some interesting ways of looking at the pictures by placing them on a map as well as the more traditional photo gallery.

Family Photo Archive

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Heathen Times

Alter TableMy life as a Heathen sure has undergone a lot of growth in the last couple of months. Strange to see it all happen, but so very happy to see it happening. Having Sarah open herself to the possibility that she might find a home in being Heathen has done so much for us. I really can’t believe just how much has opened up because of that one simple act. As a result she was standing by my side yesterday when we participated in the Midwinter Blot with the folk of Sturm-Hrafn. I wish that I had the words to truly express the feelings that I had yesterday, and still have today when thinking about it. My children love the folk that are part of this, and the twins fell asleep in the arms of people that were complete strangers to us two months ago last night. My heart just melts when I think about seeing Jeff Peck with one of them (I think it was Caulla) asleep on his shoulder as we sat around the fire finishing the evening with an informal symbel.

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Filed under Ancestors, Children, Family, Fatherhood, Goals, Heathenry, Holidays

My First Sumbel

Things have really opened up for me in just the last week. Not when it comes to employment, but rather in the path that I have chosen to walk as a Heathen. Ironically, it seems that the use of a cosmic hint brick on my wife was what opened the doors that I had been unable to even find, much less try to open myself.

You see, ever since I made the choice to walk the path of a Heathen, and to worship the gods of my ancestors, I have been trying to find other heathens to associate with. For years, while I might make contact with local heathens, those contacts never got anywhere after the initial introduction. I have gone so far as to consider moving back to the mid-west just to find a Heathen community to associate with, and have received offers of open arms from some that I know through online contact. But this has not been the preferred choice for me for several reasons, not least of which is that it would mean moving us and the kids away from all of our family.

Last week Sarah struck up a conversation with a heathen in a comment thread on Facebook, and things started to happen. One thing led to another, and suddenly she was communicating with a local heathen that I had tried to reach out to before without success, and we were invited over for coffee and socialization. This was Friday (9/3/10), and we spent several hours just talking about tons of topics, and finding out just how much we had in common. Talk led to meeting with other heathens, and later that night an informal get together for Monday (9/6/10) was put together where we could get a chance to meet other heathens in a less formal environment.

Monday rolled around faster than I had thought possible, but started as less than auspicious. Sarah woke up with a pinched nerve in her neck making it virtually impossible for her to use one of her arms or to turn her head. Even so, she managed to make hamburger buns and tortillas for the BBQ. The kids were obnoxious monsters all morning so we decided that it was best if we made sure they got a nap before we headed over, even if that meant showing up to the event later than we had wanted. The nap helped, but they were still…difficult, but we finally got on the road by late afternoon.

The entire drive over I was nervous and frustrated. I hate being late to something, especially if I am meeting somebody for the first time, and while we had not specified a time for everyone to get together I had hoped to be there by early afternoon, so in my own mind I was running late. The greeting we received made all of that vanish though, as from the dark depths of the house arms were waved in welcome as we came in the door. Once the children cleared the doorway, and the enthusiastic greetings from the other children led them away to play, we were able to make our way back to where the adults were gathered. There I was finally able to meet heathens that I had only encountered online, some only for a couple of days, others for several months. Greetings and introductions were made, and we were quickly drawn into the conversation of the others. Mike Burke and I gravitated to the coffee pot, and spent time just chatting about gatherings and such over coffee in the kitchen. Bert had noticed Sarah’s pain and had begun to work on her to try to relieve some of the pain. Before long progress Bert discovered the buns that Sarah had baked, and from there the cooking began.

The adults went out in the back yard to continue to socialize, eventually coming back with plates loaded with food. Throughout all of this we were drawn into conversation, and were made to feel welcome by all present. I can’t tell you all that was talked about as the details are not all that sharp this morning, but I can tell you that I felt like I was part of something, and was accepted by the folk who were present.

Eventually Bert broke out a bottle of mead, and a horn was filled. She asked if anyone was opposed to having an informal sumbel. Nobody was opposed to the idea, and I was very glad that I had sought out advice from Rod earlier in the morning on proper etiquette should this happen as I had hoped that it might. You see, while I have been walking this path for a few years now, I have not had the pleasure of participating in any religious rites with other heathens, so this was a first for me. Bert started out by giving us a little instruction as this was our first time being part of a sumbel, even going so far as to provide us with instruction on how to use the horn so that we didn’t get drowned by it as it was a monster. Apparently she only does this for people that she likes, otherwise letting people do what they want and enjoying the result when they get a face full of mead or ale. Here’s for making a good impression and getting a lesson in how to avoid being doused in mead!

Violet, Jeff’s daughter was the valkyrie for the event, something that I think is a new honor for her. I was nervous when the horn came to me, lessened in no part by the fact that I was the first to receive it after Bert. I followed Rod’s advice and played it safe by simply hailing the gods on that first round. The second round I was feeling more comfortable, and I hailed my ancestors who had passed along their values through the generations. The final round I hailed the hosts for welcoming us in so warmly.

What was special for me during all of this was that the kids were welcomed into the circle. At one point, when Caulla first came into the circle, Bert blessed her with a rune of mead stroked onto her forehead while Bert uttered a blessing over her. I don’t think Bert caught the look that I saw, but Caulla got something special from this. She looked over to me with a look of wonder, joy, and minor puzzlement. She wasn’t puzzled over what had happened, and I think that she really understood what was happening. I think that the puzzlement was something deeper, and I know that she felt touched by something very special in that moment. Something touched her on a spirit level. I can’t really explain how I know this, only that I felt it through the bond that the two of us share. I don’t know what the blessing was as I was unable to make it out when Bert was speaking, but it was a powerful moment for Caulla. Bert did the same for Tiernan when he finally joined us later, but he just kind of shrugged and went on with the business of being a boy.

Eventually we went inside for a group photo shoot, in part because it had gotten dark. Conversation went to photos, and galleries were pulled up on the computers, leading to more talk about this or that. The hours flew by, and before we knew it the kids were going into their tired windup, so we knew that it was time for us to hit the road and take them home to bed.

The day was a very special day, and I can’t begin to describe how welcomed I felt during the whole gathering. That missing element in my life was momentarily filled, and I hope that the bonds that started to grow yesterday continue to grow for years to come. This was a great group of folk that gathered, and I see some real potential in befriending them and hopefully being welcomed into their kinship. Perhaps we have found a spiritual home. Time alone will answer that hope, but things seem to be pointed toward our being part of this fine group of folk.

As to the results of that cosmic hint brick for Sarah that I mentioned early on…well, that is her tale to tell, not mine.

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Ancestor Recognition: Forest Rice

In my journey as a Heathen I have been learning more about some of the practices of being a Heathen. One of those is honoring one’s ancestors. At first I thought that this was my family throughout history, and that thought was rather intimidating. After all, when my paternal great-grandfather came to America he intentionally left his heritage behind, wanting his children to be Americans, not Scandinavians, so he did not teach them anything about their heritage. The end result of this for me is that while I know that my family stretches back to the Scandinavian countries, I know nothing beyond a couple of generations. How was I supposed to honor my ancestors if I knew nothing about them? Continue reading

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