Musician Kari Tauring Kickstarts new CD into reality

“I was really scared to push the launch button on Kickstarter,” said Nordic roots performer and Völva Kari Tauring.  “This seems like so much to ask, for people to just donate money to me.  I went ahead and did it and it just  blossomed like crazy.”

PNC-Minnesota caught up Tauring last night at a party and performance at the Black Dog in St. Paul celebrating her successful Kickstarter campaign to raise $7000 to produce her new CD, Nykken & Bear.  Kickstarter is a crowd sourcing website where individuals or groups can outline a project they need funding for and the public can choose to donate or not.  If a project doesn’t hit its goal fundraising amount, they don’t receive any funds.

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Kari Tauring performs at her Kickstarter celebration at the Black Dog Cafe

Tauring launched her Kickstarter on the evening of January 19th.  By the end of January she had achieved her original goal of $5000.  Encouraged by the response, she increased the goal to $7000 and added an additional incentive.  Everyone who donated would be able to vote on which song is made into a music video.  Last night at 11pm, when the campaign ended, 185 had donated and she had raised a total of $7290.

Social media expert R. Blackwell said one of the factors contributing to Tauring’s Kickstarter success is how her presentation fit her audience, “I noticed right off the top her content and writing structure is very fluent and engaging. That makes for a compelling story and people tend to be drawn to what they are connected to.  In this case it is the author-Writer-Artist-musician that has captivated the audience.”  He also noted that successful campaigns are ones where personal relationships spread out like a web and having a good reputation enables people to trust you enough to give you money and to tell their friends it’s safe to do so as well.

Tauring credits her success to the complimentary communities she’s involved in, “I have some strong communities. My first $1000 donation came from a woman in South Dakota who is part of the Heathen community and I had served her in 2010 as Völva for some really deep stuff she was working through. … We have another large donor tonight and that is Claire Thoen of the Norwegian dance community in Minnesota. which has also been really supportive of my work because nobody is really bringing this stuff in the immigrant area like this.  I also have support from people who have been following my career for some years.”

Claire Thoen has known Tauring, off and on, for several years.  They both enjoy bringing ancient Nordic traditions into modern life, Ms. Thoen through her art, and both belong to the same Nordic folk dancing class.  It was at this class that Thoen first heard of the Kickstarter for Nykken & Bear.  “When we are having our treats announcements are made and [Kari] said she started this project and would it be ok to send out information about Kickstarter to the people who do the folk dancing and I thought it was a wonderful idea.”  Ms. Thoen checked out the project and then donated, “I support what she’s doing and I treasure her.  I certainly treasure her friendship but I also treasure who she is in the world.”

nykken and bearThe CD’s title, Nykken & Bear,  holds special meaning for Tauring, “Nykken is part of my name and and it’s part of the way that I get to music because one gets to the music through the water spirits.”  Not only are Nykken, or Nordic water spirits, important to Tauring, the bear is her spirit animal.  All of the cuts on the CD relate in some way to either the Nykken or the Bear.

While Rachel, a Twin Cities Pagan, didn’t contribute to the Kickstarter, she did attend the celebration and performance and purchased the new CD, which was on sale at the event.   Two weeks ago she stumbled across an older release of Taurings while she was shopping at Eye of Horus, and fell in love with her music.  Once she watched a youtube video of Tauring, she knew she had to be at last night’s performance, “What I particularly like about the show she’s having now is  I watched an interview with her on youtube where she was talking about her spirit animal, that’s she’s connected to the bear, and I really wanted to know more about that.”  Rachel also feels an affinity for spirit animals and has the deer and wolf as her spirit animals.

Kari didn’t perform alone, on the CD or live.  She was joined by Drew Miller, Scott Nieman, David Stenshoel, who all performed on the CD, and Steve Clarke, who was part of the live performance.  Twin Cities residents may known them better as members of the now disbanded group Felonious Bosch.  Tauring has collaborated with all four men before and said the quality of the CD and the success of the fundraising was boosted by their involvement.



Last night’s performance was the first time the entire album was performed for the public.  Villeman og Magnhild, the first cut on the CD, had been posted to youtube as a teaser for the kickstarter campaign, but other than that, donors and fans had not yet been able to hear what their donations helped create. The CD consists of songs and some spoken word pieces, which are poems Kari wrote while on the Norwegian reality tv series Alt for Norge.   I was able to hear the song Heiemo og Nykkjen live and later on CD.  On the CD the song is enchanting, live it is surreal and haunting.  Thrumming with power and dissonant accompaniment this is bound to be a favorite at future performances.

Just under 30 people attended the event, but if you missed it, there will be other opportunities to hear Kari and the band members play.  The entire group will perform at the Northern Folk Gathering this June and Tauring will perform much of the CD at Lightening Across the Plains this fall.  The group can also perform at house parties, contact Tauring to make arrangements.

Editor’s note:  this article was updated to correct the spelling of Steve Clarke’s name and to note the band, Felonious Bosch, is no longer together.

Jultide Celebration

For Pagans and Heathens looking to celebrate Jule according to Old Norse traditions the options can be limited, even in Minnesota where cultural diversity means you’re of German descent instead of Norwegian or Swedish.

If a Juletide celebration is something you crave, mark December 18th on your calendar.  Guests pick a rune as they come through the door, listen to the stories of the season, dance in a circle of community, and feast and toast to one another in the Old Norse way.  You’ll also be treated to performances by Kari Tauring and Carol Sersland.

Kari Tauring says dance parties are an ancient way for a community to affirm and build their relationships with one another. “Dancing in a circle, arms linked and singing together is a way to share the mott and meign, physical space and energy,” says Tauring.  She notes that circle dances are intergenerational and much more ancient than couples dances and are important to the celebration, along with other activities you’ll experience that night, ” These celebrations have formal and formulaic rituals that bind the community together through gift-giving, food-sharing, making toasts, and singing and dancing together.”

Juletide Celebration
Sunday, December 18, 6-8 pm
Tapestry Folkdance Center
3748 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN
Admission $10 for individuals $15 for groups of up to 5
For questions call 612.722.2914

Jultide Program Includes:

  • Each attendee receives a rune on a string jule gift at the door of the Hall.
  • Opening Toast and Special Program by Kari Tauring, Carol Sersland, Stavers in the House, and recent workshop attendees.
  • Integrative Ring Dances
  • Ritual “Vaes du Hael” (Old Norse for “To Your Health”): a three-part toast to the yard (outside the building/house), the doors of the house (Tapestry Folk Dance Center), and then finally the Hall (the doors of the large studio space).
  • Grand Entrance – a longdans that leads us back onto the dance floor.
  • Lighting the rune tree and calling with runes and stavs
  • Children’s Circle Dances
  • Community Circle Dance and Farewell Song
  • Guests may bring treats to share

Organizers say that everyone is welcome and ask attendees to bring their dancing shoes as the shoes you wear to the Hall cannot be worn inside.

Kari’s Thingtide Travels – Lightning Across the Plains/Midwest Thing

By Kari Tauring

This is the fourth, and final, installment of my vandrestav journey this summer, 2011. The first two events, Trothmoot and Northern Folk Gathering, were specifically designed for practitioners of the spirituality of the Northern European folk tradition.  The Midwest Viking Festival was a celebration of specifically Viking era traditions, attracting Scandinavians as well as the general public looking for deeper root connections. 

ThirdRaven Kindred with Kari Tauring and Babette Sicard - photo credit: Third Raven Kindred

My final event this season was Lightning Across the Plains (LATP)/Midwest Thing. The event takes place at the Camp Gaea compound in McLouth, Kansas. It draws 200 plus Heathens, (70 of whom are children) from Michigan to Texas. This year we even had visitors from the coasts, Rhode Island and Los Angeles!

Many of you readers will know of Camp Gaea already. I first visited this sacred space in 2000 and again in 2001 when I played music for the Goddess Festival, an all women’s event. I was wholly impressed by the care taken in assuring that men did not enter the camp areas (even to suck out the toilets!), respect for multiple pathways, and sense of safety spiritually and physically. It was my deep wish and prayer of mine that the Northern/Heathen tradition could be represented at this amazing site. I was simply overjoyed to hear that JBK had begun to tend a Heathen Ve (worship space) on the grounds there. Through conversations and meetings we got to know one another and they asked me to be their honored guest at the first LATP in 2009. In 2010 they added the “Midwest Thing.” A Thing is where tribes/clans/families/kindreds who live far apart to meet in person and conduct business pertaining to the region. The parliament in Iceland and Norway is called the Thing (Ting).

Thing - photo credit Mark Stinson

While Jotun’s Bane Kindred (JBK) hosts LATP, attending kindreds share in leading ceremonies, providing work shops, and food preparation which creates the sense of regional partnership, community and belonging. This event serves to bring together the Midwest regions varied Heathen kindreds, tribes, families and individuals. It fills a need for a central gathering where all Heathen-identified persons and groups can come and meet one another, share knowledge and experiences, and begin to create the bonds of community that are so important in spiritual and religious development.

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Kari’s Thingtide Travels – Midwest Viking Festival

This is the third installment of my vandrestav journey this summer, 2011. The first two events, Trothmoot and Northern Folk Gathering, were specifically designed for practitioners of the spirituality of the Northern European folk tradition.

The Midwest Viking Festival, which took place July 16 – 17, was a celebration of specifically Viking era traditions, attracting Scandinavians looking for deeper root connections as well as public from many other cultures seeking to learn more about their Scandinavian American neighbors. Though not strictly a “Viking re-enactment camp,” education and context for the learning was achieved through historical re-enactment.

For the prior two events, I was invited to teach volva stav, my own contemporary expression of the volva, staff carrier of Northern European spiritual tradition. I performed from my wide repertoire of songs and stories that connect the listener to my own ancestral journey, healing oorlag and honoring disr (female ancestor guides). For the two prior events, my perspective of living in the here and now on this pathway was the source of my involvement in the events.

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Kari’s Thingtide Travels – Northern Folk Gathering

Kari Tauring is hitting the Heathen summer festivals and gatherings and is  reporting back on her experiences in this series. This festival is the Northern Folk Gathering, former known as the Midwest Thing.  The festival moved to a new location this year, St Croix State Park, and was held June 10-12.

This was the first annual gathering of Heathen kindreds and individuals representing the Northern half of the Midwest. Hosted by Volkshof Kindred (out of Minneapolis) at Norway Point State Park near Hinkley, Minnesota.

Photo credit: Chris Gunnar Miller

This three day event was attended by just over 100 people with about 30 children in tow. Though it was the first annual event by its name it was by no means the first event hosted by Volkshof Kindred and it showed in the organization, food, and fun that everyone enjoyed without a hitch. This mid-sommer festival was an opportunity for the kindred Chieftains (or leader representation) to meet and discuss issues within the Northern states and the region. The Gothis (god-persons or religious officials) of kindreds also met as well as the Valkyries (those women who serve the kindred as horn bearers, connecting the luck of the kindred to the wells of the world tree).

The cabin camping at Norway Point is quite nice. Everyone was settled in a little “village” with the main hall being the center of food and festivity. There is a lovely swimming beach and lots of woods to wander in.

Specific programming for the children was carried out through the event from workshops by Sara Axtel (Minneapolis, Powderhorn Cultural Wellness Center), members of Volkshof kindred and myself. I worked with the older kids teaching the Jim Johnston Norsery Rhyme “This is the world of Midgard” complete with dance steps, pantomimes, masks and a sun-disk parade.

It was different than Trothmoot because the intention of the event was to bring the regional Heathens together to form bonds and friendship. So the emphasis was on festive activity such as a Maypole and flower crowns, hall decorations and a whole lot of dancing. I presented a performance program especially written for the event, “The Transformation of Groa.” Drew Miller (Boiled in Lead) came up for the show to add his magical laptop sounds and there were six staving women who performed a stav dance leading the human Groa into the mound to become a mound-bride.

A special moment
The childrens performance was a moment that the entire hall found exceptional. Here we are, modern humans of Nordic ancestry watching our children re-create the story myth of our deepest root. It is this realization that our ancestors are alive in our children that made this moment of the event a sort of pinnacle. Listening to each person in the hall raise a horn to their parents, grand parents, great grands…by name and by deed really marks a huge difference between general pagan events and heathen events. There is a deep understanding that we are creating the world for our children based on how healthy our relationships with our ancestors are. There is a sense in each raised horn that deep healing is going on in the family of origin issues we all face and that there is a commitment to maintaining a high level of functioning for our children’s sake. I find this compelling whether at a small kindred meeting or a large regional gathering. This path is for our ancestors and our descendants, not just for us here and now.

Also, discussion was had on how this event could open up to individuals who, while not practicing Heathenry in a strict sense, are connected to heathenry through ancestry and interest. In Minnesota, our large Immigrant folksoul is beginning to seek their deeper roots and Heathenry is reaching towards the songs and dances of the Immigrant Era. A natural bridge is beginning to form and Volkshof Kindred is leading the way towards total folksoul healing.

Next year and other events
The site is already booked for the second annual Northern Folk Gathering and attendees said their fare well’s with “we will see you at LATP in September!” There is such a homecoming/family reunion feeling within these Heathen gatherings that growth is the natural outcome. I will be attending Lightning Across the Plains in Kansas this September for my third year. Last year I was recognized at the Midwest Thing held at LATP as volva (staff carrier) for the region. I look forward to reporting on it!


Editor’s note:  Interview  with Brody Derks of the Thule of  Volkshof  Kindred, about Heathenry and the Northern Folk Gatheringcan be found here.

Kari’s report on Trothmoot 2011 can be found here.