Saturday, September 27, 2014

Winterfinding Ritual

As the daylight begins to wane, cooler nights settle over the land and cause all sorts of changes in the world around us. Many ancient Germanic peoples held sacrifices or festivals to honor this time of the year and to give thanks for a good harvest - and when building a relationship with the land, it is always good to say thanks.

Swain Wodening’s reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon calendar, unfortunately no longer available online, sets today as the start of the month Winterfylleð. According to the Venerable Bede this translates to ‘winter full moon’. Called Haustblót in Icelandic (autumn sacrifice) or Álfablót (elves’ sacrifice) in Scandinavian sources, the end of autumn was a good time to offer to the land and the spirits. Whether you’d like to try it today, on the full moon, or at a seasonally appropriate time for your locale, this is a simple but powerful ritual to acknowledge the gifts of the harvest and the coming of winter.

Things to gather: representation of Frey, locally harvested produce that can be made into a meal or left fresh, mead or other celebratory drink

Carry the representation of Frey around the space set out for the ritual, whether that be your home, yard, or other area, saying “Frey, who blessed the fields and gives bounty to humankind, we thank you and offer you gifts now in return for your kindness.”

Set the image of Frey before you, and walk the edge of the space again, noticing the changes that are coming over the land. Use your own words that resonate with your local land, or say “Trees that have begun blazing with color, squirrels that are hastily gathering nuts, cold earth ready and waiting to rest: you herald the coming of winter. Landvaettir, wights, alfar that surround this place, I thank you for your bounty, and offer you gifts now to see you through the coming cold.”

Come back to the center or your altar, and lift the cup of drink in a toast. After each hail, pour out some drink, drink some yourself, and offer a portion of the produce.
“Hail my ancestors who prepared well for the dark of winter! Watch over me in these days of coming cold. Feast and drink with me, in thanks for your protection!”
“Hail the alfar and wights of the land, fertile soil and growing food! Feast and drink with me, in thanks for your harvest!”
“Hail Frey, Lord of Alfheim, who blessed the fields to grow! Feast and drink with me, in thanks for your bounty!”

If you have some things in particular to be thankful for this season, you should also toast the gods or wights responsible and share with them as well. When you are finished, pour out the rest of the drink and leave the produce to be composted or where it will be found by wild things.

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