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A beautiful song for Lussanacht

Some of us believe She is part of the House of Mundilfari, a Goddess in Her own right, others see Her as a hypostasis of Freya. Regardless, she was synchretized with St. Lucy and this song is awesome. 🙂

Happy Oski’s Day!

For the better part of 25 years now, a growing number of Heathens have reclaimed and repurposed St. Nicholas Day for Odin. We honor it as Oski’s Day and look upon it as one of the steppingstones on the way to the intercalendary and holy time of Yule. We exchange small gifts, light candles (beeswax if we can get them – my Swiss mom taught me that certain scents and tastes were traditional for this time), bake certain sweets like lekerlee, spiced cookies, share nuts, clementines and of course we pour out offerings to Odin in His form of Oski, the wish-fulfiller, and gift giver. It’s a lovely, bright spot at a time when it’s full dark by 4:30pm, and it’s become an important part of our Yule celebrations. 

You can learn more about Oski’s Day here. (I stole the jpeg below from her too — thanks, Wyrd Dottir!).

A Brief SunWait Musing

What does it mean when Sunna comes in/with/through a particular rune? When She comes in fehu, or Uruz, etc. what does that mean about HOW She comes? What does this alliance imply. It’s different every time and contemplation on this has the potential to open up understanding of both the runes in question and this glorious Goddess.

The First Week of Sunwait Approaches

I looked at my liturgical calendar today and to my shock, realized that the first week of Sunwait is … next week. It seems like it is so incredibly early this year, but there it is. What strikes me is that for those of us who celebrate it on Fridays, it falls on Veteran’s Day (Remembrance Day). For many Heathens this is also a feast day for Odin. That’s a hell of a confluence of powers. 

I personally plan to approach this with several days of prayer and ritual purifications, starting on November 7. Then this is what we typically do: 

  • Cleanse and ward the space, the latter with fire. 
  • Call upon Thor to protect and Heimdallr to hallow the space. (I always personally contemplate what Sunna’s relationship with Them is like, and how these specific Powers interact, and what that means for sustaining and restoring the order of the worlds). 
  • Offer a prayer to Sunna. 
  • Light the first week’s candle. 
  • Galdr that week’s rune (for week 1, it’s fehu).
  • Attendees make any personal prayers to Sunna
  • Pass the horn making prayers as in a regular faining. 
  • Close with Sigdrifa’s Prayer and thanks given to the Powers. 

We also usually incorporate a fair amount of drumming and ecstatic work after or sometimes during the galdr and offerings are poured out to the Powers, including the runes, throughout. 

This year, before we open up the rite for personal prayers, we’ll be making copious offerings to the military dead and also a prayer to Odin as it is also His feastday. 

It still seems very odd to me that Sunwait is beginning so quickly after our Winternights. May the weather be cold, the mornings filled with frost, and may Sunna’s blessings welcome us into Yule. 

Happy Equinox 2022

Tomorrow is the Fall Equinox. This is the time that marks our transition from the season of harvest, the tail end of summer and into the time of the ancestors, of Odin, of the wild hunt. The autumn also belongs to Idunna, our Goddess of restoration and immortality. I don’t think it insignificant that Her season corresponds to the time given to us to honor our ancestors. It is through them that we are restored and sustained. 


Of course, ancestor veneration isn’t restricted solely to the fall, and in addition to regular household offerings, some traditions, like the Roman, set aside other times of year for their ancestral festivals too. For us as Heathens however, that time begins now for us and it is a descent, a slow –and sometimes not so slow–winding down into the sweet, nourishing darkness of winter. 


Tomorrow, we will be holding ritual and honoring our Gods and readying ourselves for this new time of year. I would love to know what you, my readers are doing for the equinox (including those of you below the equator for whom this is the SPRING equinox!). 

Hand written phrase Happy Equinox on abstract hand painted watercolor texture. Colorful autumn banner template with hand lettering isolated on white background. Vector illustration.

Happy Walpurgis/Beltane

This past weekend (April 30/May 1) saw my Household celebrating a major holy tide (as we call our key holy days), one of the eight major ones that make up our year: Walpurgisnacht and Beltane. It’s the final transition from the dark enclosure of winter into the growth and fecundity of summer. It’s also the same holy day, it’s just that part of the celebration takes place the night before. I had to explain this to one of my students—not an academic student but a woman that I’m training for the clergy. Within my religious tradition, we train our clergy one on one and this year she is focusing on following the cycle of holy days and really learning what they’re about (yes, I have major seminary envy of all my Jesuit friends lol). Little by little, I’ve been giving her a larger role in each liturgy and the Deity to Whom she is dedicated, Freya, has a particular association with this holiday. 

Anyway, on Walpurgis, we usually start our religious revels at twilight. First divination is done to make sure we are doing what is desired and correct in the eyes of our Gods. Then, if that looks good, we get to work. I’ll go out before everyone else, make offerings to all the local spirits of land, mountain, tree, and town. I’ll light a fire. We have two ritual spaces in our home, the first our indoor ritual room and the second, a space behind my house with a huge fire pit. All safety precautions, like fire extinguisher and hose are set up earlier in the day and checked before I begin ritual prep. Walpurgisnacht is a day for shamanizing, for meeting the Gods and spirits joyously on Their own ground. In larger groups who are fortunate enough to have a spirit-worker, vitki, or “shaman,” this spiritual technician garbs in sacred garb and takes his or her drum, mask, and staff and begins calling the spirits. We invoke our Gods, we call to the spirits, we make offerings into the fire but most of all, we dance and pray moving into a deep and potent altered state. We dance and pray to shake the threads of our communal wyrd free of stagnation, free of malefica, free of anything out of alignment with the order of the Gods. We restore and realign ourselves and our community so that we may move into the time of growth and planting cleanly. We dance so that nothing may remain embedded in our community’s wyrd (threads of fate) that might twist us out of true, or cause us to grow wrongly with respect to our Gods in the coming season. We dance in praise of our Gods and all the spirits that serve Them. The shaman works that drum while others keep the fire burning until there are no more prayers left to be said, no more praise songs left to be sung,  and any spiritual brambles and trash occluding the way forward in the sacred cycle of the year has been burned away. 

The next day is a community celebration. The Gods and spirits are honored and there is (in larger communities – we try, but we are a small House) mumming and a maypole. Beltane is about the land coming back to green and bursting life. It’s about fertility and pleasure, joy, and growth and the blessings these things bring to the community. We don’t have enough people in our House to do a proper Maypole but there are other rites we do and there is always a ritual and then a communal feast. In my book “Devotional Polytheism,” when writing about this holy tide, I also note that it “is about sex. Well, ok it’s not just about sex but it is about loosing creativity and readying the land for summer growth, and the explosion of life that comes with the turning of the seasonal year to spring. It’s a seasonal festival all about fertility and fire, abundance, and rampant, unadulterated, unapologetic creativity. It’s about coming and the burning in the loins, and the earth’s seasonal orgasm that brings a flood of life into being as spring turns to summer and the land yields its bounty to the blazing beauty of the sun.”   

So go out there and have a frolicking good time. Let us celebrate this holy tide the way our ancestors did: with abandon. Let us bring back our ecstatic rites and let us celebrate our Gods with joy. Here is one of the prayers to Freya that I really like (and Freya is not the only Deity invoked. It varies from House to House, and I tend to emphasize Her when writing about Beltane because my key apprentice at the moment is a Freya’s woman). 

To the Boar-Rider 

(prayer by H. Jeremiah Lewis*)

Hail victory-bringing Goddess
with braids of electrum, eyes like ice
and a countenance even colder,
clever Freyja of snaring schemes
and snaky stratagems
whose beauty is stern,
severe, indomitable
and utterly Hyperborean
when you stand firm
in the war-council of the Gods
with your Giant-dispatching ash-spear,
your handsome boar tusk helm,
and your gleaming sun-bedecked linden shield as well.
You speak far-seeing words,
hard words and brutal,
which the Gallow’s God, Borr’s son,
the High One approves of.
Oft have you sparred and oft fought as allies; 

of the two, Óðinn much prefers the latter. You won his respect, O Freyja;
he knows your worth,
and will never again underestimate 

the one who is mighty with mead.
For once you roared out onto the field
astride your gold-bristled charger
and there appeared nothing cool,
calm or collected about you.
No, your eyes rolled back
and your body seethed and shuddered
as violent cantrips tore themselves
from your lovely throat
like the call of crows or wolf’s howl,
and fearful frenzies lashed your foes,
driving them shrieking
before you and your violent kin.
Glad is Sigþrór and Glapsviðr
to have one so heiðr to fight beside
with the dire day of doom,
darkness, damnation and desolation
drawing ever nearer.
Help me to meet my own
trials, obstacles and antagonists
with will unwavering and mind unfettered as your own, O Mistress of the Battle Din and Delight of Soldiers. 

* Used with permission – he’s my husband. I looked over and asked him if I could share these lol. This isn’t a regular Walpurgis prayer, but comes from our household prayer book. I like it because it focuses on Freya as a protector of soldiers and Goddess of war).

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A Reader Question about Yule

Today I was asked how long Yule lasts. This is…a tough question. My understanding not only of the nature of this holy tide, but of its length has certainly changed over the last decade and I suspect that there were strong regional differences to how Yule was celebrated across the Heathen world. That’s important to keep in mind. 

So, instead, I’ll tell you how we’ve started celebrating, again with the caveat that I didn’t always do these things. My practice and that of my household has evolved as my understanding of yule and its importance has likewise evolved. Sometimes, I’ll sit on something I learn for a year or so, in order to ponder and better understand it, and then incorporate it at a later date. That happened with both Sunwait and Lussanatr. My understanding of this, one of our key holy times, is ever evolving. 

Firstly, we’re still technically in Yule. By most reckonings that I’ve seen, at the very least, Yule lasts from Mothernight (Dec. 20th) through to the New Year. 

In our house and tradition, we start celebrating six weeks before Yule, in a preparatory period called Sunwait. Every Friday night, we hold a small ritual to Sunna and meditate or galdr a particular rune. The first six runes of the elder futhark are used in order. Some Heathens will celebrate Sunwait on Thursdays instead. Sunday would be the logical day for it, being literally Sunna’s Day, but curiously I’ve not seen any report of Heathens holding their Sunwait rites on that day. I suspect this has to do with wanting to avoid any conflation of Sunwait with Advent. 

After that, there is Dec. 6, which some of us have repurposed as Oski’s Day. We exchange gifts and enjoy certain foods and usually give offerings to Odin as Oski. This year, this was our major gift giving day. 

Next, there is Lussa’s Day (Lussanatre) on the evening of Dec. 12. This opens the door to the Wild Hunt and really begins Yule proper. 

This year we had an initiation on Dec. 19th and then the 20th was Modranacht (Mothernight). We kept Yule itself on Dec. 21. I had cut my hand rather badly so we didn’t do any bonfire – usually we would have one in our firepit out back—but we plan to remedy that before Yule is over as my hand is already almost fully healed. We keep Dec. 22 free for a ritual honoring the House of Mundilfari, but this is optional for us and this year we did not do it, as we’d given copious offerings to Them earlier and two of us were traveling unexpectedly on that day. 

On New Year’s Eve, because we are a blended household, we do a Roman rite to Cardea and Her court to bring blessings for the New Year. New Year’s Day is a time for personal offerings for us, visiting friends, and cleaning and renewing the shrines. Finally on Dec. 6 we have our Perchta’s Day – this is the first year I’m formally incorporating this, so I’m excited about it. A colleague inspired me to get off my butt and do something. We might even mask and do a procession for Her. 

After that, we get a breather until Charming of the Plough in late February/early March with the exception of a feast day for my adopted mom, who is honored as a saint in our tradition (and several others) on Feb. 3. Right now, as I write this, we’re preparing for our New Year’s Eve rite. 

Sunne

My husband sent me this song by the group Wolcensmen. It makes for a beautiful holiday song. I could totally see incorporating it into Sunwait.

Do any of you have particular songs that you like to play or sing for Yule? (Technically Yule goes through the New Year).

Prayer to Sunna in Kenaz

I know this is a little belated, Sunwait having ended last week, but I just realized I’d forgotten to post this. This is the prayer we offered to invoke Sunna in our ritual last Friday.

Prayer to Sunna in Kenaz

by G. Krasskova

Tonight, on the last night of Sunwait, Mani gleams brightly in the sky, 
Luminous and bright. The air is chill, portending the coming of winter. 
The world glistens adorned with lights and greenery, a reminder
Of the blessings of yule to come. Tonight we hail Sunna. 

She comes awash in beauty, powerful, radiant. 
She comes with open hands showering Her blessings 
On every heart willing to receive them. 
She comes, generous and proud, joyous and fiery
Filled with the wisdom of a Goddess Who has seen
The worlds themselves created. 

Kenaz crowns Her, weaving itself through Her light, 
Opening the way to knowledge, wisdom, and well-being, 
Strengthening our hearts with courage,
Our minds and souls with devotion. 

Sunna is our guide and kenaz the fire She bears. 
It is illumination, sacral understanding, 
And the capacity to carry Mystery into the world. 
It is our light through the darkness, the dark night of the soul,
The darkness of our world. May we tend it well and joyously 
Knowing that no matter how grim the night
Sunna and Her retinue will always come
And Her presence alone, drives back  darkness. 

Hail to You,  Gladness of the Heavens. 
Hail to You, Oh Sunna, on this, 
The sixth week of Sunwait. 

Images of our Modranacht Altar

Tonight was our Modranacht rite and it was beautiful. Every time we step into sacred space, every time we enter ritual we renew our commitment to restore the sacred covenants between us and the Holy Powers. Modranacht honors our Mother Goddesses, like Frigga, Sigyn, Sif, Freya, Hela (Mother of all the dead), Loki (Mother of Sleipnir), and many, many more. We also honor the Matronae, and our female ancestors and Disir. I wish the rite tonight had gone on forever. It was just beautiful.

Here is a picture of our altar to the night (it’s not complete — I took this as we were setting up. Our sacred images of Hela and Sif still need to be added. We did that shortly after I took this shot).

Modranacht shrine 2021

Here is a close up of one of my Frigga statues. It just arrived today (a good omen, I think, that it arrived on Mother-night). It’s not usually how I see Her, but represents Frigga as magician, as a shaman, in the process of shapeshifting.

close up of Frigga’s statue on our Modranacht shrine

For those of you who keep this holy night, I would love to hear how your rites and rituals went. Feel free t post in the comments.