Prepping for Ritual: A Question

Oiling statues and bowl and horn for ritual today. To be honest, I’m not sure the Idunna statue is made of wood, but I oiled it anyway just in case! The Sunna, Mani, Thor, and Freyr statues are hand carved wood, as is the bowl, and the horn is hand carved too.

Today, I posted this picture on Instagram and twitter of part of my preparation for our equinox ritual today (which we will be doing in about an hour). I noted that I have pulled out the mineral oil and have happily been oiling the wooden statues, the wooden blót bowl, and my ritual horn. Someone pinged me back on Instagram and asked about using oil on one’s horn, and also wanted to know whether olive oil could be used. Care for one’s ritual tools is part of good practice and this is an important question if one wants to keep one’s tools in good working order. 

Firstly, do not use olive oil. It can go rancid – at least that’s what I was taught. Use mineral oil and preferably food-grade mineral oil. The bottle will list whether it’s food grade or not. On statues it doesn’t really matter, but for bowls and horns, food-grade is definitely the way to go. 

Wooden statues and bowls need a little loving care every now and again. Wood can dry out and become brittle. The natural oils of one’s hands will help condition the wood, but usually, something of any significant size like a statue needs more. If wood dries out it can crack and even break. I recommend food-grade mineral oil applied every couple of months to statues. Just take a clean cloth, put a bit of the oil on the cloth, and apply it to the statue. Usually, the wood will soak it right up.  

With ritual bowls, it’s even more important to keep them conditioned. Never, ever let a wooden bowl (or any wooden implement) soak in water. Wash them properly of course, but don’t leave them soaking in water. It can completely ruin them. I once had a friend take two of my ritual knives and, completely well meaning, leave them soaking overnight in soapy water. The handles were hand carved wood. They were ruined. There was no coming back from that damage. It was a hard lesson to learn but one I never forgot. (I couldn’t even be angry with my friend – she was just being helpful and doing the dishes). Wash and dry your wooden bowls right away. With wood, I don’t even suggest leaving it air dry. I manually dry even wooden cooking implements. Then, spread a thin layer of mineral oil on, again, working it in with a clean cloth. 

The same goes for one’s drinking horn. Horn can become dry and brittle too. I usually wash my drinking horns right after ritual (never let them sit overnight without first cleaning them), dry them thoroughly and then, before putting them away, I will give them a rub down with mineral oil (always food-grade oil). This time, I washed and oiled the horn first because I had taken it to show a group of students a couple of weeks ago. I figured a little extra loving care wouldn’t hurt. 

Mineral oil can be used to oil knives too. So, that’s my practicum post for the day. Have a lovely equinox everyone and a good rest of the weekend. 

Our altar for today’s ritual. At the bottom, out of sight is more bread and more alcohol for offerings. I plan, starting with this equinox, to save all the cloth that I”m using for shrine and altar cloths this year, and next autumn use them to make a quilt. I like the idea of being able to wrap myself in a blanket made of cloth used in holy rites.

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on September 25, 2021, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. That Idunna statue from Dryad Designs is made from a mold, so it’s a polyresin cast, and then coated with a wood colored finish. Unless you somehow bought the original.

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  2. I am reading and rereading your book A MODERN GUIDE TO HEATHENRY. I spent over 34
    years studying and teaching religion (of the Roman Tradition) but something was missing. I came across an article on Asatru, or rather it came across me, while on a trip to Iceland in 2015. A new search began. Your book has helped to put a framework around this search and given me clarity and insight about what I have always deeply felt and a way to explore and develop it as I continue my spiritual journey. Thank you.

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  3. One of my Hindu friends taught me to use coconut oil to clean, polish, and simultaneously “feed” bronze and brass statues of Indian Deities. I feel my Ganesha and Durga statues especially like it and strike me as feeling lighter once I’m done. I chant short, Deity-specific mantras in the act of cleaning so the whole experience takes on the form of a religious ritual.

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