Symbel / Bragafull – Acknowledging ourselves and our acomplishments
In Christian thinking “boasting” is seen as something to be avoided, not so in pre Christian Norse culture.
Or i should correct myself, boasting in this case is not the empty claims and exagerations we normally associate with the word, but an acknowledging of our own acomplishments AND the help of the Gods and ancestors.
In other words a thanksgiving of sorts ,notice that there is no sacrifice in Symbel, since it is not a prayer for something but a thanks for what is allready given.
We acknowledge our own part in the acomplishment and thus strenghten ourselves.
The Gods are not doing everything for us since they´re not our servants. Gods and men co exist.
Thus WE have a place in the equation.
At the end of Symbel / Bragafull oaths are often taken, thus further empowering us. These vows are BINDING and taken very seriously.
Symbel involved a formulaic ritual which was more solemn and serious than mere drinking or celebration. The primary elements of symbel are drinking ale or mead from a drinking horn, speech making (which often included formulaic boasting and oaths), and gift giving. Eating and feasting were specifically excluded from symbel, and no alcohol was set aside for the gods or other deities in the form of a sacrifice.
Accounts of the symbel are preserved in the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf (lines 489-675 and 1491–1500), Dream of the Rood and Judith, Old Saxon Heliand, and the Old NorseLokasenna as well as other Eddic and Saga texts, such as in the Heimskringla account of the funeral ale held by King Sweyn, or in the Fagrskinna.
The bragarfull ”promise-cup” or bragafull ”best cup” or “chieftain’s cup” (compare Bragi) was in Norse culture a particular drinking from a cup or drinking horn on ceremonial occasions, often involving the swearing of oaths when the cup or horn was drunk by a chieftain or passed around and drunk by those assembled. The names are sometimes anglicized as bragarful and bragaful respectively.
That the name appears in two forms with two meanings makes it difficult to determine the literal meaning. The word bragr ’best, foremost’ is a source for its first element. The form bragafull (but not bragarfull) can also be interpreted as ‘Bragi’s cup’, referring to the Bragi, god of poetry, though no special connection to Bragi appears in any of the sources.