I woke up early this morning and decided I’d finish writing the second part of my Lofotr tale!
This has been an eventful festival, as I mentioned in my previous post, and there has been a lot of ups and downs, where the downs were mostly bad weather. You see, it is a custom at Lofotr to open the festival with a ritual sacrifice to Thor and Odin. A “Blot”, if you like. But the thing about this Blot is that it is, excuse my language, utter bullshit! The whole rite is preformed by actors hired by the museum and is purposed as entertainment for the tourists. It is an insult to those who actually practice the old religion, “Åsatru” as it is called today. They say some words, splash some water on the figures and pretend it is blood. I am not a devout follower of the Åsatru, but at festivals I both respect and believe in the old gods. And it is an understatement to say that this sort of ritual is an insult to the gods! No wonder Thor and Njord (god of the Sea) held us up at night with heavy rain and roaring winds! I heard that last year, it was raining heavily at the opening ceremony, but that the rain paused when the actor who plays the Jarl addressed Thor. For a moment, it seemed like the rain would stop, but as soon as the pretend-Jarl continued the silly rite, the rain began pouring down again! Coincidence? I think not!
Still, we had a lot of good weather around mid-day. I spotted several ravens as well, circling over the market. One morning, I heard the croak of a raven and looked up to see one fly over the camp. I smiled to myself, as I don’t see ravens that often. But then I heard a second croak and I saw another raven come from the opposite direction. The two birds circled the camp once, then flew off together towards the mountains. I knew then that Odin was watching over us, and that he had forgiven us for the shameful Blot preformed at the beginning of the festival. It was truly a magical moment, and like I said earlier, I only believe in the old gods at festivals. And this is why. The only times I have felt their presence is when I’m at viking markets, and in that setting it only feels natural to believe that they are watching over us!
The market is a huge part of the festival! It is a place to speak with craftsmen about their arts, and upgrade your viking gear and bling. I bought a lot more than planned this year, and got most of the things that I wanted! Still, there are some items I wish to add to my viking kit. I will most likely do a third part where I show off everything I purchased at the festival, but for now here are a couple of items! The tablet weave belt have completely replaced my leather belt! It looks so much better, fits all my dresses and is a lot more comfortable to wear! Probably the best purchase I did this year! I also upgraded the bling on my second pair of turtle-brooches! A new Hammer of Thor, a new row of beads, and some small pendants that I added to the lower row. I also got the small silver brooch to fasten my chemise dress (serk) with! But I will show these items off with more detail in a later post!
I spent a lot of the festival watching the Alenfit fightershow! I think I actually watched six or seven of their shows, and the story never became old. No show was the same, because there was left so much room for improvisation and new ideas came up all the time. I actually missed both shows on the first day, as I was too busy with other things, but I made sure I got it on the second day. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I became sort of the main-cheerleader for the show, as it required response from the audience at several points. And I enjoyed the show so much I did not mind!
I also talked to some of the fighters about trying to shoot at them with padded arrows and a low-poundage bow. It could be a pretty exciting experiment, and if all goes well we might be able to try it next year!
But this bunch of people became a big part of every day, especially my new best friend Audun who is probably the nicest guy I have ever met! We had the best bromance ever at the festival and he was a huge reason for the success of this market in my eyes.
It is a rare thing to meet someone you just immediately click with, but when you do it is so relaxing and nice, because you don’t really have to worry about keeping the conversation up or anything! You can just sit up all night and watch the sun rise slowly in the sky without a worry in the world!
Another guy who made the festival great was Jan, a french HEMA fighter and great singer and musician! We sang together for the first time in the StraumEyjar camp one evening, and he convinced me to do a duet with him. I had only heard the song once before, but I still wanted to learn it and I somehow did. The first song we sang together was “The Rains of Castamere” from the Game of Thrones series, a song that I know by heart and often find myself singing and humming to when I go about my everyday business. But anyway, the song I learned was “For the Dancing and the Dreaming” from How to Train Your Dragon 2, and our version turned out a lot more romantic than the film version.
As befits every viking market and festival, there is a great feast, a so-called “Gilde”. Usually, this feast is hosted by the viking group that hosts the festival, but since Lofotr is hosted by the viking museum, it is also the museum that host the feast. This means the Gilde is held in the re-created Longhouse, which would have been extremely cool if it wasn’t for all the acting. I find it a bit (and when I say “a bit” I am being really modest) silly to see actors prance around in what they conciser to be costumes, and play characters when there is a whole hall filled with vikings who have this as their life-style. And I would not have minded if the pretend-Jarl had not said that everyone had been seated by their ranks. I was insulted, as my group had been placed on what was the “lower benches”, and this wound on my pride quickly turned into the best performance I have ever been a part of. During the feast, it is normal for the guests to do some entertaining, so I walked over to Jan and suggested we’d sing “The Rains of Castamere”. Because what other song would be more fitting to present to a pretend-Jarl who puts himself above you in rank?
So we begun the song and the hall fell silent. Now, imagine you are sitting in a great wooden hall, surrounded by people in viking clothing who are eating and drinking, and then “The Rains of Castamere” begins playing. Everyone who has seen Game of Thrones must have freaked out! And if they didn’t when the song begun, they surely did when someone went over and closed the door!
That was not part of the plan at all, but it just added to the tension and it was all I could do to keep myself from laughing in the middle of the song. It was just too perfectly timed and it just made the whole number a lot better! And we received a roaring, if not somewhat nervous applause when we were done.
After that song was finished, I had a sort of adrenaline rush and I wanted to continue. So I suggested to Jan that we’d do our duet as well! He agreed, and we stepped out onto the middle of the floor. It was only then I remembered that I actually have stage-fright! Luckily he begun the song and as soon as it was my turn, my instincts kicked inn and I managed to sing the song without stumbling in the freshly-learned lyrics. It was part singing, part acting out what we were singing and I was so surprised when he pulled out a bracelet in the part where the song goes “I will bring you rings of gold.” But it was amazing to stand there and sing in front of the crowd. Don’t ask me where the confidence came from, all I know is that my heart was racing by the time the song was over. That, and I was too busy laughing to notice. If you saw the video, the song in the movie ends with Gobber also singing the last line that goes “If you will marry me”. Kim, Audun and I had halfway planned that he would come running down onto the floor, go down on one knee before me and sing the last line as well. And he did. In my stressing about remembering the lyrics, I had forgotten the plan and I cracked up completely! It did not help that Jan kicked him lightly down on his ass as well, causing the whole hall to roar with laughter!
Just thinking back on it brings a huge smile to my lips, and I am really fortunate to have been able to do this, and push my own limits. Afterwards, a lot of people came up to me and told me that I have a beautiful voice. I had not expected that at all, but getting praise from complete strangers is so confidence-building and it encourages me to go on! So next year I will definitely do a lot more singing, around the campfire and at the Gilde. Because it is so much fun and I really love to sing. I just have to get used to singing in front of people!
My main goal for this festival was to be a lot more out-going and social. I wanted to make new friends and talk to interesting people. And I have! I have met so many wonderful new people this year and I cannot begin to say how glad I am to have met you all! That’s another thing I love about viking festivals. You can just walk up to complete strangers and begin a conversation, and before you know it you have a friend for life!
I cannot wait to see all of you again next year, and to meet a lot of new people! Because it doesn’t matter how much viking-bling you buy at the festival. It is the people and the experiences that are the real treasures of the market! It is the memories and the friendships! And in the end they are worth a lot more than all the gold and silver in the world.