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Sumble Facts and Myths

2017.05.15 20:25 whatistru Sumble Facts and Myths

Sumble Facts and Myths by (author's name redacted)
First I will explain facts and then inaccurate views of Sumble that many Heathens hold today. My sources include Beowulf lines 489-675, Heimskringla Chapter 35, the Old Saxon Heliand, lines 334b-3340a; and the Old Saxon Heliand Fitt 24.
“Sumble” is the Old Saxon word for a ritual in Beowulf known as “Symbel” in Old Anglish (English). The Old Saxon and Old Angle (English) languages are closely related. “Sumble” is an Old Saxon word that means “banquet.” To quote Swain Wodening a great friend of mine: “The idea behind symbel is to place one’s self into the flow of Uurd (Bauschatz pp. 109-110), thus linking deeds of the past to those of the present, and affect those deeds of the future. The speech at Sumble revolves around deeds past and present. Béowulf in the poem stated who his father was and boasted of past deeds prior to vowing to slay Grendel. Boasts serve one purpose, to place oneself in the flow of Uurd, and thereby control the results of future events. Results of events in the future are based upon the results of those in the past. Béowulf’s béot or vow ends with Gað a wyrd swá hío sceol “always goeth Uurd as she shall.””
Sumble Myths
1. There should be one drinking horn that everyone uses. Believe it or not, Sumble in Beowulf, the Heliand, Lokasenna, and the Heimskringla do not show a central horn being passed. Multiple cups or steins are mentioned. Everyone can have their own horn or stein, and it appears from the sources that each person had their own.
2. Sumble order should be circular. All rounds of Sumble definitely start with the host. But Heimskringla shows no order to boasts, toasts, and vows which seem to be done at random. I believe this is true in Beowulf as well. This also debunks the central drinking horn idea. Every Sumble I have attended has had circular order. (The host starts each round and then the “central drinking horn” is passed in a circle until it reaches the host who then will start the next round.) This practice is not in any of the historical texts.
3. You must use a drinking horn. The Old Saxons in Saxony may not have had drinking horns as they are not mentioned anywhere in any Old Saxon texts. Steins, drinking bowls, and drinking cups, are the only vessels mentioned in the Heliand (see sources and notes below). Yes, the Angles and other tribes (including Saxons) in Angle-land (England) did leave us drinking horns. The Franks also left us drinking horns. These were only in the funeral mounds of nobles or high ranking individuals (like kings). It appears common people (the majority of people) did not use drinking horns. Most drinking vessels in Beowulf are ale or beer cups. Beer and ale cups also imply that mead was not the only form of alcohol used (see the next myth below.) In the translation of Beowulf below, I changed the font color of certain key words to red, and then placed the Old Anglish (English) words in parenthesis immediately after the modern Angle (English) word.
4. Mead is the alcoholic beverage that must be used in Sumble. In the Old Saxon Heliand, there are no “mead halls.” There are only “wine halls.” In Beowulf, there are “mead halls” and “beer halls.” As stated above in point 3, beer and ale cups also imply mead is not the only drink option. The Old Saxons seemed to have preferred wine and cider (alcoholic). The Heliand repeatedly shows the Saxons drinking wine and hard cider. Mead is not mentioned in any surviving Old Saxon text. The word “ale” is mentioned in the Heliand. However, “ale” occurs far less frequently than “wine” and “cider.” See the Heliand, fit 24 and my notes below.
Sumble Facts
  1. Sumble includes gielps and beots. A gielp is a boast of one’s ancestry or past deed(s). Gielps are followed by a béot, a boast to do something.
  2. Sumble begins with prayers to the Gods and Goddesses, toasting to the Ancestors, and a bragafull “the leader’s boast.” In Sumble one is attempting to weave their own Fate or Uurd.
  3. The steins, cups, or horns are symbols of the Well of Uurd.
  4. The lady of the hall pouring the wine, cider, mead, or other represents the Norns watering the Irminsul daily bringing the past back to the present.
  5. Sumble has certain positions. The symbelgifa is the host of the Sumble. This individual sits at the high seat, gives gifts, and recognizes important guests. It is the symbelgifa that gives the bregofull or bragafull. The ealu bora is the highest lady of the hall, usually the significant other of the symbelgifa. She bears the horn to the symbelgifa and any important guests. She would bear flattering words, and advise the symbelgifa during Sumble. She ensures that the byrele orbyreles “cup bearer(s)” do their job. The ealu bora is always a noble woman. She always pours the first stine/cup/horn as she represents Uurd who is female. (Bauschatz, The Well and the Tree,77). The þyle advises the symbelgifa and will challenge boasts that he/she feels may go unfulfilled. Unferþ the þyle challenged Béowulf, questioning his abilities to complete the task he had vowed to do. This challenge is done in the tradition of flyting as foolhardy vows/boasts will have negative consequences. Uuoden (Odin) appears as a þyle in the Hávamál verse 80 and 111. A þyle must be someone of great wisdom. The scop recites poetry and the gléoman sings songs. The ancient tales of the group call forth the group’s collective uurd. The tales told by the scop serve as a gielp for the group present. The duruþegn is to guard the door making sure Sumble is not disturbed.
Sumble Order
Sources: Eric Wodening in his article An Anglo-Saxon Symbel, Steve Pollington in his academic work The Mead-Hall, and Paul Bauchatz’s academic work The Well and the Tree.
  1. Summoning: The guests are summoned to the hall.
  2. Entrance of Guests into the Hall: The guests enter the hall.
  3. Seating: The symbelgifa seats each person according to class. The symbelgifa then takes the position before the high seat.
  4. Symbelgifa Forespeech: The symbelgifa opens Sumble with words similar to those from Béowulf lines 489-490: “Sit now to Sumble and unwind your measures, victory hearted heroes.”
  5. Ealu bora Forespeech: The ealu bora then enters with the horn in hand. She greets those present, and offers the horn to the symbelgifa with words like those in Béowulf lines 1169-1175: “Take this full, my lord drohten, hoard sharer, you be happy, warriors’ gold friend, and speak to the Geats with mild words…”
  6. Bregofull: The symbelgifa then says bedes (prayers), followed by a minni to the ancestors. After bedes, they make the boasting of the group’s past accomplishments.
  7. Guest Speech: If there is a guest of honor, the ealu bora then takes the horn to him or her. They greet the symbelgifa, and then if they wish may make a make a béot, a bede, or other speech.
  8. Gift giving (optional): The symbelgifa may then give gifts to those present.
  9. Léoð (optional): The scop may then sing a song, either in praise of the gods, the folk, or the symbelgifa.
Beowulf verses 489-675:
Then at morning-time this mead-hall (medoheal), this retainer-hall, was covered in blood, when the day shone, every bench-plank wetted with blood, the hall with sword-blood; I had the fewer loyal ones, dear retainers, by those whom death had taken away. Sit now at the banquet and disclose your thoughts, victory-triumph to the men, as your mind prompts you." Then for the Geat-men, all together, a bench was cleared in the beer-hall (bëorsele); there the strong-hearted ones went to sit, proud in strength. A servant carried out his office, who bore in his hands a decorated ale-cup, poured out the shiny sweet drink. Sometimes the scop sang, clear-voiced, in Heorot. There was joy of the heroes, no small company of Danes and Weathers.
Unferth spoke, Ecglaf's son, who sat at the feet of the Scyldings' lord, loosened a battle-rune; Beowulf's journey, the brave-seafarer's, was great vexation to him, since he did not wish that any other man in middle-earth should ever care more about glory under the heavens than he himself: "Are you that Beowulf who competed with Breca, contended at swimming in the wide sea, where the two of you tempted the sea out of pride, and for foolish boast risked your lives 6 in deep water? Nor could anybody, friend or enemy, dissuade you two from the sorrowful journey, when you two went on the sea. There you two covered the sea-stream with your arms, traversed the sea-roads, moved quickly with your hands, glided over the sea; the sea surged with waves, with winter's surges. In the water's power you two laboured seven nights; he overcame you at swimming, had greater strength. Then, at morning-time, the sea carried him up to the Heathoræmas; from there he, beloved to his people, went to his own dear homeland, the Brondings' country, the fair refuge-stronghold, where he had people, stronghold and arm-rings (bëagas). All the promise against you Beanstan's son truly carried out. Therefore I expect the outcome will be worse for you, even if you had prevailed in every battle-rush, grim war, if you dare wait for Grendel nearby for a night-long time." Beowulf said, Ecgtheow's son: "Listen! A great many things, my friend Unferth, have you told, drunk with beer (bëore), about Breca, said about his journey. I claim as truth that I had more sea-strength, difficulty in the waves, than any other man. We said it, when we were boys, and vowed – both of us were then still in youth-life – that the two of us would risk our lives out in the sea, and carried it out, too. We had a naked sword, when we went to swim, strong in our hands; the two of us intended to defend ourselves against whale-fish. By no means could he swim far from me in the flood-waves, swifter in the sea; nor did I want to swim away from him. Then we two had been together in the sea for the time of five nights, until the flood drove us apart, surging waves, coldest of weathers, darkening night, and the north wind, battle-grim, turned against us; the waves were rough. The courage of the sea-fish was stirred up; there, against the enemies, my body-shirt, hard, hand-linked, brought me help, the woven war-shirt lay on my breast, adorned with gold. A hostile deadly enemy dragged me to the bottom, the grim one had me fast in its grip; still, it was granted to me that I should reach the monster with the sword-point, with the battle-sword; battle-rush took the mighty sea-beast away by my hand.
Thus frequently evil-workers threatened me severely. I served them with my noble sword, as it was fitting. They did not have the joy of that feast, evil-doers, that they might eat me, sit round the banquet (symbel) near the sea-bottom; but in the morning, wounded by swords, they lay up by the shore, killed by swords, that never again over the deep water-ways, could they hinder seafarers in their passage. Light came from the east, God's bright beacon; the waters subsided that I might see the sea-headlands, the windy walls. Fate (Wyrd) often saves the undoomed warrior, if his strength is good. Still, it happened to me that with the sword I killed nine sea-monsters. I have never heard of harder struggles during the night under heaven's vault, nor of a man more wretched in sea-streams; still, I escaped the grip of the monsters with my life, weary of the journey. Then the sea carried me away, the flood on the current, to the Finn's land, the surging sea. Nothing have I ever heard said about you of such battles, of terror of swords. Breca has never yet, at battle play, nor either of you two, performed such a bold deed with shining swords I do not boast (gylpe) much of that, although you became the slayer of your brothers, near relatives; for this in hell you shall suffer damnation, although your skill may be good. I tell you truly, Ecglaf's son, that Grendel would never have committed so many horrors, terrible monster, against your lord, humiliation in Heorot, if your spirit, your heart were as battle-grim as you yourself claim. But he has found out that he need not dread strongly the feud, terrible sword-storm of your people, Victory-Scyldings; takes toll by force, spares none of the people of the Danes (Deniga), but he feels joy, kills and puts to death, does not expect war from the Spear-Danes. But I will quickly now offer him the Geats' strength and power in battle. Then he who may shall courageously go to mead (medo), after the morning-light, of another day, the radiance-wearing sun, shines from the south over the children of men." Then the giver of treasure was joyful, grey-haired and war-famous; he believed in help, prince of the Bright-Danes, heard from Beowulf, people's shepherd, the firmly-resolved thought. There was heroes' laughter, noise sounded forth, words were joyful. Wealhtheow came forward, Hrothgar's queen, mindful of proper behaviour, greeted, gold-adorned, the men in the hall (healle), and the noble woman gave the cup first to the East-Danes' homeland-guardian, bade him be joyful at the beer-drinking (bëorþege), beloved to his people. He enjoyed gladly the feast and the hall-cup (symbel ond seleful), victory-famous king. Then the Helmings' lady went around to every part of the hall, old and young warriors, offered the treasure-vessel, until the time came that she brought Beowulf, arm-ring-adorned (bëaghroden) queen, determined in her heart, the mead-cup (medoful); she greeted the leader of the Geats, thanked God, wise, in words because her desire had been fulfilled, that she might believe in a hero as help against the crimes. He received the cup, the battle-fierce warrior, from Wealhtheow, and then spoke, ready for battle; Beowulf said, Ecgtheow's son: "I intended, when I went to sea, went into the sea-boat with my men's company, that I would certainly carry out your people's will or die in battle fast in enemy-grips. I will show a warrior's might, or await my end-day in this mead-hall." Those words pleased the woman well, the Geat's boast-speech (gilpcwide); gold-adorned she went, noble people-queen, to sit with her lord. Then again, as before, bravery-words were spoken within the hall, people were glad, the noise of the victory-people, until presently Healfdene's son wanted to seek his evening-rest; he knew that against the monster battle in the high-hall (hëahsele ) had been planned, from the time they could see the light of the sun until darkening night was over everything, when the creatures came walking under shadow-protections, dark under the clouds. All the troop got up. One man greeted then the other, Hrothgar Beowulf, and wished him success, power over the wine-hall (wïnærnes), and spoke that word: "Never before have I entrusted to any man, since I could lift hand and shield, the strength-hall of the Danes, except now to you. Take now and guard the best of houses, be mindful of glory, show the mighty strength, keep watch against the enemy. You will not lack what you want, if you come through this courage-deed with your life." Then Hrothgar went, with his warriors' company, the Scylding's protector, out of the hall; the war-chief wanted to go to Wealhtheow, the queen, his consort. Glory's King had set a hall-guard against Grendel, as people had heard; he fulfilled special office for the Dane's lord, kept giant-watch.
Heimskringla Chapter 35
King Sveinn held a magnificent sumbl and called to him all of the ruling class that were in his kingdom. He was going to commemorate his father Haraldr. Then there had also died shortly before this Strút-Haraldr on Skáney and Véseti in Borgundarhólmr, father of Búi digri and Sigurðr. The king then sent word to the Jómsvikings that Jarl Sigvaldi and Búi and their brothers should come there and commemorate their fathers at sumbl that the king was holding. The Jómsvikings went to the sumbl with all the most valiant of their men. They had forty ships from Vinðland and twenty ships from Skáney. There assembled there a very large number of men. The first day at sumbl, before King Sveinn was to go up into his father’s high-seat, he drank his toast and made a vow that before three winters had passed he would have come with his army to England and have killed King Aðalráðr or driven him from the country. Everyone who was at sumbl had to drink that toast. Then the leaders of the Jómsvikings were served the largest horns with the strongest drink that was there. And when that toast had been drunk, then everyone had to drink Christ’s toast, and the Jómsvikings were always given the fullest and strongest drinks. The third one was Mikjáll’s toast, and everyone drank that. And after that Jarl Sigvaldi drank his father’s toast and afterwards made a vow that before three winters were passed, he would have come to Norway and killed Jarl Hákon or driven him from the country. Then his brother Þorkell hávi made a vow that he would go with Sigvaldi to Norway and not flee from battle if Sigvaldi was still fighting there. Then Búi digri made a vow that he would go to Norway with them and not flee before Jarl Hákon. Then his brother Sigurðr made a vow that he would go to Norway and not flee while a majority of the Jómsvikings were fighting. Then Vagn Ákason made a vow that he would go with them to Norway and not come back before he had killed Þorkell leira (Mudflat) and gone to bed with his daughter Ingibjǫrg. Many other leaders made vows to do various things. People drank the memorials that day but the following morning, when the Jómsvikings were sober, they felt they had said plenty and hold their discussions and make deliberations as to how they are to arrange the expedition, deciding at length to get ready then as quickly as possible, fitting out their ships and troops. This was very widely talked of round many countries.
The Old Saxon Heliand verses 3334b-3340a
Than uuas thar eft en biddiendi man, gileƀod an is lichamon. Lazarus uuas he heten. lag imu dago
Then was there again one begging man, crippled in his body. Lazarus was he called. Lay he day
gehuilikes at them durun foren, thar he thene odagan man inne uuisse an is gestseli gome thiggean,
each at the door front, where he the rich man inside knew in his guesthall banquet receiving
sittien at sumble, endi he simlun bed giarmod thar ute.
sitting at Sumble, and he always waited (in a) miserable-mood there outside.
v.3334b-3340a ‘sumble’ Sumble.
Sumble is an Old Saxon indoor drinking ritual, that has at least three drinking rounds (or more) that always took place in the Wine Hall. The first round toasted the Gods/Goddesses, the second round toasted the ancestors, and the third (and later) rounds were for boasting and making oaths.
The Old Saxon Heliand Fitt 24
24 Geuuet imu tho umbi threa naht aftar thiu thesoro thiodo drohtin an Galileo land, thar
Went he then around three nights after this these tribes’ chieftain in Galilee land, there
he te enum gomun uuarð, gebedan that barn godes. thar scolda man ena brud geƀan,
he to one wedding was, asked (invited) the child God’s. There should man one bride given away
munalica magað. Thar Maria uuas mid iro suni selƀo, salig thiorna, mahtiges
a beautiful maiden. There Mary was with her son herself, happy maiden, the mighty one’s
moder. Managoro drohtin geng imu tho mid is iungoron, godes egan barn, an that hoha hus,
mother. Many chiefs went him then with his disciples, God’s only son, in the high house,
thar the heri dranc, thea Iudeon an themu gastseli. He im oc at them gomun uuas, giac
there the crowd drank, people Jews in the guesthall. He him also at the wedding was, and-also
hi thar gecuðde, that hi habda craft godes, helpa fan himilfader, helagna gest,
he there made-known, that he had power God’s help from heavenly-father, the Holy Ghost,
uualdandes uuisdom. Uuerod bliðode, uuarun thar an luston liudi atsamne, gumon gladmodie.
(the) ruler’s wisdom. People happy, were there in lust people together, men glad-minded.
Gengun ambahtman, skenkeon mid scalun, drogun skiriane uuin mid orcun endi mid alofatun,
Went servants, cupbearers with drinking bowls, bringing pure wine with jugs and with ale-jars,
uuas thar erlo drom fagar an flettea, tho thar folc undar im an them benkeon so
was there earls dream (clamor) fair in the flat, then there people under they in the benches so
bezt bliðsea afhoƀun, uuarun thar an uunneun. Tho im thes uuines brast, them liudiun thes
best cheer began, were there in delight. Then it the wine lacked, the people the
liðes. Is ni uuas farleƀid uuiht huergin an themu huse, that for thene heri forð
hard-apple-cider. It not was left a thing anywhere in the house, that for the crowd forth
skenkeon drogin, ac thiu scapu uuarun liðes alarid. Tho ni uuas lang te thiu,
cupbearers bring, also the vessels were hard-apple-cider empty. Then not was long to this
that it san antfunda frio sconiosta, Cristes moder. Geng uuið iro kind sprecan,
that it immediately found a woman beautifulest, Christ’s mother. Went with her child spoke,
uuið iro sunu selƀon, sagda im mid uuordun, that thea uuerdos tho mer uuines ne habdun
with her son herself, said (to) him with words, that the words then more wine not had
them gestiun te gomun. Siu tho gerno bad, that is the helogo Crist helpa geriedi
the guests to (the) wedding. She then eagerly asked, that he the holy Christ help provide
themu uuerode te uuilleon. Tho habda eft is uuord garu mahtig barn godes endi uuið
the people to want (happiness). Then had again his word ready mighty child God’s and with
is moder sprac, huat ist mi endi thi', quað he,umbi thesoro manno lið,
his moder spoke, “What is (it to) me and you,” said he, “about this people’s hard-apple-cider,
umbi theses uuerodes uuin? Te hui sprikis thu thes, uuif, so filu, manos mi far
about the people’s wine? To why speaking you this, woman, so full, admonishing me before
10 thesoro menigi? Ne sint mina noh tidi cumana.' Than thoh gitruoda siu uuel
these many?” Not is my yet time come.” Then yet trusted she well
an iro hugiskeftiun, helag thiorne, that is aftar them uuordun uualdandes barn, heleandoro
in her mind, the holy maiden, that he after the words ruler’s child, healer
bezt helpan uueldi. Het tho thea ambahtman idiso sconiost, skenkeon endi
best help (would) wish. Told then whom (were) servants woman beautifulest, cupbearers and
scapuuardos, thea thar scoldun thero scolu thionon, that sie thes ne uuord ne uuerc
wine-barrel guards, whom there should the crowd serve, that they the not a word not a work
uuiht ne farletin, thes sie the helogo Crist hetan uueldi lestean far them liudiun. Larea
a thing not leave, that they the holy Christ told (them) wished fulfill before the people. Empty
stodun thar stenfatu sehsi. Tho so stillo gebod mahtig barn godes, so it thar manno filu
stood there stone-vats six. Then so still commanded the mighty child God’s, so it there men fill
ne uuissa te uuarun, huo he it mid is uuordu gesprac, he het thea
not make known to be, how he it with his words spoke (not make runes known) he told the
skenkeon tho skireas uuatares thiu fatu fullien, endi hi thar mid is fingrun tho segnade selƀo
cupbearers then pure water the vats fill, and he there with his fingers then blessed himself
sinun handun, uuarhte it te uuine endi het is an en uuegi hlaðen skeppien mid enoro
his hands, achieved it to wine and told (ordered) it in one bowl load scoop with one
scalon, endi tho te them skenkeon sprac, het is thero gesteo, the at them gomun uuas
drinking-bowl, and then to the cupbearer spoke, told him the guest, who at the wedding was
themu heroston an hand geƀan, ful mid folmun, themu the thes folkes thar geuueld aftar
the hero (host) in (his) hand give, full with hands, whom the these people there power after
themu uuerde. Reht so hi thes uuines gedranc, so ni mahte he bemiðan, ne hi far theru menigi
them were (had). Right as he the wine drank, so not able he avoid, not he before there many
sprac te themu brudigumon, quað that simbla that bezte lið alloro erlo gehuilic erist scoldi
spoke to the bridegroom, said that always the best hard-apple-cider all earls each first should
geƀan at is gomun, `undar thiu uuirðid thero gumono hugi auuekid mid uuinu, that sie uuel
give at his wedding, “Under the worthy the men’s minds awake with wine, that they well
bliðod, druncan dromead. Than mag man thar dragan aftar thiu lihtlicora lið.
cheer, drunk, dreamy. Then many men there bring after this light-bodied hard-apple-cider.
so ist thesoro liudeo thau. Than haƀas thu nu uunderlico uuerdskepi thinan gemarcod
So is this people’s custom. Then have you now wounderful entertainment you determined
far thesoro menigi. hetis far thit manno folc alles thines uuines that uuirsiste thine
before these many. Told before this men people all your wine the worst your
ambahtman erist brengean, geƀan at thinun gomun. Nu sint thina gesti sade, sint
thine servants first bring, give at your wedding. Now are your guests satiated, are your
druhtingos druncane suiðo, is thit folc fromod. nu hetis thu hir forð dragan alloro retinue
drunk very, is this people cheerful. Now told you here forth bring very
liðo lofsamost, thero the ic eo an thesumu liohte gesah huergin hebbean.
hard-apple-cider loveliest, that which I forever in this light (have) seen anywhere lifted/raised.
Mid thius scoldis thu us hindag er geƀon endi gomean, than it alloro gumono gehuilic
With this should you us (in the day)-today before given and entertained, then it all men each
gethigedi te thanke.' Tho uuarð thar thegan manag geuuar aftar them uuordun, siðor sie accepted to thanks/gratitude.”
Then were there thanes many were after the words, after they
thes uuines gedruncun, that thar the helogo Crist an themu huse innan tecan uuarhte,
the wine had drinken, that there the holy Christ in the house inside a sign was,
truodun sie siðor thiu mer an is mundburd, that hi habdi maht godes, geuuald an thesoro
trusted they after the more in his protection, that he had might God’s, power in this
uueroldi. Tho uuarð that so uuido cuð oƀar Galileo land Iudeo liudiun,
world. Then was that so widely made known over Galilee, (the) Land of Jewish people,
11 huo thar selƀo gededa sunu drohtines uuater te uuine, that uuarð thar uundro erist,
how there himself did (the) son of (the) chieftain’s water to wine, that was there wonder first,
thero the hi thar an Galilea Iudeo liudeon, tecno getogdi. Ne mag that getellean man,
there that he there in Galilee of the Jewish people, signs taught. Not is able that tell (a) man,
geseggean te soðan, huat thar siðor uuarð uundres undar themu uuerode, thar uualdand Crist
tell to truthfully, what there after was wonders under the people, there (the) ruler Christ
an godes namon Iudeo liudeon allan langan dag lera sagde, gihet im heƀenriki
in God’s name (the) Jewish people all long day teaching speaking, telling he heaven’s-reich
endi helleo gethuing uueride mid uuordun, het sie uuara godes, sinlif sokean. Thar and hell’s distress
(he) prohibited with words, told he truth God’s, eternal-life (to) seek. There is
seolono lioht, drom drohtines endi dagskimon, godlicnissea godes, thar gest manag uunod is
soul’s light, the dream chieftain’s and daylight, god-likeness God’s, there guests many dwell
an uuillean, the hir uuel thenkid, that he hir bihalde heƀencuninges gebod.
in willingness, the (ones) here well thought, that he here holds (the) heaven-king’s commands.
I chose to translate Song 24 of the Heliand to learn Old Saxon drinking customs. I conclude the following:
  1. The word “liðes” means “hard-apple-cider.” Some translate it as “apple-wine.”
  2. The Saxons drank wine (from apples and all fruits), and they drank hard apple cider.
  3. The Saxons also drank ale. (I get “ale” from the word “alofatun” which means “ale-vats”.
  4. Due to the Old Saxon word “scalon,” I believe the Saxons did use the blessing “scal.” Most translate the Old Saxon word “scalon” as “drinking bowl” or “cup.” I think it is probable a scalon was a stein. Murphy sometimes translates scalon as “pitcher” and other times he translates this word as “stein.”
  5. “Skol” is the typical Norse blessing/toast. The word “skol” in Old Norse is the word for “drinking bowl/cup.” It is obvious the Saxon Wine Hall culture was similar to that of the Viking Mead Hall, as both cultures toasted “scal” or “skol” before drinking. There are many other obvious similarities between the Saxon and Viking cultures in the Wine Hall.
  6. Old Saxon has a word for horn (horn) and a drinking horn is not referred to anywhere in the Heliand. I venture to say then that the Saxons did not use drinking horns as this practice would certainly be recorded in the Heliand had this been a cornerstone of Saxon Wine Hall celebrations. I believe that Saxons used steins or large cups (pitchers) in their wine-halls. I am in agreement with the Old Saxon scholar Murphy as to the meaning of the Old Saxon words in Song 24 of the Heliand with the exception of the word “uuinseli.” Murphy translates the Old Saxon word for “wine-hall” (uuinseli) was “mead hall.” It is obvious there Murphy is reading Viking culture into Saxon culture. “Uuin” is obviously the Old Saxon word for “wine.”
  7. The word “mead” is not found in the Heliand, and therefore I believe that mead was not a cornerstone of the Saxon wine-hall. This in no way means that the Saxons would not have known mead. I just believe that mead was not the favored drink of the Saxon people as a whole.
  8. The Saxons called their drinking hall a “wine hall” consistently throughout the Heliand. The word “mead hall” is not to be found in the Heliand poem.
  9. The most common drinks of the Saxons were wine (various fruit wines, especially grape wine and apple wine), apple cider (alcoholic), and ale. I am venturing a guess here that most likely some of the ales were apple ales, and not just grain ale (beer).
submitted by whatistru to asatru [link] [comments]