Performance is Currency in the Deep World’s Gift Economy

blazing camp fire inside a large wooden hall

Telling tales around the fire in the Earth House

I’ve just returned from a wonderful Winter Solstice weekend; the annual gathering of the Bear Tribe at the Ancient Technology Centre. The aim of the event is to celebrate and honour all the plants and animals – fellow inhabitants of this planet – that we have eaten this year. All life depends on the deaths of others, but that is no reason to be thoughtless or careless about that sacrifice. If you are interested, you can read more about the principles of Animism on the Bear Tribe’s website – and also perhaps decode the meaning of this post’s title.

At the heart of the event is old Uncle Honey Paw, and after the feast many of us sing songs, tell tales or recite poems in his honour. We try and avoid the B-word and instead use the many kennings that he is called by instead. I found a suitable story in Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales1 which briefly told of an encounter with a polar bear, but reworked it for a modern audience. There are two versions here; the second uses kennings throughout:

The Polar Bear and the Farmer of Grimsey

White Walker and the Farmer of Grimsey

I thought the story (which may even be based on a true event) neatly showed the interdependence of species, and also the honouring of our debt to those we eat.

1 Iceland Review Library (1987) Selected and translated by May and Hallberg Hallmundsson from tales collected between 1845 and 1888 by Jón Árnason and Magnús Grímsson.

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2 Responses to Performance is Currency in the Deep World’s Gift Economy

  1. katecorwen says:

    glad you enjoyed Bear Feast, and thanks for the link to the Ritual Economies pdf, looks really interesting!

    I’ve reblogged your post, hope you don’t mind.

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