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At the recent Einherjar celebration at Odinshof, I had the honor of participating in a most unusual rite. Superficially, it was nothing more than the admixture of various brands of hard liquor, poured into a vat, and consumed by the military veterans present. (In keeping with the Law of the Hof, none of us got inebriated.) It was serious but convivial, relaxed but purposeful, and it had genuine spiritual undertones. We drank just enough to honor each other, and to loosen our tongues a bit. I look forward to doing it again – perhaps not on a regular basis, but definitely from time to time as needed.

The custom started with Navy submariners who, on heading back to port after a long voyage, drank such alcohol as they had available – allegedly, to include torpedo fuel.. It quickly spread beyond the Navy, with variations in other branches of the American military. For example, each of the several participants would bring a bottle of hard spirits representing their respective companies or battalions, empty the entire contents into a suitable container, and give it a stir or two to mix it thoroughly before passing it among the participants.

Superficially, this is just another military custom – a bonding experience for those who share danger, fear, and courage. As such, it is priceless in its own right.

But let’s look a little deeper.

The container from which we drank was made of wood, and looked for all the world like…a well. Or more exactly, it could easily have been THE Well, the Well of Wyrd, the well into which all our deeds and experiences go, the well of that-which-has-become. Our “spirits” go into the well, where they are co-mingled with the “spirits” of our fellows. We then share that liquid, just as we share the fate, the devotion, the horror, the laughter, the courage, the essence of the warrior’s experience.

Now, maybe somebody somewhere planned all that symbolism – but I don’t think so. It becomes another example of how our deeper selves find truth, and weave the web of Wyrd accordingly.

Hail the warriors, and the bonds that join them!