I bumped into Danjul Norse at ZERNS a local "Dutch" marketplace, the other day in Gilbertsville, PA.
Danjul is the driving force and creator of the Neo Folk band, Norsewind. I have great memories of their performances at the FOLKISH WINTERS NIGHT, in Virginia as well as when they played GERM BOOKSTORE with CHANGES in October of 2010 of which I wrote a review. We discussed doing an interview for The Hex Factory, three years ago and this chance meeting has led to the following exchange:
1. Heil Danjul! Meeting you at ZERNS reminds me of how we met by chance at the Sacred Oak in Oley a couple years back. What's going on with the Tree? I know there has been a change of ownership of the property it is on. I was told the new owner even moved the old stone farmhouse! Additionally, what has the Tree meant to you and other local Heathens? What experiences have you had there?
Danjul Norse at the Sacred Oak in Oley
The tree is a very special place. I have held ceremonies there numerious times there. I have also slept there in the middle of winter in just a sleeping bag. I have experienced strong spiritual presence at this holy site. Things I understand but rather not expose. I really enjoyed the last owner. Racheal was great. She helped me with spirituality and grounding myself. I used to spend a few days a week there and also help her out around the property. I haven't spoke to her since she moved, however one day we may meet again. As far as the new owner......I don't feel that he is very welcoming. I have been there once since things changed and it felt different, the place was wild and protective and seemed a bit unwelcoming. I will give it time ....
2. You mentioned that you are the elected leader of your Folkish tribe. Let me catch up, what is its name, what traditions do you follow and what would you like to share about it with those interested in Germanic Heathenry?
We have formed a tribe a few years back. We all have a certain skill and place in this tribe. I cannot say our name online for it is our rule......however .....as an elected Cheiftain I can say that when one finds folk that they are comfortable with and feel that "pulse" one should go with it. Having brothers and sisters is very important. Animals have packs and so on.......I feel we as folk should also have "packs" or tribes.......We as a tribe celebrate Northern Tribalism I call it. We have members of German, Irish/Scottish, Scandinavian and Latvian ancestry. However the Icelandic Calendar seems to fit the majority of our ways. I think I will end this because I could go on forever.
3. As you know, my origin and interest in Berks County is Deitsch (Pa German) I learned from you that the Norwegians also settled here very early. What can you tell us about them and your ancestry?
I also have strong Deitsch origin in my family along with Irish and Norwegian. The homeland of my last name is Norway. Our last name has been changed in spelling from it;s original mainly due to the fact that our family has settled other places before America. This "Norris" last name comes from my fathers side and on my fathers side we have cousin's that are Danish as well. We were from the area of Douglassville Pa, a heavy Swedish pioneered settlement in history. With that I could say that other Scandinavian folk also settled here. I really believe that Berks County is a beautiful area that has northern European roots all over it.
4. What prechristian Germanic Heathen remnants or references remain in our Berks County folklore are you aware of? Anything specifically from the early Norwegian settlers?
I could tell you of Morton Homestead which is located in southeaster Pa. John Morton was one of the Pennsylvanian signers of the Declaration of Independence. His family came from Sweden. Also if we go back to Douglassville you can see the plaque of Swedish pioneering along side of Rt. 724. A lot of countryside and farming have been preserved in this area which makes it a very beautiful place. I see road names also that show ties. Everytime I go to Knoebel's we pass through Pottsville and "Norwegian Rd. " always stands out....haha! Hey, take the family to Knoebel's, there you can ride a log flume that has Nordic carvings and a huge viking on scene!!!
4th Annual Winternights Festival in Vernon NJ 2014, www.winternightsfestival.com
5. Could you tell us how Norsewind came about?
Norsewind actually goes back to 1999. I had this idea to create a folk band with strong Nordic roots. I have always been inspired by stories of the vikings, pagan philosophy and lore. Bands like Falkenbach, Blackmore's Night, Dubliners, Empty Hats, Isengaard, Otyg, Irish Rovers, The Pogues, Nirvana, Managarm, and Black Sabbath and more always seemed to heavily inspire our music. If I go back in time, Norsewind had gone through so many changes. We went through drummers many times. A friend and fellow musician Steve S .who was in my early metal band "Eldfire" played banjo and other various instruments in the days when Norsewind became a 2 piece band and for a brief period of time focused mainly on Irish Traditionals. I always snuck in the viking originals in our shows though. We also want to heil out to Jorgen from Wotanorden for being a member of Norsewind for a short period of time playing guitar which allowed for myself to play not only guitar live, but also flutes and mandolin at times. There was a falling out and I had a weekly jam session at Alexanders German Bar and Deli in New Jerusalem Pa. That is where Dan R. and Anna H. joined forces along with Kevin S. From there we released "Odin's Fierce Divine". We played numerous shows and did a little traveling. When we developed a heavier long distant schedule Brokk D. joined our band as drummer and back up singer. In that time we released "Guerrilla Folk Assault".Then we started on "Mead in the Kettle". Things were great. We were playing a lot and having a blast when .....well....tragedy happens. We lost Dan R. that was the most upsetting and saddest thing ever....losing a brother like that. Brokk eventually moved out of state and it was up to Anna and I to keep this going. We managed to finish "Mead in the Kettle" and also picked up drummer Poul F. He is a great soul and It starts again......with Myself, Anna and Poul. To this day we have started a new cd and also have new things we will announce soon. For now......have fun and enjoy!!!
6. Your music sounds to my untrained ear like Irish folk music, but isn't Norwegian folk music very similar?
Well Hunter, your untrained ear isn't so bad...hehe. There is a lot of Irish pub style influence in our music. There also is a heavy Johnny Cash folk style present too. Where our Nordic style comes to play is in our songs that are played in the harmonic minor arrangement and also in a lot of our themes and lyrical content. I really prefer to be known as a "Folk" band or the style we created ourselves that is known as "Guerrilla Folk" (thanks to Dan R.) I prefer not to label our music as a certain style since a lot of it comes from my crazy mind of twisted and unique weird thoughts....haha....we are original and I like to keep it that way!!!!
7. You have a new CD in the works, your third I believe, what can you tell us about that project?
Yes, we are working on a new album. It would be our 3rd official full length. This album is gonna stick with our theme of Heathenry, Drinking, and Fun joking around. We haven't starting recording it yet but soon that day is coming. I see it being released no later than very late 2015 of very early 2016. I will be updating progress on our Norsewind Facebook page. That is all I can say at this point.
8. We hear a lot about Germanic Tribalism in the Folkish community, what are your thoughts on tribalism, what does it really mean?
I believe that tribalism is the strongest connection we can have when it comes to spiritualism being celebrated in groups and the connecting of lifestyles amongst our folk. I always thought that a few to many like-minded folk of similar heritage could overpower many obstacles in life together as a tribe/family as opposed to being alone in the world. The reconnecting of our folk soul and the growth of Europeans answering the ancient call to tribalism has been the most enlightening thing that has happened over the last few years.
Danjul and Company participating in a Sunnewendi Ritual, 2010
9. Is there any Deitsch influence in your music and tribe or is it pretty much derived from the prechristian Norse tradition?
There is Deitsch influence in our music. We have written a song called "Mountain Mary" that is released on "Mead in the Kettle" This song is about the local Berks County legend. She healed many sick folk and is known by many. There is a road named after her near Pikeville Pa. On this road is where she used to have a small chapel and small home. She is buried on this mountain road. Please look up Mountain Mary in Berks County and read all about her. I don't want to spoil the fun.
10. Would you care to tell us your thoughts on the Universalist movement in Germanic Heathenism? Should anybody be able to become Heathen? Should it become an institutionalized religion?
I will keep this answer short and sweet. I personally think that folks whom are not of European heritage they technically are not "heathen's" of the same caliber, however I feel one has a free will and can do things are there own terms in there own groups. I keep my lifestlye in private celebration with folk of my own heritage and believe it is best to stay folkish, however I am not the be all of the big decision. Heathenry can grow as much as it wants. If it was a major religion I am not sure how that would go. It seems things get more corrupted the bigger it all gets but heck, it already has a lot of corruption as anything else does so if folks want it to be bigger and more known.....maybe it would gain more respect.......I woulkd hope.
One last thing.....I think keeping your spiritual life more in line with your bloodlines and culture it benefits you better. Think of all your ancestors if you were strictly from a European heritage. Connecting only with them and listening and calling out to Northern gods/goddess's of your lineage would allow for more bonds and direct answers. Less confusion and more straight forward answers. If one mixes up the pot too much it could cause problems and issues.
Sacred Oak of Oley Hex, design Rachel Yoder
11. We met by chance at he Sacred Oak in Oley, are there any other sacred places in the Berks County area you know of that you have performed rituals at or would like to?
Honestly, I have done some galdring at big waterfalls. That is a very spiritual place to be.......the running and crashing water and the runes being echoed off the rocks is a feeling every spiritual person should experience. In Berks county I have celebrated in different forests, and one of my favorites is up my way in a deep creek. Something about the water in summer.
12. As we move into Yule what thoughts do you have for this season and the new year?
Yule is a great time to honor "Baldr" and "Frigga". I also think as we honor Yule for it's Evergreen, and so on......we also must take in everything we have done prior to then to become the strong person our will is set out to be. Remembering the final harvest, remembering back to Midsummer and all the way back to Ostara and Landblessing. Everything we did up to this point in time we call "Yule" is very important. One must know where we been to feel where we stand to then know where we shall go!!!
Hunter, I want to thank you for talking to me. It was great to run into you. It has been a while. I wish you and your family a Glad Yule!!! Stay in touch!!! Heil!!
Norsewind | Folk from Barto, PA