Over the weekend I was reminded of a situation that I was in several years ago, and thought it was worth sharing.
There’s a local pagan festival that I attend (and teach at) annually where I do to Sumbels, one to open the festival, and one to close it. I’d learned the tradition of Sumbel from Raven Kindred South, and found that it built such a feeling of community that it had value for the pagan community as a whole. My Sumbels (much to the frustration of many Asatruar) do not have many restrictions on which deities you toast. I do ask that you try to toast a Norse deity, however, the only one I typically ask that you not toast (and have made exceptions for in rare circumstances) is Loki. Other than that, given that the festival is ecumenical in nature, I allow people to toast the deity of their choosing. I realize it’s extremely controversial; however, it also has served as a gateway to community building, and for some people, their entrance into heathenism.
At one of the very first Sumbels I did, a number of druids showed up. It was an interesting mix. There were several “experienced” heathens, a number of druids, and a large number of “eclectic pagans.” The Sumbel lasted many many rounds, and the camaraderie was outstanding. Friendships were built, stories were told, and it was quite celebratory.
After the ritual ended, a number of the “eclectic pagans” came up to me and said that they were confused. They couldn’t understand how druids and other Celtic practitioners could be welcomed into my Sumbel, and how we could interact with each other in a jovial fashion. After all, weren’t the Celts and vikings at war with each other for hundreds of years?
There was a person from the “druid side” there and we looked at each other and came up with almost exactly the same answer. First, just because 1000 years ago we fought, and sometimes even fight today, does not mean we can’t sit down and raise a horn with each other. In fact, hospitality practically demands it.
But perhaps even more appropriate was that we both said that while the heathens and Celts may differ on some issues of ethics and religion, the two are definitely closer to each other than the vast majority of the other pagan religions. It’s the “I may have a nit to pick with the druids, but at least we’re almost on the same page… Other pagans seem to be in a different book than us.”
My $.02 on a Monday Morning.