Sunday, December 20, 2015

Of Horns & Leaves

Tonight is Mother Night, the first night of Yule. When the sun sets, I will begin my Yuletide tradition of baking what I call béobread (beebread). Named after the miracluous bee product honey, béobread has become a staple of my food-gift at Yuletide.

I began baking béobread 25 years ago when I was the very young High Priestess of a Wiccan coven. The coven, which my two co-founders and I called simply “the Circle”, was founded in a spirit of mutual love, kinship, and an interest in magic and the elder European tradition. As High Priestess, I served béobread to my fellow coven members and offered it to the Gods as a sacrifice. When making it, I would use the mouth of a glass to cut the dough into crescent-shaped horns and broad-bladed leaves. On the leaves I would incise veins in the shape of two feoh runes back-to-back. Little did I know then that what I had shaped out of dough would have significance for the Folk that would later be birthed from this primeval fellowship.

When I came to Heathenry many years later, I brought my béobread tradition with me. When I was inspired to found the Free Folk in 2006, I took the bindrune I had incised on the leaves of dough as our Folkrune after the two feoh runes in “Free” and “Folk”. The bindrune also represented the Sacral Kingship and Sacred Marriage that blessed and warded the Folk: that of Fréo and Fréa, the Lady and the Lord. The words “lady” and “lord” originate from the Anglo-Saxon hlāfdige and hlāford, meaning (curiously enough) “rich (blessed) with bread” and “warder of bread”, respectively.

Some years after that I came to Idesheall, my home. Now in a space that would support hosting the seasonal feasts and symbels in a manner after that of my Germanic ancestors, I began to do so at the festivals of Summerfinding, Winter Nights, and Yule. The gifting, serving, and sacrificing of béobread continued to be a Yuletide tradition, as was the baking of it on Mother Night.

Over those first years of hosting at Idesheall, many different types of folk attended the celebrations, but one group of regulars could be counted upon to show for nearly every assembly. These came to be what I would ultimately call “hearth-friends”—good and kind-hearted folk, whose generosity and support helped to maintain the Hall and support its function as what Garman Lord refers to in his excellent work The Way Of The Heathen as a “Great Good Place”.

Here again the mystery of the Horns and Leaves began to reveal itself. The quality of these hearth-friends was not unlike that of the Wanic deities themselves, and each seemed like a “leaf” sprung from the otherworldly “tree” that wound through my Hall, and some were like unto the old aristocracy I knew from the old coven—more like the Éses, wise in magic, philosophy, priestcraft, and the noble arts—like “horns”. Indeed, when one of my co-founders of the old coven first visited Idesheall, he remarked on the energy of the place and inquired as to its source. That, of course, is a secret I cannot tell here.

This summer I was again inspired to undertake an enterprise on behalf of the Folk. I was to bring forth a tribe. It was a tribe of which I was not to be a member, but mother and warder. As the groundwork was laid and the work began, again the mystery of the Horns and Leaves presented. The Tribe needed an identity. It had to be something simple, with both universal significance that would speak to the European folk soul and personal significance for the Tribe. And, then it came to me: the first three “leaves” and “horns” joined together in that primeval love and kinship we had known in the beginning: a triquetra, and woven through this “seed” of sorts a circle: for the first “Circle” and for each “circle” since that has formed and may yet form. The symbol would serve as a memorial to the Founders and the First Fellowship that sprang from their kinship.

And, that is the story of the Horns and the Leaves.

Wæs hāl and Glad Géola!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your tradition, and its history. Very inspiring.