A few weeks ago we celebrated “Charming of the Plow” at Odinshof. This is one of the lesser-known holy days of Asatru; indeed, I am sure than many who honor the Aesir and Vanir don’t even observe it. Such a seemingly humble event can be overlooked when one is busy with the more familiar rites of the Germanic Revival such as Yule, Midsummer, and the rest…But behind the celebration of this folksy festival there hides a deep truth.
In traditional times, the plow was ritually blessed before the first furrow was cut. The act of penetrating the earth for the planting of seed was holy, vital for the life of the community. Its sexual symbolism is obvious; we still use the term “plowing” as a euphemism for the sexual act. By the time of our current Asatru revival, however, horse-drawn plows were pretty much a thing of the past. Charming of the Plow became a time for people to bring their garden trowels, rakes and the like to be blessed, thus keeping the connection with the fertile earth and its gifts.
It may seem old-fashioned to honor the humble plow in the modern era – but let’s look deeper. For several hundred thousand years, humans existed a hunters and gatherers. We killed game with stones, slings, and spears. We foraged for roots, fruits, and various vegetables. We existed in small groups – families and extended families, mostly. We were more or less mobile, dependent on wild animals and things that grew on their own – or didn\’t, depending on weather and soil.
Around 3500 BC – which is very recent compared to the hundreds of thousands of years of human existence – someone invented the plow. It changed everything.
We became less mobile, because we didn’t have to follow migrating game, and we could store edible plants – grain, for example – in larger quantities. With more food, more of us could live in the same area. Families and bands became villages, which became towns. Towns grew into cities. Cities became nations, and empires. None of this would have been possible without the plow.
Plows made real communities possible. And in today\’s threatening world, communities are more important than ever. We take the status quo for granted, but history is peppered with war, economic disaster, government overreach and creeping tyranny. It\’s important to have people you can depend on in tough times. If things in our local area go bad, we have Odinshof as our community, and it’s a lot larger than the ancient hunter-gathering bands. Odinshof, in turn, is embedded in a greater community called the Asatru Folk Assembly, which is part of a larger movement of like-minded men and women throughout our ancestral homelands and around the world.
Our duty is to support our community with sweat and love, loyalty and, yes, money…and to gather, once a year, to honor the plow which made it all possible.
A thousand years from now, the sons and daughters of Odin will be spreading their seed across the starry sky, fulfilling our high Destiny. Perhaps some of those distant descendants will think back on our humble beginnings, and remember us…and the plow, without which they would not be.’