In a previous article, we talked about the relationship that was just starting to be established between the Yggdrasil Ásatrú Association of Costa Rica and the Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost of Norway. The visit of their Bifrost’s former leader, Stine Helen Skår, and her associate, Hans Gunnar Pedersen, was a highly anticipated event for the Heathen community of the Central American nation.
Costa Rica is an ecological and tropical paradise, with a flora and fauna as diverse as its inhabitants, a country that despite having very deep Catholic customs, is still quite multicultural and multiethnic. Full of natural wonders like three active volcanos, it contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity. This is the environment which became the birthplace of the Yggdrasil Ásatrú Association, which is one of the largest Heathen organizations in Latin America. Stein (and Bifrost) were interested in working together with this Central American organization to send a message at the international level against the racism that continues to afflict the heathenry by bringing Norwegian and Costa Rican Heathens together.
Making a blót in Costa Rica can be a little complicated because there are only two seasons; Dry and Rainy. Now take into account that there are 12 different climatic zones in the tiny country and you begin to understand how seasonal celebrations can get a bit strange! This situation always makes it difficult to choose a seasonal blót, which has led us to evaluate a different system that allows us to make our celebrations according to the local climate. Despite these difficult weathers, the visit was planned for Sigrblót, which was chosen for its emphasis on victories and alliances.
After a long 5 hour journey, members of the Yggdrasil Association arrive in time to settle down, eat, drink, and exchange some gifts at the hotel. Runes made of Icelandic volcanic stone, books, horns and some traditional Costa Rican objects for our friends from Norway, such as coffee bags and drippers were joyfully exchanged. Once everyone had recovered from the trip, we prepared to go to the beach to set up the blót. Having discarded some areas inhabited by crocodiles, a campfire surrounded by coconuts is set in the middle of the beach, next to a giant rock and facing a beautiful sunset. It may not be what most Heathens imagine when they think of a blót, but for us Costa Ricans this is a perfect setting for any important celebration.
With a beautiful landscape behind, we blessed the ritual space, we called Thor, Heimdall, Freyja and Vår, to whom we asked to strengthen our friendship and our fight against racism, followed by the traditional sumbl rounds; thus closing the treaty of alliance of both organizations with a final gift, a huge horn of Watusi for the Yggdrasil Association. The celebration could not wait, the bottles of mead were opened and next to the campfire they all told stories of their heathen beginnings, exchanged knowledge and joked as if they were all-time friends. Then, the next day, we headed with Hans and Stine on a tour through the forest of Manuel Antonio National Park.
Lecture at the University of Costa Rica
On March 21st, Hans and Stine gave a guest lecture at the University of Costa Rica’s School of Anthropology. There, he helped to dispell the myths surrounding the Vikings and Norse peoples, promoted by Hollywood and pop-culture in general, such as their hyper-masculinized appearance, their violent character, sexism, racism, and Nazism. He also spent a portion of the lecture teaching about the basic concepts of Heathen beliefs. The conference was well received and well attended, raising a lot of interest in Nordic culture and religion within the university.
A second exchange
Stine and Hans eventually returned home to Norway, but according to Stine, not without leaving a part of their heart in the Costa Rica. So Stine, enamoured with the natural beauties of the land, decided to return to Costa Rica later this year. Her hope is to join with local Heathens near the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna and hold a blót. As part of the exchange program, her friend Anette plans to give a tablet weaving course during her stay in San José, with the intention of strengthening the exchange of knowledge between these two distant organizations.
Hans plans his second visit by the beginning of 2018 to give a Norse shoemaking course and buying some leather to take to the Vikings camps in Scandinavia.
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