Sidu: A custom, or tradition. A way.
To practice Heathenry and to explore and promote our community’s unique tradition as it develops.
Community – creating and nurturing a community both spiritual and social, maintaining a space that is both safe and welcoming, embracing community members regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, theology or political affiliation
Teaching – educating both the community and the public about Heathenry and the customs of our community, advocating for a safe and accepting Heathenry, advocating for a diversity of divergent customs and communities within Heathenry
Healing – healing spiritual, emotional and social wounds through ritual, healing individuals and communities, acknowledging the broken state of our culture and working toward reconciliation and growth, acknowledging our disconnect from nature and working toward an ecologically sustainable spiritual practice
Statement of Gender Inclusivity
Heathenry traditionally recognizes some rituals and community roles as being performed exclusively by individuals of a particular gender. Chase Hill acknowledges the potency of these rituals and roles in its own custom – the Ealubora and the Eostre Maiden Ritual being two prominent examples of this.
However, Chase Hill rejects the concept of gender being permanently assigned at birth, and looks instead to our myths and the archaeological evidence that ancient Heathens defined gender through action and appearance, not chromosomes or body parts. We hold up the many Heathen graves discovered with osteologically male remains accompanied by female grave goods, and the many graves discovered with osteologically female remains accompanied by male grave goods as evidence that our tradition once embraced those whose lived gender is different than that dictated based on physical body at time of birth.
Just as we embrace and honor Skadi, warrior goddess dressed in man’s armor, just as we embrace and honor Woden, learned in women’s magic and dressed in women’s garb, we embrace and honor our fellow Heathens’ gender identities based on their deeds, life experiences, and chosen appearance, and we commit to assigning gendered roles in ritual based on an individual’s identity, social role, and presentation, not based on gender assigned at birth, gender on legal documents, or any other critera.
Guests may ask to become members of Chase Hill after attending six or more rituals. A good measure of their understanding of Chase Hill tradition is whether they are familiar enough with Chase Hill ritual practices to be able to host guests themselves. Potential members must both express their desire to formally join the community and also gain the agreement of the community through attaining the sponsorship of the Goði (in consultation with the membership).
A member is considered part of the Chase Hill community and may bring guests to ritual with the approval of the Goði. Members may take on roles during ritual and may be called upon to help set up and take down ritual. Members are expected to contribute at least a minimum of effort to all rituals they attend – to bring a contribution to potluck and to contribute financially if and when they are able.
Understanding Chase Hill Titles and Roles
Chase Hill relies upon individuals within its membership to undertake many roles that are essential to perform our rituals and other organizational tasks in our specific and evolving Heathen tradition. We have found it advantageous to grant specific kinds of membership and titles to those individuals in recognition of their contribution to our community, as well as clarify the community’s expectations of the people who undertake such roles.
Organizational Titles and Roles
Þegenas (Thanes): Our “Inner Circle” of members who have contributed most significantly to Chase Hill and have developed such deep relationships to these people and traditions that the community feels their “wyrd” is now tied with that of Chase Hill. Any Chase Hill member may express to the Goði their desire to become a þegen, and follow the process outlined in our guiding documents. Þegenas are the only members who may hold titles.
Goði (Priest): The individual responsible for both overseeing the organization and leading regular rituals, as well as witnessing oaths, representing the Chase Hill community to the public, and entrusted with the duty to preserve and perpetuate the community’s tradition.
Blot-karl (Ritual Leader): An individual who can run official rituals within the tradition of Chase Hill, witness oaths, and has the responsibility to aid in preserving and perpetuating the community’s tradition.
Lawspeaker: An individual responsible for representing the voice of the Folk to the Goði and their Witenagemot, for acting as a mediator and advocate for all members of the Folk, and for assisting the Goði in planning and leading the Folkmoot.
Reckoner (Treasurer): A title that designates the person chiefly in charge of collecting, recording, managing and disbursing any funds that Chase Hill has in order to continue the functioning of the organization.
Ealubora (Ale-bearer): An office performed during both blot and symbel. During blot, the Ealubora cares for the communal offerings of drink, carries the horns during the godfulls, and pours out the hlot-bowl to signify the end of the ritual. During symbel, the Ealubora pours drinks for the assembled community and is allowed to speak out of turn during the ritual.
Symbelgifa (Symbel Giver): The Symbelgifa is the leader of the symbel, whose duties include determining the manner in which the toasts will proceed, beginning each full (round), appointing the various other officers of the symbel, maintaining the frith and/or grith of the ritual, and concluding the final full of the ritual.
Þyle (Speaker): An office of symbel occupied by a person of good character, eloquence, perceptiveness, and assertiveness, who aids the Symbelgifa in watching over the maegen (might) of the symbel. It is the Þyle’s duty to challenge individual participants who violate the rules of the symbel, as well as those whose toasts are unworthy, as an aid to both the individual and the community in keeping frith, grith, and building the maegen of the ritual. The Þyle, like the Ealubora, may speak out of turn during symbel.
Titles of Honor
Heathenry as a whole places great value and honor upon individuals for their deeds and work throughout their lives. As a community committed to the embodiment of this tradition, Chase Hill recognizes those individuals whose deeds and work consistently and substantively benefit the community in the pursuit of its mission and the maintenance of its values. Titles that have been awarded in the past include Harrowdis (Lady of the Altar) and Gesiþ(Companion)
Chase Hill Ritual Practices
Chase Hill has several regular practices that are a distinct part of our “sidu” or custom that are not necessarily common to some of our fellow Heathens. Below, we’ve listed a handful of these customs.
Eormenblot: This type of offering ritual is directed to many gods and wights (spirits), as compared to a blot that may be more singularly focused on one deity. It includes several elements that change to suit the occasion including hallowing, prayers, songs, ritual toasts, offerings, and space for receiving wisdom.
Fire Hallowing: Chase Hill uses an adapted version of Swain Wodening’s Fire Hallowing to mark sacred space before rituals occurring outside the demarcated precinct of the Harrow, as well as using it within the Harrow a few times a year to reinforce the sacred nature of that space.
Sigrdrifa’s Prayer: Chase Hill begins many rituals by reciting a version of Sigrdrifa’s Prayer, one of only a handful of surviving ancient prayers to the Heathen Gods, and significant in that it honors a large swath of the great holy powers of Heathenry – Day, Night, Earth, Gods and Goddesses.
Lac: In every ritual, Chase Hill endeavors to use music to honor the gods – whether written specifically for the occasion, or traditional music that creates an appropriate atmosphere. This music is usually sung by all the participants together, with minimal accompaniment (usually drum or other beat). A significant portion of this music can be found in our Publications, and is available for purchase.
Casting Lots: As a part of many of our rituals, the casting of runes is a way for the community to directly receive wisdom from the spirits.
Pouring out the Offerings: At the end of each ritual, Chase Hill uses a modified version of the ritual ending used by Raven Kindred North: the Ealubora pours out the contents of the hlot-bowl on the Harrow and says “From the Earth, to us, to the gods, from the gods to us, to the Earth.”
Silent Meditation: As part of every ritual, Chase Hill takes a moment of silence to allow the gods and spirits space should they wish to make their presence known to the community.
Chase Hill Ritual Spaces
On the western slope of the hill that bears its name, the Chase Hill kindred has created several ritual spaces in which to gather, celebrate, and practice together. The following are three of our most important spaces:
The Harrow: The sacred space in which we hold many of our blots (rituals), named for the stone altar in the center. It is the home of our godposts and weohas, a fire altar, and the central stone harrow where we place offerings. Entrance to the space is marked by decorated gates, and the space is surrounded by a brass chain to mark the sacred precinct.
The Ancestor Space: This is the home of our godpost to Hell, as well as a growing “forest” of ancestor stakes – monuments to member’s individual ancestors. It is a place for song, meditation, prayer, and offerings. The Ancestor Space is the site of our annual Winternights ritual at the beginning of the dark half of the year.
The Grove: A quiet space between the pine trees, hardwoods, and blueberries near an open field provides a site for a few Chase Hill rituals during the light half of the year. Parts of the annual Eostre blot are held in The Grove. Other social and ritual events have been held in the space as well, including a kindred wedding.