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  • Writer's pictureSara Ault

Call of the Wild: Kulning and Ladies’ Chants in Modern Asatru

Asatru is not just a living religion, but it allows for change in the 21st century. We’re establishing customs and new traditions in the AFA that were previously unknown, as far as we know. Our fundamental beliefs include cycles of rebirth, as in Sunna at the Solstice and bright Baldr’s return. We also see ourselves as our Ancestors reborn. A practice that was initiated at Midsummer 2010 is the ladies preparing the horn before blot. AFA elder David Byron James (who has long-since passed-on) presided over the blot where he had the women step aside into a circle “to speak words over the horn.” That basic ritual now ends in three special - magical - words that have been repeated hundreds of times at this point. Hundreds of babies have been born into the AFA since then. Let those words speak for themselves. The women know. The women have always known. Some of our changes have taken place quite recently; in fact, since our own Witan, Brandy Callahan, stepped forth to lead. Anyone who has worked with her sees a rare fearlessness that she encourages in others. She has us ladies develop our own voices and presence in a dynamic, yet feminine manner. This is contrary to the more passive voice that we as women often exhibit. My husband describes the nature of those voices coming together in the darkness on a moonless night as "eerie and inviting". From beyond the Winter Night’s bonfire, comes the shrill call of “Wunjo! Wu-un jo!!” Goose bumps are felt by all. Out from the darkness; out from the past; deep in the primal psyche of our Folk, the men know this call. We call this “kulning”-- the women calling the beasts of the field and farm home. Home the men come to us, to the fire and abode of the Gods. Could Witan Callahan do more for us? In fact, she has. She’s gathered the women to ritualize our chants in blot, to call the folk home. We look for ways to communicate these words, with the added magical essence is that we say the words in Swedish: “Folk kom hem!” One time should be enough, however, we ritualize this by chanting in a sequence of gradually rising voices. As each verse reverberates, the decibels rise until we are shouting those words out through the cosmos, calling the folk home. Meanwhile the men have stepped back, letting us wild women do our thing. In an outer circle, the men methodically intone the rune Raido to those “folk without” to begin the journey back to us and our noble, native ways. The intensity of our words together is meant to bring change. Does it work? In November of this year, Oðinshof gained eleven new members, far more than previous months. It’s not likely that we’ll continue at this rate, but… why not? We ask for the blessings and guidance of the Aesir and our Ancestors. Are we heard? I think so. Know that you too can help “bring the folk home.” Intoning runic galdr of Raido, Wunjo, Mannaz, or calling “Fok kom hem” may bring someone home to Asatru. The old AFA slogan still has it right. “The Way of the Ancestors Calling us Home.”

Gythia Sheila McNallen


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