The Norse had a ritual known as symbel. The last symbel I attended (put on by Ph.D. students in the Folklore Department of UCLA) went something like this:
Everyone sat in a circle around the fire. It started with a round of dedication to the gods. When the horn of alcohol was passed to you, you declared your dedication to a god, and you sealed it with a drink before passing the horn to the next person. The next round was the bragging round. One bragged of their accomplishments during the year, drank to them, then passed on the horn. In the last round, one made oaths for the coming year. When the symbel ended, we poured the remaining alcohol on the ground as an offering to prove to the gods we weren’t greedy.
This isn’t necessarily the historical or “correct” way to perform a symbel. However, this variation of the symbel is particularly awesome because it fits well with our current rituals at New Year’s and you don’t get to wallow in self pity over what you failed to accomplish. This is extremely important for me because I’m feeling pretty miserable over some things that didn’t happen this year. Granted, they were mostly things I had no control over, but it’s oh-so-me to dwell on them as if I did. 😉
So instead I raise my horn of champagne as follows:
I dedicate the coming year to Kali. She answered a desperate prayer of mine several years ago in a profound, immediate and totally alarming way. I was so freaked out, I shot out of there like a Neo-Con caught in an pro-choice protest. Well, I’ve changed my mind. Kali, you rock me. Let’s go, babe. You and me. All the way around the block, tongues and all. (Drink!)
I also dedicate myself to the Flying Spaghetti Monster as he continues to torment Creationists and ID assheads everywhere. All hail his noodly appendage! (Drink!)
I partnered with a man I love more than I ever thought possible who gave me a gorgeous antique ring. (Drink!)
I have a fantastic woman representing me in New York. I can crack Edith Wharton jokes with her, and thinks I’m super talented. (Drink!)
I started the ball rolling at my job that eventually got a truly insane manager demoted and divested of her tormented employees. (Drink!)
Received the sincere thanks of said employees. (Drink!)
Successfully served on two elections committees — one as Co-Chair for the HWA and the other as Chair for Persephone Writers. (Drink!)
I survived the incredibly intense 7-week summer program at Middlebury College and learned a foreign language. (Drink!)
I wrote my first poem in French. (Drink!)
I moved to a foreign country, survived culture shock and can talk with the locals. (Drink!)
I’ve met all of The Frenchman’s family and friends, and seem to have charmed the socks off of everyone. (Drink!)
I have introduced countless French people to the love that is Trog. (Drink!)
I’ve lost 10 pounds. (Drink!)
I lectured to a class at Otis College. (Drink!)
I had two stories appear on the Bram Stoker Preliminary Ballot. (Drink!)
I qualified for the John W. Campbell Award. (Drink!)
I didn’t kill anybody! (Drink!)
I was on the BBC Radio, yo! (Drink!)
I’ve written four new stories this year, a book proposal, a project proposal for Disney, and a new novel, for a total of about 120,000 words for the year on top of everything above. (Drink!)
My first oath is to write at least one new book this year (my thriller parody, if not G3 for a publisher).
My second oath is to diligently blast out the new stories to editors until they are all bought.
My third oath is to keep my cool when transitioning back to the States…
Ooooo…I feel pretty wooshygooshydruuuunk. Here’s what’s left for the gods.
::leans over the balcony and splashes champagne on the streets of Paris::
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