King Blot - Sweyn :
The Last Royal Sacrificer
The yelling and clashes of sword play were heard all the way in the village. Everyone stopped what they were doing in the market and glanced in the direction of the temple. Each of the sellers and buyers bent their ears to try and catch what was being shouted, but no one could make out the words. It was clear, however, that something had happened at the Law Assembly. Something bad !
Moments later a man ran into the village shouting that the king had been chased away from the great hall by an angry mob of his subjects. The man stood bent over for a moment with his hands on his knees trying desperately to catch his breath. As he recovered from his long run a crowd gathered around the man. Finally the man took one last deep breath, and then stood up straight to address the people in the market.
" The king has been forcibly removed from the Law Assembly, and chased away ! " he told the anxious crowd. " They are now holding a special meeting in the great hall to decide what to do next ! " he added.
While those in the crowd asked the man questions, Ingrid looked over at Eirik with a look of shock on her face. Eirik nodded to his mother.
" We should go now to the great hall to see if father is alright ! " Eirik told his mother.
Eirik grabbed his mother's hand, and together they ran back to the temple area. What they saw as they approached surprised them greatly. It was quiet. Very quiet !
When everyone had settled back down in the great assembly hall Sweyn walked up to the king' s high - seat and stood beside it. Slowly he placed his right hand on the top post of the throne, and then spoke to the crowd.
" These Christians, who kneel before their God, have lost the pride they once had in our ancestors , and their ancient customs. They dishonor all those who came before them with their dishonorable words and deeds ! " he told those assembled before him.
Sweyn paused for a moment to heighten the crowd's emotions, and was pleased to see that everyone seemed to be hanging on his every word.
" I do not understand this new religion. They say that it is evil for us to sacrifice animals to our Gods, and yet they slaughter animals for food everyday, and dishonor their God by not offering even the smallest of portions to him ! For generation upon generation sacrificing a portion of what we consume has always been the custom of our people, but they are willing to throw away all of our years of history and tradition in one generation for a God and his son who are not from our land ! " he told them angrily.
" I have heard the king' s court poet, Markus Skeggjason, read the Christian bible in the great hall. The names of these people in these tall tales are not the names of anyone who has any bearing on the Northlands ! Furthermore the kingdoms that the king' s skald spoke of are not from this region ! And I say that they do not belong here in the Northlands ! And they most especially do not belong here at the sacred temple of Uppsala, in the shadow of our ancestors' grave mounds ! " he shouted while waving his hand around dramatically.
The crowd cheered in agreement at every point made by Sweyn that the Upplanders felt reflected their own views. Ottar, the old chieftain, seemed especially pleased with what he was hearing.
Then to everyone's surprise Sweyn sat down on the king' s high - seat.
" Our king ..... my brother- in - law, has decreed that Heathenry is to be outlawed ! He refuses to perform the sacred blots, and will not even take the time to listen to his own people on this important matter ! Obviously Inge does not deserve to sit upon this throne that he has so dishonored ! " Sweyn shouted as he pounded his fists on the arms of the chair.
When the cheers died down Sweyn rose up and walked over to Ottar, the revered local chieftain. He placed his right hand on Ottar' s left shoulder, and looked him in the eyes.
" Unlike my brother - in - law Inge, I will not dishonor our ancestors, our ancient customs, or the old Gods of our people.... if you accept me as your king. Give me the crown of Sweden, and I will gladly preside over the sacred ritual sacrifices ! " he told Ottar personally, and those assembled in general.
Ottar placed his right hand on Sweyn's left shoulder, and grinned from ear to ear. He had seldom heard more honorable or pleasing words. In a gesture that was meant to take the kingdom of the Swedes away from Inge and give it to Sweyn, the chieftain escorted Sweyn back to the high - seat and sat him down. Then Ottar addressed his fellow countrymen.
" King Inge, who has refused to listen to his own people, and who has turned his back on our ancient customs and Gods, is banished from these lands from this day forward ! In his place we should accept a warrior who will continue to uphold the ancient laws and traditions of our ancestors ! All hail King Sweyn, the new ruler of Sweden ! " Ottar shouted to the crowd as he pumped his fist in the air.
Without even a show of hands to elect Sweyn, he was now the king of the Swedes. And judging by the great cheers that rose up from the Heathens assembled in the great hall, the choice was almost unanimous. There was one in the hall, however, who did not like what he was seeing and hearing. His name was Anund the Skald, and he was both a Christian, and loyal to King Inge. He was also a former student of Inge' s court poet Markus Skeggjason, and as he left the hall, he had no way of knowing that he was about to become a key figure in the conflict between King Sweyn and King Inge !
As Anund left, Ingrid and their son Eirik entered the great hall. They stepped inside just in time to see King Sweyn address his subjects for the first time as their ruler.
" My predecessor has dishonored this Law Assembly by not consecrating it with a sacrifice. I hereby decree that this assembly is ended for the day, and that we should all gather in the courtyard to give offerings to the Gods, and our ancestors ! " Sweyn shouted as he rose from his high - seat, and walked towards the doors of the great hall.
King Sweyn kissed his shocked wife on the cheek, and patted his son on the head as he exited the hall. The new king led his subjects to the ancient sacred ash tree that grew just beyond the great hall, and across from the temple. The king thought for a moment and then ordered that a horse be brought to the courtyard.
" Bring one of King Inge' s horses ! " he shouted to the crowd.
A few moments later a brown horse with a white mark above its nose was led before the king. Sweyn ordered several of the strongest men to force the horse to the ground, and hold it tightly there. Two young maidens carrying large sacrificial bowls, who seemed to come out of nowhere, joined King Sweyn. The new king of the Swedes pulled out his large seax knife, and held it up to the heavens.
" Thor, son of Odin, protector of Midgard, I ask that you bless this humble weapon so that it may act in your great service ! " the king shouted to Odinson.
Sweyn had each maiden kiss the knife before he bent down and placed the blade against the horses jugular vein. The king then nodded to the maidens who also bent down and placed the bowls on the ground near the horse's neck.
" For our Gods who honored us with life and home, and for our ancestors who live within each of us to this day, I offer to you this humble sacrifice to consecrate the opening of the Thing Of All Swedes ! " he shouted for all to hear.
Sweyn took a deep breath before plunging the knife deep into the horse's neck. The men who were holding the horse down struggled to hold it in place as it struggled from the blow. The maidens carefully filled their bowls with the horse's blood -offering as king Sweyn walked over and broke off two small branches that had a few leaves attached on their ends.
When the horse had bled out the maidens rose up and carried the sacrificial bowls over to where Sweyn was standing by the sacred ash tree. The king dipped the leaves of the twig in the blood, and smeared blood over the trunk of the ancient ash tree.
" Sacred ash tree, planted from Yggdrasil' s seeds by our ancestors in the early times, and which has seen many of our ancestors pass this way, keep watch over us as you did those who came before us. Give us, the descendants of Ask and Embla, the strength to do what is right and honorable as we are gathered here at the annual, Thing Of All Swedes. And may the God of Law, Forseti, guide me as I pass judgement here at the Law Assembly ! " he shouted to the heavens.
King Sweyn then motioned for the two maidens to stand on either side of him holding the bowls out before them. The king then pointed to his son and told him to come stand by his side. As Eirik took his place next to his father he was handed the other branch. Those in the courtyard who were familiar with ritual sacrifices formed into a line . As they slowly passed by the king and his son, they were gently blessed with the horse's blood. Ingrid, now Queen Ingrid, stood off to the side in a state of shock over what had transpired in the last few hours. She was proud of her husband, and yet at the same time she was scared to death about what might happen if King Inge returned !
When the line had reached its end, King Sweyn ordered the horse to be cut up, and cooked. He commanded that every freeman and woman in attendance was to be given a small piece of the sacrificial meat, and a sip of mead with which to toast the Gods. He further ordered that the horse's hide be hung on the great ash tree to honor their ancestors.
As night fell over Uppsala everyone returned to the great hall for a great feast, and to drink their fill. Tonight they would celebrate and be merry, for tomorrow the Thing Of The All Swedes would resume .... this time with a Heathen king !
- End Chapter 3
- Next : Chapter 4 : Exile !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015