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!).
Sunwait came hard this week. We’ve been shuttling between home, work, and physical therapy rehabilitation center where my husband is recovering from surgery (a place only a little less polluted spiritually than the hospital itself, and in some cases worse) and it’s a difficult thing to go daily into such a polluted place and then to return home without bringing pollution or worse along for the ride. Every time I leave, I hate leaving my husband in such a place, though he is strong and more than capable of handling the situations that arise – malignant bottom feeding spirits feed on pain ,confusion, and loss and they abound in this hellscape. I’m convinced that there are at least two demoniacs on the floor (got cornered by one of them the other day—I was rushing and not properly centered in my Gods and Their power. When I walk with the latter, such foulness cannot come near me. A blessing sufficed to drive it back but what must that be like for the poor soul at their mercy? I pray constantly as I walk through the ward, not for myself but for those who must live there, for those vulnerable to spiritual infestation and harm. I actually don’t know why there aren’t chaplains visiting frequently – It would help).
The upshot of this is that we’ve all been doing many more spiritual cleansings. I usually cleanse myself daily in some way, both with prayer and meditation, but also perhaps with sacred smoke, or khernips, a cleansing bath, etc. We’ve tripled that. One of the things that I have found particularly helpful, that leaves me feeling absolutely spiritually clean and refreshed, is a salt scrub. Now, the one that I do is specifically dedicated to Odin but I’ll give a generic here that y’all can adapt.
Nightly, I fill a tub of bathwater (and put Epsom salts, vinegar, sometimes Kolonia 1800, Florida water or some other scent used to cleanse people, places, and things; sometimes I make the bath khernips – the whole thing lol. Sometimes I add beer and/or milk. I pray to various Gods to bless it. Salt for instance, is sacred to the Roman Goddess Salis, Whose name means salt and who was honored along with Hygeia and Asklepius as a major healing Deity. I ask Freyr to bless the beer. I may ask Idunna to bless the whole thing. It varies based on my mood of the day). As the bath fills, I pray to Odin and read a set prayer to Him and usually make an offering. Once the bath fills, I stand in it and rub the salt all over, including top of my head (crown chakra) and all the way down. Then I sink into the bath and wash it off and get on with having a nice, relaxing bath as per the norm.
I will share my basic Odin – oriented recipe below. Feel free to use different oils. If there are specific scents you associate with your main Deity, go ahead and substitute those oils and focus it on that Deity. Use this as a guide and just adapt it for your own Gods. I don’t worry about exact drop amounts. I just add and mix until I like the smell.
Odin Salt Scrub
One pound of sea salt.
One cup baking soda
¼ cup vanilla powder (found in the baking aisle of your local supermarket)
Liberally sprinkle (at least two tablespoons, more if you want) sweet almond oil and mix it throughout the salt mixture (this helps moisturize the skin because salt, for all its cleansing properties can be very abrasive).
Ok. That’s your base.
To that add the following oils (remember, it’s easier to add than to remove. So, start by adding maybe twenty drops and mix. Then check the scent. You can always add more). Use food grade oils.
Rose otto, galangal, ylang-ylang, violet, anise (go lightly with this one), chamomile (a queen of flowers amongst the nine herbs), and Solomon seal oil (I like to buy it from Luckymojo shop. It’s the best I’ve found).
After adding each one, mix thoroughly with your hands. When you’ve added them all, adjust for your preference in smell. Put it in a jar and set it on your shrine for a night. Then for nine nights do the salt scrub, bracketing the whole thing with prayer.
I’ve been doing it every night after coming home from the rehabilitation center and it is one of the most cleansing practices I’ve found.
That is all for today. We are half way through Sunwait which means half way to Yule and that is a lovely thing.
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.
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 Perchta’s Day, Everyone. If you haven’t already read it, head on over to Masks and Monsters to read Dver’s account of her Perchtenlauf. They tramped through their town in Oregon and even invaded a hotel in full mumming garb and it was wonderful. Rites like this, whether small or large, restore the wyrd, cleansing it and driving out malefica and evil. They open and close the doorways into powerful ritual times, and they spread just a touch of the holy, of the numen of the Gods, the holy terror They carry, and the magic of this dark and powerful time to all who see or participate. This is a good thing, a blessing thing.
As I sit writing this now, we have concluded our Yuletime just within the last hour. We’d intended to use our firepit and have a bonfire, but I was not feeling particularly well today (migraine – it’s going to snow tomorrow, and I’m excited about that but oooh my body is complaining!) so instead, we built our fire in a large cauldron that I have at the front of the house. It’s easier to control and maintain the fire there than in a large firepit and when I do firework of any sort, I put safety first. I was worried that the rite would be disjointed because of the last-minute change of venue, so to speak, but it wasn’t. The moment we called Perchta we palpably felt Her presence, and felt Her clean and reset our land, home, and space.
First, we garbed and masked ourselves. One traditionally masks one’s face for these rites. Tove (pictured below after the ritual with her drum) painted her face instead. It counts as a mask. We took up our drums and headed outside with offerings and fuel for the fire. I called to Thor to protect and ward our space and then to Heimdallr to consecrate it. Then, I quickly kindled the fire in the cauldron (it’s about two feet in diameter, so a goodly but portable size and cast iron). We honored the fire and called Perchta and Her retinue and passed a horn of Lithuanian mead. We drummed, calling the spirits, calling to our Gods, asking Their blessings on our land, our home, our work, our House, our family. We felt the way Perchta effortlessly banishes darkness. We gave thanks to Her and Her retinue, to the House of Mundilfari, to Odin, Frey, Thor, Freya, Frigga, to the Bacchic hoarde and all the Gods and spirits we love and venerate. We danced and in the dark of the night one of our neighbors walked by and tentatively peeked over our fence—he thought we didn’t see him lol– and the hemlock trees we have planted there, curious as to what the bear-masked shaman and her painted, garbed, and reveling colleagues were doing. May his glimpse of this sacred rite bring him luck and plenty in the year to come.
We concluded with thanks to all our Gods and spirits and then made sure the fire was completely out. That was that. For the first time, in the entire time I’ve been Heathen (nearly thirty years), my House has kept the entire Yule liturgical cycle, starting with Sunwait, through Oski’s Day, Lussanatre, Modranacht, Yule proper, and now Perchta’s Day. It’s been a wild ride but well worth it. I wish all of you, my readers, a happy and healthy 2022.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
I realized today that I had forgotten to post about week five of Sunwait. It’s gone quickly this year — I can hardly believe we’re less than two weeks away from Modranacht. So, before I let this go any longer, here is the prayer we used in Friday night’s ritual. We spent a great deal of time sitting in the ritual space during this rite, sharing a horn, and praising our Gods and ancestors and reaped the fruit of that, I think, in the beautiful Lussanatr rite in which we participated last night. Truly our Gods are so incredibly good to us and never cease bestowing Their blessings.
Prayer to Sunna coming in Raido (By G. Krasskova) Hail to You, Glorious Goddess of the Sun, Coming with fiery momentum, Driving back darkness Driving back entropy Driving back fear. We praise You, And Your shining retinue. Hail to You, Sunna, A mighty force, Against which no malefic power may stand. You are our pace setter, And under Your guidance, we shall not falter. You sustain us, Great One, When all hope seems lost. You open the way for us, When we cannot move forward. In love and praise we bow our heads before You, For You sustained our people age after age. May Your blessings fall upon all right minded people, Blessings of protection, ferocious love, abundance, and health. May we never doubt that we live nestled in Your protection, For Your skills are mighty, and the equal of many a battle god. Hail to Sunna, riding and unstoppable, in raido. Hai Goddess of the Sun.