• Kate Belew

Jul Fest Interview with Kari Tauring

We sat down *virtually* with Kari Tauring, facilitator and educator to speak about Jul Fest, connecting folklore, and seasonal changes.

Tell us a little bit about your background as a practitioner and a facilitator!

I grew up just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota with summers spent on our grandmother's farm near Frederic, Wisconsin - in a large Norwegian extended family. Early spiritual explorations were rooted in my Norwegian Lutheran farm experiences. In 1988 I dove into pre-christian (Old Norse) runes, cosmology, metaphysics, and archeology. These past two years my studies in Primstav and the saint days have revealed more threads between pre-christian and Lutheran ways of being Norwegian in my culture of origin!

Living in Minneapolis I am surrounded and nurtured by many cultural preservation groups: Norway House, Danish American Center, American Swedish Institute, multiple Sons of Norway groups, Mindekirken Norwegian Lutheran Church, Ingebretsens Nordic Marketplace and more. Language, folk music, and dance groups are housed in these preservation centers and my studies have been honed by the elders in my large folk root community. Our natural interest in pre-christian roots here in Minnesota has led to the development of many heathen study and practice groups, Asatru kindreds, and Norse pagan groups. Out of this broad support, I have developed an original somatic Norse spiritual practice called Völva Stav, Nordic Root Movement and Dance curriculum, performances and musical recordings, books, and workshops on Nordic root culture.

What will you be teaching during Jul Fest? How did you develop your course?

My five classes take us through European calendar dates and cultures from December 5 in the Alps with Krampus through January 6, Wassailing the orchards in England. I began developing seasonally connected workshops, ceremonies, and events for children and elders interested in root cultural traditions in my community in 1999 and have not run out of ideas or children or elders!

Seasonal change ceremonies essential to ancient Nordic people were carried on even as the Gregorian calendar and saint days began to overlay them. Seasonal celebrations carry folk knowledge and rituals to help us make sense of the darkness and cold of winter and prepare our mind, body, and spirit for the rush of spring.

What's your favorite part about Jul and the Winter Solstice?

To me, winter is the hope of snow and the appearance of Friggarok (the Norse name for Orion - I'm not a fan of Orion). I'm known in my community as a true lover of the Winter Side. I can be found skiing around my city block at the first good snow. It's also important to come together at this time of year to share songs and stories we only tell at this time of year. I am so glad to have these Jul Fest zooms to excite and satisfy this need.

In 1999, when my children were young, I began creating and hosting ceremonial performances called "A Yuletide Celebration," named for my recording of original and traditional Yule songs (mostly Anglo Celtic inspired). These ritual performances were all ages with choirs, dancers, an orchestra, and huge audiences doing spiral dances. I began to focus on my Norwegian side and in 2007 and shifted these events to more intimate presentations. The Nordic way of embracing the darkness is in stark contrast to the American ideal filling the darkness with artificial light and over-consumption.

What do you recommend to those looking to dive deeper into their own magical practices and craft?

Include the songs and dances meant for the children in your folk root culture. There is body knowledge and joy in song and dance that goes deep.

What's something you want people to know that I wouldn't think to ask?

lol - I think I said a lot!

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