In 2023 we
recover the most important celebration of pre-Christian Nordic religion, the
octennially recurring AUN CELEBRATION. We therefore call on you to participate
in the ways that you find meaningful, both on the specific days that mark the
octennial celebrations in 2023 and throughout the year (January 6 in Lejre and
March 6 in Uppsala). Let us take back this ancient year of Healing of the
decrepit, abusive patterns that characterize our Age.
Medieval chroniclers report that every eight years, pre-Christian Scandinavians congregated in large numbers at regional sacred sites. The Danes would gather at the ancient sanctuary Lejre in Zealand at the Yule moon, in a ritual which, according to the chronicler Thietmar of Merseburg, was supposed to align people with “those who dwell beneath the earth and ensure their forgiveness for any misdeeds”. Swedes would sacrifice in their sacred grove in Uppsala and sing songs there were too “unseemly” for the Christian chronicler Adam of Bremen to commit to parchment.
There are both Danish and Swedish myths that outline this octennial cycle. The most complete version is Snorri Sturluson’s account in the Ynglinga Saga, which records the life of king Aun, whose lifespan and reign in Uppsala seems to reflect calendrical cycles. The myth tells how Aun sacrificed his sons to Odin in order to prolong his own life. He sacrificed one son every ninth year in order to live eight more years. Aun kept up this horrifying practice, extending his life into a state of such paralysis that he could only lie in his bed and drink out of a horn (a medieval baby bottle).
Even in an iron-age reality, where human sacrifice was common, this is still a deeply pathological and destructive behavior. Kings were supposed to be icons of vitality, connectors between human communities and the powers. They were certainly not supposed to snuff out the lives of their descendants in order to egotistically extend their own. The story of Aun is a cautionary tale. He is the best example of the worst imaginable ancestor. Aun’s murder of his sons is part of a general theme in Nordic Animism: violation of kinship resulting in cosmic collapse. The best-known example is Höðr killing Baldr, that cosmic fratricide which causes the entirety of the interconnected Nordic cosmos to unravel. The gods and giants, who used to be entangled in various kinds of social bonds and dependencies, fall into absolute confrontation, a kind of cosmic total war that seems reminiscent the apocalyptic conflict between angels and demons in Christianity.
Aun’s murder of his children, his descendants, is that same kind of cosmic violation of kinship, violence on the ordering principle in the interconnected world. It is akin to the worms gnawing at the roots of Yggdrasil. Hence, Aun is a very appropriate image of our contemporary society, a society that rests on camouflaged forms of violence, rupture from connectedness and paralyzing consumerism. We are Aun!
• We are Aun as our economic order is based on camoflaged, structural violence against other humans in other parts of the world.
• We are Aun as our endless consumerism reduces us to paralyzed captives of luxury and indifference.
• We are Aun in our acceptance of the gruesome and life-annihilating behaviour toward the non-human or other-than-human beings that give us life by becoming our food.
• We are Aun in our complicity in the omnicidal attack on all life by which Western civilization is mercilessly driving us towards the biggest collapse in the history of life for 66 million years.
• We are Aun in our loss of social connectedness to the people closest to us, as our social instincts are being hacked by synthetic systems that enclose us in algorithm-generated mirror cabinets that enhance our stupidest and basest sides and erode the political and social debates that should hold our societies together.
• We are Aun as we are the worst imaginable ancestors.
The Aun year is about acknowledging that we are indeed Aun and calling on the healing of the pathological and abusive patterns on which our society and social is built. We want to sing and dance and chant and drink and swear against that curse of Aun that makes us participants in social systems that murder our descendants by destroying the world, filling the seas with plastic, inflicting omnicide on the biodiversity of the entire planet, burning the World Tree.
That is why we will recover and celebrate the ancient tradition of the
octennial celebration in “the Aun year of 2023”, a term coined by Jósúa
Hróðgeir Rood, as a call for the whole of 2023 to be dedicated to
healing the rupture.
We therefore call on all Heathens, scholars, viking nerds, Pagans, Animists, hippies, and everybody with a will to invoke the power of our traditional Animist knowledge in healing the Aun pattern of violence that characterize our societies. Make Aun-themes for your 2023 celebrations. Make pilgrimages to regional sacred sites. Celebrate this year of Healing: make rituals for it, pray for it, dance for it, dialogue about it, celebrate it in your gatherings and festivals, call for the cyclical healing of the Aun year. Sacrifice elements of your life ways that derive from the abusive aspects society. Make oaths under the rune of Aun to change life ways that are predicated on destruction. For a millennia we have abandoned this deeply lifegiving and healing ceremony. Now is the time to bring it back!