Horn-Bearing

The following is a personal written account of one of my astral experiences. It’s totally UPG and should be taken as such.

“I feel like a pompous, pretentious ass,” I mutter as I stare at myself in the mirror. I’m supposed to appear at the event soon but I feel like a fool. I’m very much pretending to be something I’m not. It’s not the scarlet dress I’m wearing nor even the golden adornments all over it. It’s that accursed crown I have to wear that signifies me as a queen, a responsibility I in no way deserve. But after our marriage, Surtr had insisted that I assume the role. “It’ll be good for you, you’ll see,” he gently but firmly urged.

It’s been only around a week since I got brought to the Astral by Surtr. He insisted that it was time for me to finally see Muspelheim. While all prior attempts to reach the Astral had failed, with Surtr’s help I made the leap successfully.  And everything exploded outwards from there. Queenship had hit me like a ripcurrent, sweeping me along where it wanted to take me. I was helpless to do much else but float along with it, watching the shore of what I knew get farther and farther away as I got sucked deeper into Surtr’s obsidian hallways.

And now in mere minutes I was to perform a millennia-old ritual while surely looking like a damned fool in this stupid crown. Excellent.

But there’s nothing I can do about that right now.  It’s time to leave the room Surtr had designated as mine within his hall and get to the event. I can’t keep people waiting. Surtr’s court already disapproves of me enough as it is. I could at least make a good impression on them with this ritual. At least, I hoped I could. With one final glimpse in the mirror and adjustment of that stupid crown, I turn and exit the room, walking swiftly down the black stone corridors that make up Surtr’s hall.

My footsteps barely make a sound on the smooth stone floors. It’s unnervingly quiet as I walk through the hallways. The ceiling is very tall to accommodate the height of its inhabitants. It makes me feel smaller than I already do.  Hell, the other night I got picked up and sniffed by one of its inhabitants – or maybe a visitor? – so I was already acutely aware of my comparatively minuscule physical size. But now it was a psychological smallness that pervaded my mind.

My pace slows as I grow ever closer to the mead-hall. While incredibly progressive, at the same time Muspelheim was also rigidly traditional having clung to the hall structure of the past. As I finally reach right outside its doors I can hear rowdy voices from inside. I resist the urge to tremble and flee and instead push my way through the heavy carved stone doors and into the mead hall. The boisterous chatter from moments before fades to hushed whispers. They’re suspicious of me and I can’t blame them. My self loathing makes me appear human rather than my natural trollish form. This human form of mine and the reason behind it makes them all distrust me. They can’t have faith in a queen who lacks faith in zirself.

I do my best to ignore them as I walked over to the tables along the wall. A giantess waits there, smiling reassuringly at me as I walk over. “Don’t worry,” she whispers, “you’re doing fine.” She then gestures at a black horn that’s longer than I am tall. It has gold filigree finely swirled along it. “That’s Lord Surtr’s drinking horn. You could probably have guessed that though. It is the finest of the lot.” She then pointed at a few different enormous barrels of alcohol. “These are his favorites, I’ve noticed,” she says to me. “I highly recommend the mead in that one for tonight’s event.” I nod and choke out a thank you. She smiles in sympathy.

I pick up the long gold and black horn. I notice it’s curved in a way I’ve never quite seen in a cow’s horn before. She apparently notices my pausing to examine it as she says, “Muspelheim cattle have interesting horns, don’t they?”

“Muspelheim cattle?” I ask. “There’s an entire breed native to here?”

“Yes!” While I proceed to carefully fill the horn near to the brim with mead, she describes them in earnest to me.  I smile, glad that someone isn’t treating me like an outsider despite my obviously other form. Once the horn is full of golden mead, I nod and murmur “thank you” at her before turning to walk towards the tables where Surtr and his retinue are seated.

Slowly and deliberately, so as not to splash the mead everywhere, I begin to walk towards Surtr. He has chosen to remain in the human form that he’s tended to appear to me as, likely as a show of solidarity for me. He smiles encouragingly at me, patiently awaiting me to reach him. When I finally reach him, i nearly choke up on the words I know I have to speak to complete the ritual. With a clear waver to my voice, I begin to recite the invocation I’d written earlier that day in preparation.

“My lord and king of flames, I offer you this cup of mead in good health and love and faith. To you who guide us through the fire and grant clarity through the smoke, may you be embraced by the gratitude and love we all have for your guidance and presence in our lives. My dearest friend, may your future be full of light, warmth, and laughter. May the road be easy to your feet and merriness forever ring in your ears.”

As I recite the invocation, I realize why Surtr wanted me to perform this ritual. Traditionally, the first line marks out the king as the elite ruler of the hall, setting his status above all his men. But that wasn’t the purpose here and wouldn’t be in the future. He was asking me to affirm him as central to my life, not to the hall.  With each horn bearing ceremony, I would be repeating this affirmation of his place as central and foremost in my life and spiritual practice. Additionally, this ritual affirmed my love and dedication to him and, in turn, to all of Muspelheim.

As he took a long draught out of his horn, I smile lovingly up at him with this revelation burning in my mind. I could hear the whispers of unease from among the company as they criticized my shaky performance, but at this moment I couldn’t care less. Surtr is the focus of the ritual and the focus of my life right now; his clear satisfaction with how things had gone was all that mattered. He is the center of my life right now and his happiness is all that’s important right now. Surtr hands the horn back to me so that I can proceed to take it around the table to the members of his court. As he does so, his eyes gleam with pride. “My queen,” he murmurs with a smile, “you bear that horn well.”

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