We always begin our rites with a fire blessing that ends with the words Thunor weoh three times. Thor hallow. He is the one to Whom we turn, along with fire itself, to protect, cleanse, and gird our sacred space, and tonight He, along with Sunna, was so very present. Our ritual was humbling and it left me in tears. I have never before had a particular devotional relationship with either Thor or Sunna…until this year, and with Sunna, that didn’t really happen until this Sunwait. Suddenly, I have a sense of Them, Their Presence, and the mysteries They bring. I never expected this, and it is a blessing. Sitting in ritual Their presence – Sunna, Thor, and even raido– was so soothing and peaceful, so very there. It has completely transformed the room, something we all felt, and I think from here on out, it may well have likewise transformed my devotional relationship with these Powers. I am so very, very grateful for even the barest sense of Them, and the way I felt Them tonight, it really underscored what a tremendously holy time Yule is, and certainly why our ancestors honored both Thor and Sunna so fervently (1)!
It also occurred to me during the ritual that there is a very potent relationship between Sunna and Thor (as colleagues), particularly when it comes to hallowing. It was the last thing I expected to sense. I think in part, there is a genealogical connection between Them too. In the tradition I follow, Nott is Sunna’s aunt, but She is also Thor’s grandmother through Her daughter Jorð, the Goddess of the earth. That makes Thor and Sunna some type of cousins, I think first cousins once-removed (it also means that Dagr is Thor’s uncle, since Dagr is also a child of Nott – though with a different father than Jorð. Nott had three husbands and She had a child with each) (2).
Raido surprised me too. At first it was difficult to capture its rhythm in the galdr, but then that rune came showing itself as a gauntlet worn by Sunna, as a power that opens the way, as a force that barrels right over any obstacles, brooking no resistance, and also as a rune whose power has been knit into the very fabric of the cosmic architecture (3).
For the ritual tonight, my housemate Tatyana and I co-wrote the following prayer. Instead of our regular prayers last night, we meditated on Sunna for a time, and then I wrote the first line of each couplet, and she wrote the second. We each tapped into different aspects of Sunna, which was really powerful. I think I want to take some serious devotional time this year to really explore Sunna and all the ways She may manifest.
Prayer to Sunna with Raido (by G. Krasskova and T. Vitta) Hail to Sunna, Who roars across the sky, skipping in a half circle through the clouds. Hail to Sunna, Whom no force can stop, a rolling, roaring fire, unfolding, expanding, and glorious. Hail to Sunna, wielding the magic of fire, burning away all darkness, ensuring survival. Hail to Sunna, mighty Magus, driving out all pollution, wickedness, and harm with Her unstoppable force. Hail to Sunna, Whose presence brings healing, destroying all infection, all that hinders the relentless progression of life. Hail to Sunna, Who orders the calculated roar of time, from summer to fall, fall to winter, to spring, to summer again, Inexorable Power. Hail to Sunna, Shamaness of the spheres, wielding raido in joyous synergy. Hail to Sunna, mighty Mother, Who opens the way, showering light and blessings on all the Worlds. Hail to Sunna, Who paves the way for Nott, welcoming darkness in its rightful time, and bringing us to well-earned rest. Hail to Sunna, now and forever. Hail to Sunna, Glorious Power.
There is now one more week of Sunwait, a little over a week until Yule. The rune for next week’s Sunwait is kenaz, and that seems a very fitting way to encapsulate the blessings and holiness of Yule (4).
- Of course, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that our polytheistic ancestors were pious, but in tonight’s ritual, I felt like I glimpsed some small measure of how fervently they must have felt about the importance of venerating these particular Holy Powers and why.
- There is nothing in the Eddas about the relationship between Sunna and Nott, but some traditions accept, via shared personal gnosis, that Nott is Sunna’s aunt. Nott’s connection to Thor, however, is attested to in the Gylfaginning. It all really demonstrates though, how deeply interconnected the various families of our Gods are.
- A huge part of that architecture is the cosmic cycles, the shifting of seasons, the turning of day to night to day again, the rhythm of tides and torrents all inexorable, all built into creation by our Gods.
- The runes for Sunwait are really quite perfect a preparation for Yule. Fehu sets us on the right course with luck and blessings, uruz strengthens us for the journey, thurisaz challenges and cleans out any stagnation or corruption, ansuz opens everything up, clearing out the road ahead, raido increases the momentum until we reach kenaz, which encapsulates the holy fire of Yule. It’s a truly beautiful preparation.
With this week, we move into the week of Ansuz, thank every God that is. The week of thurisaz was rough, even though it brought many productive and fruitful epiphanies. It was really, really rough though and while I work very well with the rune thurisaz, and consider him one of my primary runic allies, I must admit with all respect, that I am breathing a sigh of significant relief as we move into ansuz. I will say though, with thurisaz at the helm, I got quite a lot of work done! He really helps to focus one’s energy and intellectual might. I’m grateful for that.
We began our rite as we always do, with an Anglo-Saxon fire cleansing, then offered the following prayer (which I wrote –Tatyana and I have been trading off, but thurisaz and ansuz were my weeks).
Prayer to Sunna Havamal verse 148. A fourth I know: if men make fast in chains the joints of my limbs, when I sing that song which shall set me free, spring the fetters from hands and feet. And so it is. You Sunna, come with ansuz. You wield it like a mighty spear, a battle cry, a flight of ravens in Your brilliant light. It is the incantation with which You open all roads before You. This then, is my prayer: Come with the power to loosen the fetters that bind us. Come with the power to open the way before us. Come with the power that causes all roads yield to Your command. Obliterate all obstacles that keep us from clean devotion. Your words have power. Speak the runes that restore creation, and teach us the prayers to support You in this work. Hail to You, Sunna, Shining Glory of the sky, Blessed Power of the House of Mundilfari.
After the prayer, I galdred ansuz, and while this is a rune that I consider a particular ally, it was difficult to find the rhythm appropriate to ansuz and Sunna. It came through – I asked the rune to show me – and the galdr was very productive. We shared a horn of a lovely grapefruit flavored rose (I usually have much more high brow taste in wine but damn the rose was good! I’ve never seen the horn empty quite so quickly lol), offered more prayers and finally concluded with pouring out offerings and Sigdrifa’s Prayer. Yule is one more week closer!
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.
Last night, we held our second Sunwait ritual. I like this practice. I wasn’t sure how it would be, incorporating something so obviously modern into our household practice, but it’s making us so much more mindful of the coming yule and what that means, and how we can best prepare. It’s also making us far, far more aware of the important role the House of Mundilfari plays in our liturgical calendar (and seasons, days, planting, harvesting, all of it). They literally hold the architecture of the worlds together.
For our Sunwait wreath I bought an advent wreath from Lithuania. My dad’s side is all Lithuanian so I liked that it was coming from the same place half my ancestors did, and the one I chose was quite pretty. Of course, that only covers four candles so I was two short. For that, I found a smaller two-candle holder on etsy that had Jormungand biting his own tail in the center and runes about the base (I think, it hasn’t arrived yet – I’m making due with a small cast iron holder that I already had for now, but I think it has runes on it. If not, I’ll put them there lol). Last night we lit the Uruz candle.
I have a bag of candles of various sizes that I keep in a closet upstairs, and a huge, huge box of tealights that I picked up last year so we didn’t need to buy candles for our Sunwait. I just chose six of roughly the same size at random. When I was prepping the candle for last night ( carving the rune on it, putting oil on it – I used solomon’s seal oil because I like it—and then rolling it in a blessing incense) part of the bottom broke, so I just cut it off making it was even again. It was a large candle and I didn’t want to waste it. Were I using it for some sort of conjure charm, I would probably not have used a broken candle, but once I doctored it, it was just fine to burn for ritual.
I prepped a horn (my husband cracked up when I was preparing. I held up a young but lovely bottle of Puilly Fume and said, “We’re drinking this tonight. It’s too good for the horn but what the hell.” I was joking, but his response was priceless. For the record, nothing is too good for a horn that is to be used in ritual for the Gods. We tend to use various meads but not tonight. I set out an offering of the wine for the Gods, ancestors, and spirits of our household, and a separate offering for Sunna and Her family. I consecrated the start of the rite with fire and blessing chant. Our housemate Tatyana gave the prayer for Sunna (which I’ll include below), I galdred uruz and oh boy, did the rune click. It came as the horn that connects to the well of the dead, the well of memory, of Urda and the Tree. It came with a sense of pounding vitality and life. It came as mystery and initiation, the transition of young to adult, of boy to man, girl to woman, child to fully functioning member of a tribe. We hadn’t intended to do a full symbel as part of the night’s rite, but given how strong the connection between the horn carried in ritual and uruz was during the galdr, we ended up including it. So, after the galdr, we passed a horn, hailing Gods and ancestors. We closed with Sigdrifa’s prayer and then poured the offerings outside.
Next week, the rune is thurisaz and I am curious to see what insights Sunna will bring, working through this rune and what it will teach us about Yule and the coming holy time.
Prayer to Sunna for Week 2 of Sunwait (by T. Vitta) Great Sunna, the Lovely Wheel, Rides the sky, Echoing herds of aurochs Riding down the ancient planes of Eurasia. Heat and warmth, Some of many mysteries of Your unyielding will, Locked into the soil, Germinating ceaselessly. A steadfast journey, Rooted In its sacred task, As one by one You wake all creatures of the flesh. Every living thing Learns from this strength, Rooting itself in turn Into the earth, Gaining its strength and wealth From the soil. There is nothing that you fear, Goddess, No darkness, No cold, No sadness Too dark or dreary for you to waive away. A fiery circle, You bring raw vitality to all that you touch, Reminding the very earth itself Of its waking power. We are fed through the basic fibers of life, We grow from these, But embedded in all Is the All-Shining, Warmth that will without fail come back again and again And cajole life to beckon. Teach us Sunna To likewise have the courage and the endurance to be free. Just as you move through the sky You teach us of Your will and your stamina, So we ask that you teach us to be strong, willful and courageous In the face of all our challenges, How to manifest our will Even when life Is drained of beauty and hope. You are the fierce contender, Interminable will Manifesting, As you ride through the sky, Raw vital power That will ride to face all that stands in its way. Teach us to likewise ride Without flinching and cut through those who stand in our way, How to manifest the best parts of us And how to never lose our shine, Even in the darkest of times. Hail Sunna!
This year is the first year that my household has celebrated Sunwait. I only learned about this relatively new celebration preceding Yule this past year from this site. There’s also this site, and they’ve both been very useful to fleshing out for me what this is all about. I grew up Catholic, so I was familiar with Advent (from the Latin ad– to or toward, and venio, venire, to come), which helped quite a bit too. Basically, Sunwait is celebrated once a week, starting six weeks preceding Yule.
Yule is one of our holiest of celebrations. Starting with Modranacht (Mothernight) on the 20th, the rites last through the New Year – the original twelve days of Yule. It’s a time to honor our Goddesses, especially Frigga and our Disir, and our Gods, especially Odin and Thor. Our household, of course, tends to be very Odin – oriented, which should come as no surprise to my readers. This is the time most associated with the Wild Hunt too. In some places, mumming festivities precede the holiday. (One of these days, I hope to attend a proper Krampuslaufen in early December). We also have St. Nicholas day on December 6, which for more than twenty years now, some of us have reclaimed as Oski’s Day. I’ll write about that closer to the actual holiday. Yule is also a time to renew and restore the bonds of friendship and family so we feast and exchange gifts and celebrate the best of the winter season together as a community.
After the winter solstice, the days slowly grow longer as Sunna spends more time in Her daily journey across the sky, a return of life and light and bounty. It’s a celebration of the cycle of the year, of the darkness of our Gods’ mysteries, of the glory of Sunna’s return. It’s a way of aligning ourselves yet again as the year ends and the new year begins with the architecture of creation and the will of our Gods. There are a number of rituals throughout those twelve days, and while the 20this given to Modranacht, the 21stusually to Odin, Thor and in our house Freyr, the 22ndtends to be for Sunna and Mani (sometimes we do this on the 23d depending when the actual astronomical time of the solstice occurs, as it can vary). Different homes and kindreds celebrate differently. You can read more about various ways to celebrate here and here.
Meanwhile, before I digress too much, tonight was the first night of Sunwait. Some houses celebrate on Thursdays, but ours chose Friday in part because it seems like a particularly nice way to conclude the work week. So, here is the way our home chose to celebrate tonight, and we’ll be doing this each week until the 20th.
Because Yule is, in part, about recognizing the cycles of the Sun, we chose to honor Sunna each week throughout Sunwait. Each Friday, we carve one of the first six runes on a candle, offer a prayer to Sunna, and light that candle (in order, both the order of the futhark, and the order in which they’re carved for sunwait the runes are fehu, uruz, thurisaz, ansuz, raido, and kenaz). Tonight, we lit the fehu candle. Next week, I’ll light that one first and then light the uruz candle and so on and so forth and finally on the last night of sunwait, I’ll let them all burn down fully. You may of course choose to let each week’s candle burn down fully the night you celebrate.
It was really a remarkable rite. It was more informal than most rituals, given that it is a simple household and family celebration. We didn’t expect it to be as intense as it was. Sunna worked through the rune fehu to teach us about minding our well-being and managing our time in the best ways possible. Through fehu, She taught us about ourselves as a finite resource and what that means, and how best to accomplish all that we need to accomplish while tending that resource. She taught us how to use and preserve that resource at the same time: balance, health, wellness, work, devotion. We learned that fehu isn’t just about luck, hamingja, and portable wealth, but also resource management. It was an incredibly productive ritual, which I guess shouldn’t have surprised us, since Sunna is our Pace-setter. She notices when things are out of balance and knows far better than we, how to put them to right again.
Here is the prayer that we offered Her tonight.
To Sunna, the One Who Encourages Life (By T. Vitta) Hail Sunna, Everglow, All Shining. A bright fiery wheel, Everyday, You nimbly circle the sky. Heralded by Day, Driving back the darkness of Naught, Your ride is spent Playing hide and seek with Your brother Mani, Or frolicking and flirting with your husband Glaur (Glenr). The sky blushes with the warmth of the kisses The two of You share, Before You melt away into His arms And re-emerge resplendent and luminescent with delight. * * * Thank you, Bringer of warmth, Bringer of light, Sustainer of all life. Your bounty you pass upon the earth - Your gleaming laughter, Your touches and the tresses of Your shining hair, Your luxurious attention to all that pass under Your eye - Cajoles all life, fills it with fervor and emboldens it to grow. It is Your golden joy That brings crops to ripen, seeds to reach their arms in prayer to you And trees to bear fruit. It is your hand that encourages life back to Earth every Spring. All living creatures Drink of you, Survive and regenerate In your arms. You keep the earth rich and healthy, An when it is time, You let it fold itself in slumber, A long and restful sleep A well-earned rest before the cycle comes again To stir up life. * * * Bright Bride of Heaven, You who spins Your fiery sphere As you set out our days Weeks and months, Bringer of light and sustainer of life Help us sustain life and wellness as the darkness and the cold of the Fall and Winter knock on our doors, Help us find a way to nurture and keep well each other and all our friends and allies, As we work to keep the spark of warmth and comfort In the midst of the upcoming winter. * * * I entreat you, Do not let the Summer past be our last days of warmth, But, when it is time and the earth has had its rest, Bring us yet another Spring and the joys of a bountiful Summer, And bless our crops, flowers and our plant allies With your smile and laughter So that we may all be sustained for days and months to come.
So, if you are incorporating Sunwait into your own Yule-time preparations, I would love to hear more about how you’re keeping these rites. This is how traditions develop and evolve and it’s a beautiful thing to see.