An autumn wind heavy with the scent of the sea blew up the cliff face as Kvasir led his younger brother Baldr down the steep path to the hidden cove where the Faining ceremony would take place. Tonight was the night Baldr would officially be taken into the sect and made a member of Asatru.
The ocean spread out below them as infinite and blue as the sky which stretched out above them, and their leather boots fought for traction in the sandy earth as they made their way down to the beach. The fresh tattoos on Kvasir’s face, runes that marked him as a man of knowledge, stung from the salty sea air.
As they carefully made their way down the cliff face, past the lupine and clumps of gum weed, Kvasir noticed a possum rotting in the sun to the side of the path, two ravens picking and pulling at its entrails. The birds cawed at them briefly before beating their shiny, black wings and taking flight. Kvasir turned to his brother.
“This is a good omen, Baldr. They are Huginn and Muninn, pets of father Odin; they will bring him word of your acceptance into the sect.”
Baldr nodded gravely.
Though they were young, Kvasir was seventeen and his brother only fourteen, the boys were tall and lean. Their hair was as pale and yellow as the sandy shore that lay beneath them.
They finally stepped down onto the beach: the secret cove. The surf beat loudly and rhythmically against the land; a few fishing boats dotted the horizon in the distance. It was a magical place where earth, sky and sea met. A place where the mysteries of Asatru would be revealed.
“All of this you see,” Kvasir explained to his younger brother, “all of Midgard, was once Ymir, born from venom. Father Odin made the earth from the flesh of Ymir and the ocean from his blood. We truly are the sons of Odin.”
Baldr nodded his head solemnly, his blue eyes staring out at creation.
Baldr couldn’t remember his real father. His earthly father who had left over a decade ago on a voyage and never returned: dead nearly twelve years now.
Kvasir could remember him in a foggy and nondescript way, a memory of a memory.
He could remember the dirty Caterpillar baseball hat he always wore, the scent of menthol cigarettes and liquor. The funny drink he made: Seagram’s 7 and Mountain Dew, how he called it a hillbilly highball. Kvasir could remember being held on his lap and cradled in his strong arms, back when Kvasir’s name was Tommy. He could remember his father telling him tales of his travels as a long distance truck driver. The voyages to distant lands. Places with exotic names like Kentucky and Mississippi. He would tell him tales of a great salt lake and mountains that stretched up a mile into the sky. And Tommy would curl up, pressing himself against his father’s big barrel chest, feeling safe and loved, and drift off to sleep. His little brother, then known as Johnny, gazing over the edge of the bassinet at them, eyes wide in wonder. Now it seemed a time before time. A dream nearly forgotten.
It was still early and the rest of the sect would not arrive on the beach until the sun had set. It was October 9th, Leif Erickson day: an auspicious and important day. Kvasir sat his brother in the sand and explained the importance of this day.
“You see, brother, most of the world thinks that Christopher Columbus was the first European to find this great land where we dwell. But that is a lie. Leif Erickson was here 500 years before Columbus. They tell you this lie because Columbus was Catholic and a worshiper of Jesus, the king of the Jews, while Erickson was a worshiper of Odin. It is important that we remember that Jesus was from Israel. He was not European like us. Now all of our great people worship a foreigner from the Middle East. That is why we burned those churches down. That is why we will burn down more churches. You understand this, right? You understand our mission?”
Baldr nodded his head. “I understand, brother.”
Kvasir had discovered Asatru less than a year ago. He had been seventeen and a hardcore black metal fan. He wore the uniform of the black overcoat, the bullet belt and spiked wrist bands. He dyed his hair black and wore corpse paint: white and black makeup to make himself look dead. Often he used his own blood to adorn his forehead with an inverted cross. He loved the early Norwegian bands like Dark Throne and Burzum. The grinding guitar and bellowed vocals. He kept a poster from the bootleg album Dawn of the Black Hearts above his bed. It was a grisly photograph of the singer Dead after he had shot himself in the head. At night, when he heard his mother stumble into their trailer, drunk from a night at the bars, the sounds of her fucking some stranger reverberating through the thin walls, he would stare at that poster, focusing on the bright red of the blood and the bits of bone and hair, and wonder what death was really like.
But everything had changed the night he saw Ragnarok play.
It was at a party held at a house deep in the redwoods, out by Honeydew.
They were really more of a crust band than a black metal band. But they played with such fury and power that they transcended genre entirely. They were a cacophony of noise that praised the old gods and mocked Christianity as a lie.
The lead singer Geirskogul was a beautiful girl with runes tattooed across her face, proclaiming her a Valkyrie, literally a chooser of the slain. The sides of her head were shaven bald but the rest of her hair was made up of long dreadlocks that fell down past her waist, adorned with the skulls of hawks and other tiny creatures, bits of fur, leather and bone. She would shriek battle cries while her partner Gungnir, a huge man with long brown hair and a massive beard, would shred tremolo lines on his black Gibson SG. They had two drummers: Skuld and Skogul, who played standing, beating out rhythms on homemade drums that hung from ropes.
Kvasir, or Tommy as he was still known at the time, was in awe of them. They were the real deal: what he had been searching for. He made it a point to find out whenever they played and to make it to the show at all costs. A pilgrimage of sorts.
Their shows were more like tribal gatherings then a concert, drawing Odin worshipers from throughout the Pacific Northwest. They would play in the woods, at campgrounds or old hippy communes. They made their own clothes, often out of leather they had tanned themselves from road kill. They wore furry vests, tight pants, leather gauntlets, and all of them had large bowie knives hanging off of their belts.
They accepted him and were kind to him, saying they were honored that he came to all of their performances. They taught him that inverted crosses were an affirmation of Christianity. That worshipping Satan just gave more power to churches and worshippers of the Jew Jesus. They taught him about the Gods of old. The Norse and Germanic Gods: Odin, Freyja, Frigg and Baldr.
They first brought him into the fold when they were preparing their new CD for sale. They wanted an oak leaf and a bit of moss in each one and Tommy was given the job of gathering leaves and moss and putting them in each of the two thousand CD's. He did his job well and was given a new name: Kvasir. And they marked his face with runes proclaiming him to be a wise one.
A change overcame him. He no longer thought of death and the devil anymore. He felt positive and full of life. He took down the black and white posters of the Norwegian black metal bands and replaced them with colorful images of nature and the Gods of his new religion. He began to gain a respect for the concept of family. He grew kinder to his mother and helped her by keeping their tiny trailer clean, and he introduced his little brother to the world of Asatru. With his father gone he came to see that it was his responsibility to raise his brother, whom he had shown nothing but spite and indifference to earlier.
He told the tribe how he wanted to bring his brother into the fold. Initiate him into the wonders of Asatru. At first they all balked. He was too young. He couldn’t be trusted with their secrets. Kvasir was the youngest of their sect and they couldn’t have any members younger than him. But he had remained firm in his resolve to have his brother made a part of the tribe and they had finally relented and agreed. Tonight it would be made official.
Kvasir and his little brother watched the sun slip down into the ocean, a brilliant red. The sky then slowly grew from amber to indigo and stars began to dot the heavens. It was then they saw the tribe marching down the cliff face, clutching torches and beating drums.
They were led by Geirskogul and Gungnir who marched solemnly forward with the noble manner of royalty. There were many others that Kvasir did not recognize and as he and his brother rose up from the sand and stood, they encircled them. Two five gallon carboys of homemade mead were placed in the circle.
Geirskogul stepped forward so that she was inches from Kvasir and he could smell her: an earthy mixture of female sweat and herbs: chamomile, lavender and sage. She was taller than he was and her down tilted face was filled with amber shadows from the flickering torches. Her beauty always unnerved him and made him feel foolish and childlike, but tonight there was a new fierceness to her that he had never seen before, a grim look in her eyes, and Kvasir began to grow timid and afraid.
“Heil og sael, Kvasir,” she murmured.
“Heil og sael, Geirskogul,” Kvasir answered back. “Where is the goat? I thought we needed a blood sacrifice for the Blot.”
“Oh, we have our goat,” Geirskogul spoke, and clapped her hands three times.
Shadows suddenly lurched forward and arms reached out from the darkness, grabbing Kvasir and his brother.
Kvasir panicked and struggled to free himself as he felt his hands lashed together behind his back with tight bindings. A hand was clasped over his mouth and a bowie knife pressed against his throat. He could hear his little brother screaming and looked over to see him being bound with ropes. A large bearded man he didn’t recognize wrapped duct tape around his little brother’s mouth and his screams became muffled cries.
Geirskogul pulled her bowie knife from its leather sheath and approached Kvasir, pointing the knife at him accusingly.
“Kvasir! What are the nine noble virtues?”
The hand pressed against his mouth released its grasp. Was this some kind of test?
If it was, he would pass. He was Kvasir, the wise one.
“Geirskogul, chooser of the slain, the nine noble virtues as stated in the Havamal are courage, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, self-reliance, industriousness, and perseverance.”
“Correct,” she said, leering, her white teeth catching the light of the torches and staining her mouth an orange and amber hue. “But what is the greatest commandment in the law?”
“The greatest commandment is the proscription of oath-breaking.”
“Very good, Kvasir. Very good indeed.”
Kvasir felt relief. Had he passed the test?
Geirskogul paced in front of him, gently tapping the point of her knife in her palm. “So, Kvasir, did you not take an oath of loyalty to this tribe?”
“Did we not make you part of our family?”
“Did we not name you and mark you so that you were reborn as one of us?”
“When you wanted to bring your brother into the tribe did we not tell you, ‘no’. That he was too young. That he couldn’t be trusted with the secrets of our sect. But you insisted. You were sworn to secrecy and you told him of our doings. The burning of the churches of Jesus the Jew. You told him! An outsider! You have broken your oath! Now you will get your wish. You wanted Baldr to gain understanding of Asatru, so he shall have it. But he will pay the same price Odin did. We shall lash him to the cosmic tree Yggdrasil that connects the nine worlds. He shall hang there, upside down, for nine days with no food or water, just as Odin did! But first! First he must make a sacrifice to Mimir so that he may drink from the well of Urd!”
And with this she stepped forward with her bowie knife and stuck the tip straight into the right eye of Baldr. Kvasir screamed out in horror and anguish but a hand was quickly pressed against his mouth, stifling his cries. He struggled against his binds as he watched Geirskogul turn the blade and scoop Baldr’s eye from its socket, blood, black in the torch light, flowing heavily down his face. Kvasir could hear his cries coming from beneath the duct tape as Baldr twisted and writhed in the arms of several large bearded men.
The men dragged Baldr away, taking him up to the cliff face where a massive Cyprus tree jutted from the rock and sand. Kvasir could see them, shadowy figures, duct-taping his squirming brother upside down in the tree’s branches, wrapping his struggling form the way a spider would a fly.
“As for you, Kvasir, so wise. Since there are no questions you cannot answer, your sacrifice will be to the Mead of Poetry, so that the tribe may drink of it and share in your knowledge.”
He felt himself quickly lifted up off the ground so that he hung suspended above the carboys of mead and the last thing he saw was Geirskogul’s knife blade as it passed along his throat.
Blood poured out from the gash, splashing over and into the carboys, mixing with the mead: a dark crimson rose blooming in the pale yellow liquid as Kvasir’s life slipped away from him.
Gungnir stepped into the circle with an ornamental goblet wrapped in leather. He tilted a bloody carboy over so that it spilled its contents into his goblet. He raised the vessel into the air above his head, and shouted, “Let the Sumbel begin! To my brothers and sisters, it is with valor that we celebrate this night! May we all die with our knives in our hands and reunite in Valhalla so that we may drink and fight again for all eternity!”
A great roar rose up from the crowd as Gungnir drank, the mixture of blood and honey wine spilling from the corners of his mouth and dripping down his thick beard. The others surged forward to fill their cups and make glorious toasts, to swear their allegiance to the Norse gods of olden days as Kvasir’s body lay lifeless and still in the sand and his brother squirmed in the distance, crucified, upside down, to the cosmic tree that connects the nine worlds.
Written by HumboldtLycanthrope