I haven’t done one of these in awhile so I thought, since yesterday was the anniversary of my Mani devotional, that I would look at one of the few references that we have in the lore pertaining to Mani. There really aren’t many and in some respects, that’s an incredible freedom in figuring out how to venerate Him. On the other side of that, I do wish we had just a bit more, a prayer, a hymn, something for Him because given how important agriculture and farming were to our ancestors, the House of Mundilfari must have had Their share of devotion, and more so than They receive today. We forget in our urban lives how important seasonal cycles – governed by Mani and Sunna – are to a farmer.
Of course, that’s not how I personally connect to Mani (through farming or agricultural cycles) but it’s something I’ve come to recognize and respect over the years of my devotion to Him. Now, onto the reading.
The passage I chose for today is from the Vafþrúðnismál stanza 23:
"Mundilfari heitir, hann er mána faðir ok svá Sólar it sama; himin hverfa þau skulu hverjan dag öldum at ártali." (1) He is called Turner of Time, He is Moon’s father and also thusly of Sun (2); They (dutifully) journey round the canopy of heaven every day to determine for people the liturgical year (3).
I do augury in the mornings and today’s message was that today is ok, but it’s one that will require patience in many little things, especially the early part of the day. That being said, I hope y’all will be patient with me as I pick my way through this verse. Also, I’m reading devotionally and to some degree theologically, not as a literature major. Do keep that in mind too! So, once I sat and translated this passage to the best of my ability, I noticed a few things.
Firstly, the word “it” may at times imply a dual form, which means it refers to two of something. Some languages have special forms for a pair. Ancient Greek is like that, for instance. If you’re referring to a pair of something, the verb takes a special form. Modern English doesn’t have a form like this. We would just use second- or third-person plural depending on the grammatical case required. If I’ve interpreted this correctly, then it stands out for me. When I read this, that use of the dual, while absolutely grammatically correct also creates a unique connection linking Mani and Sunna. They are a pair; They work together; and devotionally, I have to say this is true. When I think of One, the Other is not usually far behind in my thoughts. When I engage devotionally with One of Them, I often sense in my soul, echoes of the Other far more so than with any of the Other Powers Whom I venerate. While the lore doesn’t say anything about it, I’ve often assumed that They are twins. Regardless, They work hand in hand and the holiness, goodness, and journey of One reinforces the same in the Other (4).
The word himin or ‘heaven’ may actually be translated as “canopy of heaven” which immediately brings to mind, not the heaven of Christian religion but the dome of Ymir’s skull, the gleaming circlet that formed the space-making division between sky and land. When the three creator Gods Oðinn, Hoenir, and Loður slew Their primordial ancestor Ymir, They skillfully formed the scaffolding, the framework of creation with his blood, bones, and viscera. From Ymir’s skull these Gods created the vault of heaven, the sky, the galaxy, the cosmos – all that is above us. The verb skulu denotes obligation and duty (it’s where the third Norn Skuld gets Her name. In the case of skulu though, Cleasby/Vigfusson notes that it carries a relatively positive connotation), so here one might read it that “they must journey everyday around the canopy of heaven.” The word “at” when connected to a verb of motion carries a sense of traveling around the borders of a space or thing (5). So, Mani and Sunna each day have the duty of traversing or circumnavigating the great vault of heaven, the canopy of Ymir’s skull. In doing so, They are reinforcing creation, reifying the moment the three Creator Gods brought the whole structure into being and set it in motion. That means that Mani and Sunna, and by extension the House of Mundilfari, are absolutely essential cosmologically to creation, the ongoing sustenance of that creation, and the fabric of being.
Moreover, the text reads that they are doing this to determine for the people —öldum (6), that is humanity, ártali, not “fate” as I have seen several translations render this passage, but the cycle of the year. I would go so far as to say the liturgical year. This word can be used poetically as a gloss for the Moon, specifically because the Heathen year was partly lunar (7). This makes sense agriculturally– and we have a lot of folklore in Germany, England, Appalachia, and amongst the PA Deutsch about planting according to the phase and/or sign of the moon. Likewise, there are names are given to each month’s moon that often tie into the month’s agricultural happenings, and while the winter and summer solstice are important liturgically, so are the autumnal and vernal equinoxes. Here is an interesting article that mentions why so many calendars are “luni-solar”. Basically, both Mani and Sunna play Their part.
Despite being something of a misanthrope, I think it’s important to note that humanity is mentioned in this cosmological equation too. It is for the good of humanity that the cosmic cycles are thus delineated. We were created, carefully crafted. Our place in the architecture of the worlds was not an accident. Of course, neither are we at the apex of that architecture and piety demands that we know our place to be one of reverence for the Powers, but we matter to our Gods. We matter to our Gods, and They continually bless us in ways large and small and have from the beginning.
The next question I ask myself when reading something like this, after looking at the words in both English and ON is this: what do I do with this? What impact will I allow this knowledge to have on my devotional practice. Every word in this passage has opened up a world and we have so little written on our Gods, especially those in the House of Mundilfari, that each word is a treasure.
- I snagged the Old Norse text from this site. The English translations are mine unless otherwise noted.
- My translation. Dutifully is implied in the use of the it. My Old Norse is pretty basic, but I have to disagree with many of the translations I have read. The translation is usually given “flaming sun” and to the best I can determine, there is just nothing in this sentence to indicate that there is any attribute of Sunna mentioned, other than that of being Mundilfari’s daughter.
- “Sol” is another name for Sunna. Sunna seems to be the more poetic form of Her name. I personally prefer “Sunna”. See entry here. There’s a very interesting note in the Cleasby/Vifusson definition that in Iceland children would greet the sun every morning. If this is a hold-over from Heathen times, which it reads as though it is, then it further reinforces the cosmological importance of the House of Mundilfari in our tradition.
- I never connected Sunna to holiness in quite the way that I do now until I watched an historical special with historian Ruth Goodman. I think it was either her Tudor Farm series or Edwardian Farm series. I can’t recall. What I do recall is that she was showing how a traditional dairy worked and noted that the wife or dairy maids would not only scrub out the churns and other vessels but would let them dry in the sun because it sanitized them. The sun brings wholeness and healing, but also purification. It opened up an entire avenue of exploration for me in how I honor Her, in meditations, and even offerings.
- See Cleasby/Vigfusson here.
- From the noun alda, which in poetry can mean “people.”
- See Cleasby/Vigfusson here.
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“Dancing in the House of the Moon is a celebration and adoration of the Norse Moon God Mani. It is a collection of essays, prayers and poems word-pictures that summon a sense of His presence: ineffable, incandescent, and beautiful. This is a devotional for anyone wishing to know this God better, anyone who has tasted of the splendor of Mani, anyone wishing to throw themselves into His devotion. It is the expression of a cultus renewed and restored for the modern world.”
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My friend Sparrow recently wrote this lovely prayer to our moon God Mani. She was kind enough to give me permission to share it here.
Readers, feel free to share your own prayers to Mani in the comments. I’m prepping for exams and don’t have the mens rea atm to run an agon for Mani, but I promise that once my exams are completed, I will do just that. In the meantime, let’s praise Him with prayers and poems and inspire each other as we do.
Thank you, Sparrow, for sharing this prayer with us.
He Knows Me by Sparrow
You know me in my pain
You know me in my joy
You know me battered and broken
You know me as a conquering Hero
You know me at my worst
You know me at my best
You know my public face
You know the real me
You know my dark Shadow
You know my bright Self
You know my ancient history
You know my unknown future
You know my complexity
You know my simplicity
You know my hard edges
You know my soft places
You know the tears I’ve cried in private
You know the secret longings in my heart
You know me and for that I will be forever grateful
Hail to you Mani!
King of the Night Sky
Protector of Midgard
Friend to our Ancestors
May you forever be praised
Mani shows His glory. I went outside tonight to drop some letters in my mailbox and looked up and saw this. It was like a punch in the gut. It really just took my breath away. I’ve never seen this before ever and I go out to look at the moon often. I understand the science behind the moon ring (I looked it up) but for me, this is a wondrous expression of Mani’s glory and power and I am so grateful for having been gifted a glimpse, unexpectedly tonight. Ever and always shall He and His kin be praised in my home. Of course, after dragging my husband out to see too, I ran inside and got Him an offering libation and went outside and prayed, giving thanks for the gift of His presence, power, and beauty. I’m so intensely grateful for everything He has given us and for Him alone. Hail to Mani, our glorious moon god.
(the idea liberally stolen from Aleister Crowley)
- Facing east upon rising (which ain’t gonna be dawn, Aleister).
Hail to Dagr, herald of the Sun, Who storms across the sky paving the way for Sunna’s light. Hail to Glenr, Husband of the Sun, Who parts the clouds to show Her glory. Hail to Mani, Glorious Moon God, Who cedes the sky to His sister’s command. Hail to Sunna, wondrous Power, Whose blessing makes the world anew. From the Abode of Night I greet Thee. From the Abode of Night, I pay homage.
- Facing south at Noon
Hail to Sunna at the height of Your Power. Hail to You, Who triumphs over darkness. Hail to Your strong hands, oh Mighty Goddess, to Your mastery of Your fire, to Your force and the luck You bring. Hail to You as You instantiate order and rightness in our world, and all the worlds upon which Your blessings fall. From the Abode of Morning, I pay homage.
- Facing West at Sunset
Hail to Sunna in joy and power. Hail to Sunna, and Her mighty steeds. Hail to Sunna, ceding the sky to Her brother. Hail to the Sun Goddess and Her duty rightly done. Hail to Mani, riding out gleaming and glorious. Hail to Mani, Who intoxicates and teases. Hail to Mani, sharp-edged fighter, ensuring divine order as fiercely as His sister. From the Abode of Day, I pay homage.
- Facing north, at midnight
Hail to Nott, Whose wise beauty blankets the sky. Hail to Sinthgunt Who orders the stars in Their gleaming. Hail to Mani, wondrous Power, radiant splendor. Hail to this God, generous with His blessings. Hail to the House of Mundilfari. From the Abode of evening, I pay homage.
I feel like we’re getting into a nice rhythm with our Sunwait rituals. I’m really loving this gentle and ritualized progression toward Yule, and as I said the other night to a friend, I’m really, really glad that we decided to incorporate Sunwait into our hearth cultus this year. Since we decided to do our rites on Fridays, it’s also a lovely way to cap off the week (a particularly significant transition since we tend to immerse ourselves in ritual and devotional work over the weekends).
So, last night, as is our norm, we began by bearing fire around our space, chanting the fire cleansing song that I learned more than twenty years ago, and asking Thor to cleanse, purify, and bless our space. I wrote about Thor before here. He may specifically be invoked as “Guardian of the Shrine” before rituals to consecrate the space and rite. Thor is awesome. Then, I explained the purpose of the ritual – we all knew, as we’d agreed as a household to do this, but stating that intention was one more way to center our minds and allow for a smooth transition into the appropriate headspace for reverent veneration. After that, I offered the following prayer to Sunna and lit the three candles (the candles for weeks one and two are only about half way burned down):
Prayer to Sunna Force and fire, that is what You are, Swift precision as You plough across the sky, Driving back pollution, and cleansing the path that Day must tread. Force and fire, bringing the light that restores our souls, bringing Your glorious brightness to our world. You are force and fire, gleaming and fierce. Battle ready, You are indomitable. There is no obstacle You cannot surmount, No enemy You cannot conquer. You drive forward the rhythms of the world. You smite malefica, wickedness, evil, and all that stands against the order created by our Gods. These things You obliterate with the force and fire of Your passing. That order is Your order, blessed and structured by Your holy hands, and always will You defend it. Teach us, oh Sunna, to stand courageously no matter how afraid we might be, in defense of that order too. Hail to You, Glorious Goddess of the Sun, May You grant us bravery in our devotions, as You move across our world leading us to Yule.
After this, I galdred thurisaz which came so joyously (there’s really no other word for it). It was like the force of a storm wind hitting the house. That’s how it felt to galdr this rune. He came immediately and with such a tremendous kinetic energy that it left me wired for hours afterwards. We passed a horn filled with sparkling apple cider and hailed Sunna, Her family, Thor, Odin and the runes, our ancestors, and more. After this, we sat down in sacred space, in holy space, and brought out our divination materials. We had been talking earlier about the small asteroid orbiting the moon, and had wondered if it was a physical representation that Mani had had a child. We meant no impiety by divining, but if He had, we wanted to know how or even if we should include that child in our veneration of the House of Mundilfari. We stumbled into epiphany and mystery and I am still shaken by it.
Sunna wanted this story told or I would not speak it. The holy order of the heavens will not fall. She and Mani were joyous and the rune that fell was wunjo: Joy, perfection, a blessed gift. They had a child, star of heaven, Himinstjarna,* A glorious daughter (fehu tells us how to honor Her: Song and beauty, art that elevates the soul, Land and life and glory, freeing the world of its disorder). I thought it lovely and we were moved to tears, Then I realized what a terrible omen it was, but what a powerful hope too. The sun and moon will not fall: Their continuity is ensured by Their child. She will bring Them back from the darkness. A magical gift, hope for our world. Mani prepares to go to war. Taking up His scimitars again, For He was a warrior in days of old. But the holy order of the Gods will endure. Himinstjarna: praise Her.
We closed the div session and then sang Sigdrifa’s Prayer, which is our way of closing almost every ritual. After that, we staggered off to get food, because after the spiritual work that was done, we were ravenous. So, that’s where we are and I think the House of Mundilfari will play a far larger role in our devotions from here on out.
*this is Her name to the best that we could translate with divination, and an ON grammar.
There is a garden in Vanaheim, Freya’s bower,
filled with flowers of every hue,
living jewels unmatched by anything
found or grown in Midgard.
My friend who is Hers saw it in a vision.
Upon waking, she lamented, “I can never grow moonflowers
of such size and beauty!” and suddenly You were there.
So, I told her: ‘You don’t have Mani visiting,
walking barefoot through the grass to relax—
grass woven of so many glorious life-giving shades of green,
how could He resist?’
Where You tread, moonflowers spring up in Your wake.
Where Your foot touches, there, that place is transformed,
having been kissed by the moon, in all His glory.
In my heart, You are incandescent.
In my heart, You have found a home.
You have infused my soul with serenity.
All I am now is longing for You.
It is fitting: it is good to long for the Divine
and all the graces They bring.
This longing fills up my bloodstream
It fills me up with the thought of You
and at night I seek Your alabaster hall
and dance in its echoing silence.
Hail to You, Mani,
and all the blessings You bring.
(copyright 2020 G. Krasskova)
Edward Butler comes to the rescue (I’d have missed this deal otherwise).
Today many of the books I’ve published through Lulu can be purchased for 30% off sale, this includes a large number of my devotionals.
Deal only good for today (December 2, 2019).
This is one of my lesser known devotionals, but the content is a solid foundation for exploration.
In the Northern Tradition, the Sun is represented by the Goddess Sunna, and the Moon by her divine brother Mani. They give their names to two of the days of the week, and their rays shine down upon us, giving life and inspiration. This devotional is dedicated to them, and to their family. They are more than mere personifications; they bring joy and peace to every day of our lives. We saw them first in the sky as children, and now we can understand and reverence them even more fully with the help of this book.
Tonight was a good night to honor Mani. It’s been a whole evening of ritual and offerings, divination, and prayer. Mani was present through it all and half way through I realized it was the Hunter’s moon, the traditional name (or one of them) for the full moon in October. It was a very good night to honor Him.
I’ve seen Mani once, been gifted with the vision, of Him in a berserker’s frenzy. It wasn’t like what I experience as Odin’s when I’m overtaken by that state. No, it was a dancing whirlwind of blades and lethal violence, all elegance and sinuous splendor. He was wielding scimitars and He was beautiful, His rage sheathed in a calm as pure as ice. His face was a marble mask and in his eyes burned black fire.
Sometimes I see Him lounging in an alabaster throne, one leg slung over its arm, hair a fall of silk just begging to be touched. The svartalfar call Him Lord of the Camellias and It is here that I see why. His beauty swallows up the heart and fills the belly with longing. It is such a casual thing and yet wherever He passes, His loveliness leaves that place transformed.
Sometimes too I see Him wreathed in rings and beads, adornments in his hair watching over the world, fingers clicking rhythms, counting rhymes, whispering secrets to Unn in the oceans below. He keeps the song of all the worlds in harmony and He knows every complicated counterpoint. He is Master of His craft and His joy in this working a great and holy thing.
Mostly He is just Mani and that is everything. I set out offerings (tonight it was whipped cream flavored vodka, something He has liked in the past) but it never seems like enough. I want to give Him so much more and yet He asks for nothing, receiving our adoration with a delighted laugh and a smile that sometimes makes me cry with longing. If He walked upon the earth, I would follow behind him, and wherever He tread, there I would lay my cheek and count myself blessed indeed.
Hail Mani in Your splendor.
Hail Mani in the abode of night.