Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Yule Toast to the Gods of Peace and Good Seasons

photo courtesy of wikicommons

The Saga of Hákon the Good was written sometime in the 1260's, describing the reign of King Hákon I, who took the throne in 1217 and died in 1263.  There is a lot of interesting Heathen details scattered throughout this work, which talks about the time of transition from Pagan beliefs into Christianity for Norway.  But one of the gems is the description of a Yule ritual, at which a feast is eaten and offered to the Gods, and many toasts are drunk to the deities.  The ritual I have written here is an attempt to give form to the rather dry writing of the Saga, but certainly shouldn't be mistaken for a historically accurate representation!

Gather your holy liquid - either mead or water depending on how sticky you want things to get!  Say a prayer over the liquid, such as:

"This water is consecrated to the Gods, the wights, and my ancestors who watch over my steps.  May it please the spirits and make holy all it touches."

In the Saga, the liquid is sprinkled over the altars, the gathered people, and both the inside and outside of the temple.  For my celebration, I sprinkle my indoor altar, the thresholds of my home, and around the trees and garden - do whatever feels right for your home or gathering.  Repeat while sprinkling:
"Hail to the Gods and Goddesses.  Hail to the wights of the land.  Hail to my ancestors of blood and spirit.  Make this place sacred by your hand."

 Once you are finished, come to your table or hearth and set the remainder of the liquid aside.  Sit down to feast and offer it to the spirits, saying:
"This feast is consecrated to the Gods, the wights, and my ancestors who watch over my steps.  Thank you for your bounty."

Pour out a glass of whatever you are drinking - I always find that mead is beloved of many of the northern Gods and spirits, but fresh water is also appreciated by deities of the earth.  Lift it in a toast, saying:
"Hail Odhinn, the one-eyed wanderer, giver of Runic knowledge: for success and victory in the year to come, I ask You!" Drink the toast.

Pour another and say:
"Hail Njord, God of the waters, giver of bounty: for prosperity and a good season in the year to come, I ask You!"  Drink the toast.

Pour another and say:
"Hail Frey, married to the land, bringing peace in Your wagon: for joy and bounty in the year to come, I ask you!"  Drink the toast.

Pour another and say:
"Hail the Hidden folk, landvaettir and wights who dwell in this place: for friendship and peace in the year to come, I ask you!"  Drink the toast.

Pour another and say:
"Hail my Ancestors and departed friends, who are remembered on this night: stay with me in the year to come, I ask you!"  Drink the toast.

Outside or on your altar, leave a plate of food and pour out the consecrated liquid for the deities and spirits.  Say a quick ending prayer, such as:
"Gods and Goddesses, wights of the land, beloved dead who watch my steps, thank you for all you have done for me this past year.  Pour out your blessings in the new year as I pour out offerings to you.  Hail!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Coming Home

Well, it has certainly been awhile since I've been able to post here.  October through December are certainly the busiest times for Pagans; planning Samhain or Winternights rituals, attending them all, and then starting the process over for Yule can be very daunting, especially when the weather is chill and the wind is fierce.  There's also something about the waning of the year that often takes the spirit out of my writing.. it's difficult to become motivated, to form new ideas, when it seems as if all things are laying down to rest.

Nonetheless, I wanted to share with all my readers some very exciting news - the Order of the Red Grail, a Wiccan coven and fantastic group of people who I attend ritual with regularly are raising money to build a retreat center here in Nebraska.  I know many of you are of the more Heathen or other non-Wiccan varieties of Pagan, and this is great for those of us in these camps too!  The Red Grail has been around for twenty years, and has been such a huge supporter of other Pagan groups trying to start up in the region - Nebraska Heathens United consistently has events co-hosted with the Red Grail, and the local ADF Druid group (Prairie Shadow Protogrove) just helped perform lovely Yule ritual for the Wiccans' solstice party.  Having land open for Pagan use in the area would mean so much to many of the groups in eastern Nebraska.  Please stop by the IndieGoGo campaign and help by donating or spreading the word!

I have a small Yule ritual prepared for Frey and Njord that I'll be posting the next few days before the solstice, so keep your eyes out!  Thank you all.