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is Jotun's Bane Kindred's holy tree. He is a tall and gnarled
oak tree and he is the focus of our kindred's outdoor Ve, located at
Gaea Retreat near McLouth, KS. The name Forn Halr is old norse
for "Old Man." Every oathed member of Jotun's Bane Kindred has
taken their oath beneath his branches, and with one hand upon his
bark. We conduct fainings in honor of Forn Halr and give him
the gifts he is due. When our kindred faces trouble
or hardship, we think of Forn Halr's example...a lone oak,
long-lived and tall, upon the edge of a cliff, with his roots
twisted down into the earth and
We held Lightning
Across the Plains and our Ostara Gathering at Gaea Retreat.
This allowed heathens from across the region that wished to visit Forn
Halr and honor him, the chance to do so. A number of new
kindreds took their kindred oaths beneath his branches. As a kindred,
we proudly share our successes with Forn Halr. After we
initially built our Ve, we realized that the altar we had built was
insufficient. With assistance from Gaea's caretaker, we built
a new stone altar from two large rocks. We estimate the base
rock at over 2000 lbs., with the top of the altar around 900
lbs. It took back-breaking effort to move these stones into
place by hand, but it was worth it to give Forn Halr a worthy
Forn Halr also
wears around his neck a hammer named Skull-Splitter. The hammer was
made by Craig Winkler for Forn Halr. For several years we
would take Skull-Splitter down at Lightning Across the Plains for use
in the hammer toss. We felt that using Forn Halr's hammer for
such a contest gave him honor. But, at LATP 2011 the ring
on the handle broke. We fixed the ring, and decided that
Forn Halr should wear Skull-Splitter always. We then used a different
hammer for the hammer toss at LATP.
We have told the following
story to our children many times about Forn Halr, so that they
could understand why we honor our Holy Tree and why he is important
to us. Eventually, we wrote the story down so that it would be
remembered and could be shared with others. Please enjoy the
fable of Forn Halr:
THE FABLE OF FORN
HALR - "The Oldest Oak"
|The ground in
the forest was covered with young acorns. Many had
landed on wide stretches of black earth, but several
acorns found themselves on the edge of a rocky bluff.
The acorns that were laying in easy places to grow
laughed at the acorns near the bluff, because the ground
beneath them was filled with rocks and growing into a
tall oak tree there would be very difficult. But, one of
the unfortunate acorns ignored the laughter and made the
best of his difficult spot to grow.
A few years later all the acorns had grown
into young oak trees. The ones who had grown on the wide
stretches of black earth had sprouted and grown taller quickly
and easily. The nutrients in their soil was simple to
find and running their roots out into the ground had been an
effortless task. But there was only one small oak
remaining at the top of the bluff. He had to work for every
inch of growth. His roots had to push down through the
rocks and earth, seeking out whatever nutrients he could find
on the edge of the bluff. The tall young oaks in the
rich black earth sometimes teased their stunted brother on the
edge of the bluff.
One young oak asked, "Why do you struggle
so hard on the edge of that bluff? You should give up
like the rest of the acorns that landed there. That's no
place for an proud oak to grow."
The small oak on the edge of the
bluff answered, "It is true that I'm the only oak
remaining on the edge of the bluff. I did not choose
this place to grow...this is where I fell. But, I'll
never give up. I'll work, and I'll struggle, and I'll
make the best of this rocky home."
Another young oak said, "See how
tall the rest of us are. Are you not ashamed that you
are so stunted and small?"
The small oak on the edge of the bluff
answered, "I feel no shame in making the best of my
situation. You seem to take great pride in growing
easily in the rich soil you fell upon by complete
chance. I take great pride in making the best of my
Many years passed, and the oaks growing on
the stretches of black soil had gotten much bigger and were
crowded together. They roots were tangled in knots
beneath the soil. They fought to reach higher than their
neighbor so that their leaves could gather the sunlight they
needed to survive. Some of them had been crowded out and
died. The oak on the edge of the bluff was not as tall
as the other trees, but his roots were not tangled with the
roots of other trees. He was not crowded by other
trees. So his limbs reached out in every direction
gathering plenty of sunshine. Still, the crowded oaks
liked to tease their brother out on the edge of the
One of the oaks said, "Look at you all
alone out there on the bluff, you must be very lonely out
The oak on the edge of the bluff
answered, "While I am the lone oak out here among the
rocks, I am not alone. Many smaller trees grow around me
and below me at the foot of the bluff. Some of them have
grown from my own acorns. The shade from you and your
tall brothers won't let the acorns that fall from your
Another of the crowded oaks said,
"It must hurt to have all those rocks among your roots.
Why do you even bother?"
The oak on the edge of the bluff answered,
"Working my roots down into this soil has been hard
work...that is true. But, now that they are there, I am
firmly in place. I welcome the stability and am greatful
for the rocks among my roots."
Many years passed by, and most of the oaks
that had grown in the stretches of black soil were gone.
Many of them had been sqeezed out by their taller
brothers. Their roots could not grow out far enough to
gather water and the shade from taller trees caused the leaves
of smaller trees to wither and drop. Many of the taller
trees had grown so tall, so fast, that strong winds blew them
down. Their roots had not been deep enough and had no
rocks for them to grip. But the oak on the edge of the
bluff was still there. He had lost some limbs to storms
or disease. His gnarled roots had tangled themselves
throughout the face of the bluff. But he had grown tall
and broad and was healthy and happy, and his branches full of
leaves. But, still the few remaining oaks would try to
One of the remaining oaks said, "Look at
your broken limbs and your gnarled roots. What a strange
looking oak you are."
The oak on the edge of the bluff answered,
"I have lost some limbs and my roots are gnarled, but I have
grown tall and prospered. I am full and healthy.
So many of you trees in the black soil have fallen. I
would rather stand here showing the scars of my long life,
than to lie in the soil, the food for bugs."
One of the remaining oaks asked, "Will you
not miss us when we are all gone? Won't you be lonely
when the last of us has fallen?"
The oak on the edge of the bluff answered,
"I've spent my many years making true friends. See this
maple tree that has grown beneath me and helps to hold up my
weight? See the squirrels and the birds who enjoy the
shelter of my limbs and leaves? See the snake that makes
his home among my roots? When you have all fallen, I
will not be alone. I will be the oldest and the wisest
being in the forest, with many wights who look to me as a
years passed, and all of the oaks who had grown on the
wide stretches of black soil had fallen. Younger oaks
were growing in their place, among other types of trees
and all manner of plants and bushes. The oak on the edge
of the bluff was very old, but had grown tall and wide.
The evidence of his age showed on his bark and in his
limbs, but he wore these signs as the reward for a long
life and much wisdom. All the plants, animals, and
spirits of the forest paid respect to this old oak, and
called him Forn Halr, which means the "Old
One day a group of men and women who
followed the ways of their People came to the forest. They
were looking to establish a holy place where they could honor
their Gods and Ancestors. As they walked through the forest, every spirit
whispered to them of Forn Halr.
One spirit said, "If you need guidance,
you should ask the Old Man."
Another spirit said, "You should honor
Forn Halr, he is the wisest among us."
A third spirit said, "If
you seek a holy place, then you should gather beneath
the limbs of Forn
The group of men and women found their way
to Forn Halr, and paid their respect. They built an
altar beneath his limbs and marked the holiness of the shade
he provided. They spoke to him and gave him gifts.
All their most important oaths were taken with a hand on Forn
Halr's trunk, and they lived by his example. A holy
runestone was carved with the likeness of Forn Halr and words
that spoke of his timeless importance. A symbol of their
Gods was hung around Forn Halr's trunk and they honored their
Gods and their Ancestors at the base of this holy tree.
The forest rejoiced that the wisest among them was honored in
this way. Those that honored Forn Halr, prospered as he
had, through hard-work and
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